Occupy Oakland Little Revolution Couldnt
I just finished a second read of this rather exceptional book. I'm co-author (with John George) of Nazis, Communists, Klansmen and Others on the Fringe (Prometheus, 1992) and founder of the Wilcox Collection on Contemporary Political Movements at Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas. Over the years I've read hundreds of accounts of political movements, ranging from academic histories to frankly ideological and partisan accounts. This book is far closer to the former than the latter and will make a valuable addition to any library of modern political movements.
Kurtz does an excellent job of documenting and footnoting his sources. Occupy Oakland was a very fluid movement with a short active lifespan and consequently nearly all of the information comes from observers, participants or journalists. Unlike longer lasting movements there was very little in the way of media produced by the group itself beyond electronic communications. There was, however, a fair amount of video of the protests that tends to support claims made by the author and helps to weave a fascinating story of a political movement that was far more radical and extreme than media accounts would suggest.
The coalition of liberal, radical, anarchist and Marxist-Leninist groups and individuals who came together in Occupy Oakland had the effect of frightening the liberals in politics and media who initially supported it. Violence was common, as were threats, intimidation and overt attempts to prod the police into retaliation. The nihilism that lies at the base of radical leftism boiled to the surface quickly and it became apparent that it would have to be contained or it would prove a major embarrassment to the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign. Occupy supporters, after all, constituted a significant segment of their militant "base." Kurtz covers this aspect of the story very well.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in America's future.