We are proud to present six singular moments from Occupy’s first year. The pieces include reporting, personal essays, photographs and an embedded video by talented creators. Each brings passionate hope for the movement. Readers will feel the energy of these six writers thinking, interviewing, and experiencing the crowds and camps and dramatic moments of Occupy, voicing cautious optimism in a movement so unexpected, so fluid yet persistent, so mysteriously democratic—a movement with thousands of peaceful, sacrificing members, but no leaders or creeds.
At Sisyphus we have been thrilled and surprised from the beginning, back on September 17, 2011.
Now pundits speak of the movement fading. But they forget that this movement put the 1% vs. the 99% at the center of national discussion. They forget how the movement informed President Obama’s State of the Union speech in January 2012. A year ago “capitalism” seemed an archaic term, and its reference in reality seemed a pervasive white noise. But at this moment the presidential race involves a lively debate about capital, redistribution, and social justice. Occupy has been a people’s grass-roots response to the crushing power of banks and other corporations, governments, police, and military. It has been huge in Europe as well as the USA. But what were its goals?
The movement embodied wisdom from the civil rights and peace activist experiences of the last century.
Thousands of people were willing to endure the conditions documented in this issue to bear witness, and call to consciousness, cruel aspects of capitalism today. In their numbers and in the justice of their causes—often expressed through signs held aloft—they forced the national conversation to change.
In some ways the movement was like that of the mothers of the disappeared who marched silently outside the presidential palace in Argentina. The grief of those mothers gave them moral force, their silence gave them a measure of protection, and their persistence crumbled the arrogance of criminals in political power.
Our goal for this issue has been to publish accounts of events which burned so brightly that afterwards it’s hard to believe they happened, yet which remain in the air, somehow. These stories and images take us into exciting or uncomfortable or frightening encounters, and leave us with more than memories of what we have read about. The nature and direction of the whole movement, if there is such a thing, is unknown, but it is more than a collection of events.