In mid-September, Occupy Wall Street began in downtown Manhattan. For over a century, Wall Street has represented wealth and political power. Now, the streets of the financial district that only months before gleamed with the facade of enduring capitalism were flooded by ‘occupiers’, revealing the truth behind the broken promises of equal opportunity and corrupt excess of corporate America.
Here were people from all walks of life, foreclosed and unemployed, students with debts and those who struggle with a pay-or-die medical system. As the people marched with a mixture of jubilation and outrage against the plutocratic takeover of power, the glorified spectacle of the American Dream crumbled in the background.
No one can deny that the Occupy Movement struck a chord with the rank and file of America as it quickly spread nationwide. A couple months in, students at UC Berkeley pitched tents on the Mario Savio steps in front of Sproul Hall. When UC police came to dismantle the tents, students linked arms, standing up for their right to freely express themselves. Facing them, armed police violently jabbed them with sticks. This contrast became obvious to the world immediately as the YouTube video of the police attack went viral.
Days later, public outcry against the brutal Cal police action built strong momentum for the movement. During the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture, Occupy Cal exploded in numbers. Thousands of students and protesters gathered outside Sproul Hall in a scene reminiscent of 60’s Berkeley. We were witnessing the revival of the Free Speech Movement.
People began to acknowledge that Occupy was the biggest social movement since the anti-war and civil rights protests. The Occupy movement is surely built on past struggles and traditions of activism, yet there is something unique here that was not present in previous movements. So how is this different now than the Civil Right Movement or even the more recent protests against the WTO and G20?
In my article, The Rise of the Occupy Insurgency, the World First Internet Revolution, I explored the role of the Internet in recent revolutions around the world. Although social media and online connection has had significant impact on the birth of the Arab spring and Occupy Movement, there is something else that sets them apart from all that came before.
There is no doubt that the rise of WikiLeaks, the world’s first stateless, non-aligned media entity triggered deep political changes on a global scale. Their actions exposed the tyranny and systematic subversion of justice that has become the norm within the global political economy. This small non-profit entity challenged the near total failure of traditional journalism that has mostly served entrenched power. Yet, a less noticed aspect of WikiLeaks’s impact lies in its effect on uprisings around the world.
Nov 28th marked the one-year anniversary of the WikiLeaks Cablegate release. The US embassy cables revealed deep-seated corruption and illegitimacy of many Middle Eastern dictatorships. Constitutional attorney and author Glenn Greenwald acknowledged the significance of the Wikileaks US State Dept. documents and the impact of these cables on the recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. In reflecting on the past year, Amnesty International noted the role of the leaked documents in triggering these revolutions:
“The year 2010 may well be remembered as a watershed year when activists and journalists used new technology to speak truth to power and, in so doing, pushed for greater respect for human rights,”
Direct connection through social media and wireless technology helped spread this information and confirmed people’s suspicions, sparking a transformation of pervasive defeatism and despair into collective action in the streets. And further, this influence has stretched into the current Occupy Movement.
By tracing the impulse behind the Occupy movement back to the release of the US Army helicopter gunship Collateral Murder video, Phillip Dorling pointed out how the Occupy Movement is based on the work of Wikileaks:
What is not well known, and has gone unreported, is the key role that WikiLeaks supporters have played in igniting the surge of internet-based activism that has so far resulted in protests in reportedly more than 1000 cities in 82 countries.
Michael Moore at Occupy SF went further to say that the action of alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning triggered the Occupy Movement. America’s most famous whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg also spoke on the first day of Manning’s pretrial:
The Time magazine cover gives……an anonymous protester, as “Person of the Year,” but it is possible to put a face and a name to that picture of “Person of the Year.” And the American face I would put on that is Private Bradley Manning… And, the combination of the WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning exposures in Tunis and the exemplification of that by Mohamed Bouazizi led to the……nonviolent protests, that drove Ben Ali out of power, our ally there who we supported up ’til that moment, and in turn sparked the uprising in Egypt, in Tahrir Square occupation, which immediately stimulated the Occupy Wall Street and the other occupations in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Now from the Middle East to Spain and Greece and the London riots to the current Occupy movement, we are seeing the waves of action for self-determination reaching the West. After the rise of WikiLeaks, the social and political climate has fundamentally changed. What is different in this WikiLeaks era? It is nothing less than a total shift in consciousness. Beneath the surface of events, a new way of thinking is emerging and changing how people relate to one another.
