Micah White on why Occupy failed and his book The End of Protest

Micah White helped create Occupy Wall Street. But four years after those protests against inequality and the "one per cent," he's criticizing his own movement and others including Black Lives Matter. Oh, and he also likes some of what he sees in Donald Trump.

Occupy leader Micah White led the charge against the '1 per cent,' but now praises Trump

Micah White | The End of Protest

7 years ago
Duration 10:19
Micah White helped create Occupy Wall Street. Now he's talking about its failures and why he doesn't like other contemporary protest movements.

Micah White probably should not have anything good to say about Donald Trump.

After all, White is one of the founders of Occupy Wall Street, the protest movement that started in 2011 and quickly grew into a global sit-in against the "one per cent." This places White clearly on the left end of the political spectrum. 

His conversations are littered with phrases like "decentralized social movements" and "consensus-based decision making."

Micah White says Occupy Wall Street failed, but predicts another revolution will come and that Canada could play a leading role. "You have some sort of magic that's lacking in America." (CBC News)
So one might think White would be spitting nails at the mere mention of the billionaire Republican nominee who has failed to distance himself from a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard. 

Strangely not. 

"One thing I do appreciate about Donald Trump is his risk-it-all attitude," said White in an interview with CBC's Wendy Mesley. "If you contrast Donald Trump with Bernie Sanders, you know when Donald Trump says 'If I don't get the nomination there's going to be riots and protests in the streets,' that's exactly what Bernie Sanders should have been saying two months ago. He doesn't have the risk-it-all guts that Donald Trump has."

In the conversation, White is the happy activist warrior who still manages to surprise, especially in his criticism of today's activist campaigns — a theme that's echoed in his new book The End of Protest.

He's open about the failures of the Occupy movement. He's not a fan of online petitions, saying they rely on the "market testing" their ideas. And he doesn't seem all that enthralled with Black Lives Matter, a movement focussed on violence against blacks, especially by police.

"It still has that sense of an inward-looking American movement," he said. "I think the the challenges we face now are global."

Protesters march in support of the New York Occupy Wall Street rally in Los Angeles in 2011. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
White admits this last point is a bit of a "touchy" subject for him, given he's a black activist. In fact, many of his opinions have not endeared him to his peers.

"I do think I've become kind of unpopular in the activist community. They like to tell one story. Nothing's ever a failure. 'We're actually winning' - this feels really good when people say this to themselves, but it doesn't help us learn anything."

Still, White is convinced a bottom-up revolution is coming. "It's going to be global. It's going to be beautiful."

He even thinks Canada might have a starring role. 

"You have some sort of magic that's lacking in America." 

[Watch the interview with Micah White in the video player on this page or here.]


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