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Articles tagged Innovation


The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution from the co-creator of Occupy Wall Street

Posted 7 months ago on Aug. 27, 2016, 10:58 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: Micah White, The End of Protest, Innovation

“Micah White argues convincingly that established modes of protest are outdated and sketches the outlines for how activists can and must innovate. His book is a love letter to activists of the future.” — Michael Hardt

Is protest broken? Micah White, co-creator of Occupy Wall Street, thinks so. Recent years have witnessed the largest protests in human history. Yet these mass mobilizations no longer change society. Now activism is at a crossroads: innovation or irrelevance.

In The End of Protest White declares the end of protest as we know it and heralds the future of activism. Drawing on his unique experience with Occupy Wall Street, a contagious protest that spread to eighty-two countries, White articulates a unified theory of revolution and eight principles of tactical innovation that are destined to catalyze the next generation of social movements. Sweeping from contemporary uprisings to spiritual and pre-modern revolutions, The End of Protest is a far-reaching inquiry into the miraculous power of collective epiphanies.

Despite global challenges—catastrophic climate change, economic collapse and the decline of democracy—White finds reason for optimism: the end of protest inaugurates a new era of social change. He argues that Occupy Wall Street was a constructive failure that exposed the limits of protest at the same time as it revealed a practical way forward. On the horizon are increasingly sophisticated movements that will emerge in a bid to dominate elections, govern cities and reorient the way we live.

In this provocative playbook, White offers three bold revolutionary scenarios for harnessing the creativity of people from across the political spectrum.

White also shows:

  • How social movements are created and how they spread
  • How materialism limits contemporary activism
  • Why we must re-conceive protest in timescales of centuries, not days

Ultimately, the end of protest is the beginning of the spiritual revolution within ourselves, the political revolution in our communities and the social revolution on Earth.

Rigorous, original and compelling, The End of Protest is an exhilarating vision of an all-encompassing revolution of revolution.

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE BOOK WORLDWIDE

About the Author

MICAH WHITE, PhD is the influential social activist who co-created the Occupy Wall Street movement while an editor of Adbusters magazine. White has a twenty-year record of innovative activism, including conceiving the debt-forgiveness tactic used by the Rolling Jubilee and popularizing the critique of clicktivism. His essays and interviews on the future of activism have been published internationally in periodicals including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian Weekly and Folha de São Paulo. He has been profiled by The New Yorker, and Esquire recently named him one of the most influential young thinkers alive today. White directs Boutique Activist Consultancy—an activist think tank specializing in impossible campaigns. Dr. Micah White lives with his wife and son in Nehalem, a rural town on the coast of Oregon.

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a unified theory of revolution

Posted 1 year ago on Nov. 16, 2015, 2:49 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: Micah White, The End of Protest, Innovation

What I want to present is a counter-narrative about activism. It begins with Occupy Wall Street and realizing that Occupy was the consummation of our story of activism. There is a story of activism that we tell ourselves which is basically: if you can build a social movement with millions of people and they are largely nonviolent, that the movement cuts across demographics and has people from all over the country and different socioeconomic levels, and that the movement has a somewhat unified message then real change will happen.

So we had that with Occupy Wall Street. We had a once in a generation social movement that achieved a lot of the criteria of what is supposed to create social change. And we realized, in fact, that the story of activism wasn’t true. Occupy Wall Street didn’t create the social change that it set out to achieve.

I call Occupy Wall Street a “constructive failure.” It failed. But in failing, the movement revealed something very important about activism: it revealed that activists have been chasing an illusion. We’ve been chasing a story about how social change happens that isn’t actually true.

So if you look at the last fifteen years. We’ve been having the largest protests in human history and yet they haven’t been creating change. There was recently a protest in India with 150 million people, and in 2003—and this is probably the best example to refer to—we had a global synchronized march where the entire world protested against the Iraq War, which happened anyways. And of course, we have Occupy Wall Street.

The failure of these protests reveals that the story we’ve been telling ourselves and chasing after as activists isn’t true.

And I’ve been thinking about this and writing a book called THE END OF PROTEST.

Now the end of protest doesn’t mean we have an absence of protest. Instead, the end of protest means we have a proliferation of ineffective protests. Protests as it was originally intended to be—something that changes the social situation in which we live—doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

So what’s our way out of this?

Revolution basically means a change in legal regime. It is when you make something that was once illegal legal or what was legal illegal. With Occupy Wall Street we wanted to change the law around money in politics. We wanted to make something that is legal—corporations and unions giving unlimited money to candidates into something that is illegal. This is a kind of revolution.

Now revolution is the interaction between the human and the natural world.

And almost all activism falls into the category of voluntarism. Voluntarism is the belief that human action creates social change. Activists do actions because we believe our actions are what creates change. Voluntarists believe revolution is a human process that intersections with the material world. That is the most common understanding of activism and it is why people organize protests. Because the idea is that to change something humans need to act.

