Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse: By Nathan Schneider, 216 pgs. By Jim Woster

Early in Thank You, Anarchy, his highly readable, from-its-beginnings book about Occupy Wall Street, Nathan Schneider settles the question, “Did Occupy Wall Street accomplish anything of note?”

He writes, “The fact that most radical aspirations of Occupy Wall Street remain unrealized is also a symptom of success; images that it promulgated of shutting down Wall Street and mounting a general strike became implanted in people’s minds, if even just to provide a measure of how those images failed to become manifest.”

Spin aside—spin into which Schneider occasionally lapses throughout the book, starting with the word “Apocalypse” in the title—we come to understand what Occupy truly was: a group of individuals under the same banner, whose goal was to celebrate themselves, in their own ways, as extravagantly as the individuals on Wall Street celebrate themselves.

“… the occupation’s first step was to make the experience an end in itself…”

“‘I’ve never felt so liberated, so free!’ one of the planners told me.”

“The realization was creeping upon me, or in some cases creeping me out, that this political movement I’d been mixed up in for months was really, truly, and above all best understood as a gigantic art project, which unwittingly I had been helping to carry out.”

Schneider has a wishfulness that abuts his objectivity, but you never lose your trust in him as a reporter of events, even as you dismiss some of his interpretations of events. I can’t imagine there is or will be a fuller street-level account of

Occupy Wall Street.

While there’s no real point in getting all bothered about what Occupy could have been—it was what it was; it made some people feel better; it cemented the idea of the ninety-nine percent into American rhetoric; it helped people in trouble after Hurricane Sandy—upon learning from this book that one of the ideas floated at the movement’s beginning was that it should focus on “one demand,” like restoring the Glass-Steagall Act, I did feel frustration at what could have been.

But “one demand” wasn’t the nature of Occupy—its nature was everyone gets heard, everyone has fun. –Jim Woster (University of California Press, 155 Grand Ave., Suite 400, Oakland, CA94612-3758, ucpress.edu)