Read an Excerpt
We Are Many: Excerpt from the Editors' Foreword
By Kate Khatib, Mike McGuire, and Margaret Killjoy
What you will find in the pages that follow is a movement-oriented examination of the Occupy phenomenon and the struggles that followed in its wake. It is a strategic intervention intended to deepen our understanding and analysis of what we've accomplished, and to illuminate key strategies for future struggles.
We have all been swept up by the momentum of the Occupy movement. Many of us have seen the results of years of organizing in different communities come together in ways that few of us could have imagined. Yet the most inspiring--and challenging--aspect of this burgeoning movement has been, for us, the number of people who have left the comfort of their daily routines, and are living and breathing in wholly new ways. A popular, horizontal movement in the United States is a dream come true--but as a movement so overflowing with new social and political actors, we lack, as a collective body, the framework we need to help us all to understand what a social movement is, to understand how change has happened in the past, to understand what this moment means and what this movement makes possible. For this movement to stick, it is critical that we develop a framework for participants to be able to look beyond our immediate circumstances and dilemmas, to celebrate what has worked, to think through what has not, and to see that our actions are deeply meaningful.
This project was conceptualized late in the Fall of 2011 as an attempt to develop tools and analysis from within the movement (and in collaboration with close allies) that will strengthen our collective understanding of Occupy and its possibilities. With the help of many of the contributors to this volume, we have worked with organizers and activists from around the world to take a critical and engaged look at Occupy, and its transition from a spontaneous public uprising to an enduring social movement is to examine Occupy's genesis from the perspective of strategy--what worked? what didn't? why? how? is it reproducible?--with an eye toward building a movement-based framework for future organizing. Our months of intense experience with our fellow Occupy participants have left us with a deep desire for collective reflection, and with the sense that our desires are shared by so many others within the movement. It is critical to fill in the gaps inherent in a movement with so many new actors, and we hope that this volume will be a small step towards creating that foundation.
Over the course of the past year, a storm of books have emerging about the Occupy Movement. We believe that this book project is unique in its orientation. We do not seek to historicize or archive the movement. Instead we view this as a book from within the movement that will serve the movement.
Our goal was to create a book that was highly collaborative in its composition, more like a narrative composed of many voices, and less like a collection of disparate essays. We encouraged experienced writers to work with newer voices in their contributions; we were thrilled to see more seasoned
activists taking this as an opportunity to think through movement strategy with those who have only recently become politically-engaged. The collaborative process went right down to our choice of publisher for this project: the venerable AK Press, the nation's most productive anarchist publishing house, and close comrades of not just the editors and authors in this book, but of the movement itself. The choice of AK Press speaks volumes about the intention of this project: this is a movement book and we feel its important that it be published by a movement publisher, one whose understanding of Occupy's history and development is deep and concrete. In Oakland and in Baltimore, the members of the AK Press collective have been active participants in Occupy from the start, moving the entire AK Press Baltimore office to McKeldin Square in the early days of the encampment to serve as a makeshift media and information center, and, in Oakland, bringing the entire collective out into the streets to participate in the general strike, not as observers, not as booksellers, but as active collaborators in an action that has begun to reshape dominant discourse for decades to come. And, finally, we chose to publish this book with AK Press, because, as a truly collectively-run business, AK Press models the principles of egalitarian and non-hierarchical organizing that we see embodied in the best elements of the Occupy movement. We know that here we are among friends and allies, and we thank the AK Press collective for providing this opportunity.
Many of the authors included in this collection could have - and did - write entire books about Occupy on their own; our goal here was to include a diverse set of voices, and to encourage authors to make short, strategic interventions, to think critically about the strategic implication of their analysis, and to construct it with an eye toward the future. The result is the remarkable pastiche of materials in the pages that follow - a combination of critical analysis, strategic development, and movement stories, coupled with primary-source materials drawn from the streets and camps of Occupy itself.