21 November 2011

How can the Occupy Movement transition from protest to action? (Part II)

There is a glimmer of hope coming from the Occupy Movement.  In these turbulent times, the Movement cannot stall but must transform itself quickly to respond to the mounting problems facing the global community.   It can be clearly stated that the U.S. Congress will not act in the best interest of the 99% , neither will other governmental bodies, E.U., IMF etc. who are frantically manipulating financial markets, proposing austerity programs with the gamble that everything will resolve itself.  It is obvious that the world leadership is not equipped to make the necessary changes to correct the situation or are willing or able due to their commitment to the plutocracy; neither are they willing  to engage with the Occupy Movement. 

At this crucial juncture, the Occupy Movement and all the entourage that support it must evolve into a more structured organization with key leadership to confront the emerging political situations and the decrepit and self-serving plutocracy.  Although the Movement espouses a leaderless organization, it is becoming increasingly apparent that leaders with faces must emerge to foster the embers that have been started so that it can become a roaring fire.  This leadership could come from existing members of Congress, European Union leaders, mayors, union leaders, industrialists, economists, political scientists, environmentalists, urban/regional planners. urbanists, and others.  There are probably many who are ‘waiting in the wings’ to enter the discussion from the most prominent to ordinary citizens.  As with any movement, key leaders with integrity and conviction must be at the forefront. This is the success of all movements in the modern era (e.g.  Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel , Pope John Paul II, Jaime Lerner,  and Dr. Martin Luther King.)  What is striking about these leaders that they championed a cause outside of the political system then moved into an elected or a higher position.  The exceptions would be Mahatma Gandhi, Bishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama and Dr. Martin Luther King, who deliberately remained outside of direct political office. It is unfortunate that it appears that President Obama is too linked to the plutocracy that he cannot lead such a movement.  There is a tremendous ‘brain-trust’ in the world and persons with integrity who can come to the forefront.  If past history is an indicator of the future then leaders will emerge.  It is only hoped that they will be of such character to be an inspiration and self-less, understanding their role and their responsibility to a global population anxious for real change.

It is also very apparent that the opposition, the plutocracy, is mounting a smear campaign against to prevent the solidification of the Occupy Movement.  While there was some toleration in the beginning, it was apparent that the plutocracy was threatened after it was certain that the movement would not dissipate.  You can imagine one of the financial leaders on Wall Street stating to the Mayor Bloomberg  of New York, “Enough is enough. It is time to stop the Occupy Movement. Now!”  The tried and true tactics of repression reminiscent of other movements is very apparent in the police action taken in Oakland, San Diego and New York.  The powers in Wall Street are stepping up their pressure by requesting a ‘smear campaign’ against the Occupy Movement including its leaders.  Of course, the ’mouthpiece’ of the plutocracy, Fox News, has been putting out propaganda from the onset against the Occupy Movement.  Criticism without presenting an alternative is usually the signs of an organization which is declining and facing significant threat to its validity. 

Emerging from the conservative spectrum is a guarded appreciation of the Movement.  Many are noticing that the protestors are not unemployed youth, but the retired, teachers, factory workers, professors, minorities, and economists—a movement with broader diversity than the Civil Rights Movement  or the Vietnam War Protest. The Tea Party is being increasingly being perceived by the conservative Intelligentsia as shills, crying about how government has been the downfall and looking back at some fantasy time that there was limited government, lower taxes, less regulations and everyone was prosperous and happy.  They are offering no innovation and are not inclusive, almost exclusively white and Republican.  In addition, it is evidently clear that they have been hijacked by the Koch brothers and others of the ‘economic nobility’ to ‘microphone’ their message. While there are allegations by the Tea Party that George Soros is behind the Occupy Movement, this can not explain the genuine out pouring of support for the Occupy Movement and its associated global network.  It is anticipated that a majority of those supporting the Tea Party will become disillusioned and will come into the ranks of the Occupy Movement.

In the meantime the Occupy Movement is discussing inequality, mortgage forgiveness, debt reduction for student loans, a sustainable environment, participatory and direct democracy, infrastructure investment, free public education and a myriad of other topics.  Within these topics are both liberal and conservative methods to achieve them.  What is also impressive to the conservatives and inviting is that the protestors are doing this within the legal system and within the principles of the U.S. Constitution. They are not quoting Marx, Lenin, Mao or Kropotkin, and advocating the demise of capitalism and democracy, but a fairer capitalism and true democracy, not a front for the plutocracy.  Although the Movement has naturally attracted those who are attracted to some of the tenets of these Marxist and Anarchist philosophies.  It should be noted that the appreciation of Marx’s criticism of capitalism is crucial for understanding the abuses of capitalism.  Likewise, Kropotkin offers insight on mutual-aid, small business (guild) cooperation , participatory democracy and the abuses of State power.  The overall message of the Occupy Movement is that capitalism has been distorted by the plutocracy to serve their ends and creating an under-class with no economic or political rights.

