Canadian Business: Do you think the movement will gather momentum or fizzle out in 2012?
Kalle Lasn: After Mayor Bloomberg, in his military-style operation, took out Zuccotti Park [protesters], a lot of pundits pronounced the end of the movement. But I think it has just begun. Last month, we saw the young people of Russia suddenly rise up in a totally unexpected way. You’d think Putin had the game sewn up there, yet all of a sudden we have tens of thousands of people showing the same kind of fervour that we saw in Greece and Spain and, of course, in Tunisia and Egypt. To me, the core impulse behind this movement is the feeling among young people all over the world that the future doesn’t compute, that their lives will be full of ecological, political and financial crises, and that they will never have a life like their parents did. And unless they stand up and fight for a different kind of a future, they’re not going to have a future. When I see even the Russians rising up, then I have the feeling this movement—especially if the global economy keeps on tanking—could well morph into a full-fledged global revolution.
CB: Does this movement have the chance of making real change?
KL: This revolution is the revolution of the Internet. People are talking to each other intensely, all the time. Whenever anybody does anything interesting in Spain or Italy or Greece or Russia, the word goes out immediately and globally, so this truly is a global phenomenon. That’s why I think the possibility of a global uprising against the current status quo is possible. I think we will be able to influence the way the global economy works and implement things like Robin Hood taxes [on financial market transactions] and ban high-frequency flash trading and dismantle this global casino. I think this Internet generation can have a huge influence on how business is done in the future.
CB: What does success mean for the Occupy movement?
KL: Basically to keep on going. The political left has had a long history of fizzling out. In 1968, it fizzled out. The Battle of Seattle and all those global marches fizzled out. And the political left has been kind of a loony left—an ineffective, whiny political force—for a long, long time. There’s still a danger that the Occupy movement will meet that same kind of fate. So our biggest success will be keeping our spirits high and occupying campuses and coming out next spring and starting myriad projects. The big challenge is to just keep the movement together.
CB: What might the movement look like in 2012?
KL: I think the first phase that was all done in this beautiful, horizontal, magical way is over. There will be occupations in 2012, but I think the focus of the movement will move into surprise occupations of banks and corporate headquarters and economics departments of universities. Here in B.C., we’re planning a major occupation of the economics department of the University of British Columbia for early this year. [We’ll do] things like moving your money from big banks into credit unions. Surprise moves. The slogan that seems to be catching the imagination is something we put out in a tactical briefing recently: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” I think that’s a beautiful way to describe the future of the movement, because it’s going to be swarms of occupiers.