Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Genealogy of Occupation

Much has been written recently on the question of where the Occupy Wall Street movement came from. The assumption seems to be that it represents a new manifestation of the counter-globalization ethos that first showed up in Seattle, 1999.

In some ways this is true, but the actual tactic, camping out, looks to me like an evolution from the tree-sitting strategy of radical environmentalists. Forget about Facebook and Twitter: this is the REI generation, and they want to climb and bivouac their way to liberation. It really makes sense when you think about it. To transgress the landscape of capitalist property rights, you need the proper gear. The only anomaly I can see is that pepper spray is being used against the campers, not by them.

Footnote: It might be argued that the starting point was really Greenpeace, which drew on small craft culture for its maritime adventures. Having noodled around in both outdoor and boat equipment shops, I think I can say that they represent two rather different slices of humanity, and the probability of crossover was slim. Of course, Greenpeace was also practicing urban mountaineering around the same time as Earth First was exploring the canopy zone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would link it more with squatting from the autonomist/anarchist scene since the late 70s/early 80s. I'm not sure about the US, but it's pretty big in Europe.