Tag Archives: The Occupy movement

Occupy World Street, Ross Jackson’s Anthem for the movement

Ross Jackson is more than a thought leader and visionary; here he is performing a song he wrote for the Occupy Movement. I think it is both inspiring and entertaining, an excellent companion to his recent book by the same name. You can learn more about the Occupy World Street agenda at the website,  http://occupyworldstreet.org/.

The Occupy Movement Needs a Grand Strategy

As the Occupy movement matures, it will need to clarify its overall objectives and develop a grand strategy for achieving them. It will perhaps find guidance in the work of Dr. Gene Sharp.

Gene Sharp is widely regard as “the world’s foremost expert on non-violent revolution,” but few people have ever heard of him. His book, From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation (1993), has reportedly been translated into more than 30 languages, and can be freely downloaded from the web. He has recently been written up by Thom Hartman (Gene Sharp’s Peaceful Revolution Techniques) and the BBC (Gene Sharp: Author of the nonviolent revolution rulebook).

Sharp’s book provides a large arsenal of “non-violent weapons.” Here is some of his advice:

  • Develop a strategy for winning freedom and a vision of the society you want
  • Overcome fear by small acts of resistance
  • Use colours and symbols to demonstrate unity of resistance
  • Learn from historical examples of the successes of non-violent movements
  • Use non-violent “weapons”
  • Identify the dictatorship’s pillars of support and develop a strategy for undermining each
  • Use oppressive or brutal acts by the regime as a recruiting tool for your movement
  • Isolate or remove from the movement people who use or advocate violence


The Occupy movement at risk from violent protesters

In a previous post (Who Will occupy Whom? A Warning for OWS) I warned about threats to the occupy movement and suggested a general strategy for achieving popular empowerment, peace, justice, and personal freedom. That post was prompted by, and included, an insightful article by Richard K. Moore. This one is stimulated by an article by Chris Hedges that highlights a more immediate threat that has recently developed in Oakland and elsewhere. That threat appears in the form of violent mob action that goes under the rubric of The Black Bloc. According to Wikipedia, “The Black Bloc is sometimes incorrectly reported as being the name of a specific anarchist group. It is, rather, a tactic that may be adopted by groups of various motivations and methods.” Those methods include violent confrontation with authority and destruction of property, tactics that play right into the hands of domineering oligarchs intent of preserving their privilege and hold on power. No doubt, the actions of many Black Bloc protesters are motivated by their ardently held, though misguided, ideology, but it seems likely that there are among their leadership agents provocateur who are intent on helping to maintain the present power structure by discrediting any opposition to it.

The media have generally characterized these anarchist actions as being part of the Occupy movement, but as Chris Hedges points out in his article, The Cancer in Occupy, The Black Bloc is no friend to the Occupy movement which began as peaceful expressions of discontent with the status quo, and is hopefully maturing into a progressive movement toward popular empowerment. Hedges calls the Black Bloc anarchists “the cancer of the Occupy movement,” and I’m inclined to agree. One feature of the Black Bloc protesters, and the basis for the name, is that they dress in black clothing and use ski masks, scarves, sun glasses, and other means to obscure their faces. But anonymity and concealment are antithetical to civil society and are more likely to enable criminal and anti-social activity rather than protection for the legitimate assertion of people’s rights.

Any movement will eventually develop factions that diverge on the basis of philosophy, goals, strategies and tactics. The mainstream of the Occupy movement must find ways to distance itself from such groups and tactics because, as Hedges points out, “Once the Occupy movement is painted as a flag-burning, rock-throwing, angry mob we are finished. If we become isolated we can be crushed.” One way to preserve the legitimacy of the movement is to insist on openness and transparency. If that can be expressed strongly enough, it might preserve in the public mind the identity of Occupy as a benign and creative force.

I believe that the ends are inherent in the means and that, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12, KJV). The Occupy movement must move toward disciplined organization and employ tactics that are at once compassionate and effective, tactics that even progressives who work within the establishment can embrace. It must be a form of organization that relies not on power hierarchies, but on solidarity and consensus within small communities of peers organized into large networks than can enable concerted action.

The real threat to the powers that be, (and the most promising path toward our goals) is intelligent, non-violent, empowering actions that make them and their systems irrelevant.

The way forward, as I see it, is to assert our fundamental rights and to organize better ways of providing for our basic needs. Yes, there will be adverse consequences, but ultimately right will prevail. I am reminded of a scene from the film Gandhi, in which the mahatma leads a large number of people on a march to the sea—to make salt. Why was that a revolutionary act? Because the British government had a “legal” monopoly that forced people in India to buy their salt from that single source. What a patent absurdity, to tell people that they are prohibited from making their own salt. What a gross infringement of basic human rights!

