It’s Time for the 99% To Occupy the Occupy Movement

By Steve Bhaerman

“Whenever anyone tells me that there’s just a very, very small group of people who control everything, I say, ‘That’s great news!  It means there are way, way more of us than there are of them.’”        — Swami Beyondananda

The Occupy Movement started something, and now it’s up to the 99% to move the evolutionary upwising forward.

In less than two months, a new conversation has broken through the soundless barrier as mainstream corporate media has been forced to cover the story.  This has enabled articulate spokespersons like Chris Hedges to talk sense to a national audience.  The cat is now out of the bag, and that’s a good thing.

Occupy has heartened disheartened Americans, so it’s understandable how one could get preoccupied with the Occupy movement and not consider what a post-occupation strategy might be.  Fortunately, the Corporate State is making it “easy” for us to shift the focus from occupying physical space to occupying the conversation so thoroughly that we the people can finally “overgrow” the current corrupt and dysfunctional system.

How have they made it easier?  By using massive and brutal force to evict the Occupy encampments, first in New York and then elsewhere.  Making New York’s Mayor Bloomberg the “villain” as Keith Olbermann does here is tempting from a symbolic standpoint.  But it misses the bigger point – that these evictions were orchestrated at the national level.  According to this article in Business Insider 18 mayors of large cities were instructed in a conference call how to use their police to remove the demonstrators.  It is quite telling that all of the mayors – regardless of their political affiliation – went along with the scheme.  Why?  Because under the current circumstances where there is no unified moral leadership coming from the public sphere, they had no choice.

The scenes of these evictions – intentionally blacked out by our free (oops, I mean “paid for”) press – tells us all we need to know about who is being protected by our protective forces.  A militarized police – helicopters and all – is being used against not just the demonstrators, but against the First Amendment – and ultimately against all Americans.

For the past ten years since the oxymoronically-titled “Patriot Act” was passed, we’ve been seeing “soft fascism,” the kind that quietly installs the machinery of the police state just in case our collective awareness breaks through the carefully-crafted illusion of freedom.  It is a disease process that has been robbing us of our heart, our soul, and our spirit – until now.  Because as the Swami says, the truth shall upset you free.  As with any disease process, there comes a time when the symptoms can no longer be ignored.  And the usual “treatments” – petitioning our “leaders” with demands or waiting for the next tweedle-dweeb / tweedle-dumb election – won’t do the trick.

It’s time for us to stop banging our heads against police batons, and emerge to a new level of power.

It’s time to use the ace-in-the-hole … the dormant yet powerful moral authority of the 99%.  It’s time for the 99% to “occupy” the Occupy movement.

OK.  But how?

By first of all, convening conversations across America, and inviting anyone who identifies with the 99% to participate.  A recent Fox News poll indicates that 67% consider themselves part of the 99%, and that’s not a bad start.  In fact, let’s invite the other 33% as well, and even the 1% — provided they speak as individual citizens rather than controllers of the conversation.

Imagine what it would be like to really find out what the 99% of us feel, think – and have in common.  What if 80% or even 90% of us supported just one idea, just one rule of governance?  What if – for the first time – a unified voice of We The People said, “We the People of America stand for THIS” (however “this” is articulated) and that voice spoke with such collective authority that our legislators had to legislate it – or face certain defeat in 2012?

The same with the President.

Think we can’t do it?  Thanks to the Internet, we can gather millions in a matter of days, if not hours.  The question is, of course, gather around what?

As a first small step, how about gathering in a massive national conversation to decide what unifying theme to gather around.  Imagine … moving the conversation from the Internet to the “outernet” and using the Freedom of Assembly to … assemble – not just to protest but to pro-actively envision what we would like instead.  There are numerous models for gleaning the wisdom of a group in the context of respectful communication, including Jim Rough’s Wisdom Council concept, the pioneering work of Tom Atlee’s Co-Intelligence Institute  and the Transpartisan Toolkit articulated in my e-book with Joseph McCormick, Reuniting America.

While conversations can certainly happen informally, for these to have greatest impact – and like Occupy Wall Street, become mainstream news — there would have to be a “neutral convener” outside the current political order and beyond the influence of special interests.  Who might be capable of that?  How do we call forth the leaders in our spiritual communities, our business communities, in the domains of academia, the arts and sciences who recognize that politics is too important to be left to the politicians?  And who or what does the “calling?”

