Many years from now people will not view this movement as having accomplished nothing, but ordinary participants won’t be satisfied with its outcome. Not for lack of energy or intent, simply for lack of foresight and understanding of where power hides, and how it survives.
In times of great uncertainty everybody rationalizes away the failures of today as the inevitable outcome of everybody else’s ideas in hopes of achieving their version of change and validating long held personal convictions. This cognitive dissonance not only applies to those marching in the street, it also applies to those in power.
Just as the talking heads on your most hated news network will never convince you of anything, no matter how open you pretend your mind to be, songs and signs will never convince other people of anything either, especially not those in power benefiting from the system being condemned. Public expressions of outrage are necessary, cathartic and catalysing for change, but are they effective in the eyes of those who participate? Who really benefits?
The economic and political commanding heights are not only used to advance personal and special agendas; they are also used to exploit the confusion and paralysis facilitated by the inflated expectations of quasi-hysterical idealists for agendas of far reaching consequence. The views of those in power will not be affected by your protests but they will never let a good crisis go to waste; the world is a game and some people choose to be pawns.
To be successful, every movement must carefully pick its friends, but it must even more carefully pick its enemies. “The rich” constitute a diverse group of people; among them those with power and those without. It should be evident that whenever a large group is targeted collectively enemies are made among the innocent and nobody resists more forcefully then the wrongfully condemned.
For the powerful, playing chess, the enemy king is now exposed. In all the excitement, idealists have made it too easy for those with power to hide and misdirect while everybody exhausts their resources, energy and will to struggle. As the lines are drawn, powerful people conspire to preserve their status in all the areas that matter. Who do you think will write any legislation required to effect the change you desire, anyway, when it magically appears on your doorstep? Think about it. No matter which side loses, in this scenario, they win.
Did you ever wonder who decided to personalize the target of these protests against the top 1%? Are they really the problem, or is it something more fundamental about the system that created the disparity?
Don’t play on their board; a successful movement must create its own field and pick the opportune moments to advance. The art of war is in having no form and avoiding conflict on the opponent’s terms.
Be cunning and pragmatic, pick a narrow opponent and focus on the core objections to lure their traditional allies to your side with empathy and understanding. Don’t be so naïve as to think those with entrenched power will simply abdicate the thrown. Even if the movement is pure, be assured powerful people will attempt divide and deliver their change on your platter.
When people of modest stature delude themselves into believing they can effect major change by associating other unrelated narrowly held political objections to the popular and common outrage, the movement is balkanized and easily co-opted.
It is not necessary to mobilize in numbers when secrecy and money suffice, it is only necessary when there is a desire to shift the meaning of normal. As people marching on the street create the conditions for change without a strategy or assurance of influence in shaping that new normal, they will in fact achieve the exact opposite of their intentions, as they often have in the past.
They are giving a gift to those they wish to unseat.
8 Comments »