Occupy: A First Step Towards a Revolution of Our Collective Consciousness
When talking to people who are not involved or even informed about the Occupy movement-thanks to the lack of coverage by mainstream corporate controlled media outlets-they still feel that something out of the ordinary is going on. Even some people belonging to the so called “intelligentsia” are cynical about a movement which they view as at best ineffective or at worst completely naive. Some see Occupy as a flash back to the hippie years of Woodstock & the “peace and flower movement” of the late 1960s. By doing so, the cynics are missing the big picture which is that the Occupy movement is constantly defining and re-defining itself in a remarkably organic way. Occupy is in constant flux, and it is one of its greatest quality and strength. If in the United States, the accent has been put strictly on peaceful protests and civil disobedience, it could take more radical forms elsewhere-just like in Egypt or Syria.
Even in a country with no popular revolutionary tradition like the United States, some movements of the 60s were already pushing the envelop a lot further than the hippie agenda of “peace and love”. In the US, the two main more radical groups were the Black Panthers and the Weathermen of the Weather Underground. Both organizations were crushed and criminalized by a police apparatus which has never tolerated real dissent. Will those types of groups re-incarnate themselves in the big ideological tent that is the occupy movement? It is a pressing issue, but it is impossible to forecast. Occupy is not ideologically monolithic, it is so far a mosaic of personalities and ideologies. It combines neo-Anarchists, neo-Marxists, Libertarians and followers of non-violent protest doctrines defined by Gandhi and Martin Luther King. But can advocates of peaceful protest, neo-Anarchists and neo-Marxists work together to define common grounds, strategies and tactics? Or will such disparities be the kiss of death for Occupy?
While the adamant supporters of non-violent actions represent the essence of the movement and its ultimate goal to define a better global society, they might be a bit naive to think that the 1 percent- or more accurately the 0.01 percent-will just give up their wealth and power without a fight exercising, if needed, the most brutal form of repression. Power- either private or public- doesn’t care about ideology, moral or ethics. The ruling class, either in the United States, Syria, Egypt, France or Russia is only concerned about one thing: preserving their power at all cost. It is naive to think that Vladimir Putin is just going to walk away, just like it was naive to think that the al-Assad brothers in Syria would willingly give up their dictatorial grip of the country. The only rule and logic for the powerful is to stay in power. In other words, so few people have a lock on real management of global affairs that violent clashes seem to be unfortunately unavoidable to move the dial in the right direction.
However, it is unlikely to happen in the United States where the population has been beaten into submission for centuries, but it is a completely different story elsewhere. It is unfolding in the Middle-East where violence is on the agenda, some countries in Europe are also prime candidates for such radicalization. It is especially the case for the ones with a history of successful revolutions such as Russia and France.
The global Occupy movement is still in its infancy, and it is so far defining itself more by what it doesn’t want than by trying to establish development model alternatives “written in stone”. Even people who do not want to see the reality of a broken system crumbling in front of our eyes know intuitively that we have entered a period of massive shift. Something which can not be compared with any historical model, and for this reason defying most people understanding. Occupy is one of the engine behind this giant shift, and it is likely to mutate and evolve in the coming months or years. If the few controlling the global wealth and power would be willing to give it up to the 99 percent without a fight, than this revolution of our collective consciousness could be peaceful and bloodless. But it is, unfortunately, unlikely to be the case in our current world where wealth and power call the shots regardless of any rules or moral concerns.
Editor’s Note: All photographs by Empanada Paris.