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Tag Archives: Occupy MovementImage Image
Although this was intended to promote a Spanish commercial bank, it is in another sense an illustration as to how a well organized spontaneous demonstration can happen.
Next time, we won’t Occupy a Park, we’ll Occupy a Planet.
From Istanbul to Brasilia the people are rising up. The media would have us believe that the civic disturbances are merely disgruntled youth but in country after country and in the United States as well, while young people are prominent, the protests are intergenerational. The demonstrations in Turkey were guided by labor unions and the feminist movement objecting to sweatshop working conditions and the subjection of women. In Brazil, it is not a grievance about excess tuition or class scheduling but a deep criticism of a Government that has forgotten the common man and woman. This is not a mere rebellion, it is Revolution.
A guiding role has been assumed by an octogenarian philosopher, Gene Sharp —
Sharp, who has been described as “a revolutionary’s best friend, or, perhaps more accurately, as a dictatorship’s worst nightmare,” and “the Machiavelli of Nonviolence” in 1973 outlined “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action” in the first of many of his works that provide a road map for orchestrating protest movements around the world.
Beyond its discussion of tactics as basic as public speeches, petitions, picketing and vigils, Sharp’s list defines how to create a unique and recognizable identity for a movement. It recommends establishing“symbolic colors,” slogans, caricatures, sounds and symbols in service of the greater cause, and draws upon the myriad ways a political party or company creates an identity for voters or consumers to associate with its candidates or products, as McDonald’s has done with its red-and-yellow color scheme, Ronald McDonald and the Golden Arches.
Copies of Sharp’s works have been disseminated around the world despite government bans in nations from Myanmar to Venezuela, and the results are evident even in uprisings where individual protesters may not be familiar with his work, but whose leaders are.
When Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement was struggling to recover from a failed effort to force reform in 2005, its leaders tossed around “crazy ideas” about bringing down the government to achieve the movement’s aims, Ahmed Maher, a leading strategist who later played a key role in the successful overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, told the NY Times. Maher said the group stumbled upon Sharp’s writings while examining the Serbian movement OTPOR, which he had influenced, and used them in the Egyptian uprising.
Sharp’s recommendations were also evident in the successful ROSE REVOLUTION in the nation of Georgia in 2003 — an image of a red rose was used to rally supporters under one common symbol — and in the Iranian uprising, which followed the 2009 presidential election and grew out of the Green Movement remembered for its masterful appropriation of the color and for embracing the cry “We Are Neda”after a young girl was killed by government forces.
And, of course, they were evident in the Occupy Movement in the United States, which arose after the financial crash of 2008 to protest systemic financial inequities. Occupy relied on overarching slogans such as “Whose Streets? Our Streets. Occupy Wall Street” with a logo depicting a ballet dancer atop the New York City financial district’s iconic bull statue, as well as the catchy “Occupy [fill-in-the-blank]” franchise. The template for the Occupy Movement was replicated in countries across the world.
At 85, Sharp continues to actively guide young radicals who trek to London to meet with him. The difference, today, is that the tactics of branding have been amplified through the use of common accoutrement and global communications technology, the latter of which is beyond Sharp, who uses neither Facebook nor Twitter.
Click On hyperlink for a montage of “Occupy Wall Street” photos accompanying Leonard Cohen. We truly hope and work for the day when Democracy comes to the USA
DEMOCRACY (lyrics) — Leonard Cohen
It’s coming through a hole in the air,
from those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It’s coming from the feel
that this ain’t exactly real,
or it’s real, but it ain’t exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
from the sirens night and day,
from the fires of the homeless,
from the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
It’s coming through a crack in the wall;
on a visionary flood of alcohol;
from the staggering account
of the Sermon on the Mount
which I don’t pretend to understand at all.
It’s coming from the silence
on the dock of the bay,
from the brave, the bold, the battered
heart of Chevrolet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
It’s coming from the sorrow in the street,
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin’
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment
where the women kneel to pray
for the grace of God in the desert here
and the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.
