Powerful Proactive Political Protesting

We had the Arab Spring in early 2011 followed by the Occupy Movement last fall. The latter is planning a resurgence which will begin on March 30th and has been dubbed the "American Spring". The winds of change are blowing and it is clear that people all over the world are becoming "socially conscious" -- knowing that something is gravely wrong with their respective societies as well as the world economy as a whole and wanting to do something about it.

But, as the movements grows, it is important to learn from the mistakes of the past. I would dare say that the movement's biggest mistake is its failure to develop the elements and components of the new system which we are fighting to create within the existing system which we are fighting to dispose of -- not its insufficient level of social theory. In order for a revolution to occur and be successful, these are two of the things that MUST happen:

1 -- The existing socio-economic system must have run its course. There must be unresolved and unsolvable problems.

2 -- The elements and components of the new, emerging system must be developed within the old system.

Well, we know that the world economic system is in its final throes; so, I won't belabor the issue. However, the Occupy Movement has failed woefully when it comes to developing the elements and components of the new system within the old, though they've had many missed opportunities to succeed. (I don't know enough about the revolutionary organizations of North Africa to make a sweeping assessment of them in this matter.) The demands of the Occupy Movement can be summed up as the demand for government to ensure that all of its constituents will be afforded their most basic human necessities. However, the Occupy Movement has failed to practice what it preaches to the extent to which it is able to do so.

It is common knowledge that many homeless people have moved into the various Occupy encampments across the country and around the world -- some as active participants who are fighting for positive change; some for the free food, tents, blankets and other goods. Encampments have, in many cases, made rules against people moving in just for the hand-outs and have insisted that all those present must actively participate in direct actions against the system. This has caused many of the poor and homeless to be pushed out. However, if we are fighting for a system that guarantees that all people will have their most basic human necessities, we need to begin to offer those items to people in need -- yes, even those who don't choose to involve themselves in any of the direct actions.

We need to take a lesson from the successes of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine. Both have been declared by the largest terrorist organization in the world -- the U.S. Government -- to be terrorist groups, for what that's worth to you. (I guess it really DOES take one to know one.) Both have social welfare arms that provide for the poor, take care of a fighter's widow, invest in hospitals and educate children. Both organizations have mastered the art of developing the elements and components of the new system within the old. What's more is that both organizations are well-liked by the people of their respective countries as well as other middle-eastern countries. So, let's take one from their book.

The Occupy Movement can come back stronger if it changes its ways by:

1 -- putting less effort into opposing the existing system (maintaining that effort nonetheless)

2 -- making a more robust effort to provide people's most basic necessities.

They need to gather as many donations as possible from all who are ready, willing and able to give and then distribute those goods to all people in need who present at the Occupy encampments. This would cast the movement in a more positive light and cause the poor to utterly love them. Furthermore, people whose bellies are full are more likely to join in discussions about social theory, the problems with the existing system and the new society which we are fighting for. (This is not a far cry from the long-standing Christian principle of witnessing to the lost through your behavior until they want to know what drives you to do what you do.)

After people's needs have begun to be met by those who are fighting for change, the Occupy Movement should begin studying social theory and planning the new society. After all, if we rid ourselves of the existing system without having first developed the elements and components of the new system, we will only create chaos and give rise to all-out, overt dictatorship as a means of regaining order.

This brings to mind a problem which I see all too often at protests -- participant's inability and/or unwillingness to articulate their cause. I've happened upon protests whose purpose I didn't know and approached participants to ask what it was about. In some cases, the person that I approach can't give me an elevator spiel (short explanation) about the purpose of the protest. in other cases, they even seem to get a bit of an attitude. Everyone present should be ready, willing and able to explain the purpose of the protest to any passer-by who might ask. This would prove to be an effective tool for increasing the number of supporters.

On occasion, a passer-by who asks about the reason for the protest or even someone from the opposing camp (a one-percenter) is willing to engage in meaningful conversation with a protester. Unfortunately, some protesters refuse to oblige. I've even had the experience where another ninety-nine percenter disrupts the intelligent conversation which I'm having with a one-percenter. Such actions do nothing to further our cause and even give the other camp reason to write us off as a bunch of heretics.

Then there is the issue of choosing a target for the direct action. Here in Washington, DC we recently had direct actions that were aimed at PEPCO (the DC Metro area's power company) which has some of the highest rates and worst service of power companies nationwide. Following the protest, there was discussion of how the DC Council would've been a better target, as it is they who grant PEPCO the permission to raise its rates. Similar things can be said about those who protest against other corporations rather than the governments that give these corporations free reign and enact laws in favor of corporate greed (the marriage of government and corporations being an element of fascism). It could also be argued that those who are opposed to the sway that Wall Street has over the U.S. Government should demand that the government use the control which it already has in order to beat Wall Street into submission.

That said, this blog post is not intended to be a comprehensive list of instructions for the movement, but rather a starting point for improvement and empowerment. So, in summary, we need to remember this simple recipe for revolution:

1 -- Create the elements and components of the new system WITHIN the existing system. Then you'll be in a better position to overthrow the existing system. After that, you can bring together and further organize the existing elements and components of the emerging system, thus instituting the new form of governance. (It's not as easy as I make it sound.)

2 -- Study social theory together and discuss the new society that we want.

3 -- Be certain that all protesters and participants in direct actions are able to articulate the purpose of the event.

4 -- Be willing to engage in meaningful discussion -- even with the opposing camp.

5 -- Choose your targets well.

Let's hope that the Occupy Movement uses the advice stated herein and becomes even more legitimate. Time will tell.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Hey Eric, we are seeing the rise of racist facism in America, and the Ocuppy Movement (which the mainstream press has successfully vilified) still has an uphill battle on its hands. We are the 99%but I would say about 65% of us are too invested in system as it as (and too scared) to be openly associated with the movement. Additionally we have a system that continuously devalues the lives of minorities no matter how much we delude ourselves into believing that we're in post-racial America. We have a President who is attacked politically because of his skin color but is pretty much a useless figurehead to any progressive movement. I fear that things will only get worse, that we'll be living in the dystopian society ruled by hyper-religious oligarchs.

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