The beginnings of Occupy Wall Street, like many ideas these days, were brainstormed in an e-mail chain. The senders, as is known to those following the occupation closely, were Kalle Lasn, the co-founder of the Canadian activist magazine Adbusters, and Micah White, the magazine’s senior editor and Lasn’s “closest collaborator,” as he’s dubbed in a new, extensive The New Yorker profile of the pair and the movement they birthed. As previously reported, Lasn and White were working to recalibrate the protest last week, urging protesters to declare victory and spend the winter month’s planning, citing a successful two months of demonstration, while noticing some lagging momentum and logistical concerns. And then, hours after the duo’s proposal went out to 90,000 Abusters readers, Zuccotti Park was raided. “Eerie timing!” White emailed Lasn. They were quite pleased.
Mattathias Schwartz reports in The New Yorker that Lasn went over details of the eviction with White while he was in the bathtub, describing the “military-style operation,” which reminded Lasn of the situation in Syria:
“I just can’t believe how stupid Bloomberg can be!” he said to me later that day. “This means escalation. A raising of the stakes. It’s one step closer to, you know, a revolution.”
Moving forward, the creators see the end of the Zuccotti encampment as the beginning of a new chapter in the movement:
Lasn and White quickly hammered out a post-Zuccotti plan. White would draft a new memorandum, suggesting that Phase I — signs, meetings, camps, marches — was now over. Phase II would involve a swarming strategy of “surprise attacks against business as usual,” with the potential to be “more intense and visceral, depending on how the Bloombergs of the world react.”
After planting the seeds for the protest, the pair never expected to guide its progress, supporting the horizontal decision-making structure, but their “tactical briefings” continue. “The chessboard has been overturned, and now a new game begins!” Lasn said, obviously excited about Phase II. “The stakes are so much higher this time. First, we need to let the dust settle.”