Activism – Occupy

Here are the articles I wrote directly about the Occupy movement, as well as some of my earlier articles that are directly related to the important topics being raised. Note by the dates how far ahead I was on some issues.

“99% Spring” Organizes Occupy’s Momentum to Fight Inequality and Corporations

The Occupy movement received a major boost from the progressive establishment which will impact American society and the upcoming elections.   The 99% Spring movement has arrived and is already creating a stir at shareholder meetings and in the streets.  This article provides full details on the 99% Spring (including their recent national trainings and links to their tools.)  I also summarize media articles about the debate over whether the two movements are compatible. I believe they clearly are given that many of the same people and groups are involved with each.  Read on in order to learn how and why to get involved with future actions.

I attended the three-hour training session in Durham, NC on April 12, 2012 (and have reviewed the entire seven-hour workshop training guide.)   About 25 people were there – with only a few folks under 40.  The training was well-designed and well-received.   We gained important insights and skills – even from this abbreviated session.  To provide a context, during my 25 year tenure as Sociology Professor at North Carolina State University, I designed and conducted similar training sessions and produced companion documents and videos (e.g., team-building, social change, community organization, and watershed management.)  I also have written extensively about the Occupy movement since its beginning.  

Click below to learn how you can join this important initiative.

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“The Swamp Fox” Provides Insights and Inspiration for Contemporary Activism

South Carolina was in the news recently when Newt Gingriff won the Republican primary.  His victory turned out to be an anomaly, given how his campaign has tanked since then.  It is interesting to note that he won largely by playing  the “Rebel.”  Ironically, one of South Carolina’s most famous rebel sons is Francis Marion (better known as “The Swamp Fox.”)  He was agile and aggressive.  He broke the rules of warfare – using techniques and tips he learned while fighting Native Americans.  In particular, he used the element of surprise to attack the straight-marching redcoats when they least expected it.  He and his men would blend into the natural environment before and after their attacks.

As a youngster, I watched all the Disney episodes, starring a young Leslie Nielsen as the Swamp Fox.  In addition, I  have lived in North Carolina for 25 years – visiting our neighbor’s hot tourist spots – Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston; as well as other spots (e.g., Clemson a couple times.)    South Carolina is a state of contrasts – poor lowland communities leading to world-class beach resorts.  High tech industry competing with Redneck philosophy and racist cultureBattle re-enactments not far from exclusive golf courses.   Anyhow, as one of the premiere colonial settlements, Charleston was also a focal point in the War of Independence.  Today, activists can use the Swamp Fox’s tactics to get their message across, practice civil disobedience, and take things down without hurting peopleClick Below to learn all about one of America’s true heroes – and what his legacy means for our current American Revolution.

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Saul Alinsky Would be Impressed and Encouraged by the Occupy Movement

The Occupy movement learns and benefits from all the struggles and creative activism during the 20th Century.  One of the key intellectual and innovative leaders was Saul Alinsky who has again become part of the public dialogue – thanks to Newt Gingrich.  Just like Mr. Alinsky his reputation has now become larger than life.  At the same time, most people (including Bill Maher) readily admit they don’t know who Alinsky was, what he did, or why he matters to America today.  Given that I taught about Alinsky for many years, I find this lack of understanding and respect to be disappointing – but not surprising.

This article explains why Saul Alinsky’s work that started in my hometown of Chicago in the 1930s is so important and relevant for understanding our society.  This article starts with the latest burst of Newt-inspired news about Alinsky (that will likely continue throughout the campaign season.)  IYou will also learn how right wing politicians continue to spread myths and misperceptions about Saul Alinsky and President Obama’s connections (which are indirect at best.)  Finally, this article also lists Alinsky’s various rules and selected quotes.  As you read, you will see connections to the strategies and tactics of the both the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party.  CLICK BELOW TO LEARN MORE.

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Bob Marley Would Say “Occupy Yourself Before You Occupy Outside”

The Occupy Movement has focused on occupying physical spaces to draw attention to important issues.  However, it is even more important that each of us work hard to get our own lives together.  We need to free our minds and resist the outside forces of capitalist consumption.   Be ready to live with less and avoid entrapment by credit schemes.  As the system continues to melt down, only those who are resilient and self-sufficient will be able to thrive.  One of the best ways to do this is to understand and practice the Rastafarian lifestyle as modeled by Bob Marley.   His words that inspired this title are “Judge not, before you judge yourself.”   Get your own life in order if you want to be able to challenge the Babylon system.  He summed it up perfectly:  “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery.  None but ourselves can free our minds.”

