Marxist Student Group Holds OWS Discussion at NYU
On the evening of October 28, The Platypus Affiliated Society, a Marxist student group, hosted a round table discussion called “What is the #Occupy Movement?” at NYU’s Kimmel building. Six people who are members of different Occupy Wall Street working groups were invited to share their views and address a series of questions regarding the movement. Between 50 and 75 people were in attendance, including individuals from The New School.
Questions to the round table participants were about topics as diverse as the similarities between OWS and the 1999 anti-World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, whether OWS is an anti-capitalist movement, the role of organized labor, whether or not to formulate demands, what those demands would be, and what would constitute success for the protesters.
When the participants discussed whether OWS can be characterized as “anti-capitalist,” different opinions emerged. Lisa Montanarelli, one of the working group members, believed that since all the occupiers are not anti-capitalists, the movement is also not anti-capitalist. However, Chris Maisano, a librarian, a Marxist and a member of the Demands Working Group, disagreed with her.
“This movement is anti-capitalist but it doesn’t know it yet,” he said.
A Platypus member asked them additional questions before the floor opened up to the audience. The first questioner, Susan Kirsch, a retired social worker, asked how other communities — those in the lower classes, people with responsibilities and families, and those who aren’t categorized as young people with the “luxury” to devote time and resources to protesting — can be part of this movement.
Another question came from a recent New School graduate from international affairs. “One of the things we hear a lot in European media is the comparison between the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Tea Party. I would like I hear your responses to that.”
Maisano stated, “The Tea Party is so bizarre: it is a counterrevolution in search of a revolution.”
Throughout the discussion, the discussants would occasionally raise their hand or hands in front of them and wiggle them, indicated that they agree with that person’s statement.
Lauris Rojas, a member of Platypus, shared her overall satisfaction of this discussion.
“It went really well. The attendance was great,” stated Rojas. “We want this [series of round table discussion] to grow. We want people to come back.”
Susan and Bruce Kirsch, a married couple who are both retired social workers have been attending New School lectures as well as lectures held across universities in New York City.
“It was very informative and very edifying,” said Bruce Kirsch.
According to Susan Kirsch, a life-long activist, she was encouraged to see young people care about this subject matter and to hold a corporeal dialogue instead of a digital dialogue.