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The Coffee Summit

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ES: I agree. [Looks at watch] Five more minutes. Then I have to get back to my office. [Jokingly] I have an office. I apologize.

MM: I have to teach. I teach this evening.

ES: Where do you teach?

MM: I teach at Baruch College.

ES: I teach at CCNY.

MM: Oh, okay. So we’re in the same system. As I was saying, one of the reasons this movement has been without demands is because without demands we can shift. The moment you have a list of demands, you have politicians take all of those demands and explain to you why they aren’t going to work.

ES: But in order to turn this into something other than a visceral cry of despair, you need to figure out how to confront the actual problems and issues. You need to think about all of this more rigorously. If you’re down in Zuccotti Park six months from now, having made it through a cold winter, I’m not sure whether you would deem that success. Trust me, the media won’t be paying as much attention six months from now if it’s just the same couple hundred people, right? I’ve been defending these protests and being supportive and saying that this is great. But saying all those things doesn’t preclude you from recognizing that, just as with a chess game, there’s got to be a next move. Let me ask you this. Think about the civil rights movement, the Vietnam-era anti-war movement, the labor movement, the women’s rights movement, any of the social movements of the last hundred years. Do you see an analog that would take you towards where you hope to end up?

MM: I’m not sure how to …

ES: Look, I’m not a historian. But if you’re going to understand how social change happens, I think those movements are where you have to look, those times when the levers of political power and economic power converge around shared values.

MM: Of course people are drawing from our rich history of social movements. But there is something different about this one. The form of this movement is very different from all those earlier movements you mentioned. Where does it go? I don’t know. I can’t say where it’s going.


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