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‘Occupy Wall Street,’ a primer

By Ezra Klein,

Tina Fineberg AP Wonkbook today was about ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ the growing, decentralized protest movement that’s clashing with police in New York City, spreading across the country, and grabbing headlines across the world. It is also, somewhat unusually, a protest movement without clear demands, an identifiable leadership, or an evident organizational structure.

Decisions are made by the NYC General Assembly, which Nathan Schneider describes as “a horizontal, autonomous, leaderless, modified-consensus-based system with roots in anarchist thought,” and thus far, the General Assembly has decided against yoking the movement to a particular set of goals, or even a particular ideology.

Which is all to say that it’s important to try and understand the movement on its own terms, rather than the terms most of us are used to. Here are five places to start:

- The official -- or perhaps just mostly official -- ‘Occupy Wall Street blog’, and in particular, the blog’s forums. Here, for instance, is the movement’s ‘Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.’

- The moving ‘We are the 99’ tumblr.

- Nathan Schneider’s ‘Occupy Wall Street FAQ’. I’d perhaps recommend this as the single best place to start.

- ‘Understanding the theory behind Occupy Wall Street’s approach,’ by Mike Konczal. A deep dive into the theoretical underpinnings of the protest movement’s tactics and organization. Also see his post, ‘15 definitions of freedom from Occupy Wall Street,’ which records the answers 15 protestors gave when Konczal asked them to define “freedom.”

- ‘Occupy Wall Street is a church of dissent, not a protest,’ by Matt Stoller.

- A nicely produced video interviewing a number of protesters:

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- Greg Mitchell’s OccupyUSA blog is essentially liveblogging the protest movement.

If you know of more worthwhile links for people looking to better understand these protests, leave them in comments. I’ll update the post with the best of them as time allows. If you’re a member of the movement, I’d be interested in hearing from you in the comments.

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