The Failure of the Occupy Movement or the Emergence of a Living Systems Organization?
I got done chatting with a colleague this morning, who went on a bit of a rant about the failures of the Occupy movement. Their comments were similar to ones I’ve seen in the media – lack of apparent leadership, lack of specific demands.
Of course, I’ve also seen several cogent arguments that this is something ‘different,’ and the people are well aware what they’re angry about, and are figuring out how to level the playing field. (see Wall Street Isn’t Winning – It’s Cheating, by Matt Taibbi; Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don’t get it by Douglas Rushkoff, and his followup Occupy Wall Street beta tests a new way of living; the youtube video of Mark Ruffalo, or for some cold hard stats – Here Are Four Charts That Explain What The Protestors Are Angry About or The Shocking, Graphic Data That Shows Exactly What Motivates the Occupy Movement.)
I personally am rather inspired by many potentialities in the movement. I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few years about emergent organizational structures, systems mapping and analysis of value flows, coordination of human activity across distributed environments, more robust understanding of self and group identity, roles, strengths, and the deeper drives and motivations that guide and influence behavior.
While many of us are having conversations about these topics, we have few functional examples to reference. (well, maybe Nature.) We are still on the cusp of it, but as many are well aware, the components to actualize it are already in the ether, just waiting for their moment to coalesce.
A traditional organization or corporation is going to have a real challenge in trying to incrementally “innovate” towards this kind of structure, which is fundamentally different in its core DNA and operating system, and I don’t see anyone jumping to be the first to take that leap of faith or risk.
But, what we DO have in the Occupy movement is a petri dish.
At the moment, it seems to be a chaotic ecosystem of individual agents working towards seemingly disparate goals, but it’s also exhibiting some characteristics of a complex adaptive system.
I’m extremely curious to watch what develops here, as it could be the use case that many have been waiting for.
If you map the concept of living systems on top of global movement of human beings who are fed up with the current operating model of society, there is a very interesting possibility for a self-organized, ‘lead by example’ model for a different way of doing things, that actually functions in harmony with people and environment, and demonstrates what resilience, sustainability, and abundance might look like.
I’ll be exploring this further if/as the occupy movement continues to unfold, and taking more regular trips down to NYC to see firsthand if this moment will be embraced for some larger evolutional potential, or if it will lose steam and fizzle out for the reasons mentioned below.
Here’s the transcript from the text chat this morning. I’m very curious to hear the perspectives of others on this matter.
this whole Occupy movement is embarassing
degenerating into a useless hippie love in
there is a lot of interesting stuff happening below the surface
what exactly is it supposed to accomplish?
what they are doing is just entirely ineffective
fighting with the police is useless
they are antagonizing the cops, but that is pointless
and there is NO coherent demand… nothing remotely actionable… it’s useless… and actually is a laughingstock for the conservatives… they are totally discrediting themselves with fucking drum circles…
they should be calling for something concrete.
This Occupy Movement has a massive lack of leadership, no clear platform, nothing actionable, and they are simply pantomiming the civil disobedience of the 60′s
They are actually hurting the cause
they are taking a lot of potential energy and participation from people and burning it
It’s a total waste
With a strong, clear, actionable platform they could get something done. But they lack that entirely and that is irresponsible.
Furthermore, they have been infiltrated by professional agitators and gov agents and extremists who have subverted the whole thing and now they look like maniacs, sex offenders, druggies, and bums.
They are totally discredited in the media.
It’s a travesty.
The problem is they are total amateurs and are making the classic liberal mistake of being far too open to everyone’s opinions and ideas.
So every fucking idiot gets to somehow shape the agenda.
that is not how it should work
They need some leaders, and those leaders need power, so they can shape this into something effective
if you think there is potential in the movement, then inject yourself and be a leader.
I don’t think there is potential
You cannot make an army out of this crowd
They will resist agreeing on anything
they will resist leadership
And so they will not succeed
this is what has to happen
There has to be a catalyzing event that creates a leader
for example, a group of potential leaders emerge. One of them is martyred. The others get moral authority from that. Then they can lead.
the problem is that nobody from the outside can lead it, nor would they likely want to, and nobody on the inside seems to be qualified or able
They need a Rosa Parks and then a Martin Luther King
anyway perhaps if the cops kill a bunch of them, or the national guard, then maybe there will be enough outrage for a leader to emerge
but this headless, platformless blob is not going to make it through the winter
it would have to be like 10 or 20 people
then the movement could succeed
otherwise it’s going to deflate
they may have killed one person in oakland yesterday
but he’s not an icon
the problem is these people are just angry at life. That’s not going to work.
There is no way that by banging on drums in Wall Street they will change the global financial system.
That’s why concrete proposals are needed. They need to get behind 1 – 5 core ideas that are actionable and can be branded and pushed for.
Politicians can’t help them if there are no concrete proposals that can become bills ultimately
many many people have posted demands
thousands of them
that’s the problem
there cannot be more than 5!!!!
everyone has to agree on 1 to 5 demands.
but this is an ecosystem of many different groups with their own agendas
that’s the problem
the reason why liberals always lose
too many agendas
conservatives all agree on a few basic ideas:
no new taxes
no gun control
the death penalty
minimal government regulation of big biz