The current social movement that exploded onto the national scene with the 2011 Occupy Movement is following the path of successful movements so far. The social movement in 2014 is poised to begin an exciting era of broadening and deepening the growing consensus for social and economic justice.
[Bill Moyer & 8 part moyer model]
Using the Movement Action Plan as a guide, we see that we are closer to success than one might think. The Occupy Movement was Stage Four of Eight. Moyer describes it:
New social movements surprise and shock everyone when they burst into the public spotlight on the evening TV news and in newspaper headlines. Overnight, a previously unrecognized social problem becomes a social issue that everyone is talking about. It starts with a highly publicized, shocking incident, a ‘trigger event’, followed by a nonviolent action campaign that includes large rallies and dramatic civil disobedience. Soon these are repeated in local communities around the country.
Stage 4 is the “Social Movement Take-Off.” During Occupy, it seemed that suddenly the unfair wealth divide, the corruption of Wall Street and the dysfunction of government came into people’s consciousness. These issues were discussed in the media and politicians started using language to show they understood there was a problem. Prior to this, these issues were largely ignored taboo topics that were not on the political radar.
In Stage 4, there are three concepts about which the public must be convinced. The first was accomplished during Occupy, that is: there is a problem that must be confronted. We also began to accomplish the second concept: current conditions and policies must be opposed. During later stages this second goal will be broadened and expanded. The final concept — and this is still ahead of us — is that people no longer fear the alternatives but want the alternatives put in place.
Stage 5 is a state of “Identity Crisis and Powerlessness.” Participants feel like they failed and commentators say that the movement is dead and accomplished nothing. Some of the people involved in the Take-Off get burned out and suffer despair and hopelessness. In fact, this is as natural as the receding of a wave, and Moyer points out that “the perception of failure happens just when the movement is outrageously successful,” because it raised the consciousness and national awareness of a serious problem that was previously ignored.
The essential lesson of Stage 5 is that resistance from the power structure is a normal stage of the process. When we step back and look at the course of history, within the overall framework of change, the movement is on the path to success. We need to understand “what the powerholders already know — that political and societal power ultimately lies with the people.”
Often simultaneous with this feeling of powerlessness is Stage 6, “Majority Public Support,” which is where we are right now. During the current phase, the movement seeks to create broad and deep consensus over the issues that have been raised in the “Take-Off.” Our job is to win over the hearts and minds of the American people.
Bill Moyer, in his final presentation on his Movement Action Plan, makes a crucial point that is often missed by activists.
The critical understanding we must embrace is that organized people have the power to direct the government and the economy.
We need to understand that we are not a fringe movement, but a movement in the center of the best ideals of the United States. That is, we believe in a government that is truly run by the people, not by elite corporate and wealthy interests; we believe in equality under the law not special treatment for those who are politically connected and abusive enforcement against certain communities; we believe in a fair economy not one rigged for the wealthiest. This is what the majority of American people believe, but those in power violate these principles.
As we have written in previous articles on strategy to transform the nation, when a movement is able to mobilize a small minority of the population in support of views held by a majority of the people, they win. In fact, a review of the last 100 years of resistance movements found that ..
the people have never lost in a dictatorship or democracy when 3.5% of the people are mobilized.
Bill Moyer sharpens our task, telling us that many activists mistakenly think when they are protesting their target is the government or a corporation when in fact the target is mobilizing the people. We want to show that there is an effective movement speaking to the people’s concerns and putting forth views that they support. This is especially true in the current stage where our task is to broaden and deepen the movement through talking, often one-on one, with people in our communities and creating a national consensus in support of our goals.
“And if it wants to sleep on the streets for a while and not structure itself into a traditional campaign of grassroots organizing, it should. It doesn’t need to tell the world what it wants. It is succeeding, for now, just by being something different.”
more on the occupy movement..
The Occupy movement is an international protest movement against social and economic inequality, its primary goal being to make the economic and political relations in all societies less vertically hierarchical and more flatly distributed. Local groups often have different foci, but among the movement’s prime concerns deal with how large corporations and the global financial system control the world in a way that disproportionately benefits a minority, undermines democracy and is unstable.
The Occupy movement is partly inspired by the Arab Spring, and the Portuguese and Spanish Indignants movement in the Iberian Peninsula, as well as the Tea Party movement. The movement commonly uses the slogan We are the 99%, the #Occupy hashtag format, and organizes through websites such as Occupy Together. According to The Washington Post, the movement, which has been described as a “democratic awakening” by Cornel West, is difficult to distill to a few demands
zapatista, seattle, arab spring, occupy