As noted, there are similarities between the Occupy Movement and struggles in the past. One common thread is that they start as resistance, opposing injustice. For instance, the Civil Right Movement was waged against the racist application of law that denied basic human rights for blacks. The Battle of Seattle tried to stop the undemocratic and exploitative economic structures of the WTO. The Occupy Movement also express deep distrust and anger regarding inequality and the global oligarchy’s rampant looting of the populace. Yet there is something new unfolding.
It’s too early to tell what direction Occupy will go as it just had its three month anniversary. But, in the big picture, there is an undeniable shift in power dynamics. Resistance is a condition that assumes a lack of power. People are no longer simply resisting. During a general assembly at Occupy Oakland, a man spoke of how there is a difference between revolution and reform. He said that the Occupy Movement is clearly calling for revolution. While social movements in the past involved people making demands of their leaders, this one is bypassing said ‘leaders’, because they are seen as irreversibly corrupted by a system that is rotten to the core. This movement has been criticized by mainstream media for lack of specific demands for reform, but many see this as its inherent strength. It is clear that people are saying and doing things that only a few years ago would have been inconceivable. The level of creativity and autonomy of this movement indicates something very new is afoot.
Occupiers are not just sitting and waiting for politicians to deliver change. They are taking action, moving their money to credit unions, feeding one another, creating their own media and sorting out how to live together without corporate or political influence.
What makes the Occupy Movement different is this change in perception about the basic illegitimacy of current government and the sense of the individuals capacity to give direction to their own lives. This combination brought an avalanche of global awakening. Now people are starting to communicate about the root causes of oppression and injustice and bringing new solutions to the table.
The Robber Barons of Wall Street have been destroying the very fabric and economic foundation of the World Economy. Occupy Wall Street is revealing this truth and challenging the American middle class to get up and do something about it. This Occupy movement is also an act of refusal to engage in rigged political games. People are no longer interested in negotiating with politicians as they become more aware of the fact that the whole system is corrupt beyond reform. This trend was set in the Arab World, especially in Egypt after the Egyptians drove Mubarak out of the country and were then still faced the root causes of oppression. The Egyptians and Tunisians started to realize that the problem is much bigger than just their provincial dictators. It is not one country’s problem alone, but is tied up with an international system of financial corruption, much of which emanates from the US and Europe.
In the article Bankers Are the Dictators of the West, Robert Fisk brought out the parallel between uprisings in the Arab Spring and the waves of Occupy movement in Western society. He described how tens of thousands in the streets in the Middle East was a revolt against dictators that control the future of their countries and their people. Similarly in the West, people are fighting against their own dictators:
The banks and the rating agencies have become the dictators of the West. Like the Mubaraks and Ben Alis, the banks believed – and still believe – they are owners of their countries.
The Arab Spring and Occupy Winter have inspired each other. One recent example of this link was when Tunisians launched an all-out assault on US president Barack Obama’s Facebook page. In only a few hours over 50,000 comments were posted on his 2012 presidential campaign page. Most of them were ridiculing the leadership and US foreign policy, while supporting the ‘occupy’ encampment spreading across America. From Tahrir Square to Liberty Plaza, people are fighting for a common dream of organizing society based on principles of sharing and collaboration.
The sea of solidarity and support that came from people in Egypt, Tunisia and the southern European countries for the Occupy Movement was a testimony of a global realization of illegitimacy of the current governance structures. Now this allegiance is spreading to every corner of the planet. On Nov 22, South Korean activists joined the Occupy Wall Street protesters to rally against free trade deal between Seoul and the United States. These waves are spreading into countries such as Russia, China and India.