I personally became aware of and interested in Rastafarianism about ten years ago through Bob Marley’s life and music.  I did my own research into what it means to live the Rasta lifestyle.  I found that this social movement has much to teach us about how to free ourselves and take down the system.  We can’t get one without the other.  I began to teach about this in my social change and social movement classes.  I found many young people eager to embrace the principles and practices that Bob Marley and others preach about in their music.  In fact, the Occupy fighters already believe in and live many of the values and practices espoused by the Rastafarian way of life.  I developed a series of slides to use in my lectures and have included them here.  Each should be self-explanatory.  Then, I include lots of great pix and quotes from Bob Marley’s music and interviews.  This tribute recognizes that Bob Marley’s music and messages are more relevant today than ever.

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Occupy 4:20 for Civil Disobedience and Building Community

One social issue that should be of great interest to members of the occupy movement is the legalization of marijuana.  This cause clearly cries out for organized civil disobedience (as it did in the 1960’s.)    Growing and using both hemp and marijuana were rights for all Americans when our country was founded.  We all have the obligation to finally end this unethical and ineffective war against an ancient plant.  This situation is urgent given how President Obama has actually escalated the war on medical marijuana despite earlier promises and his personal history   Ending the drug war will save billions in police, legal and prison costs.  States like California and Colorado are already harvesting millions of new tax dollars by allowing patients to safely buy medical marijuana.

Fortunately, pot possession laws are easy to break and involve very little chance of getting caught (if you follow the approach outlined here.)  I first explain how we can Occupy 420 to build and sustain the global occupy movement.  Then, I share tips about how to get away with getting high, whenever, and virtually wherever you want.  I have also included some key quotes to inspire you as to why marijuana needs to be legalized NOW.  This article also includes reports of recent Marijuana Activism and a historical perspective on the Flash Mob phenomenon. As an added bonus, the article concludes with insightful and inspiring quotes about Civil Disobedience.  Click Below to Learn How and Why to Get High and Become Free!!

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Chapel Hill, NC Dodges Bullets – Community Now Demands Answers

Many people were shocked over the extreme response of the Chapel Hill police to a group of peaceful protestors who were camped out in an abandoned building.   This is especially surprising because this small and sleepy college town has a lot of experience with huge crowds of wild and crazy young people.  I live in the “twin town” of Carrboro which is one of the most hip and relaxed places around.   This incident is a very bad reflection of the democratic process and fairness for which our community has been known.  This could have been much worse if one of the nervous young cops had shot someone.  This shows how it really is time to reign in the police state before it takes hold!!   As Jeff Bridges maintained in The Big Lebowski “This aggression must not stand, man!”  Why are they carrying such deadly weapons?

I was surprised and saddened after hearing about this incident on Countdown with Keith Olberman (now on Current TV.)  Chapel Hill is the last place where police would ever confront the kind of aggressive violence they were dressed up and ready for.  They are able to deal with huge crowds of drunk revelers on Halloween and whenever UNC-Chapel Hill wins a national championship.  Clearly someone up the chain of command (ultimately the mayor) screwed up badly when they estimated the extent of threat that this rag-tag group of protestors represented.  The absentee landlord is the real social deviant who should be taken to task for blighting Franklin Street for a decade.  Fortunately, former US Senate candidate Jim Neal delivered a detailed list of questions that Chapel Hill authorities need to have answered by an independent commission.  Click below to learn all the details.

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What if Outlaw Bikers (“1%’s”) Join the Occupy Movement?

As the Occupy movement gains momentum and support the potential for more police violence is always present.  In most cases the unarmed, peaceful protestors will be the losers (as happened in Oakland.)  The occupy movement has natural allies that provide them with protection and clout (e.g., union members.)   In return, the occupy movement provides lots of youthful energy, passion and creativity.  This winter is the time for organizing and building coalitions.  I hope this article provides ideas and inspiration as to the kind of power the occupy movement can have.

The one group with a long-history of confronting police harassment and social rejection include the subculture known as “Outlaw Bikers.”  Ironically, they are also known as “1%’s” – but for very different reasons (as you will learn below.)  They also represent one of the last truly free-living groups (like the James gang and other western outlaws.)  These leading-edge freedom fighters live to ride hard, play hard, and fight hard when provoked.  However, demographics and police repression have reduced the numbers of potential members.  Most “outlaw” chapters do want to engage and help the community – any many are involved with charity.  The outlaw bikers will find kindred spirits in young punk rockers, skateboarders, street gangs, and even hippies!

