Tidal: Occupy Theory, Occupy Strategy

Issue #1 | Issue #2 | Issue #3 | Issue #4

There is no radical action without radical thought. From Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia in 2011, which sparked the Arab revolutions, to the wave of occupations in Europe and the United States to the current uprisings in Turkey and Brazil, another world again comes to seem possible.
Tidal magazine was born during the occupation of Wall Street in 2011. We created a space for the interaction and emergence of movement-generated theory and practice. In the print magazine, Tidal began weaving together the voices of on-the-ground organizers with those of political and cultural theorists to strategize next steps, explore the radical possibilities sparked by the 2011 wave of occupations and their aftermaths, and connect both strategy and theory in order to act.

Like the encampments of Tahrir Square or Plaza de Sol, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was founded through direct action--people acting autonomously to reclaim public space without the permission of the state, the directives of a party, or the rules of an institution. OWS famously redefined the enemy by asserting a new subjectivity: “We Are the 99%!” In our rejection of neo-liberalism, we lived the world we wanted to see. We reclaimed the commons of sleeping, eating, working, but most importantly we redefined our relationships to one another and created community.

How could people in the movement understand their own work on the ground and construct a more expansive frame? How could thinkers get involved in the dialogue, contribute meaningfully and learn from organizers and activists? We needed something. So, a group of us active in the park and during the days preceding the occupation created Tidal.

Tidal evokes the metaphor of a massive "tidal wave" of popular resistance. It combines voices and experiences from the movement with writings by thinkers like Gayatri Spivak, David Graeber, Sylvia Federici and others who have devoted their lives to thinking about these issues. Tidal highlights the historical stakes and global connections of OWS. It has helped to steer the strategic conversations within the movement through an ongoing feedback loop of action and thought, testing and assessment, affirmation and interrogation. It is in this sense that the magazine is a call to "Occupy Theory." The magazine is not theory about a separate entity called Occupy. For us, Occupy is not a static noun associated with an organization. Rather, it is an active verb that can be taken up by everyone in their own lives and struggles.

Occupy has ebbed and flowed, taken on a wide range of political and social issues, emerged through local and global struggles, and popped up in beautiful, but difficult to pinpoint, rhizomatic forms, in which the roots are not visible, yet are nevertheless interconnected deep beneath the surface. In some ways, Occupy has become a “brand” associated with specific identities. In the very different context of the June 2013 movement in Brazil, the phrase appeared: “Occupy Brasil.” For more than anything else, “Occupy” is a way of being, and an aspirational community connected as a global network that understands itself as seeking a world beyond capitalist social relations – as unknowable and uncertain a future as that is.

We have come a long way since the days of occupations in 2011. Containment, categorization, assigning subjectivity and identity, ignoring complexities and intersections; these are the products of linear histories, binary constructions, simple dichotomies, and unified pluralities. In other words, our oppressors use simple boxes of identity to contain and destroy our potential – so how is recreating this containment supposed to be liberating?

We know we are engaged in the early stages of an anti-capitalist struggle around the world that is finally capable of ushering in a non-capitalist way of living. In Tidal, our immediate role from the beginning was to facilitate movement and action that can transform existing power structures. Conditions are ripe. Our overarching objective today lies in locating power and agency with people so that they can determine their own destinies.

Tidal is now putting global liberation practices and theories in discussion with each other. In the print magazine. On the expanding website at, with dispatches from around the world, regular columns by leading activists, and news reports from people on the ground wherever things become vital. In face to face think-tanks, assemblies, free universities and other forms of learning. Tidal is making creative and political collaborations and projects around the world, including Detroit, Soweto, occupied Palestine, and the World Social Forum. The task is to create Living/Learning/Organizing centers and networks. The goal is to learn how to live, finally. And live now.

In print and online, Tidal is both a textual and a visual object, with the two dimensions woven together throughout. Each issue relies on drawings, diagrams, maps, specially commissioned artworks, and photographs pertaining to contemporary movements around the world (e.g. Chile, Argentina, occupied Palestine, Tunisia, India, Iceland), as well as historic precedents in the United States such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panthers, and ACT-UP. We believe that images open our imaginations and give rise to new forms of action. Online, Tidal Images reflect and visualize the ebbs and flows of our expanded movement.

The cultivation of global relationships has always central to Tidal. With the development of the new online platform, this has been taken to a new level. The site interweaves columns and blogs from intellectuals and organizers from Occupy networks, alongside voices from the student movement in Chile, anti-austerity activists in Europe, grassroots movement-building in Detroit and occupied Palestine, and dispatches from the uprisings in Turkey and Brazil. Free from the printing schedules of the hardcopy magazine, the website enables authors to respond in real time to immediate intellectual and political developments, while weaving them into a larger story that connects the cracks in capitalism that are emerging all around the world.