We now know that what is decimating our cities and economies is wholesale fraud by institutions and empirical oligarchs. One inside trader confessed the fact that “Governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs does.” But, what is changing is that a majority of the people are starting to realize what is happening in their country is also happening in Greece, Iceland, India, Egypt and all around the world.
This type of transnational allegiance is also a guiding force behind the loosely tied online collective Anonymous. 2011 was a year when Anonymous came to the forefront of the public eye. Guy Fawkes masks have become powerful symbols that transcend race, color and nationality, embodying a sense of shared morals and ideals popping up on the streets and Internet screens around the world.
… something unexpected is happening….. We are questioning the old assumptions that we are made to consume not to create, that the world was made for our taking, that wars are inevitable, that poverty is unavoidable. As we learn more about our global community a fundamental truth has been rediscovered: We are not so different as we may seem. Every human has strengths, weaknesses, and deep emotions. We crave love, love laughter, fear being alone and dream for a better life.- V
Anonymous is tapping into a future for mankind where people form legion with others around the world first and their local regions second. In this sense, Anonymous is a kind of precursor to a world beyond the nation-state, embracing ‘festive citizenship’. WikiLeaks and Anonymous have this in common; they are founded on the ability to transcend borders. They both commit to free flow of transnational communication and an open source approach to political power. Similarly, the Occupy Movement quickly spread around the world within weeks, creating simultaneous actions in multiple cities. They did this by using open source methods and direct online connection for mutual support.
It is very hard for authoritarians to fight this trans-border movement. It is similar to websites and chat rooms. One can be taken down, but a new one pops up somewhere else to mirror or expand on the original site. In a sense, this is the true force of globalization. On the surface, language and specific solutions might be different, yet people around the world are uniting, standing up for universal rights and a common morality.
After the police brutality in Occupy Oakland, the eyes of the whole world were on one city and it energized the movement. The New York Occupy Wall Street General Assembly pledged to send money and tents while Egyptians in Cairo marched in solidarity. People around the globe watched the livestream of the police raid and eviction of Zuccotti Park and began to see the facade of Western democracy beginning to crumble.
When the Civil Rights Movement took place in the US, it was within the framework of the nation-state. The Battle of Seattle and anti-G20 gatherings protested corporate globalization, yet were always physically held in one city and trapped in an enclosed and blithely insular system. On the other hand, in the Occupy Movement, people are grounded in their locality, but connected globally. One OWS participant said:
… wherever you are in your community is where you occupy. You go to your community, there is Occupy Brooklyn, Occupy Harlem, Occupy the Bronx, Occupy North Carolina…..That’s what Occupy is about. It’s not about Occupy Wall Street, its about Occupy everything.
They are staying right where they are, reclaiming their own cities, enacting general assemblies, while staying in touch with inspiring collective efforts worldwide. Occupiers are now joining foreclosed homeowners to occupy their own houses. After serving in the military overseas, veterans like Scott Olson are now truly serving their country in the Occupy Movement.
Previously, protests were one-day events with permits and allocated free speech zones. Occupy on the other hand is a continuous process working both inside and outside of the system. For instance, OWS chose a neighborhood park as a place for their residence, and this encampment at Zuccotti park was possible through a loophole in the regulations. During the months they occupied this park they set the model of Occupy as something ongoing and universally applicable. In the article at Global Guerrillas Beyond Zuccotti, John Robb showed how Occupy “developed a recipe for how to set up a temporary autonomous zone (what’s often called a TAZ) … that “is outside of the control of the nation-state and global marketplace”. TAZ is an open space such as free wifi hub or a mobile temporary community.
