Occupy the World (Attention, 1% Elites: We 99% live here, too!) #OccupyTogether #OccupyWallST (Thanx 2 @robinjpearson)
While this blog lay dormant, the Revolution began. I’ve been avidly following #occupywallstreet on Twitter from Day 1 on September 17, US Contsitution Day.
And last night, my whole family and I were so moved by what we’ve seen online that we actually drove down from our suburban home in Bothell to attend the Seattle General Assembly. It was every bit as real as I had hoped — even more so. In the glow of the streetlights (it was dark by the time we got there) nearly 100 people gathered to talk about our local Occupy Seattle plans, and, just as importantly, to take the time to listen to each person who wanted to speak. We were not the only family there. Because everyone is welcome, the group was truly diverse: fairly mid-America types like us side-by-side with 20-something activists and Boomers. Kids, babies, teens, adults. Anarchists, socialists, at least one Ron Paul supporter, moderates. A lovely radical, kerchief-wearing activist told me how she had reached out to find common ground with Tea Partiers the previous weekend, much to my delight (since many of my friends are actually quite conservative). I had a mutually edifying conversation with a Buddhist, and found many points of agreement with an atheist. In the Bible, this is described as loving your neighbor as yourself. I like it! Why should we continue to let artificial walls of division imprison us? The positive energy and mutual respect in that mixed crowd felt like a soul embrace. The ideas were invigorating. We all had an amaing time. My thirteen-year-old was so inspired that she decided to drop her Saturday plans so we can join the Seattle GA again this afternoon, and in fact that’s where I hope to be within 45 minutes of posting this.
So I can say, not only because of studying it online, but also by virtue of physically being involved, that this is no ordinary revolution. From the mainstream media blackout (over a week of virtually no coverage) to the police crackdown to the sudden leap of the movement into well over 100 cities nationwide (actually, worldwide), it has been obvious that this movement is not your old-school, sign-waving protest.
The traditional script calls for a charismatic leader (like Ghandi or Dr. Martin Luther King) or, at the very least, an established union of some sort, to organize a mass demonstration. There should be a clear list of demands and a strategic plan that the people are mobilized to enact. The Powers That Be resist, then feel the pressure of the growing crowds, then finally capitulate and agree to negotiate with the revolutionary leaders. A somewhat livable compromise ensues. Much of the root problem remains unadressed, but everthing’s okay until the next time. The Occupy Wall Street movement doesn’t aim to follow that script. Instead, to call out top-down, command-and-control, power-hungry elitism, this movement has emerged as a self-organizing, leaderless demonstration of purely egalitarian populism. They are radically “being the change” as Ghandi suggested.
The General Assembly is what makes the Occupy movement different. It’s laying the foundation for a democracy that will work, where the people’s voices are heard. The NYC Declaration of Occupation is an amazing example of GA success. This document was drafted by a diverse, leaderless group of a few hundred people who came to full agreement. After reading it, I also fully agree with their statement. And I sit delighted and amazed that, just as chaos theory has fairly recently discovered, robust order does indeed emerge from bewildering complexity. Using nature’s fundamental principles for creating living systems seems to me like the most sustainable possible way to replace the sick, dying, parasitic system that has been raping the planet and impoverishing the masses.
I’m excited about this break from traditional revolutionary dynamics. A declaration wields more power than a demand. It relies on the people’s will, not the oppressors’ whim. It’s a call for all American citizens to reclaim our democracy. It’s an invitation to the whole world: “Hey, everyone buying and selling everywhere! Let’s finally insist on justice and restore sanity to the global economy.” Once enough people take notice and decide to take action, the real work will begin. The people will engage with each other and with the situation, and the most effective solutions will emerge from that process.
This movement is not likely to be a quick fix, but it is almost certainly the path to deep, long-term change.