Occupying Occupy 2.0

January 22, 2012


Occupy began as an original, direct, popular and spontaneous response to a world crisis that is destroying individual lives and the natural environment. Occupy challenges the inequality and the division by which unfathomable wealth is accumulated by a few and untold miseries are faced by the many. Occupy connects with the mood and the understanding of the general public who are looking for alternatives to the current system (and often trying to create them).

Each one begins by occupying a public space, operating in an open manner, and by attempting to conduct simple, consensus-based discussions before making any decisions. Camps are created which provide meeting places for people to gather and hold debates about the crisis. Hope is generated. The causes of the crisis are illuminated. Declarations are made about constructing alternatives to the current system. Experience and activities are recorded and made available so that others can join in and repeat the process elsewhere. The cracks in the system are taken up as opportunities for escape.

Throughout the process, existing technologies and practices are adopted.


Occupy camps suffer from the conditions inherent in organising openly whilst operating in an outdoor urban environment. Forces are unavoidably admitted which dissipate energy, consume resources, and weaken the operation. As the operation becomes weaker, the environment becomes less habitable, and productive activities become more challenging. A vicious circle develops as more people drop out and fewer people join in.

Although the productive work becomes increasingly crowded out by the harsh (perhaps insurmountable) realities of camping in a megacity, broad public support is established and sufficiently productive relations are constituted for a way forward to be found. Imperceptibly, a threshold is crossed. Occupy becomes reflexive. Occupiers talk about moving on, and about moving the movement on. The term “Occupy 2.0” appears.

Inevitably, Occupy breaks with the damaging forces that are attracted to the camps. Occupy looks beyond the original tactic of camping in city centres and moves into neighbourhoods. Occupy camps are redesigned as eco-villages.


Occupy continues by connecting with the analysis, the meaning, the personal networks and the practices developed in the camps. Occupy also begins to connect with the wider incremental and cooperative processes of production which continue to bring new things into existence, despite the crisis.

Occupy becomes able to challenge the conditions which nurture inequality and division. It moves forward with a detailed and deepening analysis of the failed system. At every turn, positive alternatives are formulated for living individual lives whilst operating within the constraints of a finite natural world.

Occupy becomes increasingly cooperative. Issues are prioritised roughly. Achievements are tracked. Plans are regularly reviewed and remade. All processes are placed under continuous incremental development. New issues are added to an open backlog of issues. Everything is as simple as possible, but no simpler.

New processes evolve and new technologies are developed to facilitate this evolution. Processes become approachable and inhabitable again.

Democratic methods for conceiving positive alternatives to the status quo are constituted, sustained and secured. Cracks in the current system develop into fatal fractures. The parts of the old order are pushed to the margins of a newly democratic system. The desire to reproduce society is fulfilled. The crisis passes away.


By John Bywater