With foreclosures and unemployment running rampant, camp sites are popping up around hundreds of cities. The tent has become a symbol for this movement. It represents mobile ideals that take root, rather than a floating thought that comes and goes. The new-found power of collaboration and allegiance is undeniably transforming the sense of self from an isolated being with little to offer the world. Now, individuals are finding new identities as a collaborative beings with the right to share their impulse for self-determination in a direct way.
Identity beyond Recognition
Police crackdowns on the Occupy Movement have revealed that what used to be public and of the commons is now becoming increasingly privatized. These evictions of the occupation camps are a good example of this. The obvious guidance by Homeland Security officials of anti-Occupy police efforts in the coordinated eviction of camps is also what police and banks have been doing for years: evicting millions of homeowners from their houses by way of legalized fraud. It also reveals at a deeper psychological realm, how the influence of oppressive forces that leads to the breakdown of national identity and the final loss of trust in deception-based and exploitative systems of governance.
Philosopher Kelly Oliver, in Witnessing beyond Recognition looked into identity formation of colonized peoples in Franz Fanon, who was considered to be an important spokesperson for the oppressed. She pointed out how Fanon saw the power dynamics between oppressor and those who were colonized and how it manifested internally in the desire to be recognized on the part of the oppressed. Oliver quoted Fanon, saying that, “the recognition model of identity (is) the particular pathology of colonial or oppressive cultures” (p. 23) and that, “while it seems obvious that oppressed people may engage in struggles for recognition in response to their lack of recognition from the dominant culture, it is less obvious that recognition itself is part of the pathology of oppression and domination” (p. 23).
Some might say comparing current events with colonial times is a bit of a stretch as we now live in a post-modern time and colonization is supposedly a thing in the past. Yet, it is important to see the threads throughout history that are often not so visible.
Western civilization has a dark history of colonizing and subjugating certain groups, races and nations under Anglo-Saxon and Judeo-Christian values. Moving out of the colonial period into modern times, similar dehumanization forces are apparently at work. Now, they are carried through artificial entities called corporations. They are not human, but given the same rights as humans, with hundreds of times the power and few of the responsibilities. This exponentially increasing power is enslaving humanity to the religion of profits at any cost and every-increasing expansion of power and reach. Corporations in this context are systematic oppressors, colonizing public space. The people’s primary identity has become that of consumer and any real power has been stripped away. In this, the old gradations of privilege remain according to standard patriarchal hierarchies of race, gender and class. Oliver continues to digest Fanon’s analysis:
What Fanon realized is that the logic of recognition that is part and parcel of colonialism and oppression makes those in power the active agents of recognition and those without power the passive recipients. (pp. 28-29)
Corporate values take center stage pushing away all other values into the margins. Celebrity culture is really a reflection of this pathology of recognition. Pop stars like Britney Spears and show business politicians like Barrack Obama strive to be recognized within the spectacle of the mainstream spotlight.
In the civil right movement, black people demanded that whites acknowledge their basic human rights. Having allies in sympathetic white people was crucial for that movement, just as with the woman’s liberation movement, support from men was key. In the Battle of Seattle, people from all backgrounds gathered to petition against the global corporatism that was well underway. Granted, in all these cases there were some victories within the system, yet these efforts still labored within the power dynamics of outer recognition models of identity. None can deny that in all these movements, the structures and dynamics of power were not fundamentally changed.
Deepening Fanon’s understanding, author and social activist bell hooks pointed out how it is necessary to shift from a recognition model of identity and to assert one’s own subjectivity, independent from oppressive forces, in order to claim one’s own power:
Fundamental to the process of decentering the oppressive other and claiming our right to subjectivity is the insistence that we must determine how we will be and not rely on colonizing responses to determine our legitimacy. We are not looking to that Other for recognition. We are recognizing ourselves and willingly making contact with all who would engage us in a constructive manner. (p. 22, 1990)
What has happened all around the world in the last year is that people are challenging these hierarchical structures of power that deny a way of knowing informed by their own experience. In the Occupy Movement, people are realizing that recognition from a master (credentialed professional or perceived authority) is no longer necessary and that one can become master of one’s own life. True power ultimately streams from within and cannot be granted from outside. This shift away from the recognition model of identity is both manifested and fostered by Anonymous and Occupy Movement’s leaderless principles.
