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Learning From Occupy Wall Street

Organizing Committee:

Very simple proposal: I'd like to take part in, and if necessary help organize, a class devoted to understanding and perhaps furthering the Occupy Wall Street movement—its means, methods, and effects; its historical context; its appeal and usefulness as a model for organizing (around questions, propositions, and invitations to participate in a discussion that foments action, rather than predetermined messages). 

I think these discussions should take place in the area being occupied, as soon as possible, as frequently as is feasible. 

I'm not sure this requires a teacher so much as someone willing to organize the first meeting. Perhaps we could use a brief text (in conjunction with the Occupied Wall Street Journal?) as the basis for our first conversation. I'd be interested in posting notices of the class in and around Zuccotti Park in advance. 

I imagine other Public School regulars are much more engaged in what's been happening than I am, and have a better sense of how such a class might be organized and framed. If so, please take the lead (while remaining sensitive to the leaderless context, of course!). 



++ Reading ++

Session 1 | Sunday, October 9, 2011 w/ Mike Andrews

Interview with David Graeber, "You're creating a vision of the sort of society you want to have in miniature"

Nathan Schneider, "Generally Assembled At #OccupyWallStreet"

The Occupied Wall Street Journal



tchoi8's picture


We are hosting a related class tonight on The May Day General Strike and onward at Eyebeam.

Also, OWS Share Day with Archives working group tomorrow

Another two TPS reading groups that have recently started, which might be of interest:

+ Our Lives Are Not Negotiable: A Reading Group +

Second meeting: DECEMBER 14

"A new ongoing reading group which would collectively study anarchism, autonomism, biopolitics, communism, insurrectionism, nihilism, structuralism, our relationship to capital and the state, and other forms of exchange and authority. We will think about these traditions in the context of the ongoing Occupy movement, which for many began here in New York on September 17th with the occupation of Zuccotti Park, before spreading both nationally and internationally. We will also take into account the movements which earlier in 2011 preceded it: in Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, and Greece.

The texts and meetings will be decided by the participants of the group on a session-to-session basis. It is open to all who wish to engage with the above.
Some of the initial authors we've discussed looking at include Giorgio Agamben, Mikhail Bakhtin, Lauren Berlant, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, Jacques Camatte, Cornelius Castoriadis, Guy Debord, Michel Foucault, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jan Patočka, Tiziana Terranova, Mario Tronti, Raoul Vaneigem, Paolo Virno, and many others."


+ Aesthetics of Resistance: a Reading Group +

Second meeting: DECEMBER 17

"A weekly 3- or 4-session class devoted to reading and discussing Peter Weiss's novel The Aesthetics of Resistance volume 1, published in German in 1975. I read it five years ago, and think reading it in a group now, with OWS in the background, would be immensely productive and interesting. It's not an easy book. But it's a rewarding one.

From the blurb: 'Spanning the period from the late 1930s to World War II, this historical novel dramatizes anti-fascist resistance and the rise and fall of proletarian political parties in Europe. Living in Berlin in 1937, the unnamed narrator and his peers—sixteen- and seventeen-year-old working-class students—seek ways to express their hatred for the Nazi regime. They meet in museums and galleries, and in their discussions they explore the affinity between political resistance and art, the connection at the heart of Weiss’s novel. Weiss suggests that meaning lies in embracing resistance, no matter how intense the oppression, and that we must look to art for new models of political action and social understanding.'"

solidk's picture

Hello LFOWS,

You may be interested in attending this related class happening simultaneously at three different sites on Saturday, November 19th:

#whOWNSpace #UES: Observe, Diagram, Intervene

#whOWNSpace #MIDTOWN: Observe, Diagram, Intervene

#whOWNSpace #FiDi: Observe, Diagram, Intervene

Those interested in this class may also be interested in Signs as Sounds: Occupy Wall Street, a Public School class happening this Thursday.

tchoi8's picture

Hi all, it was a good class! Here is a very rough notes from the meeting. These are some keywords I wrote during the class. This does not do justice in documenting our conversation, and some notes might not be accurate, please comment on.

Past week there were many occupation in other US cities
Problem: (Wealth+Equality)/ Neo Liberal ?
Oakland General Strike this week on port.
Occupy actions around US with pronounced anarchist ideas/ anti-capitalist. Austin, Denver, etc
Direct action, direct action group planning march. Mix of personality and intentions.

Last week, Judith Butler's call for demand the 'impossible', then can “Impossible Space” be something? Are we pushing these privately owned public spaces (like 60 wall st) right now? Where do occupation go in the coming months of cold?

Sanitation as justification for police control, eviction.
History of using sanitation and hygiene as a reason to control the body and body in space, soap and politics, border politics of using standard of cleaniness to scrutiny against immigrant woman.

Logical connective of public space. (ref Lacaan's 11th seminar) (can't remember exactly) “You will behave or we will take it back.”/ “You can't have it and we will take it back”
Rejecting what is common, ambiguity as a space to explore.

Occupation is... or is it? Transparency on display, Self initiative- transparent- horizontal, direct democracy. Or vanguard party?
Or ... negotiating with the system, crowd sourcing democracy (assembly line/ hierarchy/ directions?) Can this (transparency and horizonatality) do harm than good? Is it really what they think (say) it is?
At any rate, this can be a direction toward pluralism of political form. No more hegemonic political power (left or right) . And call to act collectively.

Next class will happen in conjunction with Civil Disobedience in the 21st century.

dphiffer's picture

I won't be able to make this week's class, but I really enjoyed the Butler reading. I'm also very curious to hear what Mike has to say about the current strategy for dealing with the weather... maybe somebody can fill me in? Thanks!

tchoi8's picture

Hi, we decided to read Judith Butler's text (which has already been posted) for next meeting in 10.30. We will start in 2pm and class may go on for more than one hour. This is an open class for everyone with questions and answers regarding OWS.

Since 33speed recently posted a link to OWS-related work by Judith Butler, I thought I'd mention that she will be speaking tomorrow, Sunday, October 23rd at 6pm at Washington Square Park. Rumor has it that she may also give an impromptu teach-in down at Zuccotti tomorrow afternoon, but it is unlikely the details will be announced in advance.

On a different note, n+1 has put together an OWS-inspired Gazette (yes, there are now two competing OWS newspapers) described as "a history, both personal and documentary, and the beginning of an analysis of the first month of the occupation." You can download it here: Or, look for it in print.

See you all tomorrow at 2pm in the atrium of 60 Wall Street!

Profuse apologies for taking forever to post this, but here's some reading for tomorrow's meeting:

Chapter 1 ("The Community as Social Machine") from Dispersing Power: Social Movements as Anti-State Forces by Raúl Zibechi (2010):

Chapter 1 is 20 pages (although the PDF contains the whole book). If you have time to read the chapter before tomorrow, great. If not, no big deal.

Again, sorry for posting this so late.


tchoi8's picture

I heard last meeting very well.
Is there some reading material we want to share before tomorrow?
For those who have not been able to attend GA, the minutes are helpful
Also, there are many events today, if you want to join Facilitation meeting, Arts and Culture meeting, etc



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