Ultimately, instead of just camping out in the cold, we need to occupy large public town halls so that we are able to hear ourselves and each other, our voices neither muffled nor manipulated by “those who know better” or toxic media “babblum.”

Not since this country was founded have we faced a greater crisis or stood on the threshold of a greater opportunity.  We don’t need a revolution in this country.  We already had one, thank you.  Some 235 years ago, a band of courageous and forward-seeing individuals risked life and fortune to stand up to the tyranny of a previous-incarnation of the corporate state:  The multinational British East India Company, and the British army and navy.

That was then.  This time, what is required is an evolution, where we the people declare ourselves worthy of self-governance and become the sovereign “king” America’s founders intended.  Can we do it?  The only way to find out is to go for it.

Comments are welcome, including suggestions for individuals and organizations who can be “neutral conveners” for this conversation.

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2 Responses to It’s Time for the 99% To Occupy the Occupy Movement

  1. lynn panagakos says:

    My suggestion for a neutral convenor — MARIANNE WILLIAMSON

  2. Joe Benham says:

    hello swami, i’m posting my response to your article, along with the response which you emailed back to me. i like the way this conversation is going. this is one example of how to amass, amalgamate and crystalize our collective intelligence.

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    (from joe benham on 11/18/11)

    I once heard a saying by Winnie Mandella: “Don’t throw us a bone without any meat.” That’s what I think of the political process in our country. Regardless of how the forefathers started out, the system is beyond corrupt now and I would hate to see those corrupt politicians and corporate cronies appropriate this movement in exchange for a few mere scraps.

    The one common thread and demand among all in the occupy movement is already being asserted: the right to occupy, which is more than simply the right to free speech and assembly. When gathered as an all-inclusive community, which we most assuredly are in this case (and not just as individuals or factions), we should have the right to take control and possession of OUR public lands, in order to express whatever grievance or demand we might have. Even if we don’t come up with one right away, it should be our right to use this kind of assembly as a way to formulate our ideas and gather consensus.

    I’m not against the people doing this as often as they could gather up enough common resolve to do it. It took a LOT to get the people to this place and time and would take equally as much to see a movement like this ever happen again. This kind of thing won’t likely happen again for a long time, if there is any kind of substantial change. It’s not as if it would become our standard way of governing. But it would be the final check and balance, in the event that government ever did run amuck again. The people have always fought against this, with their voices. I’m just suggesting that we give the collective voice of the people the kind official recognition it deserves. Let the will of the people reign above any and all political processes.

    Articulating individual demands is certainly valuable, but circumstances like the ones we’re in right now often require a much more broad approach. We would not want to limit this kind of movement to just one or a few issues.

    We would not want to entrust any individual with the authority to “neutrally” arbitrate, either. I think this would undermine the collective intelligence of the people. There are certainly techniques for facilitating discussion and gathering consensus, which could be shared and spread by individuals with inventive minds. But those techniques aught to be a tool to empower the people to lead themselves.

    In short, the political process is supposed to be for and by the people. We do not need to conform to it. It needs to conform to us. This principal is vitally important.

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    (from Steve Bhaerman on 11/19/11)

    Thank you so much for this articulate and thought-provoking response. I agree that this momentum needs to be built upon, and those at every stage of awakening must be engaged. My suggestion of a national conversation would be a way for individuals and communities to begin the process of self and mutual dehypnosis. Re the right to occupy, we may have that right … look at the weapons that are being used against the American people in New York like the sound cannon http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/328-121/8476-introducing-the-lrad-sound-cannon

    Use of such weapons indicates that we the people of America are now officially “non-persons” (unlike corporations) like the Palestinians … i.e., the American government can now do anything they like to us if they perceive we are in their way. This in an of itself should be the beginning of an “emerge n’ see” calling forth of a conversation.

    Re “neutral convener” I agree there is no individual and no “authority” that can or should put themselves in the front of this parade. However, someone or organization or gathering of individuals with the resource can definitely step forward and — using some of the practices I mention in my article that have been developed to enhance communication in groups — can call forth an articulate statement that 90-something percent of Americans can agree with.

    And yes, it’s not about a policy but agreement about rules of governance.