Historically, the Hells Angels have been a major presence in the SF Bay area (particularly Oakland) for over fifty years.  This gang has been demonized by most of society – particularly the cops and media.  Not unlike, the Sopranos and others, outlaw bikers are involved in a range of “criminal” activities that are economically rational, given the unfair society they and the rest of us live in.  They are prone to violence if provoked.  However, the “crimes” committed by outlaw bikes mainly hurt each other or those who make the mistake of messing with them.   Many outlaw bikers have similar politics and experiences to the Tea Party (i.e., are less educated, white males that tend to be veterans who like guns.)  Like the hippies and some Occupy protestors, they are alienated from society and have learned to live outside the system (i.e., off the grid and outside the law.)  All three groups would agree that “we should be able to do anything we want, whenever we want – as long as we don’t hurt anyone else.” Click below to learn why outlaw bikers and the occupy movement would be a good match to help keep the cops in check.

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Jesus Would Lead the Occupy Movement to Fight Injustice

Jesus Drives Money Changers from the Temple

The Occupy Wall Street movement builds on over 2,000 years of Christian activism aimed at helping poor people and promoting social justice.  Like Jesus, many of the people taking a stand are willing to sacrifice their own comfort and welfare to help the less fortunate.  In this article I compile writings that demonstrate how Jesus Christ was a radical reformer and rebel who challenged the rich and powerful of his day.  You will find key quotes that summarize how Jesus taught us to care for the least among us.  He also fought hard against greed and corruption during his time.

I was moved to write this article by the “Poverty Tour” conducted recently by Tavis Smiley and Cornell West. This amazing program was broadcast over five nights on PBS.  This article provides links to watch the shows, as well as a summary of the series.  I was also inspired to write when Joe Scarborough finished his MSNBC interview with Smiley and West with his own testimony that “Jesus’ ministry was about taking care of the poor. We don’t see that from the very people who wave their bibles around the most.”  This article documents the many ways in which Jesus would now be considered not just a liberal, but a radical in today’s culture.  I have included a summary of an important book called “Radical: Taking back your faith from the American Dream” by David Platt.  You will also learn about the great song “Jesus Christ” by Woody Guthrie (which uses the melody from Jesse James and has been covered well by U2.)  Click to Learn Why Jesus would Lead the Fight against greedy Wall Street moneychangers

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Class War Rages Inside the Viper Dens and Out in the Streets

Repressive and brutal class warfare has been waged for centuries in this country and elsewhere.  The rich use their ill-gotten power to grab more wealth – leaving the majority of people shut out in the cold.  For the last two weeks a brave group of protestors has been trying to wake and shake up the 99 percent of Americans who have been screwed by the “banksters.”  These protests on Wall Street represent the leading edge of a larger assault against those who have manipulated the system to gain power and money.  Too bad Obama is also beholding to Wall Street or else we might see some arrests and prosecution for these despicable characters.  This article provides a detailed overview of the Wall Street protests to date, along with the participants’ motivation and movement structure.  I highlight the main messages and implications for the future.

Clearly, these protests show a great need and opportunity to Occupy Charlotte, NC next summer  with all manner of activists for engaged descent and civil disobedience (glad to be two hours away!!).   I wrote an article in 2008 encouraging people to come to Denver and have their voices heard.  This also provides many lessons from Chicago in 1968.  Click here to read Get Involved to Recreate the Spirit of 1968.  This type of street protest is already expanding across the country – having drawn inspiration and insights from Cairo, London, and elsewhere.  One of my earlier articles entitled Karl Marx Would be Marveling at Capitalism’s Colossal Collapse.  This is widely read article will give you  details  on the reality and inevitability of class conflict in a capitalist society.  Marx would say that the protests are an attempt to create a class consciousness among the 95 percent of Americans who have been screwed to feed Wall Street’s greed.   You will learn how this constitutes a legitimate, grass roots movement that is likely to grow quickly – according to Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon and others profiled here.  Click Below to Get Fired Up!!

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The Video “Chicago 10” is Great Way to Learn from 1968

The 1968 Democratic convention was the site of intense protests against the Vietnam war.  Held in Chicago, then Mayor Daley made sure that the police and national guard were in place and ready to confront and control any demonstrators.  Young people were drawn from all over the country in hopes of attending a music festival and making their voices heard.  The television networks filmed as the police over-reacted and beat demonstrators, who chanted “The Whole World is Watching.”

After the convention was over, the federal government launched a conspiracy trial against an unusual assortment of eight defendants.  The trial was a circus in many respects.  The film “Chicago 10” provides a very entertaining, educational and enlightening history of the Chicago convention riots in general – and the conspiracy trial in particular.  I have summarized quite a few reviews and also include a series of educational resources from the PBS companion website.  Click below to learn why you need to watch this important film!!

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