Julian Assange, “The World Tomorrow (Episode 7: Occupy Movement)” (Russia Today, 29 May 2012)
Unfortunately the transcript of this episode is unavailable so this review is based on the half-hour video clip made of the interview which was filmed in the former Deutsche Bank building in London, due to the number of people who turned up to make this episode. Here, Assange interviews the leaders and organisers of the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy London movements. The program splits into two parts: the first part looks at how the Occupy movement arose and the second part attempts to chart out a likely future path for the movement.
The leaders of the Occupy movement link it to the Arab Spring uprisings that originated in Tunisia and spread to Egypt and other parts of the Middle East. Issues that arise during the activists’ conversation include the role of social media in the spread and maintenance of the Occupy movement and people’s realisation that the role of the nation-state in the early 21st century has changed radically from what’s usually taken for granted – a political, social and economic entity that expresses the culture, beliefs, hopes and identity of the people who inhabit its space – and that public policy in nations is not necessarily determined by their politicians on behalf of the electorates who vote for or support them. Several streams of influence have fed into the Occupy movement so it is a multi-cephalic hydra that responds to different political and economic environments in many ways yet whether in London, New York or elsewhere, the movement’s strands have some values and goals in common. The movement is particularly grounded in a historical and economic context: among other things, the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 exposed some of the workings and the agenda of the global banking industry and enlightened many people as to the true nature of capitalist society and its institutions.
One diversion from the discussion of the nature of the Occupy movement comes halfway in the film where Assange mentions Bradley Manning, the US military whistleblower who supplied thousands of US cables to Wikileaks and stresses the way in which US authorities have used him to warn people of the consequences if they follow his rebellious example. The topic isn’t dealt with in much detail but segues into a talk about how Occupy has developed its own forms of media to bypass the official mainstream news media.
An interesting topic Assange raises is Occupy’s preference for using public space instead of underground cyber-networks to spread its message and agenda. This issue continues for several minutes and the activists explain why they prefer to use and dominate public spaces and land. Conflicts that arise between groups within Occupy and between Occupy and the police are dealt with in different ways by the movement in London and New York, depending on the severity of the reaction towards Occupy from the authorities.
The video cuts out before Assange and his guests can discuss the future of Occupy which is a blow. Generally though the conversation meandered quite a lot and some issues were dealt with in considerable depth and others only sparingly. The Occupy activists spoke well and were sincere and passionate about their cause. Had I had access to the transcript, I’d have been able to judge whether this is one of the better episodes in “The World Tomorrow” series but the conversation was quite lively and convivial.