The Oldness of the New and the Newness of the Old: Comparing the Occupy Wall Street Movement and the Global Justice Movement and Illustrating Their Connections

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Nara Roberta SILVA, State University of Campinas (Unicamp), Brazil
In this paper, I compare the Occupy Wall Street Movement (OWS) and the Global Justice Movement (GJM). The GJM is an extensive transnational network of diversified social movements, unions, political parties, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, intergovernmental institutions, non-governmental donor agencies, enterprises etc. that emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The OWS is the American manifestation of the 2011 global wave of protests. Analysis is based on review of literature, especially on transnational social movements and networks studies, and in-depth interviews conducted with activists. Links between the two movements are found initially in the Adbusters’ explanation of the OWS as a late development of the GJM and the expectation of the former as a potential “shift in revolutionary tactics.” I affirm that the OWS has nonetheless gone through similar dilemmas and difficulties faced by the GJM. I explain why such a repetition occurred by taking into account specificities of the GJM in the United States and of American politics. The GJM’s organizing dynamics lasted in the United States because the American GJM turned its attention to domestic issues and pushed forward a movement building perspective. Therefore, I assume that the national political landscape is important to an analysis and maintain that connection between the two movements is understood through their similar tactics and organizational structure. Finally, the two movements here discussed are not exactly the same and I defend that the OWS’s dependence upon some individuals seems to have been even more intense than it has been the case in the GJM.