Q&A With Mike Andrews, Occupy Organizer: What Happens After May 1?

05/09/2012 4:00 AM |

The L: Do you see Occupy Wall Street being absorbed by the labor movement, or existing groups?
MA: I don’t think Occupy Wall Street will be absorbed by the labor movement or community based organizations, or the Democratic party or Moveon, or progressive groups. I think a lot of those groups like to benefit from our energy, from whatever notoriety we have for now, but they don’t necessarily share our horizontal principles.

The L: Do you think Occupy will disappear?
I think a lot about ‘what is occupy wall street” what is it? And it’s hard to define. It’s this nebulous, heterogeneous thing. It’s an assemblage of people, but it doesn’t depend on a certain identity. You don’t have to be a worker who works for a certain industry, you don’t have to apply for a position.

I think occupy is actually not a group of people. It’s a tactic and it’s a set of principles, implicit principles mainly. And that if you implore that tactic and adhere to those principles, then you’re part of the occupy movement. That’s why after September 17 when this whole thing caught on, you had people in dozens, if not hundreds of cities across the nation, set up camp in a square or have a general assembly. They are part of Occupy Wall Street. They didn’t call us and say “hey, can we be part of this movement?” they didn’t have to apply for membership or anything. They just did the same thing we were doing. OWS is also not just people who come to the meetings. I have lots of friends who don’t like to be in meetings with liberals, as they say, but who very much consider themselves to be part of the occupy movement. And they’re organizing in other, smaller ways. I think it’s going to be around for a while.

Occupy Wall Street itself, and by that I mean the working groups, and the general assembly and the spokes council and the meetings—I don’t think those will disappear completely, but if there are fewer and fewer people getting involved in those particular things, I don’t think that means Occupy Wall Street will be gone. I think it means that energy will be transferred to other activities. I sometimes have been tempted to stop going to these working group meetings and join other friends who are organizing in smaller ways, doing things that aren’t quite possible within occupy wall street, whether it’s a broader diversity of political persuasions where you have to collaborate and compromise a lot. So, Occupy Wall Street, it’s a tactic, it’s a principle, it’s also a certain kind of energy. It’s not going to disappear any time soon.