Today I had a lunch meeting in Berkeley with an Occupy Oakland activist for whom I have a lot of respect. I know him to be someone truly committed to addressing and combating injustices and abuses of power. And most importantly, I know him to be someone who doesn't only talk the talk, but who actually walks the walk, literally, out there, boots in the ground.
We were sitting at a small table at a café on Shattuck Avenue (about a block from University Ave.)... "Look! Look at all these people walking around, right there! It seems so easy, in theory... You just show up. All we would need to do is get the word out on the date, location, and time, and then people could just show up. There could be 10 people at one point, and 500 one hour later. But for some reason, it seems almost impossible to make it happen; I don't understand why!"
I'm reporting that from memory, and may be paraphrasing a bit, but basically what I told him was along those lines. Anyways, I do tend to get a bit emphatic when I talk about this idea, and the reason is because I've discussed it so many times throughout the years. My activist friend is lucky that he only got to hear my little speech about it one time. My poor wife has heard it for years, but I promised to myself not to bother her anymore with the infuriating statement: "It seems so easy to do; I don't understand why it hasn't happened!"
Okay, here's what I'm referring to: In the age of inverted totalitarianism supported by a total information awareness surveillance state, people involved in the social justice movement (against the proto-fascist corporate state) need to find a way to embrace and apply the concepts of non-hierarchical forms of organization. The main reason for that is because of the existence of a vast government/corporate spy network operating nationwide and applying highly sophisticated psy-ops, cognitive infiltration, and co-option divide-and-conquer strategies specifically designed to prevent the formation of an effective non-violent resistance movement.
This article is a follow up to the one I wrote on Friday, January 3rd: "An Open Letter to The Occupy Wall Street Movement: You Were Right All Along." Before I continue, I'd like to express my gratitude to the thousands of people who shared the diary on Facebook and Twitter. At last count, the one published here at Daily Kos had been shared 5,000 times, and the one republished by PopularResistance.org, 2,000 times. I'm extremely humbled at the fact that the article seemed to have been well-received by many activists around the country...
Here's how I started that article:
There is a vast total-information-awareness surveillance network made up of global corporations and subservient (captured) governments engaging in the systematic infiltration and suppression of social justice activist groups. Their main method of control is the implementation of divide-and-conquer strategies. When it comes to activists, their approach is to apply these strategies to what they have defined as four distinct groups: Radicals, who see the system as corrupt are marginalized and discredited with character assassination techniques. Realists, who can be convinced that real change is not possible. Idealists, who can be convinced (through propaganda) that they have the facts wrong. And Opportunists, who are in it for themselves and therefore can be easily co-opted.
At this point, before I proceed to present the case about why we need to act now, I'd like to encourage the reader to watch this short video (2:45min) which I think it describes the current (corporate) state of affairs perfectly:
I argue that the reason we need to act now is because the window of opportunity is closing pretty fast, as the proto-fascist corporate state begins to tighten its grip on what is left of our democracy. You see, we may actually be running late by ten-plus years, since we should have done it the minute the so-called PATRIOT Act became law and the the government started torturing people, among other things. But it is understandable; it took the good hard-working, decent people of this country a little longer than it should have to begin to understand the depravity of the ruling elite.
This is our last gasp as a democracy. The state’s wholesale intrusion into our lives and obliteration of privacy are now facts. And the challenge to us—one of the final ones, I suspect—is to rise up in outrage and halt this seizure of our rights to liberty and free expression. If we do not do so we will see ourselves become a nation of captives.
The most radical evil, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, is the political system that effectively crushes its marginalized and harassed opponents and, through fear and the obliteration of privacy, incapacitates everyone else. Our system of mass surveillance is the machine by which this radical evil will be activated. If we do not immediately dismantle the security and surveillance apparatus, there will be no investigative journalism or judicial oversight to address abuse of power. There will be no organized dissent. There will be no independent thought. Criticisms, however tepid, will be treated as acts of subversion. And the security apparatus will blanket the body politic like black mold until even the banal and ridiculous become concerns of national security.
