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The L: You brought up cynicism earlier—do you see that retreat into cynicism happening again? How would Occupy deal with that? Is combating cynicism, perhaps, why you protest?
MA: I think I personally do it to stave off a sense of hopelessness. You do it in the face of really long odds. If you’re honest with yourself you probably say, “Eh, we’re probably not going to change much.” I think this Occupy thing that has changed something is an anomaly and comes along very rarely, and I feel very lucky to have been involved in it. I didn’t expect anything like this in my whole life.
None of us were deluded to think what happened would actually happen. Because it was totally irrational to think what happened would actually happen. Most people are people like me who thought that we would never be able to remain in Zuccotti Park, and if we did we’d be kicked out in a few days. But the action turned out to be a turning point because there was this well of despair and anger in the American public, and I think a lot of people were asking the question, a question that my mom always asks me, “Why aren’t people getting in the streets?”
We can really credit the capitalist class and the ruling class for what happened at Occupy Wall Street. Because they created certain conditions that people were angry enough and hopeless enough that when they saw something that looked like resistance and refusal they felt encouraged to go out and occupy a park too. What happened was an accident of history. What happened at Zuccotti Park was an accident of history.
I’m not going to lie—if the economy got worse, that would be good for the Occupy movement. Not that I wish the economy would get worse--that would be pretty terrible. I think eventually this window of opportunity will close. People who know better than I predict that the economy will turn to growth, steady growth about a year from now, and I think the vast majority of the public will accept that this is the new normal, an eight percent unemployment rate is the new normal. And they’ll stop paying attention to people marching in the streets. And I think we need to push this as far as we possibly can until then and then when that happens, we need to rethink our strategy. My thinking on how to do this is just to push this as far as we can until the window of opportunity closes.
A look back at the first eight months of the movement, culminating with the events of May Day.
May 9, 2012