It is my recommendation that the next step for the Occupy Movement is to convene an international working conference so that all involved can congregate and discuss the next step in a public manner.  Out of this conference should come a clear agenda, demands and a plan of action that is clear to all those participating in the Occupy Movement.  Like the movement itself it has to be certain that not only key leaders are there, but also allow anyone who would like to participate to join the discussion and the further solidification of the organization.  There should be an open call to all those interesting in changing the political and economic environment from all spectrums, conservative and liberal.  Out of this conference should come : 1) A declaration summarizing the key points that the Movement supports signed by key leaders (members of US Congress, mayors, European Parliament Members, economists, political scientists etc.); 2)a document detailing the situation leading up to the formulation of the Occupy Movement and suggested action; and  3) A directive for future action and organization.  The conference should be held in New York City, the birthplace of the Occupy Movement. There should also be other related events such as plays, music, poetry reading, and smaller working groups scattered around the city. This should not be a staid convention, but a celebration imbued with openness, not exclusion. It will be a major event that will take a tremendous amount of work and funds.   The obvious time for this meeting would be in the Spring of 2012 before the Republican and Democratic Conventions. 

This is an obvious continuation of the Occupy Movement. While setting up tents, protesting and peaceful disturbance has made the Movement visible, it must transition to another stage that will be more organized and begin to set in motion action that will begin to transform the political, social/cultural environment of the globe.  This will take years, if not decades to develop and evolve.  However, there is no alternative. To continue in the same unsustainable path is without hope and will result in everything staying the same with the One Percent controlling the Ninety-Nine Percent.

I would like to end the blog with a series of quotes from leaders that led successful non-violent movements that transformed the world:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Mahatma Gandhi

Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
Mohatma Gandhi

Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.
Dalai Lama

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.
Bishop Desmond Tutu

None of us know all the potentialities that slumber in the spirit of the population, or all the ways in which that population can surprise us when there is the right interplay of events.
Vaclav Havel

In my country we go to prison first and then become President.
Nelson Mandela

If anyone has two tunics, he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.
Jesus of Nazareth

You have learnt how it was said: 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.' But I say to you, Offer the wicked man no resistance. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him.
Jesus of Nazareth

Michael Corcoran, 15 November 2011, , “Smear Campaigns Fuel Shutdowns of Occupations Across Country”,Truthout, http://www.truth-out.org/smear-campaigns-fuel-shutdowns-occupations-across-country/1321386431

Steve Croft, 20 November 2011, “The Pledge: Grover Norquist's hold on the GOP”, CBS News (60 Minutes Interview with Grover Norquist), http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57327816/the-pledge-grover-norquists-hold-on-the-gop/
Authur Delany, 20 November 2011, “Super Committee Failure: Bush Tax Cuts Obstacle To Deal (UPDATE)”, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/20/supercommittee-fail_n_1103722.html

Mohamed A. El-Erian, 19 November 2011, “OWS: From Building Awareness To Maintaining Momentum”, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mohamed-a-elerian/occupy-wall-street_b_1103499.html

Adam Hartung, 18 November 2011, “Occupy Wall Street deserves more attention than the Tea Party”, Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2011/11/18/occupy-wall-street-deserves-more-attention-than-the-tea-party/2/

E.D. Kain, 18 November 2011, “Has Occupy Wall Street Outworn its Welcome?”, Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/11/18/has-occupy-wall-street-outworn-its-welcome/

Jeffrey Sachs, 17 November 2011, “Message to Wall Street”, Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/message-to-wall-street_b_1015943.html

Greg Sargent, 19 November 2011, “How Wall Street really views the protesters”, Washington Posthttp://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/how-wall-street-really-views-the-protesters/2011/11/19/gIQAfvSObN_blog.html

Sam Stein,  20 November 2011, “Super Committee Member Jon Kyl Turns Eye Towards Saving Pentagon From Trigger Cuts (UPDATE)”, The Huffington Post,  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/20/super-committee-jon-kyl_n_1103821.html
__________,21 November 2011, “Debt-reduction panel spirals toward failure”, Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/21/us-usa-debt-idUSTRE7AJ0KE20111121

__________,20 November 2011, “Risks of global recession mounts”, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/20/us-economy-global-idUSTRE7AJ0RZ20111120

___________,21 November 2011, “Global economic outlook grim, China tells U.S. trade”, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/21/us-china-usa-economy-idUSTRE7AK0BD20111121

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