In a press conference, co-founder of Occupy Wall Street, Micah White, believes that organizing protests or disruptive tactics have failed to prevent the election of Donald Trump. "Protest is dead," said White.
White lamented that mass mobilizations no longer change society. In a presentation at the National Press Club, White noted in footage obtained from the Center for Urban Renewal and Education that protests are leaving leftist activists frustrated while also witnessing the "largest protests in human history."
In his presentation, White said that activists have come to the realization that they have only two options. “The only way to gain sovereignty in our world is to win elections or win wars,” he said. "We saw the left double down on street protests with Black Lives Matter and disruptive protests, and we saw the right go in the other direction to winning elections."
White stated that the Occupy movement ended up fostering the Tea Party movement, which adopted some of its tactics. He added, "Now we saw who took the correct strategic path. Quite frankly, it was the right. Trump is in power."
Currently, leftist movements in Spain, Iceland, and Italy, White said, are showing that they can win elections. "They’ve turned protests into winning elections."
It was from Spain that White and his colleagues brought the idea for Occupy Wall Street to the US after he observed consensus general assemblies of activists in public squares of symbolic importance. White says he would not be involved in another Occupy Wall Street type of movement. "It's boring," he said. He implored activists to "wildly" experiment with protest formats, especially around the idea of sovereignty, which is why he believes the movement he founded did not succeed. "Occupy tried to gain sovereignty by holding general assemblies in the middle of the streets of New York City and we realized you cannot do that," he said. "It doesn't work no matter how great these assemblies are. It just doesn't work."
Revolutions require overthrowing the King
White believes the end of protest also brings the proliferation of ineffective protests. "It means the development of an industry of protest that is, quite frankly, anti-revolutionary,” he claimed. White said that the progressive left has given up on revolution. Instead he believes it plays a sort of loyal opposition.
According to White, the reason that the left finds itself in its predicament is that it is so traumatized by the 21st century that it is afraid of talking about overthrowing Donald Trump.
The left, on the other hand, is not afraid to talk about revolution, said White. The question leftists must ask themselves is "How do we actually think about toppling, overthrowing Donald Trump?" as was the case when Mubarak was toppled during the Arab Spring. White noted that Mubarak's fall unfortunately ushered in a government that was worse.
“I’m not saying to not protest, but we need to protest differently. We need to use social movements to not only gain power but to govern, and to not be in power in one country but in multiple countries," he said. While there will be a temptation among leftists to continue their course of protests, White believes that the more important question is to ask “Are we willing to govern, and how do we get there?”