Sept. 19, 2012
Occupy had a great first year anniversary. Discussing the success of occupy through the lens of the Bottom-Up revolution
It's interesting. I've written a few pretty hard hitting articles the past few days, advocating for tough actions to fix America and to punish the criminals, sociopaths and thieves who have ripped off the middle class and the future of America. And some respond in a way that makes me think they're victims of top-down mind syndrome. They're afraid to trust bottom up approaches, meaning solutions that trust people, that take power away from centralized, hierarchical powers. They attack these ideas as dangerous. That's true. The ideas are dangerous to the existing hierarchy, the current holders of top-down power.
On Monday, I took two trains to get to New York, then a subway to get to the financial district, where the One Year Anniversary of Occupy was taking place.
It was a bit chaotic.
There were a bunch of groups marching, banging drums, carrying signs, chanting, shadowed by hundreds of police, everywhere you turned. Every now and then the White Shirt police would, seemingly capriciously, grab a protester and put the plastic handcuffs on him or her.
When I first arrived at Zucotti Park, it was blocked off by the ubiquitous gates the cops use to keep people out. By 2:00 PM, the park was full. I'd been there last year, in October, at the peak of Occupy, and on Monday, the crowd of thousands seemed just as big, just as strong, just as joyful, diverse and undisciplined.
Zucotti Park 9/17/2012-- packed from edge to edge photo by Rob Kall
Yet the mainstream media failed to cover this, or, worse, they reported a very different picture.
People, even progressives, ask me what Occupy has really accomplished, as though the movement was a failure that did nothing.
I see part of the problem being what I started this article discussing. People are so stuck in their top-down minds, so addicted to seeing things from a top down perspective, to living with top-down rules, that they are terrified of the ways that the bottom up revolution is emerging manifesting itself. Some ways, like the explosive success of Google, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are not as frightening. But changes to the social structure, to the way change happens, to the way the economy is managed-- those can be terrifying to people suffering from top-down mindset.
The idea of shrinking corporations, fighting too-big-to-fail, eliminating globalization treaties that were created for the benefit of the biggest multinational corporations can evoke attacks of foolish, of illogical, impossible, even dangerous. And, in fact, some of the ideas are dangerous-- to the lords of the kingdom-- the people who currently wield the reins of the top-down system we now live under.
These top-down mind people see the roving Occupy marchers from Monday as ineffective, disorganized failures.
I say that is top-down blindness- the inability to see, just as some animals only see in limited light band frequencies.
Before Monday's first Anniversary, when people asked me about what Occupy had accomplished, my first response was that it's changed the conversation. It's brought the ideas of income inequality, of the 99% and the one percent, corporate personhood, excessive corporate influence on government, Citizens United, money in politics, Student Debt... to name a few.
But it's bigger than that. Occupy put protest on the table for several new generations. It put getting in the streets on the table. That's a big deal for a nation that has been suffering from an extreme case of boiling frog syndrome, slowly allowing the two party system to become hyperpolarized while at the same time merging into a single corporatist duopoly.
This idea that people can and will go out in the streets to make change happen is something that people need to open up to. Occupy has done it. To see it, you don't look at the occupy protesters. You look at the people looking at them. Here are some pics I took on Monday of onlookers.
photo by Rob Kall
Photo by Rob Kall
Photo by Rob Kall
Photo by Rob Kall
And here are a few taken last year, in Washington DC, as I walked in the middel of a protest march to the National Air and Space Museum to protest the use of Drones.
photo by Rob Kall
Photo by Rob Kall
and here's what they were looking at, taking photographs of-- photos that they posted on facebook, showed to their family, friends and co-workers.
S17 Occupy 1st Anniversary Protesters in NYC-- the two men in the front were arrested in front of Bank of America a few minutes later. Photo by Rob Kall
October 2011, Washington DC photo by rob kall
And here, below, is a video of marchers I took on Monday at the first year Occupy anniversary. Note that there are less marchers in this protest march. That's because simultaneously, there were many marches going on, all over the financial district and other parts of the city. There were onlookers for each march-- and just seeing the marchers changes the way they see the world, they way they relate to the possibility of change.
It doesn't matter with the onlookers agree or not. They can hate occupy. Just seeing the protesters, of all ages, gets the onlookers opening up more to the idea that even THEY could be in the streets, as hundreds of thousands eventually did in Argentina, where the government was forced to resign.
Vote, but don't expect any substantive change from electoral politics. Occupy is the future of hope for the USA and for the world.
Zucotti Park S17 on the First anniversary of Occupy Image the Hope Poster at the start of this article is based upon. Photo by Rob Kall.
Our culture, our economy, humanity itself is in the midst of a shift-- a transition from a top-down controlled world to a bottom-up world. It's going to change everything. It will be very difficult for some, particularly those born and raised in the top-down world. It easier, even natural and obvious for those born since the start of the internet. For many, the ideas that the bottom up revolution brings will be strange, bizarre, crazy, stupid, impossible. For some the ideas will be dangerous, the enemy, the worst possible future-- particularly those among the one percent. They will fight tooth and nail, using hierarchy, centralization, old control system-- religion, government, big corporations-- to prevent the change. People have already died and many more will die. Others will, through understanding the bottom-up revolution and mind, find great success. Even success will be defined differently. Welcome aboard for the ride. You can't refuse to come along. You're on it whether you like it or not.
Rob is a frequent Speaker on the bottom up revolution, politics, The art, science and power of story, heroes and the hero's journey and Positive Psychology. He is a campaign consultant specializing in tapping the power of stories for issue positioning, stump speeches and debates, and optimizing tapping the power of new media. Watch me speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.