Review of Judy Rebick, Occupy This! (Penguin, 2012).
By Donya Ziaee
Reading long-time activist Judy Rebick’s new e-book Occupy This! re-awakened memories of my experience at the Occupy Toronto encampment in its very early days. The optimism, excitement and hope with which Rebick pens her latest book is quite reminiscent of the sentiments that drew me, and perhaps many others, to the camp in the initial period.
Yet, while Rebick’s contribution captures quite well the initial sense of optimism and reinvigoration that the Occupy movement had seemed to unleash, it says much less about the complex practical, organizational and strategic questions that grew in significance as the occupation wore on.
Occupy This! traces the origins and characteristics of the Occupy movement to earlier social justice movements based around the principles of non-hierarchy and participatory democracy, and celebrates the strengths and successes of this new politics in providing an alternative to the current neoliberal order. Rebick argues that, within the US, this politics originally emerged with the anti-globalization movement of the 1990s and the heralding of a bottom-up, collective, and compassionate approach to social change. Comparisons are subsequently drawn between the democratic forms emerging from the Occupy movement and earlier experiments with participatory democracy, such as the participatory budget in Porto Alegre, the horizontalidad movement of worker takeovers of closed-down factories in Argentina and the Movement for Socialism led by Evo Morales in Bolivia.