On Wednesday February 15 RevolutionTruth produced its first “flash panel” (produced in a matter of days rather than months) and its second panel on Occupy. After resounding upset over Chris Hedges’ piece on black bloc, we felt it important to provide a platform for a deep discussion on some difficult topics. Unfortunately, the discussion failed to unfold as we had hoped. We had made it very clear to all panelists that we expect professional conduct on these panels. This means respect and civility for fellow panelists, and a commitment to engage in a manner that allows for sincere, non-threatening and rational exploration of very challenging, and sometimes emotional issues. Despite agreeing to these prerequisites, there were panelists who failed to uphold them. RevolutionTruth owes a public apology to Chris Hedges and our other panelists for this unfortunate departure from what we had planned. We should have early on removed people who refused to abide by these rules. It was a painful lesson learned.
We also had a chance to reflect on some of the deeper themes that inspired the subject of this panel in the first place: the “diversity of tactics” debates that have sprung up globally, the idea of “leaderlessness”, authority, strategy, cohesiveness, the nature and goals of the Occupy movement, and, critically, its diversity of people. RevolutionTruth is a small international organization dedicated to exploring paradigm shifts on a global scale. In the face of increasing assaults on civil liberties in the US and abroad, and as we witness the deep corruption inherent in global systems and spheres of power, we are committed to increasing access to the information, connections and strategies needed to engender genuine transformation in our world. We are an organization committed to the restoration of the rule of law, and to legitimate democratic governance. While our team has a broad range of opinions on the subject, as an organization we are committed to the pursuit of nonviolent change.
The majority of panelists, as well as our entire team, found this Occupy Beyond Divisions panel discussion deeply problematic, and symbolic of some of the most challenging problems arising out of the Occupy movement. For one thing, we are not necessarily all leaders. RevolutionTruth strongly encourages self-empowerment, and in fact, has built an intentional online community which encourages the empowerment of our members through a robust and respectful space for discussion. However, we are also intent on challenging fallacies and misrepresentation where we see them. Leadership requires deep self-discipline, respect for others’ viewpoints, the desire to unite rather than divide, and intense sacrifice and constant compromise, among many other things. It is dangerous to think that everyone is a “leader” while simultaneously, through an “anything goes” stance, absolving ourselves of the responsibility and maturity required to lead in our perilous times. We are grateful that so many people do embody these kinds of qualities, and we resonate with the instinctive imperative arising out of Occupy that encourages all of us to embody them as best we can.
Moreover, as an organization, we do not endorse nor oppose any one kind of democracy. We seek to understand the various democracies that have arisen throughout history, and to analyze current context and events while assessing which parts of governance systems work, and which do not. We seek to understand exaggerated dichotomies, and to bridge unnecessary or unpleasant divides that hinder our learning. This is because, at the heart of the work we do, we are a group of people from around the world who, like most people who have been attracted to Occupy, believe we all need and deserve better. It is up to each of us, to all of us, to change not just our systems, but how we treat each other – if we expect to change our world.
Much was learned from the Occupy Beyond Divisions panel and we’re excited to continue our series featuring panelists who address some of the most important issues of our times. We’ll always do our best to provide a professional, respectful, and thoughtful space to do so.