It’s coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It’s here they got the range
and the machinery for change
and it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.
It’s here the family’s broken
and it’s here the lonely say
that the heart has got to open
in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
Alienation is the defining feature of our whole civilization, and it operates on multiple levels—the mind is alienated from the body, both are alienated from the spirit, people are alienated from the natural world, races and classes and subcultures are alienated from each other, neighbors are alienated from neighbors and family members from other family members. Everything and everyone is atomized, split into discrete pieces, objectified and analyzed, exploited and manipulated.
A world like that is a dead world, a world where everything is just an object, a piece of property or a resource or a useful tool. A world like that has no humanity. So it’s no surprise that in a world like that, many people would define freedom in strictly negative terms, the freedom to not be interfered with while you are trying to acquire more property and resources.
When you play “Monopoly,” just one person wins. When you play “Risk,” just one person wins. The problem with seeing the whole world as a competitive game is that almost everyone is going to lose. A tiny elite will end up with almost everything, a larger number will have enough to be comfortable only if they devote their entire lives to maintaining the status quo and defending a system that defines them as losers just because they didn’t succeed in clawing their way to the top. The vast majority of people in the world will be left with little or nothing, struggling for mere survival and viciously blamed for their own poverty.
This imbalance is what we fight against, but it’s just a symptom. The cause of the problem is alienation, the multifaceted alienation that defines our culture. Just try to imagine a society where people weren’t alienated from other people or from the planet they live on or from their own bodies or from their spirits. Wouldn’t it look almost completely different than what we have now?
The word “radical” comes from Latin, and it originally implied getting to the roots of a matter. If the root of what is wrong with our world is alienation, then the most radical thing we can possibly do is to refuse to be alienated, the most revolutionary thing we can do is to challenge the alienation all around us, and the one thing we can do that most deeply and directly challenges the status quo is to stand together in solidarity.
The defining worldview of any culture is invisible to most of the people in that culture; it’s like water to a fish. That’s why Occupy confuses people. They think of us as a protest movement when protest is actually just one part of what we do and not really the defining part. They ask us why we don’t have a leadership structure because they mistake us for an organization and think we’re just a poorly-organized activist group. They ask us why we don’t have a list of demands because they don’t realize that such a thing wouldn’t really be possible- there’s no orthodoxy or uniformity of opinion among us that would allow us to issue such a convenient list.
They miss the central point of what we’re doing, which is right there in the name: we’re Occupying space together, in multiple different ways. Sometimes in an encampment, sometimes in an abandoned building, sometimes in a house threatened by foreclosure, sometimes in a library or a cafe, and sometimes on the street. We’re Occupying space together so that we can hear each other talk, so we can share a meal or exchange ideas or stand together to resist a wrong.
We’re Occupying space together, and it’s changing all of us. Never in my entire life have I spent time with such a wide range of different people as I have in Occupy. People of different classes and races and ages and sexual identities. Most of the people I work with in Occupy are people I would never have had a reason to socialize with outside of it. Their life experiences are different from mine. They don’t read the same books I read or listen to the same music I listen to. They don’t look like I do.
When I spend time with people who do listen to the music I listen to or read the same books I read, it’s a fun experience. When I stand side by side in solidarity with people who don’t have these obvious and superficial things in common with me, it’s a life-changing experience. When I link arms with a person I don’t even know so that we can help another person we don’t know to stay in his or her home, it’s a revolutionary experience, because it’s a shared refusal to be alienated.
We’re not always that good at solidarity; we still have a lot to learn about how to hear each other and how to treat each other respectfully. But let’s not forget what we’re here for and what makes Occupy so promising and so exhilarating. We could make a list of our ten favorite reforms and win them all, but if we failed to address the alienation at the core of our culture then we would not have fixed anything. In the end, we would just end up creating the same mess all over again. Let’s dare to be radical in the original sense of the word, let’s dare to look deep enough to see the roots of the problem.
Let’s refuse alienation.
Scott Thompson, a member of OCCUPY SAINT PAUL