The Tasks of The People-Powered Movement for 2014
Posted on Jan 10, 2014
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
Emphasize our role as ‘change agents’
During this phase of building national consensus we need to change our roles. While we are still ‘rebels’ against the current system, our primary job in this phase is to be ‘change agents.’ Our target is mobilizing the general public, especially those involved and directly affected by current problems. Change agents operate not by being in the public spotlight as we were during the Take Off phase when our rebel role dominated, but to be people who organize, enable and nurture others to get involved as participants.
One pitfall to avoid at this point is becoming a ‘negative rebel.’ Those who do not understand the progression and tasks of a successful social movement may become discouraged by their perceived lack of progress. They may resort to violent tactics believing that previous tactics failed. This path will actually undermine the movement by giving openings for power holders to infiltrate it and be violent in response and by scaring the public.
The role of the change agent is to encourage conversations that are open and listening. We are not dictating that we have all the solutions, but engaging with others, providing an informed opinion and finding solutions together. And we must do more than just educate on one issue, but must show how that issue is related to other issues and the need for systemic change. This requires showing that the underlying world view of the current power structure is wrong and that a paradigm shift is needed. One way that issues get connected is by building coalitions or networks that bring people from different movements together.
Square, Site wide
“When assessing a crowd, the number of protesters is not the only thing to focus on. The composition of the crowd is just as significant. If the protest comprises only students or marginalized people, it is far easier to quash. However, if members of the military and police, bureaucrats, educators, clergy and business owners begin to participate in protests, it is a sign that the protest movement is much more serious, since these people constitute the pillars that provide power to a regime and have the institutional capacity to better organize a movement that employs sophisticated tactics.”
Change agents and the movement need to not only focus on our core constituencies, but also on people who are in the power structure. When we pull people from the power structure, the movement not only grows stronger, but the power holders get weaker.
There are signs that the power holders are worried about the growing people power of the social movement. Recently leaked documents from Washington State show that Bank of America has a team of 20 people who troll the Internet looking for protests against the bank. The documents also show that BoA works with the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the law enforcement Fusion Center of Homeland Security as well as local police in what they call a ‘public-private partnership.’
Another end of the year report by the Information Technology firm Gartner predicts a
Persist. This is a marathon with hurdles, not a sprint
We have come a long way. On December 16, 2010, almost a year before occupy and the day before the Arab Spring began with the Tunisian fruit vendor lighting himself on fire, we were part of a protest against the Afghanistan war in Washington, DC. At the protest 131 people were arrested opposing the war while President Obama was inside telling the media the Afghanistan war was going well. The theme of the protest was that we needed to develop a culture of resistance in the United States. Now, two years later we can see that culture of resistance growing. We have come a long way.
The current stage of movement evolution is one that could last for years, even more than a decade. Or, it could be one that moves more quickly. When we organized the occupation of Washington, DC at Freedom Plaza in 2011 we researched where the people of the United States stood and discovered they were more radical than the corporate media was letting us know. We published an article We Stand With the Majority, then in the month before OWS began we updated it with The American People Could Rule Better than the Elites. Essentially, two-thirds of the American people were already questioning current policies and looking for alternatives. Perhaps this is why President Obama ran on “hope and change” because his polling and focus groups showed that is where the people were.
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