This leaderless element has multiple dimensions. On the surface it can appear as a practical question. Compared to the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s, now the old models of dissent have become less effective. Individuals who rise above the crowd stick out and more easily become targets of State oppression. A charismatic leader guiding a movement also had more meaning back then. Once those in power detect the head of a movement, what has been incubating underneath as potential is susceptible to subversion. Before information can be mobilized and ideas fully matured, they can be squashed. With previous models of activism, one only needed to take out the spokesperson to kill the unifying message. We saw this with the assassination of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. The movements then appeared to lose energy and direction once the leaders were gone. Now an organism without a head offers great advantage in mobilizing ideas quickly beneath the radar. Most importantly, it helps distribute power in the hands of many people. There is something beautiful and profoundly symbolic about the Anonymous image of the suited man without a head that conveys the transformation of corporate hierarchy into a space for true human community.
Beyond the practical necessity, the structure of having more than one spokesperson indicates a move away from a recognition model of identity. More people are coming to realize that everyone can tap into their own power and fully count themselves in to become their own leaders in concert with others. For instance, take a look at the phenomenon of the People’s Mic. In a corporate system, a microphone represents an amplification of ego and activation of individual power. In most cases, as with the celebrity culture, access to this position is limited to those already endowed by the system with that privilege. The People’s Mic on the other hand is inherently communal by using a sound system of simple amplification of an echoing choral human voice. It decentralizes power and gives space for everyone to equally speak within an immediately empathic feedback loop.
Like retweeting in the direct democracy of social media, instead of one voice dominating discourse, diverse views are invited in, echoed and amplified in authentic resonance toward dialogue. This is a philosophy that works to counter the celebrity worship of the individual and hierarchical distribution of power. It is also another essential aspect of Anonymous culture; acknowledging empathic connection and collaborative effort out of shared ideals, rather than an anointed leader held above all others. Whether consciously or not, this Anonymous ethic has served as a model for the OWS movement. Instead of following false gods like Donald Trump, Paris Hilton and puppet politicians, people can now turn inward or to each other to amplify the source of creative power-the human being that speaks and acts in resonance with his fellow man.
This emerging leaderless culture is a gradual moving away from the desire for recognition at the center and toward the realization that individual power is not conditioned or determined by outside authority. It is a reorganizing social principle that totally redefines power.
So how did WikiLeaks contribute to this power shift? WikiLeaks, as an activist organization was built on an uncompromising commitment to justice. On Nov 26 the organization was given the Walkley award, the Australian equivalent of the Pulitzer for excellence in journalism. The panel noted the group’s “courageous and controversial commitment to the finest traditions of journalism: justice through transparency”.
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks has become a center of focus in the public eye. Yet, if we look deeply at what is unprecedented about this journalistic and activist enterprise, we can see that this organization is also based on a kind of mutuality similar to the working of Anonymous. It is not really one person leading the charge. One side of their operation depends on a rigorous and innovative approach to technology. Western society has increasingly become lawless when it come to checks on power of those with money. On the other hand, WikiLeaks by applying the best laws around the world has developed an infrastructure and approach that bypasses established national political controls that stifle dissent or free flow of crucial information. The other side of the WikiLeaks equation are those whistleblowers who have the moral courage to step forward and expose injustice. Needless to say, without the technical foundation and global platform, the organization could not function. But, it is also true that without dissenters inside the system and support from the general public, WikiLeaks success would not have been possible. Neither alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning nor Julian Assange could have changed history without the other. It is the individual’s simple commitment to justice when linked with other’s passion that in this case made the difference, transforming technology in service to our higher humanity.
