NOTES ON A HAUNTED DECADE,
IN THE SPRIT OF DAVID GRAEBER?
What are the afterlives of the Occupy Movement, now ten years on? On the one hand, groups and tendencies that met in those days have, in the United States and elsewhere, become important in today’s activist ecosystems. For instance, The Debt Collective has been successful at fighting back against the extortionate debt system of the US’s private colleges and universities and has succeeded in getting debt forgiveness (even abolition) on the national agenda while connecting it to systemic and structural racism. Decolonize this Place has been a key protagonist in challenging New York’s cultural sector to recon with the legacies and actualities of racism and empire. More generally, a diaspora of activists who came of age during the Occupy Movement have filtered throughout society and, more generally, affected the political culture at large. But, at the same time, many of the reactionary, conspiratorial and individualist elements of Occupy have also “grown up” and now directly or indirectly contribute to a constellation of far-right and postfascist forces. Taking up David Graeber’s theorization of Occupy as a movement not simply for political change but for a different kind of politics, Max Haiven presents these afterlives of Occupy as indicative of our political-economic moment where both power and resistance are reconfiguring themselves.
Max Haiven is a writer and teacher and Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice. His most recent books are Art after Money, Money after Art: Creative Strategies Against Financialization (2018) and Revenge Capitalism: The Ghosts of Empire, the Demons of Capital, and the Settling of Unpayable Debts (2020). Haiven is editor of VAGABONDS, a series of short, radical books from Pluto Press. He teaches at Lakehead University, where he co-directs the ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL).