In the Press | Alternet, Occupying Wall Street on September 17: Hacktivists, Anarchists, Students--and You?

Nathan Schneider from Waging Nonviolence mentions US Day of Rage and myself in an article he writes for Alternet.org.


Few groups taking part are more organized than US Day of Rage, which is organizing actions not just in NYC, but in Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle as well.

Few groups taking part are more organized, though, than US Day of Rage. Its founder, a sharp-featured, sharp-tongued IT strategist named Alexa O'Brien, insists that she's "a normal sort of nobody." She and her colleagues are prolific on Twitter, and their website features a range of resources, including nonviolent direct action manuals, a tactical plan for September 17, and an embedded YouTube video of the group's official song, the theme from the 1970s show Free to Be... You and Me.

US Day of Rage also has a head start on answering the question that Adbusters posed in its initial call: "What is our one demand?" O'Brien launched her site back in March, while she was blogging about the Middle Eastern revolutions and the revelations coming out of WikiLeaks. On Twitter, she asked people what they thought was wrong with this country, and it all seemed to come down to one thing: the influence of big money in politics. This led naturally to the group's slogan, a plan for radical campaign finance reform: "One citizen. One dollar. One vote." Besides that, O'Brien refuses to label herself or the organization with any ideological stamp.

"I think it's really typical of the internet generation," she says, "to look at process much more than ideology as what's going to save us."

There's a certain ring to this proposal; it has the makings of what Buckminster Fuller called a "trimtab"--a simple change that could change the course of the whole system. But it's far from a universal priority among those organizing for September 17. Others have called for restoring the Glass-Steagall Act, or imposing higher taxes on the rich, or ending the endless wars abroad.

What one mainly hears at the General Assembly, though, is not a demand so much as an experiment in method. They're trying to figure out how to make their voices heard again in politics, above the noise of money. What's drawing people to Wall Street on Saturday sometimes seems to be an aesthetic more than anything, a longing to see Wall Street full of the people whose concerns its operations have been blind to, and who are ready to get their due. But it's an aesthetic with teeth. After what has been happening in Egypt and Tunisia, in Spain, Greece, Bahrain, and so many other places around the world this year, people are going to Wall Street to make a real difference.

But September 17 isn't just happening on Wall Street. For its part, US Day of Rage is organizing actions that day in Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle as well. (Washington, DC will have to wait for the occupation of Freedom Plaza planned for October 6.) Meanwhile, Take the Square, a network that grew out of the Spanish May 15 movement, lists solidarity demonstrations across Spain, as well as in Italy, England, Canada, Greece, Germany, Portugal, Austria, the Netherlands, Israel, and France.