But people everywhere today suffer under equally absurd “laws” that force people to rely upon banking cartels to provide government-approved forms of money to enable the exchange of the goods and services we all need. In some places, competing forms of currency and financing alternatives are prohibited outright, in others they are impeded by onerous taxation and reporting requirements. But ultimately, the people will reclaim the credit commons and free themselves from oppressive systems of money and finance. I urge you again to heed the prescriptions outlined in my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

Viva la revolución pacífica!


2011 End-of-year Newsletter

Holiday Greetings!

Here is an update on what I’ve been thinking and doing since my return from Asia two months ago. I know this is a busy time of year for everyone, so I’ll keep it brief.

Michigan conference and presentation links

The 2011 International Conference on Sustainability, Transition & Culture Change: Vision, Action, Leadership that was held in Michigan in November was very productive and enjoyable. Amongst the participants with whom I had opportunity to interact were Australian economist Steve Keen, author of Debunking Economics, Nicole Foss of Automatic Earth, and Albert Bates of the Eco-village Training Center and The Farm in Tennessee. I was also inspired to hear the stories of a number of land-based participants from Michigan and the Midwest who have taken significant steps to prepare for the transformation and are well positioned to thrive throughout the chrysalis stage of the ongoing societal metamorphosis.

I gave a somewhat abbreviated version of my slide presentation on The Emerging Butterfly Society. This was recorded, along with the rest of the conference proceedings, and can be accessed at http://www.livestream.com/localfuture/video?clipId=pla_ade24121-d46d-4448-863c-babe129a604f . Be sure to also watch Albert Bates’ amazing story about the history of The Farm. It’s a remarkable tale of what a small group of people can achieve to help others when they have love in their hearts and shared objectives.

I was also invited, by one of my colleagues who lives in the area, to be interviewed for a cable TV series that he produces (Investigating Community Resilience), for a program called Outside In. On the day following the conference we met at Up North studio in Traverse City, Michigan to record two half-hour segments that were to be broadcast via cable during the following weeks. These are now available on the program website. The first segment can be downloaded at http://ir.nrec.org/content/author-tom-greco-talk-about-history-money-and-debt, and the second at http://ir.nrec.org/content/more-tom-greco.

I think these went particularly well because the interviewer, Dave Barrons, is an TV personality with many years of experience who has a strong interest in the topics of my books and was well prepared with some excellent questions. Please watch these and pass the word along to your networks.

The next in this series of Local Future conferences is being planned for the end of May 2012. Since next year’s BALLE conference will be held in Grand Rapids from May 15 to 18, it seems advantageous to hold it in the same city immediately following. Watch the LF website for details.

Jubilee: The only way out of the Global Financial Predicament

As I wrote more than three years ago in The End of Money, “the growth god is dead.” We must face the fact that the limits to physical growth have been reached. This does not necessarily mean a decline in living standards or a global war for control of resources. There is plenty enough to provide a dignified life for everyone on the planet and even two or three billion more. We have been tremendously successful in developing “labor saving” machinery and technologies that can make us more healthier and more comfortable. The problem is that those benefits have not been equitably distributed and the whole range of incentives that are built into the industrial society promotes waste and conflict. We can all live much better while consuming less stuff, but to achieve that we’ll need to reinvent money, banking and finance. Accelerating debt growth cannot continue much longer. One way or another, much of the existing debt will need to be written off in the coming years. Will it be done deliberately, fairly, and systematically, or in a chaotic collapse of the global financial system?

If you want to understand what is happening on the global financial front, please watch this dialog between Chris Martenson and James Turk as they talk about Europe and the global economy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BsMj59hyJOQ.

And for a good understanding of the underlying factors that are bringing an the end to growth, and to get some direction on what to do to adapt, you may want to consult the following:

  • Richard Heinberg (The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economy),
  • Michael Ruppert (Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World and Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil),
  • Chris Martenson (The Crash Course).

The Occupy Movement

Over the past several weeks, I’ve posted a number of comments and links to materials about the Occupy movement. The most recent of these highlights a panel session that was held on November 10th at the New School in New York City. The panel was titled, Occupy Everywhere: On the New Politics and Possibilities of the Movement Against Corporate Power. It featured Oscar-winning filmmaker and author Michael Moore; Naomi Klein, best-selling author of the Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism; Rinku Sen of the Applied Research Center and publisher of ColorLines; Occupy Wall Street organizer Patrick Bruner; and journalist William Greider, author of Come Home America, Who Will Tell the People?, and, Secrets of the Temple (about the Federal Reserve). The panelists provided some interesting perspectives on the movement. You can find the video and a transcript of the proceedings at the Democracy Now! website.

