New Internationalist

Eulogy for Occupy


We will need more meditations on Occupy. Photo: Michael Prados, under a CC License.

I’ve just read Quinn Norton’s resonant ‘Eulogy for Occupy’ in Wired – an elegant, elegiac piece from someone who experienced many different US Occupy camps from the inside over the whole period of the rebellion What she says has the ring of truth – not just because it celebrates the achievements but also because it is prepared to confront the failures of the movement (the way the General Assembly concept fell apart and became a parody of itself, the sexual harassment that increasingly scared women away).

In the course of the piece Norton quotes someone as saying that the movement lacked an Orwell, prepared to confront the complexities and idiocies in the way he did the conflict between factions of Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. But Orwell wrote Homage to Catalonia after the event, from a significant distance. And we will need illuminating meditations like Quinn Norton’s as we continue to process what happened in that remarkable outpouring of resistance and dissent – not least to help us chart the next frontier in reshaping our world.

Our own book Dreaming In Public: Building the Occupy Movement aimed to bring together all the primary documents of the Occupy movement in one place – the thinking, the statements and the artworks in their raw form as they happened. It will remain a vital resource, not least for students of politics. And there were plenty of dissenting voices within it, plenty of challenges to the mythology. But ‘Eulogy for Occupy’ turns hindsight into an art form.

Read more from Quinn Norton in this month’s New Internationalist: ‘How Anonymous got political

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  1. #1 Alan Kurtz 13 Dec 12

    You identify Quinn Norton as ’someone who experienced many different US Occupy camps from the inside.’ Similarly, the foreword to your book Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement begins: ’All of the writing and images we have included in this collection were created and circulated by their authors as part of their active participation in Occupy/Decolonize.’

    This insularity is a mistake. If Occupiers restrict their reflections on the movement to writing by insiders, it will inevitably lead to a one-sided viewpoint—however pixilated that perspective may be by dissenting voices.

    My own newly published book, [a href=’http://www.amazon.com/Occupy-Oakland-Little-Revolution-Couldnt/dp/147930638X/ref=la_B004EB9MXM_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1352832688&sr=1-2’]Occupy Oakland: The Little Revolution That Couldn't, is a far cry from insider Jaime Omar Yassin's Dreaming in Public contribution, which you call a ’love letter to the Occupy Oakland kitchen.’ Suffice to say, there is no love lost between me and Occupy Oakland.

    But I hope Occupiers beyond Oakland will not dismiss my critique merely because I'm an outsider. While Orwell's Homage to Catalonia is indispensable, so is historian Hugh Thomas's The Spanish Civil War, written by a nonparticipant. For a writer, detachment can be a virtue.

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About the author

Chris Brazier a New Internationalist contributor

Once a writer for the rock music weekly Melody Maker (1977-80), Chris Brazier has been a co-editor of New Internationalist magazine since 1984. He has covered myriad subjects from masculinity to maternal mortality, Panafricanism to the paranormal, and has edited country issues on South Africa, Burkina Faso, Western Sahara, Bangladesh, Iran, China and Vietnam. He edits the country profile section of the magazine as well as its puzzle page. Since 2010 he has focused primarily on commissioning and editing New Internationalist’s books and other publications. He has also written regularly for UNICEF’s annual The State of the World’s Children report since 1997.

Chris is the author of Vietnam: The Price of Peace (Oxfam, 1992), The No-Nonsense Guide to World History (2001, 2006 & 2010) and Trigger Issues: Football (2007). He also compiled the New Internationalist anthologies Raging Against the Machine (2003) and Brief Histories of Almost Anything (2008).

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