This week AK Press releases We Are Many: Critical Reflections on Movement Strategy from Occupation to Liberation. With the one year anniversary of Occupy upon us, the book's editors compiled essays from fifty writers involved in occupations across the world. Some, like Frances Fox Piven wrote critical correctives reminding us of the long term nature of most mass movements–we locate the beginnings of the civil rights movement in the fifties when the beginnings of the movement really took place in the thirties. Others, like George Ciccariello-Maher and Brendan Maslauskas Dunn examined specific occupations, fleshing out what made them unique. Ciccariello-Maher was involved in Occupy Oakland and used his essay to ferret out how a movement situated on the East Coast jumped across the country. Dunn took a somewhat similar route, examining how the small rustbelt city of Utica–a city with almost no history of protest–came to be occupied.
Joel Olson was a card carrying political scientist, a radical political activist, and a punk. His Whiteness and the 99 percent was one of the first pieces to wrestle with Occupy's racial politics. I was supposed to appear with Olson on a panel about Occupy at the American Political Science Association's annual conference (which was itself cancelled due to Hurricane Isaac). However, Olson died tragically earlier this year while in Europe.
Given my own interest in racial politics as well as my participation in Occupy Baltimore, I was asked to contribute an essay. I did so. My co-authored (with Mike McGuire, one of the book's editors) essay "Occupy and the 99 percent" is a direct response to Olson'd work. Our essay takes an in-between route, combining some of the theoretical insights of Frances Fox Piven with the case driven approach of Ciccariello-Maher and Dunn.
It's likely that someone will write a definitive book about Occupy and what it represented. It is unlikely someone will produce an edited volume that outstrips the contribution made by We Are Man.