Dear Readers,

I have been getting annoyed at the casual references to Occupy’s failure.

I think they were, by all and any measure, an incredible success.


Many years ago, my colleague Ted Sizer, when asked what he hoped the Coalition of Essential Schools’ influence would be five years down the line, said: “We’ll be having a better conversation about American schooling.” That was 1985. Maybe he was victorious five years down the line. We thought so, at the time. But alas today the important ideas that drove the Coalition of Essential Schools are decidedly less popular than they were when he made that point. We have moved very fast away from what Ted sso persuasively (we thought) was arguing for.

Now, I don’t know whether the founders of the Occupy movement expected to change the world, but they did what Ted had hoped for. They have had a remarkable impact on the language of the world, the conversation, the metaphors—the way we see things. They introduced, dramatically, the “99% vs 1%” thought! Now it, or variants of it, are on everyone’s lips and appear in all the pie charts, et al. They have made a powerful impression. Now we have to figure out how to capitalize on the fact that this dramatic unfairness is getting worse, not better. But, at least, it has been named.

Thanks, Occupiers of the world.

4 Responses

  1. great point deborah. one small correction, especially in light of occupy’s legacy: we don’t want to “capitalize” on their success…not even in terms of grammatical hierarchies. it’s the lower-case and anticapitalist imaginary that the movement brought forward with forceful conviction. 🙂

    cheers, and keep up the great work!

  2. “Occupy” is total bunk. The Democrats are in bed with Wall Street and the big banks are protected by Dems in every branch of government. The 1960s are calling the retired hippies . . .

    • I am totally unclear as to your point. I am not sure what you think the connection is between the Democratic party and the Occupy movement, that you appear to imply. I doubt many in the Occupy Movement see the Democratic party aligned with the Occupy Movement. As this post points out though, the Occupy movement has gotten their agenda at least talked about, which while not much of an immediate help, is a small step in a much needed direction. Have no idea what you mean by the 1960s are calling the hippies–the Occupy movement appears to be mostly young people, though it is supported by many who maintained their values from the civil rights periods of the 1960s (which were not mainly hippies actually, if you know your history–hippies as a whole were a pretty apolitical, preferring to not engage with the political system).

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