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Anarchic roots of Occupy Movement

Anarchic roots of Occupy Movement

The roots of the “Occupy Movement” may be in the philosophy of anarchy:

Intellectual Roots of Wall St. Protest Lie in Academe

Movement’s principles arise from scholarship on anarchy

From The Chronicle of Higher Education

Economists whose recent works have decried income inequality have informed the movement’s critiques of capitalism. Critical theorists like Michael Hardt, professor of literature at Duke University, and Antonio Negri, former professor of political science at the University of Padua, have anticipated some of the central issues raised by the protests. Most recently, they linked the actions in New York and other American cities to previous demonstrations in Spain, Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and in Athens, among other places.

But Occupy Wall Street’s most defining characteristics—its decentralized nature and its intensive process of participatory, consensus-based decision-making—are rooted in other precincts of academe and activism: in the scholarship of anarchism and, specifically, in an ethnography of central Madagascar.

It was on this island nation off the coast of Africa that David Graeber, one of the movement’s early organizers, who has been called one of its main intellectual sources, spent 20 months between 1989 and 1991. He studied the people of Betafo, a community of descendants of nobles and of slaves, for his 2007 book, Lost People.

Betafo was “a place where the state picked up stakes and left,” says Mr. Graeber, an ethnographer, anarchist, and reader in anthropology at the University of London’s Goldsmiths campus.

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Ann Fontaine

Network centric planning and work is similar to this model -- it is the basis of current day war by smaller less well armed groups against larger ones.

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Isa Ray

As a Christian anarchist who tries in my own meager way to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before in this tradition such as Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Hagerty, Nickolai Berdyaev, Dorothy Day, and Ammon Hennacy, the consensus based process was one of the first things that drew me to the Occupy movement and one of the things that continues to most impress me about it. This type of decentralized, participatory, horizontal process does indeed have a rich intellectual history, not the least of which of course can be found in the Quaker tradition. However, this article betrays it's academic bias by only looking for this intellectual history in the scholarship of the academe. The consensus models that gained wider use in the anti-globalization protests of the 1990s have their roots as much in feminists circles and spiritual communities such as the Reclaiming tradition and their actual praxis in those groups as they do in any ivory tower of scholarly research. By overlooking these influences, the author misses many of the deep spiritual and anthropological insights that form part of the basis of this participatory consensus model and in so doing also misses the implications that these underpinnings have for the understanding he cities that the ends and the means have to be the same.

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