"You don't seriously believe this is a leaderless movement, do you?" Cecily McMillan, a 23-year-old graduate student at the New School, asks me one day. Not possible, she says, that's an illusion crafted by the OWS secret elite, who she insists are unresponsive to the demand for a concrete agenda by the "actual 99 percent."
McMillan is Northeast regional organizer for the youth section of the Democratic Socialists of America, which bills itself as the largest socialist organization in the United States. She's been involved with the Occupy movement since August, despite sharp differences with most of the people in the park. "I believe in a constrained view of revolution," she says, by which she means putting pressure on mainstream politicians. And for this, she says, she has suffered. "I have been called a terrorist. I have been called CIA, FBI. I have been called a Democrat!" Like Lasn, she wants regime change. Unlike most of the occupiers, she believes it requires the guidance of those, like her, possessed of what she calls "cultural capital."
She's a former cheerleader; she used to want to be a politician. She says her studies and her work – she's also a nanny – prevent her from sleeping in the park. But she's not afraid to put her body on the line. She was arrested after she charged Wall Street three times, a "direct action" that even some veteran anarchists – militant and masked – considered wildly courageous, if foolish. A cop thought so, too, blasted her with pepper spray, knocked her down, stepped on her head and snarled at her, "Shut up. You get what you deserve, cunt bitch."
We met in the atrium of 60 Wall Street, built in 1989 as a headquarters for JP Morgan and sold to Deutsche Bank right after 9/11. It looks like a bad Italian restaurant – white-tiled columns, mirrored ceiling, a grotto, stunted palms. This is where many of the movement's working groups meet. At any given time there might be a half-dozen of them – the People's Kitchen, Alternative Banking, Tactics, Medics, Sanitation. McMillan had just come from a gathering of one of the biggest and most influential groups, Facilitation, responsible for setting the agenda of the daily General Assembly. She was there as the least bristly representative of the working group that bluntly calls itself Demands, and her first demand was a place on the agenda, which she claimed had been denied by "infiltrators." She wasn't talking about police; she meant other occupiers opposed to her ideas.
--from Jeff Sharlet's outstanding history, Welcome to the Occupation