The source of this power is the courage and commitment to justice demonstrated by a person like Manning. When one accesses this commitment within themselves, fear begins to dissolve, as it cannot co-exist with real courage. When WikiLeaks was met with the financial blockade by PayPal, VISA and MasterCard, Anonymous stepped forward to defend what they saw as an attack on the principle of free speech. Truly, what they were defending was the courage to stand up and fight such intrenched power. The morals and ideals that are so vital to a healthy society have steadily been eroded. By turning the tide of technology, these morals are now receiving a new breath of life.
WikiLeaks is based on the conviction that when corruption of powerful organizations is exposed to the public, there is potential for great change. Leaks driven by conscience can become a kind of explosive compassion which opens systems that have been closed and contaminated with corruption and apathy. In the past, governments and corporations could hide their actions behind smooth rhetoric and propaganda. Now citizens equipped with cell phones and cameras surround those who oppress and then leak or share the actual footage immediately to the world to witness. It is the basic math of social change that says the more unjust actions are witnessed by a certain percentage of the populace, the more people will realize the true state of governments and powerful institutions.
Continued crackdowns in Egypt and now Occupy police-state responses throughout America are exposing governments with their true colors of oppression. The delusional facade of illegitimate authority covering interlocking patronage networks is quickly crumbling before the eyes of the world. The more police and military attack innocent people, the more the thin veil of false power is exposed. A video of a crackdown goes viral on the internet and in the next few days the crowd multiplies with solidarity across borders. We saw examples of this in Occupy Wall Street and Oakland where after brutal raids, the people are more united and committed and so the protest grows.
What happens when the facade of legitimacy begins to fall? People recognize the real source of power is actually within themselves and they start to find their own moral authority. This is what we are witnessing with Occupy Movements and popular uprisings around the world. Berkeley professor Robert Reich, who was a keynote speaker at Mario Savio memorial lecture, said to the thousands gathered, “Moral outrage is the beginning. The days of apathy are over, folks. And once it has begun it cannot be stopped and it will not be stopped.”
Those in the Occupy Movement are inserting themselves into the public space with this newly claimed power. In the article, A New Culture of Resistance: from WikiLeaks to the Squares, FuturePress elucidated the new meaning of the term ‘occupy’ as being an act of generating creative power as much as one of resistance;
Occupations “also serve as an impulse towards autonomy from these rules in order to partially recreate reality. As a result, most occupied squares became temporary autonomous zones, experiments in collaborative administration that operated in a parallel plane to the system. They actually serve as forces of outward change from within: they are recursive”.
This shift was reflected in the transformation of the word ‘occupation’ itself. It has for so long been a dirty noun, meaning to invade and colonize, as in the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and the myriad of US military bases around the world. People have reclaimed this fallen term to occupy, changing it into an active verb with new meaning. The powerful transformation of words affect public sentiment. Geoff Nunberg, the linguist contributor on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross chose the word “Occupy” to be the word of the year. He described how “it is a new meaning of the verb, for a form of protest adapted to the age of smartphones and Twitter…”.
It is clear that technology and information sharing have something to do with making possible the shift of power seen in recent uprisings around the world. Indeed, the expressed aim of WikiLeaks is to free suppressed knowledge, with the idea that what is concealed has a greater potential for reform. Yet, revelation of secrets is not enough. The key element is what happens when freed knowledge is infused with individual willpower. When one becomes an active agent, first perhaps in cyberspace, then evolving intention into physical deeds, information begins to gain new meaning. It is transformed into something that personally affects and moves one emotionally. When this is shared it can fuel people into action in such a way that social networks become creative shields against oppressive forces. Technology, when infused with real human passion immediately connects one with others in common purpose and networks begin to function like living organisms that can then grow and flexibly change shape with the needs of the commons.
