Five years after its formation and demise, Occupy is mostly a study in what to avoid for the anti-Trump movement.
Date Written: 15/11/2016
Year Published: 2016
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20127
Instead of creating a movement that materially attacked the institutions of the 1 percent, many members of the Occupy movement vowed to transform themselves and raise awareness at the individual level. Some responses to Trumpism have fallen into the same trap - treating the election as an opportunity for soul-searching or a reason to rail against individual Trump voters.
In casting individual experiences as fundamentally unknowable to others, occupiers ignored the feminist insistence that the "personal is political." The second-wave slogan emerged as a reaction to the capitalist credo of personal responsibility, pointing to the ways in which individual experiences were not merely private but in fact defined and shaped by political and social institutions. Distinct, yes - but still fundamentally collective.
As Occupy gradually took shape, it moved in the opposite direction, loading the burden on the individual. Too often, the political was nothing but the personal. Too frequently, occupiers focused on "kill[ing] the one-percenter within" instead of pressuring the state to rein in the 1 percent.
An effective opposition movement cannot be about privilege checking or soul searching. It must challenge the structures and forces that brought Trump to power. Campus safe spaces wont do this. Neither will safety pins.
Instead we must stand against the disastrous effects of deregulation, privatization, and a disintegrating social safety net. We must organize collectively against an economic system that uses racism, xenophobia, and misogyny to pit worker against worker.