Yes! Magazine, in conjunction with Berrett-Koehler Publishers, has just come out with an excellent booklet, This Changes Everything, which both describes and gives some direction to the Occupy movement.

This Changes Everything shows how the movement is shifting the way people view themselves and the world, the kind of society they believe is possible, and their own involvement in creating a society that works for the 99% rather than just the 1%.”

It features brief statements by more than a dozen leading voices, including David Korten, Naomi Klein, and Ralph Nader. You can get a copy from Yes! Magazine.

I’m confident that what began as a protest and expression of dissatisfaction with the status quo will quickly shift into a broad-based citizens’ movement to establish a true government “by the people and for the people” and a world that works for all. If you’re not already a part of this exciting process, Get Informed and get onboard…

Plato o plomo

I recently read the book, Killing Pablo, a story written by Mark Bowden (Black Hawk Down). I didn’t seek it out, it just appeared, so I grabbed it. It’s all about money, drugs, power, violence, and corruption, specifically related to the Columbian drug cartels and Pablo Escobar. It is an astounding example of the breakdown of law and order and the corrupting power of extreme wealth, particularly when in the hands of ruthless sociopaths. That is not to say that Escobar was the only one using the tactics of violence and terror. In the end, it seems it was the use of those same tactics by paramilitary groups with shadowy connections to both the Columbian and U.S. governments that brought Escobar down.

This is a chilling story of what can happen when terror, intimidation, and assassinations become a way of political life. The cartels and power brokers had (have?) a way of posing a choice to the government and military officials they sought to corrupt—plato o plomo, (silver or lead)? That was no idle threat. The cartel(s) had (have?) the wherewithal to carry it out. No one was safe in Columbia during that time. They could protect neither themselves nor their families. Police, soldiers, politicians, legislators, and judges were assassinated by the thousands, their family members kidnapped and often murdered, and innocent civilians killed in frequent bombings. This is a book that will cure you of any residual naiveté you may have regarding money, power, and politics.


I recently viewed the movie THRIVE: What on Earth Will it Take?, and attended a discussion group about it in Berkeley. The movie, a documentary produced by Foster Gamble, addresses the same basic questions that set me on my current path many years ago, namely, why is there so much suffering and deprivation amidst great opulence, and why is the earth being continually despoiled with no end in sight? What will it take to enable everyone on the planet to live a dignified life and realize their full potential?

While some may not relate well to the first part of the movie that considers free energy and UFOs, the movie is well worth viewing for its description of the domineering mindset and elite control that characterize our present reality, and for its inspirational vision of what our future could be. THRIVE groups are springing up in many places as people seek to understand the dimensions of our situation, and to help one another decide on appropriate actions.

*     *     *

Finally, this verse from a Christmas card caught my eye:

     May the true meaning of Christmas fill your heart with happiness all year!

Whatever your religious background might be, I invite you to contemplate these questions, What is the true meaning of Christmas? What is it that all religions are supposed to provide? How can we make religion a force that brings us all together instead of one that separates us?

And here is my wish for the New Year, and forever more—

        Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward All!


What’s the “Occupy” Movement all about?–Part 5

The following is a message sent by Guy “Josh” Josserand, one of my friends and associates, to the Occupiers in Tucson. It is an eloquent expression of hope and power that I think should be widely shared.–t.h.g.

Dear Occupiers and Occupationists,

Thank you so much from my heart for the power of your presence.

This is a rising tide of public awareness and personal participation for which I have had decades of anticipation.

A tsunami of love and respect for life is forming that can wash clean some centuries of fear-based domination of the many by the few.

Government of the People, for the People, and by the People now faces its last best chance to escape corporate feudalism.

Are we serfs or are we sovereigns?

Toward this end I wish to encourage the Occupation to speak, not about what it needs but WHAT IT GIVES.

As much as the Occupation needs the 99%, we all, the 100%, need what the Occupation offers even more.

It offers us all power and voice.

Let us INVITE each one to take control of the power they have.

Let us encourage them to accept the power they are.

Let us remind them of Marianne Williamson’s message which Nelson Mandela repeated in his Inaugural Address.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Let us incorporate this perspective into every communication and act of Occupiers in every town and city of the world. Success of the Occupation will be measured by the degree to which we can eradicate fear from the hearts of both the 99% and the 1% as well, for the One Percent also suffers from bondage. Though they fortify themselves with wealth, it is only a wealth of power and dominance which is antithetical and incompatible with actual freedom, justice and happiness. Injustice for anyone breeds injustice for all, and as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us many years ago, “None of us is free until all of us are free.”


Guy Josserand III