These columns network our movement across the globe so that we can learn and share how we resist and build, what works and what doesn’t. Together with the magazine, these columns deepen solidarity and organically begin to articulate our shared political horizons so that we can more intentionally move towards them together, without ever diminishing or simplifying the specificities of each of our struggles.

Tidal Issue #1

Communiqué 1
Step 1: Occupy Universities. Step 2: Transform Them by Conor Tomás Reed
An Occupier’s Note by Suzahn E.
General Strike by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
On Power by Anteant
On Celebrities by ND
On Outdoor Space by Thomas Hintze and Laura Gottesdiener
Collective Statement from the Men’s Holding Cell, 1st Precinct
3 poems by Jed brandt
The power of the People to Stand and be Counted by Michael Premo
Possibility, Universality & Radicality: A Universal Chorus of Emancipation by Isham Christie
For and Against Precarity by Judith butler
Power in the Movement by Alex C.
Matrix as the Core Element by Rira
99%, a poem by Najaya Royal
The Ninety and Nine, a poem by Rose Elizabeth Smith

e102_tidal_frontpage_300x400_2Tidal Issue #2

Communiqué #2
Pulling the Emergency Break by Marina Sitrin
So, What Are the Demands? by Judith Butler
Student Debt, Women, Housing, Art, 5 Theses, The General Strike
We Are Here Because You Are There by Juan Carlos Ruiz
Pillowfighting for Our Lives
On Losing Complacency & Fear by Sandra Marie Nurse
Media As Direct Action by Katie Davison
Consider the Lillies: Money & Movements by Nathan Schneider
Editorial Statement


Tidal Issue #3

  • Communiqué #3
  • What is to be Done? by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
  • The Revolution Will Not Have a Bottom Line by Suzahn Ebrahimian
  • “Strike Debt!” by Folks from Strike Debt
  • Stop and Frisk and Other Racist Capitalist Bullshit by José Martín
  • The Power of the Powerless by Jeremy Brecher
  • S17: Occupy Wall Street Anniversary
  • The War on Dissent, the War on Communities by Jen Waller and Tom Hintze
  • On Political Repression, Jail Support, and Radical Care by Mutant Legal Working Group
  • On the Transformative Potential of Race and Difference in Post-Left Movements by Pamela Bridgewater
  • On Transparency, Leadership, and Participation
  • Where Are We? Who Are We? Occupy, Space, and Community by Nina Nehta
  • Letter to the Well-Meaning 1% by the 99%
  • Mutual Aid in the Face of the Storm by Christopher Key
  • Beyond Climate, Beyond Capitalism by Vanya S, Talib Agape Fuegoverde, V.C. Vitale
  • After the Jubilee by David Graeber
  • On Debt and Privilege by Winter
  • On Living by Nazim Hikmet
  • First Communiqué: Invisible Army

Tidal Issue #4

  • Communiqué #4
  • Constructing Unity Across Differences: The Fault Lines of the 99% by Chantal MouffeDebt and/or Wages: Organizing Challenges by George Caffentzis
  • Resurrecting Jubilee: A Faith- Based Call for a Debtors Movement by Rev. Michael Ellick (Judson Memorial Church)
  • Solidarity for Reparation by Pamela Brown
  • Mississippi Goddam: SNCC, Occupy, and The radical Community Organizing Tradition by Shyam Khanna
  • Punching the Clock: Fragments on Work and Time by Anonymous Labor Organizer
  • Questions with John Holloway
  • On Love, Loss and Movement 
  • Colonizer as Lender: Free Palestine, Occupy Wall Street, Strike Debt by Folks in Occupy Wall Street and Strike Debt
  • Wall Street, War Street, Debt Machine by Michael Hardt
  • Commoning Against Debt by Silvia Federici
  • A History of Doing by Jesal Kapadia
  • Bonded Debt and the Plundering of Our Cities by Ann Larson
  • On The Margins of Disaster, Revolutionary Acts of Care by Nastaran Mohit
  • From the Far Rockaways by Albert Carceterra
  • Climate changed us by Sofía Gallisá Muriente
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Education Movement by Zoltán Glück, Manissa McCleave Maharawal, Isabelle Nastasia, and Conor Tomás Reed
  • The Workers Rose on May Day or Postscript to Karl Marx by Audre Lorde
  • Learning from Detroit: Land, Life, Liberation