Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement

By Kerr Everett
December 17th, 2012

Occupy Wall Street and the regional movements that arose in its wake have been the subject of many books. Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement by Amy Lang and Daniel Lang/Levitsky (New Internationalist, 2012) seeks to tell Occupy’s story not unlike other works: by collecting mostly pre-published statements, speeches and writings along with a smattering of original pieces on the theory and practice that motivated the movement.

What began as a protest against the growing economic inequality between rich and poor became a point of interest for many campaigns. The encampments in many cities soon faced a number of internal conflicts, including expectations and realities of democracy, sexism and distribution of labor. Ideological differences were manifested in debates over tactics. Dreaming in Public attempts to discuss all these cases and, as such, the book is quite ambitious. There are a lot of included writings available online, such as Rinku Sen’s “Forget Diversity, It’s About ‘Occupying’ Racial Inequity” and others, which are still helpful to have in book form. Although having all these writings is good, the book doesn’t cover any particular set of debates very deeply. As such, this is a good starting point to read about the ideas of Occupy, while other books, like We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy from Occupation to Liberation (AK Press, 2012), could fill in some important areas.

A bonus to Dreaming in Public is the many Occupy photos and graphics included in the book. It keeps the text from feeling too dry. If you’re brave enough to wade through the pieces that remind you of some of Occupy’s most obnoxious instances (such as bad identity politics, glamorizing homeless people and anarchists marginalizing women and people of color), you will definitely enjoy the creativity showcased in Dreaming in Public.

Although avid watchers of Occupy are unlikely to get a lot out of Dreaming in Public, the book is impressive for the variety of collected essays and could be considered essential for those hoping to see why Occupy garnered the attention it did.

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