Well, there is another option. It is called structuralism. This is the idea that revolution is a natural process that doesn’t involve humans at all. It is a natural phenomenon that is the result of, for example, food prices. And there have been studies that have shown that the Arab Spring and Occupy coincided with historically high food prices. And those food prices were the result of climate change. Therefore, revolution is actually the result of natural phenomenon and that it doesn’t involve human action. So you don’t need to organize protests because revolutions just happen without intervention of humans.

There is a third option: subjectivism. This is the idea that revolution is a human process that doesn’t involve the material realm at all. Revolution is a change of mind. Subjectivists believe that if you want to change reality then change how you perceive reality. In this kind of activism, we would all just meditate. We’d change our inner reality to influence external reality.

And then there is the fourth possibility: theurgy. Theurgists believe that revolution does not involve humans and is also a spiritual, or supernatural, phenomenon. This is the idea that revolution is an act of God and that it is an intervention of divine forces into our political reality. This, of course, is the hardest for contemporary activists to think about. What would it mean? God is creating revolutions? So I’ll just give you one example: the conquest of Christianity.

How is that Christianity which was persecuted for three hundred years, and christians were killed in front of cheering crowds, ultimately conquered and became the dominant religion of the Western world? Well it was two spiritual conversations. The first: St. Paul. But the second, and most significantly, of Constantine.

I’ll just briefly summarize that Constantine was going to battle against a rival emperor in Rome when at noon on the eve of the battle he saw a cross in the sky. Apparently his whole army saw the cross too. And that night he dreamt that he talked to Jesus and Jesus told him that he would win the battle. And he did. He won the battle and promptly converted to Christianity and that’s why Christianity won. It was an example of a divine intervention in his eyes.

Right now, Activism needs fundamental reorientation in the way we think about activism. We have the break the script, the storyline that we’ve been telling ourselves about activism. And that it involves opening ourselves these these four ways of thinking about activism, social change and protest.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Micah White, speaking at IDEAS CITY 2015 in New York City. Micah is the author of THE END OF PROTEST: A NEW PLAYBOOK FOR REVOLUTION.

59 Comments

Four years.

Posted 1 year ago on Sept. 17, 2015, 4:42 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: Micah White, The End of Protest, Innovation

In commemoration of the fourth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, the Los Angeles Review of Books interviews Micah White about his forthcoming book, The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution.

The interview covers a wide array of topics: from the future of protest, to race in America, and the possibility of a rural revolt. Here's an excerpt:

JUSTIN CAMPBELL: And so, when Patrisse Cullors, cofounder of Black Lives Matter, recently said that we are living in the land of creative protest, she’s saying that we’re living in a time in which groups like Black Lives Matter are moving beyond ineffective protest tactics of the past. Do you agree with this assessment?

MICAH WHITE: So I really respect what she’s doing and in my heart, of course, the Black Lives Matter movement, I want as a black person, for it to succeed. At the same time, it’s very easy to fall into the kind of critical or negative perspective. But if I could give some gentle criticism, it would be that, if Black Lives Matter is living in the time of creative protest, then I would say they were only being creative around one theory of social change, which is the voluntarist model. They are too focused on the idea that we need to innovate the specific human actions that we do. I think that’s fine, but there needs to be innovation within the other three perspectives on revolution, that I mentioned earlier. You can’t just maintain a kind of materialist, disruptive perspective on protest. That would be the point that I would make. Innovation needs to happen in all the different kinds of ways we think about activism. Simply changing the ways we are disruptive, doesn’t in itself really solve the fundamental problem, which is, how are we going to become sovereign?

If you want to end police violence, if you want to stop police from killing black people, killing other people, then you need to be in a position where you’re appointing the police, where you’re picking the police commissioner, where you’re actually picking who the police chief is going to be in each city. If you want to change the police or abolish the police or become the boss of the police, then you have to win elections, you have to be in power. You can’t just be disruptive at the end of the day.

JUSTIN CAMPBELL: So when Patrisse talks about how we have to protest the police because we live in a police and prison state, and that’s why we have to protest them, is that kind of what you’re referring to when you say we shouldn’t protest police?

MICAH WHITE: I’ll say this. There’s this really great military strategist named B. H. Liddell Hart and he lays out these principles of military strategy. One of the principles that he says is that you should never attack an opponent who is on guard, waiting for your attack. This is the nature of the police. The police are a force designed to be waiting for your attack. That’s why they’re wearing riot gear and armored gear and they have shields and helmets. That’s why they’re allowed to hit you and you’re not allowed to hit them. The police are like a mirror of our own inner reality; they’re just a distraction. They’re a phantasm. They’re designed to distract. They’re bullies who are designed to take your blows and hit back harder than you’re able to hit them.

I think that if you want to defeat the police, if you’re asking, how do I defeat the police in actuality, and that’s your real campaign objective, taking a step back from what I just said, there is a way to do it....

Click here to keep reading the interview

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