A week ago, I produced a TV documentary on inside the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York. It was already somewhat obsolete by the time it aired.
The Park, once a buzzing center of debate and open-air meetings has gone residential in the sense that virtually every square inch of what was a half-acre political terrarium is now dominated by tents, an effort to insure more protection from the elements and some better level of personal security. As private spaces proliferated, public space shrunk … //
… I picked up a copy of scholar Gene Sharp’s how to make a non-violent revolution manual called “From Dictatorship To Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation” at the People’s Library in Zuccotti Park. Now published in 34 languages, it offers a detailed primer on how people’s movement’s can topple tyrannies. It itemizes the ideas and techniques that powered movements in many countries including Egypt, Tunisia, and Serbia.
You can get it online from Gene Sharp’s Albert Einstein Institution at aeinstein.org.
The Serbian movement OPTOR that helped overthrow the Milosovic regime with protests in Belgrade have since become specialists in training activists and orchestrating uprisings. They have advised movements in Egypt, and some of their key people have had conversations and perhaps more interaction with Occupy Wall Street. (The General Assembly of Occupy is now sending one of its activists to Egypt.)
They do have a lot to teach using print, video and videogames.
Their work has raised eyebrows and led to suspicion, and even conspiracy mongering with “revelations” that their actions, which have included aiding the “Color Revolutions” in Ukraine and Eastern Europe are funded or directed by the CIA.
As a veteran CIA investigator, I am not persuaded by the “evidence” since Washington more often resembles “the gang that can’t shoot straight” than effective non violent change-makers. Their dismal failures outnumber their few successes (which doesn’t mean they don’t cause harm or negatively affect political outcomes.)
There is a British-made film, The Revolution Business (Journeyman Pictures), with an unmistakable anti-American orientation that stirs fears of devious covert scenarios all made in the USA.
You can watch it on You Tube:
The Revolution Business – World, 27.37 min;
Be mindful that all movements for social change have their own internal contradictions and rivalries, and that when movements develop traction, many forces want to use and manipulate them, including governments, and groups with every point of view. Most don’t succeed.
You have to be careful about connecting dots that may seem to connect but in reality don’t. As critics of Freud said years ago, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
The question is: can Occupy Wall Street, with all its dynamism and commitment find ways to sustain itself and gain new momentum? I am betting that they will—but movements can move on more than one track at the same time without compromising their integrity. There is so much to do and so many people with whom to win over and engage. (full text).
(News Dissector Danny Schechter writes about Occupy Wall Street on Al Jazeera, Progressive Radio Network other outlets and his newsdissector.com blog. He made the film Plunder the Crime Of Our Time. Plunderthecrimeofourtime.com. Comments here).