The goal of wholesale surveillance, as Arendt wrote in “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” is not, in the end, to discover crimes, “but to be on hand when the government decides to arrest a certain category of the population.” And because Americans’ emails, phone conversations, Web searches and geographical movements are recorded and stored in perpetuity in government databases, there will be more than enough “evidence” to seize us should the state deem it necessary. This information waits like a deadly virus inside government vaults to be turned against us. It does not matter how trivial or innocent that information is. In totalitarian states, justice, like truth, is irrelevant.
The object of efficient totalitarian states, as George Orwell understood, is to create a climate in which people do not think of rebelling, a climate in which government killing and torture are used against only a handful of unmanageable renegades. The totalitarian state achieves this control, Arendt wrote, by systematically crushing human spontaneity, and by extension human freedom. It ceaselessly peddles fear to keep a population traumatized and immobilized. It turns the courts, along with legislative bodies, into mechanisms to legalize the crimes of state. [emphasis added]
I argue that we are on this collision course: As the depravities of the proto-fascist corporate state becomes more apparent to a larger and larger segment of the population, it will begin to take off its mask and will reflexively go after the "troublemakers" and the "agitators," i.e., the (radical) activists and "renegades" Chris Hedges mentions, and the intellectuals who have been sounding the alarm about the rise of fascism for years now.
And that's when all this fascist legal and technological infrastructure it has built in the aftermath of 9/11 will come into play.
If we do not rise up now and allow that situation to come to pass, we "will see ourselves become a nation of captives."
With the "leaders," "radicals," "renegades," activists and intellectuals neutralized, fear will spread throughout the population. With the total information awareness proto-fascist system in full operation, it would become (almost) impossible to organize a resistance to the Neo-liberal Financial Cartel Hegemony.
Now, here's why I argue it is important that the Occupy movement quickly moves into (direct) action embracing non-hierarchical concepts now: The Treasonous TrollsTM of the vast government/corporate spy network spend an extraordinary amount of time and resources building detailed dossiers on those who they perceive to be activist leaders ("Bank of America And Government Joined to Spy on Activists"). They also monitor and engage in surveillance against non-profit organizations. Once they build these detailed dossiers, they then proceed to apply very sophisticated psy-ops-type tactics against them, using the "radicals, realists, idealists, and opportunists" breakdown.
What that means is that you have to assume that ALL organizations, including those who purport to be activist organizations, or progressive, or pro-labor unions, etc., can be expected to be infiltrated, manipulated, subjected to surveillance, and/or co-opted, rendering the movement ineffective and moribund; which is exactly the objective of the spy and infiltration network to begin with.
So in the face of this challenge, here's my appeal at this point: Let's try to figure out a way to carry out some initial steps that are both, extremely simple to do (requiring no complex planning or organizing, nor top-down leadership), and highly synchronized, strategic, national (or international) in scope, and most important of all, sustained over a long period of time.
I argue that this will render much of the investment the Treasonous TrollsTM have spent on building dossiers on perceived leaders, ineffective. Remember, right now what they do is basically troll the social media sites and identify people who organize protest rallies, and then build dossiers on them, their friends, etc.
Here's what I propose to get us started:
Let's focus on three areas: Banking; media; politicians (taking bribes). We're going to protest the depravities of the ruling elite in those areas.
Here's a scenario: On Monday, January 27th, 2014, starting at 10:00 A.M. all people of good will who consider themselves part of the Occupy Wall Street movement will show up at specific locations at government and business nerve centers around the country.
For example, we could agree to show up at a specific location in the San Francisco Financial District, and at a specific location in New York City (Wall Street?), and Portland, and Washington, D.C.
If the dates, locations, and the themes for the protests are widely known, then each individual becomes a leader by inviting their friends; the whole thing then happens organically.
