Occupy Wall Street in 2011 was both exhilarating and frustrating. It captured the attention of millions of people around the world, but it seemed to sabotage itself by refusing to advance a program amid a major capitalist crisis. Along with some fellow DSA members and a scattering of other socialists, I was briefly involved in the Demands Working Group, which sought to remedy this perceived shortcoming.
Our efforts were not well received. The official OWS website denounced us. I recall a memorable exchange I had with a fellow Occupier after a general assembly meeting had rejected a number of our proposals. While we were debating the merits of consensus decision-making, I asked them whether they thought New York City could be run like OWS. “Sure,” they replied, “people can achieve any- thing they want if they set their minds to it.” I pointed to the bright red sculpture that looms over the park and asked whether someone could jump to the top of it if they just set their mind to it. “Of course,” they re- plied, “yogis do it all the time.” Then they disappeared into the cold Manhattan night, leaving me baffled and frustrated.