One example of this coalescing power is seen in the Internet meme. After the repellent UC Davis pepper spray incident, photoshopped images of campus officer Lt. John Pike pepper-spraying the students become a fast spreading internet meme. From pepper spraying the Last Supper to The signers of the Declaration of Independence, he was all over history and the Internet. In the article #Occupy: The Power of Revolution When It Becomes Memetic, Grant explained how:
What we are seeing is the spread of meme, a meme centered on authenticity, truth, fear, anger, and honest emotion, where the energy formally put into making response videos and remixes is put towards activism.
The power of Lulz is crowd-sourced and re-formed to spice up the information in a kind of culture-jamming ripple effect, bringing on a ‘reingestment’ and reinvestment of human caring. Information transformed this way is contagious, and not only brings public awareness to the incident, but also tends to uplift public morale and belief in the greater good.
Months before the spark of the Occupy Movement was lit, WikiLeaks tweeted:
It is clear that the rule of law is breaking down all over the West. Many are now held for days or years without charge… (1) As such we can drop any pretense of legitimate governance. It is just one wretched, scheming network of patronage and power. (2) It is not reformable, although it might be destroyable. We must create our own networks of trust and authority and live within them. (3)
Revolution in the WikiLeaks era shakes up the indoctrinated idea that people don’t have the power to create their own society. The illegitimacy of the current interlocking regimes of corporate corruption is now undeniable as we awaken to the simple truth that the only power governments and institutions have is that which we grant to them. It is after all, human beings that have created and now sustain them.
This realization of personal power redefines the conventional idea of power. It does not mean to exploit or dominate. It is not the power over others but the ability to connect and collaborate with fellow citizens; to create totally new communities that reflect communal values. This newly gained power cannot come from the top, but streams from inside out.
In mid-October, Julian Assange spoke in front of the London Stock Exchange for OccupyLondon:
What we face today is the systematized destruction of the rule of law. People are being laundered through Guantanamo Bay to evade the rule of law, and money is being laundered through the Cayman Islands and London to evade the rule of law. This movement is not about the destruction of law, it is about the construction of law.
Rather than passive resistance, what we are seeing in these Occupy camps around the world is people beginning to assert their power, bringing the rule of law back into society. With tents carving out a new space, self sufficient organizing is happening on the ground. Powering laptops by bicycle generators, creating libraries and medical centers, encampments have been growing into autonomous open source communities that model sustainable, non-extractive social forms.
After recent police raids and evictions of camps at Liberty Square and the largest Occupy encampment in LA on Nov 28, it is clear that the collective imagination cannot be squashed. The discussion continues as to where and what to occupy next.
The secret of this awaked morality is that individuals coming together can accomplish something that one person alone cannot. General assemblies are forming a new court of public opinion. Mic check is becoming a new check and balance on power. The old authorities are now going on trial in this Court of public opinion. Anyone can get tickets for public speaking events. People are no longer relegated to just being a receiving audience. They can participate and have their own voices heard by together mic checking wherever necessary. Occupy protesters in Washington, D.C., took over a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce and disrupted a speech by BlueCross BlueShield CEO Scott Serota. Students at Princeton also used this method to challenge JP Morgan-Chase. Karl Rove also got mic checked as did president Obama. In Melbourne people mic checked the mayor; “We occupy because another world is possible.”
Revolution in the WikiLeaks era is the awakening of innate power of the individual within a sense of collective responsibility. True significance and power is found when single intent is multiplied by others who gather in the spirit of collaboration.
“Courage is contagious.” The WikiLeaks motto that at first may have appeared naively idealistic, now seems auspicious and prophetic. This spirit has inspired frozen hearts that have been infected by apathy and fear. Who would have expected how fast it would spread? We don’t know exactly where this courage is taking us. But we know one thing for sure. Collective creative power has no more limits than the sky. We live in exciting and historic times when forgotten virtues of humanity once again occupy the heart. When we allow what moves within to guide our actions, we open the door to a new civilization.
hooks, b. (1990). Yearning: Race, gender, and cultural politics. Boston: South End Press.
Oliver, K. (2001). Witnessing beyond recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Note: This piece was originally published at WLCentral.
French translation available here at fruncut.org