At this point I'd like to share something very exciting to illustrate how this could work. As I mentioned, my diary, "An Open Letter to The Occupy Wall Street Movement: You Were Right All Along," was widely shared on Facebook. An activist in Oregon, Katherine Velenzuela, read the diary and decided to implement the call to action. So now, as I write this, there are 78 posts (and counting) on her Facebook page, as she organizes the January 27th rally. Check out the Facebook post.
I'll be reaching out to activists in the San Francisco Bay Area to do the same thing in the SF Financial District, the same day (January 27th). Now, if we find people to do the same in New York, and Washington, D.C., and other cities, we would have constructed a successful template (as it were) for this coordinated action.
Now, let me address a question that comes up often: What good would a bunch of people holding signs in front of a bank, or the Justice Department (protesting the lack of prosecutions against the Wall Street Criminal Racketeering CartelTM), or a corporate media company HQ, do?
Here's what I wrote in my previous article:
With the use of social media we can share information about the locations we'll be targeting. Then individual activists can show up on their own with printed protest signs... As the protests take place, people would post pictures on twitter and encourage others to stop by. All this can happen organically, without anybody directing it; a true non-hierarchical-type tactic.
Doing something like this would accomplish many goals. First, it would serve as a psy-ops tactic against the intended targets. Second the signs (and possibly flyers) would serve to communicate with the public at large, and eventually recruit more people to join the movement. Third, it will eventually start to engender a feeling of unity and solidarity, and that will build confidence, and that will attract more people...
Let's make it a National Moral Monday, every week, for 100 weeks (starting on January 27th, 2014). Let's pick the locations (nerve centers), and the times; each of us will print our own posters or signs, or flyers to hand out to the public, and show up.
There are other advantages of doing this. As people get used to it, some may start meeting a local coffee houses, or parks, and share ideas, build friendships. People could talk about issues related to local farming and food production, sustainability, local issues. The idea is to build "unity and solidarity" under a common understanding, on a sustained basis.
Here's why I keep pointing out the importance that it be a sustained effort:
Indeed, Mark Lichbach, a professor of government and politics, has written in The Rebel’s Dilemma, that when more than 5 percent of the population engages in sustained, coordinated civil disobedience, few governments can remain in power whether they are a dictatorship or a democracy. The path to reaching this 5 percent begins when people who are already active in resistance build solidarity and draw more people to the movement. As more people see the movement growing and that there is a strategy to win, they will have the confidence to join it. Achieving the 5 percent tipping point with a diverse cross-section of society then becomes well within reach. [emphasis added]
Regarding the ethos of the movement, here's something to consider: "Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements."
Social movements involve a long-term struggle between the movement and the powerholders for the hearts, minds, and support of the majority of the population. Before social movements begin, most people are either unaware that a problem exists or don't believe that they can do anything about it. They believe the powerholder's societal myths and support the high-sounding official policies and practices, all of which seem to be consistent with the culture's deeply held held values and beliefs...
The strategy of social movements, therefore, is to alert, educate, and win over an ever increasing majority of the public. First the public needs to be convinced that a critical social problem exists. Then it must be convinced that policies need to be changed. And then a majority of people must be mobilized into a force that eventually brings about an acceptable solution.
I'm fully aware that there are many other issues to cover when it comes to these ideas. I'm going to follow up on a a third and final part of this series in the next couple of days. In the meantime, one major motivation I have in sharing these ideas is to encourage other activists to come up with their own ideas along these lines. But I always emphasize that whatever we do, it needs to be a strategic, coordinated, disciplined, and a sustained effort; one that engenders unity and solidarity so we can garner the strength we need to defeat the corporate state. Finally, none of this in any way is meant to discourage people from staying fully engaged in the political system. We know it is corrupt, but we can't give ground on any front. We need to stay fully engaged, full spectrum, until these supranational corporatist cartels that have captured our governments are defeated and forced to relent their death grip on democracy.