Since its beginning, the movement Occupy Wall Street has been called by many names but one comes back often enough to be analyzed here: protest. Of course, one can legitimately argue that terminology is nothing compared to action and that while some people are looking for words, other are directly acting. This is definitely accurate, nevertheless, this movement has been characterized so far by a great sense of self-awareness in order to maintain a strict non-hierarchical organization and it is therefore probably worth it to wonder which terminology to use to fathom what this movement is about.
Protest, not only seems pretty weak as a reaction, but is clearly missing a point. Protest is often legible on the various signs that are spread all around Liberty Square and expresses a real anger towards a system which cannot be called democracy per say. This is therefore what would emerge from a very shallow reading of the movement, the same that is reported by the Press which, subjected to the pressure of time and money, does not spend enough time on site to understand. What is happening there is not fundamentally anchored in the negativity of a criticism for what surrounds us but rather in the positivity of a construction of a collective alternative.
The General Assembly, held every day, is a good and visible example of such construction but its slowness due to the amount of people present and the mean of communication used (see previous article about the Human-Mic) makes it more a tool of communication for everyone as much as a instance of approval for every proposition submitted to it. At a different scale, the numerous working groups that are born from the movement and gather regularly to participate actively to this construction are tremendously important.
Those groups go from the most pragmatic aspect of the occupation (logistics, security, food, hygiene, medical etc.) to a more “reflective” one with groups that gathers much grey matter and skills in order to build-up an alternate micro-society in the middle of a bigger one, a sort of Temporary Autonomous Zone (see previous article) theorized by Hakim Bey. Anybody has the possibility of joining an existing group or creating a new one that will be re-attached to the mother-ship of the General Assembly. I am personally engaged in the Education and Empowerment Group and I should be able soon to report back on the exciting and interesting opportunities that are created in this group.
Here is a list of the existing working groups: