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A Leaderless Revolution: Occupy Economic Democracy - Part 1 of 2

By       Message Brian McConnell       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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"I conclude that since capitalist growth cannot be stopped, or even slowed, and since the market-driven growth is driving us toward collapse, ecological economists should abandon the fantasy of a steady-state capitalism and
get on with the project figuring out what a post-capitalist economic democracy could look like." quote from "Beyond growth or beyond capitalism?" (Smith, 1)

Beginning with a clarion call to 'occupy' lower Manhattan in a September issue of Adbusters and citing the success of Tahrir Square insurgents in issuing a "straightforward ultimatum" for Mubarak's ouster, Occupy's camaraderie was forged in solidarity with that of an Arab Spring by together asking, "what is our equally uncomplicated demand?" (#OccupyWall- Street, 2).

Consequently though, and only after Occupy Wall Street (OWS) demonstrators had elicited popular support following release of an internet video showing female protesters being pepper sprayed (Day 8) and the arrest of more than 700 marchers crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

(Day 15) did mainstream media (MM) begin to wonder, "What Do They Want?".  While this question has proved to be one of the movement's earliest shared issues, articulating a consensus-based response has revealed unique aspects about the group's orienting structure.

Having authored an article only three months earlier for the Integral Leadership Review ("Toward a Sustainable Future") however, and in aspiring to envision a form of 'complex adaptive' leadership for a 'New World Economy', I mused over the wisdom of opting "to legitimize or otherwise sanction" the imposition of debt (usury) on a global populace.

"Let's radicalise our analysis" "As a result, it's disturbingly unconscionable, especially in view of Egypt's revolution earlier this year, to blindly ignore how the West's present centralized, debt-oriented, economic system, implemented globally towards the end of World War II, is perpetuating an ever-widening gap between the world's richest and poorest, and in so doing, fueling tensions increasing the likelihood of social upheaval across vast geopolitical sectors."  from "Toward a Sustainable Future: Integral Leadership in the New World Economy" (3)
By way of an update then, but explaining why Occupy's response to the question, "What are your demands?" should be, "We demand that you stop demanding a list of demands", Robert Jensen proposes instead, a deepening of "our analysis of the systems that produce" an "unjust distribution of wealth and power".

"The demand for demands is an attempt to shoehorn the Occupy gatherings into conventional politics, to force the energy of these gatherings into a form that people in power recognise, so that they can roll out strategies to divert, co-opt, buy off, or - if those tactics fail - squash any challenge to business as usual."  from "Occupy demands: Let's radicalise our analysis"

Likewise, but acknowledging that while "(r)allying around a common concern about economic injustice is a beginning", Jensen further suggests "understanding the structures and institutions of illegitimate authority is the next step" (4).

Being the 'Global Vision'
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Along similar lines, Jennifer Gidley too, describes a "crisis of consciousness" as evidenced in the findings of "(s)everal contemporary ecologists, educators, philosophers and scientists", but whose affects are experienced "environmentally", "economically" and "psychosocially" (5).  For these reasons however, and within what's otherwise been termed a 'leaderless' (see - Leadership) movement, those expressing constancy with OWS, including Chris Hedges ("A discussion about Occupy Wall Street"), David Korten ("Why I'm in Solidarity with #Occupy WallStreet"), and Douglas Rushkoff ("CNN: Occupy Wall Street is Not a Protest but a Prototype") are all the more notable.

Also in a recent interview, contemporary philosopher and Integral Operating System (IOS) visionary Ken Wilber discussed how a "major global (world) transition now under way" (1:40) doesn't merely embody a paradigm shift from a Newtonian-Cartesian worldview that's "bad", "fragmented and broken" to one that's "more balanced", integrated, holistic, and "all good", but more accurately, reflects the human mind's evolutionary development across a continuum of five or six subsequent phases.

As Wilber further acknowledges though, prior transitions of this type from a modern, scientific-rational worldview [AQAL's lower-left (LL) quadrant] involving industrial and corporate-state social (i.e. political-economic) systems (LR) for example, to that of a postmodern, pluralistic culture (LL) within an informational, value communities environment (LR) have in the past, entailed "very dramatic social and cultural upheaval" (14:40).

Clare Grave's - Levels of Existence Referring to 'tipping points' (18:30) and the magnitude of change witnessed by the 'modern' "rational-industrial era" (Stage 5 - AQAL) in respect to government, value structures, and the eradication of slavery; contrasted with "the emergence of pluralism or postmodernism" (Stage 6 - AQAL) which realized shifts in "multiculturalism", "valuing all minorities equally" and an "enormous emphasis on civil rights", Wilber similarly notes that both transformations occurred, "starting right about ten percent (10%) of the population (19:30)."

Following this same line of thought, interviewer Todd Goldfarb then asks, "What is the emergent worldview that we are evolving to?" (21:40).  Wilber responds by adducing Clare Graves' analogy of a 'momentous leap' in meaning making (see: "Human Nature Prepares for Momentous Leap") from previous levels which to this point, have viewed their own respective values and those values alone as "real" (24:05), to one which is integral and instead recognizes "that all of the previous stages have some sort of value.  In other words, there's some reason that they're there." In this respect, and as Wilber further explains (25:05), the integral level of maturation is the first to accept that "(t)o some extent" those earlier stages are "all necessary for the human mind to grow and develop" (6).

Betraying Our Trust: "A Crisis in American Leadership"

"A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels."  quote by Albert Einstein in, "Atomic Education Urged by Einstein", New York Times (25 May 1946)
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In light of the scope and complexity of transformation to which I've already alluded; but within a context where the prospect of systemic failure (see Debt to GDP graph above) is ever present, humankind is concurrently witnessing the wide- spread faltering and even break down of conventional economics, politics, traditional media, higher education, social justice, and the church.

Super Committee's Failure a Win for Occupy Movement? Consequently, and along these same lines, because an onset of corporate fascism (e.g. inverted totalitarianism) has informed my focus over the last ten years, beginning with 9/11 and a subsequent introduction to Aaron Russo's, America: Freedom to Fascism, it's been a recurring theme in a multitude of projects including, "A Crisis in American Leadership" (see also "A Case of Willful Neglect").

Likewise, where "Toward a Sustainable Future" exposed neoconservatism and neoliberalism as reflecting two opposing sides of a single globalization coin, a comparable affiliation with partisan values and ideologies in the contemporary church too, evinces a despotic autocracy.  Not coincidentally, the 'fascist' motif has also commanded particular attention from various authors including Naomi Wolf (End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot) and Chris Hedges (American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America and Death of the Liberal Class).

Rescue Mission Expansion - "More Homeless" From my own experience, and as the author of a blog entitled, "In the Belly of the Beast - Report from a Homeless American", nowhere is this unholy theocracy of 'church' and 'state' any more evident than in my own city's  management of its underemployed poor.  Nevertheless, but having drafted a 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness three years earlier, in 2009 it received stimulus funding totaling $766,000 to establish a Community Housing Resource Center and later, an additional $708,856 for distribution to local 'service agencies'.

Also, with an estimated "15.9 million" of HUD funds slated for interjection into the community over a five year period beginning in 2010 (Roanoke, 7), it's not especially surprising that 'Health Care and Social Assistance' workers have constituted the city's single largest group of employees, while Local, Federal, and State government workers together, were the second greatest in number (Roanoke, 8).

Yet in my case, and though highly skilled and well qualified in multiple capacities, because I'm no longer afforded a contributing role within the socioeconomic system, I've been a 'guest' for the last three years in a Christian shelter which recently announced plans for major expansion.  Likewise, although I'm innocent of any criminal offense and will be commemorating nineteen years of personal sobriety later this month, living conditions relating to hygienic routine, eating, sleeping, and even religious observance are uniformly imposed in ways resembling corporal incarceration.

As a result, both my freewill and movement are severely constricted by "economic' factors over which, neither I (nor anyone else), seemingly have control or influence.  Strangely too, but as something of an exemplary citizen in respect to community advocacy, my homelessness appropriates a relatively high degree of civic monitoring nonetheless.  Consequently, local bureaucrats have proposed that Roanoke's interfaith community join it in utilizing a computerized Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) to extend its data collection on the city's destitute.


Works Cited

 1. Smith, Richard. "Beyond growth or beyond capitalism?." (2010): real-world economics review, Issue no. 53, (26 June 2010). Web. 2 Nov. 2011.
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 2. "#OccupyWallStreet: A shift in revolutionary tactics." (2011): Adbusters. 13 June 2011. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.
 3. McConnell, Brian. "Toward a Sustainable Future: Integral Leadership in the 'New World Economy'." (2011): Integral Leadership Review, June 2011. Web. 9 Nov. 2011.  
 4. Jensen , Robert. "Occupy demands: Let's radicalise our analysis." (2011): Aljazeera, 09 November 2011. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.
 5. Gidley, Jennifer. "The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: An Integration of Integral Views." (2007): Integral Review, Issue 5, December 2007. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.  
 6. Wilber, Ken. "Ken Wilber on Humanity's SIXTH Known Shift." (2011): Audio Blog by Todd Goldfarb.  Worldwide Tipping Point, In Integral Review, Issue 5, November 2011. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.
 7. Roanoke (Virginia). "2010-2015 HUD Consolidated Plan". Roanoke, VA: The City. (2010). Web. 30 Nov. 2011.
 8. Roanoke (Virginia). "2010-2015 HUD Consolidated Plan - Employment by Industry". Roanoke, VA: The City. (2010). Web. 30 Nov. 2011.


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Brian McConnell, BA has worked with the underpinnings of Integral thought and theory, primarily in the fields of education and psychology since first introduced to Ken Wilber's, Eye to Eye in 1997. His background in contemplative practice stems from (more...)

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