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Posted by wmmbb in Democracy, Humankind/Planet Earth, Social Environment.

Physical resistance and social technology is important development to create political change. Occupy Wall Street has been a shining light in a eloping darkness.

The method of general assembly came out of somewhere and was adopted.The fact that a horizontal, leaderless social formation that yet can still organize day to day things such as food and sanitation is evidence of effectiveness, but it is also a social technology designed to thwart authoritarian control or co-optation. Nonviolence has a legacy from the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King with earlier connections with the movement for Indian Independence led by Gandhi.

Chris Hedges has experience of similar movements in Eastern Europe and believes that OWS is the real thing (via Truthdig):

Perhaps Chris Hedges is being overly optimistic of the effectiveness of the methodology of protest but of course there will be a pushback in the mainstream media, owned and controlled by corporate power. And they control the democracy, more so in the US than elsewhere. In that context perhaps what George Lakoff says about framing is important, at least for those who consume television democracy. At Common Dreams George Lakoff writes:

In politics, frames are part of competing moral systems that are used in political discourse and in charting political action. In short, framing is a moral enterprise: it says what the character of a movement is. All politics is moral. Political figures and movements always make policy recommendations claiming they are the right things to do. No political figure ever says, do what I say because it’s wrong! Or because it doesn’t matter! Some moral principles or other lie behind every political policy agenda.

Conservatives have figured out their moral basis and you see it on Wall Street: It includes: The primacy of self-interest. Individual responsibility, but not social responsibility. Hierarchical authority based on wealth or other forms of power. A moral hierarchy of who is “deserving,” defined by success. And the highest principle is the primacy of this moral system itself, which goes beyond Wall Street and the economy to other arenas: family life, social life, religion, foreign policy, and especially government. Conservative “democracy” is seen as a system of governance and elections that fits this model.

. . . The alternative view of democracy is progressive: Democracy starts with citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly on that sense of care, taking responsibility both for oneself and for one’s family, community, country, people in general, and the planet. The role of government is to protect and empower all citizens equally via The Public: public infrastructure, laws and enforcement, health, education, scientific research, protection, public lands, transportation, resources, art and culture, trade policies, safety nets, and on and on. Nobody makes it one their own. If you got wealthy, you depended on The Public, and you have a responsibility to contribute significantly to The Public so that others can benefit in the future. Moreover, the wealthy depend on those who work, and who deserve a fair return for their contribution to our national life. Corporations exist to make life better for most people. Their reason for existing is as public as it is private.

This is not the way that OWS has worked, for example in setting out there list of grievances, which are not expected to appear on any mainstream media any time soon. I tend to think that the process adopted by the occupiers is superior, more sustainable, and more democratic. Such messaging is a function of television democracy. People in recent memory have been sold out by political rhetoric.

Other people have other ideas. For example Michael Lerner proposes the following points as his positive message, which are part of his program:

We want to replace a society based on selfishness and materialism with a society based on caring for each other and caring for the planet.
We want a new bottom line so that institutions, corporations, government policies, and even personal behavior are judged rational or productive or efficient not only by how much money or power gets generated, but also by how much love and kindness, generosity and caring, environmental and ethical behavior, and how much we are able to respond to the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement the grandeur and mystery of all Being.
To take the first steps, we want to ban all money from elections except that supplied by government on an equal basis to all major candidates, require free and equal time for the candidates and prohibit buying other time or space, and require corporations to get a new corporate charter once every five years which they can only get if they can prove a satisfactory history of environmental and social responsibility to a jury of ordinary citizens. We call this the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the US Constitution (ESRA).
We want to replace the mistaken notion that homeland security can be achieve through a strategy of world domination by our corporations suppoted by the US military and intelligence services with a strategy of generosity and caring for others in the world that will start by launching a Global Marshall Plan that dedicates 1-2% of our GMP ever year for the next twenty to once and for all eliminate global poverty homelessnes, hunger, inadequate education and inadequate health care — knowing that this, not an expanded militarr, is what will give us security.
And we want a NEW New Deal that provides a job for everyone who wants to work, jobs that rebuild our environment and our infrastructre, and jobs that allow us to take better care of educating our youth and caring for the aged. That’s what we are for! And you can read more about them at The Network of Spiritual Progressives.

Michael Lerner then goes on to consider the longer strategy that involves electoral politics.

What is often overlooked is that strategic vision can be developed organically as part of the process, in Gandhian terms, of both constructive program and negative program. From the Glossary at The Metta Center:

Gandhi defined Constructive Program quite early in his career and coined the term to denote the myriad of activities that he felt were prerequisite to carrying out the more overt and confrontational modes of nonviolent action. For example, he established four ashrams in the course of his long career where satyagrahis [nonviolent actors] could live a nonviolent, creative life that was largely self-sufficient (and sustainable). As Constructive Program took on more and more importance over the course of the freedom struggle, the spinning wheel became its symbol. By using the spinning wheel to create home-spun cloth, each Indian could participate in the struggle to build a sustainable economy separate from the British textile industry. Spinning enabled every Indian to participate in the ‘bread labour’ of fulfilling a basic need, gave employment to millions of idled workers, and finally freeing India from England’s economic domination. The spinning wheel became the ‘sun’ in the ‘solar system’ of many other projects. (See Constructive Programme, Its Meaning and Place, [Ahmedabad: Navajivan, 1941]).

Many modern nonviolent movements pay little to no attention to Constructive Program, instead focusing all of their energy on such techniques as protest, non-cooperation and civil disobedience. Activists are tempted to reason, “We will build a new society after the present regime is gone.” Gandhi argued that the reality was reversed, as demonstrated by recent events: While nonviolent insurrectionary movements in the second half of the 20th century have successfully liberated people from repressive regimes in South Africa, the Philippines, Poland, the Czech Republic, Serbia, and many other places, in almost all cases the same problems of poverty and other forms of structural violence have returned to undermine the gains of the insurrection. This is not because nonviolence doesn’t “work” but because nonviolence without Constructive Program is incomplete – at least if we want to follow nonviolence for permanent, constructive change.

The analogy used is to suggest that positive and negative program are the two wings of the bird that connect with strategic vision. Strategic vision reaches out into the future and then connects back to the actions and situations in the present. Can the Occupy Movement develop strategic vision?



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