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The Winter of Our Discontent: Stepping Back, Taking Stock, and Gazing Forward in the Wake of Occupy Wall Street

Saturday, February 11, 2012     8:00 am

About “The Winter of Our Discontent”

The program consists of consecutive sessions
focusing on three interlocking themes:

1:00 – 2:30 pm   Session 1 — THE MEANS OF SOCIAL CHANGE:  The glories and limitations of radical participatory democratic models (leaderless general assemblies, spokescouncils, the human megaphone, working groups, the requirement of consensus, etc.); confrontational direct action (taking over a park, breaking bank windows, guerilla theatrics, etc.) vs. wider outreach (to unions, communities, etc.), more traditional organizing, and electoral engagement.
Initial Statement:  JAMES MILLER

2:45 – 4:15 pm   Session 2 — ULTIMATE GOALS:  The abolition of the state in favor of something more directly participatory – or rather the strengthening of a state in which elected representatives insure universal health care, equal educational opportunity, environmental norms, and so forth?  The abolition of capitalism – or else the elaboration of new forms of mixed economy (regulation of markets and financial institutions in order to promote social justice and reverse the polarization of wealth; forging new attitudes towards growth, productivity and consumption in the context of climate change; etc.)?
Initial Statement:  DAVID GRAEBER

4:30 – 6:00 pm   Session 3 — SHORT-TERM TACTICS:  The comparative virtues of renewed occupations of public spaces come the spring; mortgage and student loan actions; debt strikes; guerilla theatrics on the campaign trail; mobilization around the Chicago G-8 meetings in May; environmental protests against fracking, oil pipelines, logging; campaigns to get money out of politics; etc.
Initial Statement:  LAWRENCE WESCHLER


TERESA GHILARDUCCI, labor economist, Bernard L. and Irene Schwartz Chair in economic policy analysis at The New School; author of When I’m Sixty Four: The Plot Against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them.

TODD GITLIN, professor of sociology and journalism at Columbia University, onetime president of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of RageLetters to a Young Activist; and the forthcoming OCCUPY NATION: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupied Wall Street.

DAVID GRAEBER, anthropologist, Goldsmiths College, London; author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years; longtime anti-globalization activist and one of the original mobilizers behind Occupy Wall Street.

BIOLA JEJE, political science student at CUNY- Brooklyn College; organizer with the Brooklyn College Student Union (a collective of students, faculty, and staff, founded in Spring 2009), Students United for a Free CUNY, and NY Students Rising (a statewide network of students organizing in defense of public higher education).

STEPHEN LERNER, Washington, D.C.-based labor and community organizer, till recently with the Service Employees International Union where he led its Justice for Janitors campaign.

YOTAM MAROM, a political organizer, educator, and writer based in New York, a veteran of Occupy Wall Street’s Zuccotti Park occupation, and member of the Organization for a Free Society.

STEVE MAX, longtime organizer variously affiliated with the SDS, the New American Movement, Citizens Action, and the Midwest Academy.  He is co-author of Organizing for Social Change: Midwest Academy Manual for Activists, now in its 4th edition.

JAMES MILLER, Professor of Politics and Chair of Liberal Studies at The New School, SDS veteran, former editor of Daedelus, biographer of Michel Foucault, author of Democracy is in the Streets: From Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago, and a co-convener (with Lawrence Weschler) of this symposium.

JONATHAN SCHELL, formerly with the New Yorker, more recently with The Nation Institute, Toms Dispatch and Yale University, author of The Fate of the Earth and The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence and the Will of the People.

MARINA SITRIN, lawyer, teacher, activist and author of the just-released Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina.

REBECCA SOLNIT, longtime San Francisco-based anti-globalization activist and author ofHope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, and A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster.

EMILY TURONIS, housing activist with Organizing 4 Occupation; member of Organization for a Free Society; graduate degree in Agroecology, focusing on urban food sovereignty and building alternative food systems.

LAWRENCE WESCHLER, Director of The New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, formerly with the New Yorker, author of The Passion of PolandVermeer in Bosnia, andUncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative, and a co-convener (with James Miller) of this symposium.


For further information, including press inquiries, contact Stephanie Steiker at
The New York Institute for the Humanities: 212.998.2101 or

Saturday, February 11, 2012
8:00 am-5:00 pm
Event Category:
New York Institute for the Humanities


The Tishman Auditorium of Vanderbilt Hall at NYU
40 Washington Square South, New York, 10003 United States
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