Designation: Member, New York
City General Assembly, one of the organisers of Occupy Wall Street movement
Career: Ph.D. student in Computer Science at WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) University
Education: 2002-2006 graduate student at Brown University
Interests: Maths, arts and programming
Q There has been disdain for capitalism as a whole...
This is a movement against corruption, criminality, cronyism, and regulatory capture.
Decisions [are] made by the rich in order to enable their thievery. Returning to a democratic capitalism would be an improvement.
Q How did this movement begin?
Technically, the movement began in late 2008. The crash and bail-outs revealed the recklessness of Wall Street banks. Over the next three years, we saw the impact of those decisions. Banks and corporate profits bounced back quickly to their pre-crash levels, while 99 percent of the people saw widespread unemployment and strife.
An artist at the Adbusters magazine drew a poster of a ballerina on the Wall Street bull, stating, ‘Occupy Wall Street, Oct 17th, bring tent’. The poster resonated with people, who then found each other and began planning concretely.Q Who are the members who are part of this movement?
The members are those who show up. Occupy Wall Street is run using a decision-making process that is nothing like the common top-heavy structures, built around a single leader. Occupy Wall Street’s process is designed to catalyse and amplify the voice of every participant, as much as possible. It is called ‘consensus decision making’. Important decisions that affect the entire community are taken at the General Assembly at Liberty Square, every day at 7 p.m.
Q Who inspired you to bring about this change?
The Arab Spring inspired the tactic. Occupy a public space and hold it for as long as it takes.
The spirit of Mahatma Gandhi is felt tremendously here. The community here has gone to great lengths — to great success — to reconfirm every day its commitment to non-violence.
Speaking for myself, I have been following Anna Hazare’s efforts, and I am tremendously inspired by them. Q There has been criticism that there has been no specific leader or goal for the movement. What are your comments?
The lack of a single leader is by design. We draw on the ideas of far more people when we do not artificially limit the source. Without a single leader at the top, it is much harder to pacify the movement with bribes or special treatments. The accusation of ‘lack of specific goal’ is nothing except lazy journalism. Anyone can visit Liberty Place, interview the people and notice the commonality.
(This story appears in the 18 November, 2011 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)