While in New York City, I reserved some time in my schedule to head down to Zuccotti Park and speak to people at Occupy Wall Street, sort of just to sync views of the world and see if we would connect on some level. That was interesting.
I’ve said for a long time that I think that the Pirate Parties, Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street have fundamental connections and share a significant overlap — the most recent time being in the elaborate Business Insider interview with Nick Jardine.
So after walking around Wall Street and Zuccotti for a while in my suit (just to test if social prejudices worked the other way around too), I walked up to a guy who had been taking a photo in my classic five-year pose and introduced myself. Apparently, he was there with three other friends, and I asked them if they would share their story and view of the world with me if I offered to buy coffee?
Works almost every time.
So I sat down with four activists from Zuccotti named Callum, Amena, Messiah, and C.J. at a nearby Prêt à Manger — with some uncertainty as to the spelling of their names, as I never saw them in writing — to see if we would connect over some common values.
We chatted for a short while before I introduced myself and described how media frequently asks what the relationship is between the Pirate Parties and Occupy Wall Street. I went on to describe the fundamentals of the Pirate Party: how we were founded on the premise that everybody having a voice (thanks to the net) is the greatest equalizer humankind has ever invented, and how that is worth fighting for; and how we, using a variety of methods, are fighting the current privileges for some corporations to buy legislation that benefit their bottom line at the expense of our liberties.
When I asked the activists for their reflections on this in relation to OWS, and what they here at Occupy Wall Street carry as their fundamental values, they responded noddingly;
— Yeah. That.
Apparently, there is more overlap than I first thought. Much more. But we were also in agreement that nobody had the right to speak for a movement; all our individual opinions meld with those of others to form a cohesive movement. Nobody can speak for anybody else (which, again, is part of the point). Therefore, while our connect at the individual activist level was an interesting and strong observation, it does not make an agreement between organizations.
We went on to chat for way longer than I had first intended, I just lost track of time and had to rush to the airport afterwards. If you’re reading this, guys: thanks. I really enjoyed our chat.
UPDATE: Some people have pointed out in the comments that the particular response quoted above may be indicative of people who are wishywashy and latch onto whatever somebody’s saying. This is not my impression from being in situ at all. Rather, I chose to quote that line as it had such a stark contrast to the rest of the conversation; I would not have stayed for well over an hour if I had not perceived these activists as highly intelligent, passionate, and thoughtful.