Full text of my interview with Temple News on the walkout and Occupy Philly

Temple News: First, I need your year and major/exactly what you do at Temple.

Justin Murphy: I am a PhD student in the Department of Political Science. I am in my fourth year as a graduate student. I study International Relations and my research focuses on how mass media conditions states’ responses to international politics. I’m also a TA.

Temple News: Now, how did you find out about the walkout?

Justin Murphy: I work with a contingent of Temple students actively involved in the occupation at City Hall, or “Occupy Philly.” We have tried to keep in contact with one another to help organize relations between the occupation and the TU community. The idea of a walkout occurred to several of us independently, it being rather obvious and natural at the current juncture. Temple missed the recent effort of a nationwide walkout, so it was obvious that we should just move forward with one as soon as it would be feasible. Walkouts are happening everywhere.

Temple News: What is the point of a walkout in general, and specifically this walkout?

Justin Murphy: Simply put, the purpose of a walkout is to protest a particular institution by literally walking out of it! It is a collective withdrawal of the human participation that is the only living truth of an institution, as a demonstration that the institution is there to serve humans, not vice versa; as a reminder to those in power that, in the final analysis, it is the participants of an institution who will decide its destiny. At our current juncture, the college walkouts occurring everywhere are rather polyvalent. They aren’t simply a protest against the increasingly dire prospects of college students, against the obviously obscene conjunction of budget cuts, tuition hikes, unemployment, and soaring student debt. The college walkouts we are seeing presently, including the one planned at Temple this Friday, link the political struggle of students to the political struggle of the 99% of people who are beginning similarly to pour into the streets out of a sense of disenfranchisement. It’s interesting that we are sort of spontaneously rediscovering the logic of the general strike, which we don’t have a strong tradition of in the U.S. That is, we are realizing for ourselves that the interests of college students in this country dovetail with the interests of all poor and working people everywhere; that if students are going to win the political recognition they deserve, they are going to do it arm-in-arm with the rest of the 99% also “walking out” of wherever they are and “walking into” a general public refusal of the status quo. That is why we, as in many similar walkouts happening presently, will walk out of Temple and right into the occupation of City Hall.

Temple News: Do you have personal reasons for attending?

Justin Murphy: No, I don’t have personal reasons for attending. The fundamental truth revealed by walkouts and occupations is that all our sob stories we call “personal problems,” are nothing of that order! They are political problems, plain and simple: shared, widespread, the outcome of decisions made by people with power. Of course, I have typically oppressive student debt and will probably not get a job, but no personal reasons for attending. That said, of course I will attend.

Temple News: Do you feel like many Temple students are in support of OccupyPhiladelphia, or do they not know/don’t support the Occupation?

Justin Murphy: Extrapolating from polls and what we know about predictors of public opinion, I think we can be pretty sure that at least somewhere near half of students on campus know about the Occupy movement, and of those students a solid majority of them probably have positive views. It’s impossible to guess how many know specifically that there is an occupation–and a pretty strong one!–right down Broad Street, although most students I speak with have at least heard about it. But the reasoning for the extrapolation is simple. Polls of the country as a whole show there are more people with positive views of the Occupy movement than people with negative views. And across the country as a whole, about half of people know about it in the first place. Now, it’d be silly to guess numbers, but we know that college students in urban centers tend to be more liberal than the median citizen. How exposed to and informed about the Occupy movement they are compared to the median–that is not very clear to me. In any event, we shouldn’t be too concerned with who currently knows about the movement and what they currently think about it, because there are thousands of people, this very minute, actively teaching and welcoming others into this broad-based project. That’s the point, to make people know about it and help them see why we should all support each other against a very small elite. When we march, one of the popular chants is “We are the 99 percent!” and it’s not for nothing that we often throw in “And so are you!” while pointing at people on the sidewalk.

Temple News: How do you feel about the Republican protest in front of Senator
Toomey’s office that occurred the other day?

Justin Murphy: If I feel anything about that, and I probably don’t, I almost feel pity for these conservatives who always seem to end up on the wrong side of history.

Temple News: Anything else you’d like to add?

Justin Murphy: We should caution against naive overexcitement regarding what is only a fledgling movement, but we should also not be afraid to affirm that when we walk from the Bell Tower to City Hall this Friday we will be walking into what is probably the single best opportunity our generation has ever had to be pivotal participants in American political history.

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Murphy, Justin. 2011. "Full text of my interview with Temple News on the walkout and Occupy Philly," https://jmrphy.net/blog/2011/10/19/11633158771/ (December 14, 2018).