Jean Lievens: Insurgent Anarchism – An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Cultural Intelligence
Jean Lievens
Jean Lievens

Insurgent Anarchism: an idea whose time has come (Part I)

Nozomi Hayase

ROAR Magazine, 16 September 2013

In the fall of 2011, as the autumn leaves were turning color, America’s largest metropolitan city was about to grab the world’s attention. On September 17, the first occupiers descended onto lower Manhattan and marched on the stock exchange, eventually settling in Zuccotti Park. Wall Street, the center of capitalist wealth and power was now under siege. As the word ‘Occupy’ indicated, it was not a one day protest. They were there for the long haul.

From Occupy to Wikileaks, the anarchist spirit of leaderless resistance, decentralized decision-making and autonomous self-governance, is rising. Photo: Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org
From Occupy to Wikileaks, the anarchist spirit of leaderless resistance, decentralized decision-making and autonomous self-governance, is rising.
Photo: Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org

“The Occupy movement just lit a spark.” Noam Chomsky spoke of its historical significance as creating something that never existed before and bringing a marginalized discourse to the center. At Zuccotti Park, with a library and kitchen, a cooperative community arose with open spaces for sharing and mutual aid.

In a time of rampant apathy and weakening civic power, the Occupy movement came as a surprise to the status quo. In the wake of the Arab Spring, some may have seen a rising tide on the horizon. From the indignados movement, an iconic picture of Anonymous holding the sign “Nobody Expects the #Spanish Revolution“ went viral around the globe. The spirit of the uprising on Wall Street was similarly unexpected. Once the wave moved beyond the East Coast, Occupy inspired the nation and spread across the world.

Yet, after the winter’s slowdown and the brutal police crackdown of the encampment, the movement lost momentum and the waves of change seemed to be evaporating. Is it true that the Occupy movement is weakening? Are people not yet ready to truly challenge the corporate greed that is exploiting the majority of population for the benefit of 1%? The truth is, the tidal wave of world revolution is far from over. Just because it is less visible doesn’t mean Occupy is dead.

Occupy’s Anarchistic Impulse

Despite police efforts to dismantle it, Occupy has already changed the direction of society. It brought a new impulse that many felt was urgently needed. Mic check and consensus decision-making arose as a new style of communication that offered alternatives to traditional hierarchical modes of communication.

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