By The Dreamer Copyright 2014 @ Pampata
Ever since the police killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri – closely followed by the killing of Eric Garner in New York, as well as the killing of lesser-known individuals elsewhere, the world has witnessed a new movement emerging against unchecked police power.
We can have no doubt this is an emerging Movement. One that has the potential to qualitively changes our struggles for Human Rights.
Why do I say that? Since the historic Anti-Globalization upheaval that occurred in Seattle, Washington in the late 1990’s, followed by the global fight –back against the World Trade Organization and it’s deadly consolidation of corporate power, the youth of the North joined hands with the ongoing revolutionary upsurge in county after country in south America. Each in their own way, demanding that people and the environment take center stage over corporate profits.
That spirit of resistance led to the coalition that elected Barack Obama as the first Black President of the most powerful nation on the planet. Not only did that coalition propel him into office the hopes of billions around the world serve to energize that effort. Not since the ending of apartheid in South Africa and the election of Nelson Mandela to head of that outcry had so many felt they were witnessing the anointing of another savior. Indeed until Ferguson many would cling desperately to that illusion.
Alas, in the between years, not only had not much changed at home or globally, much had gotten worse: Targeted killings, drone strikes, stonewalling on Climate Change measures, economic suffering, and in the U.S. the “Police State” was exposed on all it’s horror by wikileaks, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and lesser known whistle blowers. Much of which the Black and brown communities were not surprised about seeing how the militarization of the police in their areas had long ago taken place, all but crushing their spirits; or so it seemed…
After the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, followed by the gunning down of other Black and Brown youth before the killing of Michael Brown, and nothing being done about those crimes; closely followed by the broadly reported strangling death of Eric Garner by New Yorks cops, tens of thousands across the world go out and disrupt business-as-usual chanting “Hands up-don’t shoot! Hands up – Don’t Shoot!” Interspersed with Eric Garners last words: “I can’t Breath; I can’t breath; I can’t breath..”
No longer did these multitudes look to President Obama or any other politician to aid them The murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner had forced them to act on the rhetoric they had been served up to them by their silver tongue “savior”; They became the change they were looking for.
How did they do it? A way to understand the immense changes since Ferguson can be seen operating in SWARM intelligence; a name given to naturally occurring phenomenon amongst insects, animals, fish, human and other life forms.
Swarm intelligence is the collective behavior of decentralized, self organized systems. Agents follow simple rules, and although there is no centralized control structure dictating how individual agents should behave, local and to a certain degree random, interactions between such agents lead to the emergence of intelligent global behavior, unknown to the individual agents… From the perspective of the mathematical modeler, it is an emergent behavior arising from simple rues that are followed by individuals and does not involve central coordination…
- Move in the same direction as your neighbors
- Remain close to your neighbors
- Avoid collision with your neighbors…
Examples of biological swarming are found in bird flocks, fish schools, insect swarms bacteria swarms, molds, molecular motors, quadrupled herds and people… A collection of people can also exhibit swarm behavior, such as pedestrians or soldiers swarming a par pet. –wikipedia
Looking back, swarming has long been utilized by humans to resist oppression. Through TV documentaries most have witnessed the Berlin Wall being demolished by swarming citizens on both sides of that barrier. The racist apartheid police and armed forces of South Africa were endlessly swarmed by resisters, as well as, all of the regimes in the Middle East. The Palestinian uprisings and the Arab spring are also examples of recent swarms. We should not fail to remember that in the U.S. in the 1960’s and 1970’s the struggles against the war in Vietnam, and against racial, gender and political oppression led to untold instances of swarming- often misrepresented as “riots” and “looting.” Though still adding to the Movement that bough about a number of reforms.
What will allow the swarming techniques so widely adopted since Ferguson to cement themselves as part of a new Movement, and not fizzle out or easily be repressed or co-opted is two things: Cheap, readily available and widely utilized communications technologies, couple with the groundbreaking adoption of that communications capability to stage actions to enforce the rejection of the oppressive status quo, by swarming streets, roadways, bridges, building and other public facilities, thereby forcing large segments of society to also feel some of the pain that is motivating them. A tactic that will prove extremely hard to eradicate – short of addressing some of their main concerns.
It’s ironic that since Ferguson there is still a segment of this new Movement that nostalgically continues to utilize tactics and methods from the past, in the teeth of the facts that point to those tactics did not and could not prove as effective as the swarming methods already being widely used are showing a clear potential –with room form growth – for a LEAP towards a strategic breakthrough.
For one, the old charismatic leadership style has lost most of it’s relevancy. Simply because modern communication in so may hands effects a form of mass democracy. Meaning, information, ideas, proposals and plans can rapidly be shared – then just as quickly modified, agreed upon, adopted and acted on; something the charismatic leaders of the past excelled at, and was about to more rapidly organize people to achieve such results then the slower to communicate mass at the time. Not anymore.
Since Ferguson the global swarming activities have been the products of too many “leaders” to know of! Nowadays if you have a good enough idea, proposal, or plan of action, through the democracy of modern communicants’ it can readily be accepted, modified, and implemented, leaving less of a need for the charismatic leadership style.
Then the swarming of the 1960’s and 1970’s in the U.S, suffered a great deal from a means of rejecting the status quo without at the same time doing great harm to the oppressed own interests. Thus when the “long Hot Summers” of rebellions (swarming) of that period degenerated into the wholesale torching of parts of lower class communities, then “Burn Baby Burn” became the mantra and practice of those who rejected the slower and in many, many instances more painful and demeaning non violent civil disobedience campaigns led by Martin L. King.
Since Ferguson, however, untold thinkers have devised ways to utilize modern communication to bring together masses of people to enforce a halt to the business-as-usual, while still being able to avoid mass arrests, or the destruction of their communities, and bing able to withdraw with their numbers having struck blows for their causes and still strong enough to continue the efforts at another time and location. Something that is easily grasped by the participants, as well as many, many others who previously swab no way to accomplish such things, meaning the initiative remains in their hands, while a backlash from those who are wedded to the status quo is inevitable.
At this stage, a weakness of this new movement is their failure to formulate and push forward intermediate goals. Winnable objectives that can be accomplished so that the participants acquire things to “Hang Their Hats On,” as the more deep rooted causes of injustices will take a long time to uproot.
In the meantime, be confident that this new movements’ ability to utilize modern communications and the democracy that affords, along with their groundbreaking breakthroughs in developing and utilizing brilliant new tactics that render the status quo unworkable (even temporarily) gives it “legs” that no movement of comparable breath in a long time has enjoyed.
There is still much that needs to be done, but let’s not try to win this round by believing that certain tactics that were used in the past are superior to what we are witnessing right now. And if you don’t believe your own eyes….then I can’t help you!
Reject the Status Quo! Non-Cooperation With Oppression! Human Rights Now!