The Occupy Movement, which has already been hugely successful in thrusting issues of inequality and corporate power into the public discourse, faces a critical juncture. As many of the larger encampments in New York, Oakland, Philadelphia and Los Angeles are shut down by the police, activists have been searching for the tactics to move beyond Occupation to Phase 2 of the movement. Some say that the movement now should evolve into the political arena, supporting policy ideas, running candidates for office, and putting pressure on politicians and corporations. Similarly, others argue that the next step is to develop a specific list of demands, which presumably could further policy initiatives and protests.
A different tactical response is to create what essentially would be a non-violent guerrilla movement in American cities. For example, Kalle Lasn, the Adbuster magazine publisher and originator of the Wall Street encampment idea, reportedly urged a new "swarming strategy of surprise attacks against business as usual." The Chicago occupiers have resolved to have an event a day throughout the winter, such as defending foreclosed homes, sit-ins, banner drops, building parks, providing supplies to the homeless, or guerrilla theater and art. In the same vein, longtime social movement scholar and activist Francis Fox Piven foresaw some time ago that the movement would develop new phases, utilizing "other forms of disruptive protests that are punchier than occupying a square," or "rolling occupations of public space."
This article suggests another alternative, one that focuses on creating sustainable alternative decentralized institutions that reflect in microcosm the egalitarian, democratic vision of society that the Occupy Movement has put forth. Such a strategy would be combined with a continual presence in the streets and parks around issues of injustice such as foreclosures.
While determining the tactics of the next phase is critical to keeping the movement alive over the next weeks and months, the broader strategic goal is that of developing a truly long-term movement to transform society — measured not in seasons, but years or even decades. That task is one of sustainability. How can the Occupy Movement (OWS) develop the organizational, cultural and institutional forms to sustain a long term movement, yet also maintain its dynamism, horizontalism, direct democracy, creativity, activism and transformative vision? No American social or political movement of the twentieth century has been able to do so.