Micah White is the editor-at-large of Adbusters and co-creator of the Occupy Wall Street meme – so he knows a thing or two about global movements. In this article for our spring issue, he implores us all to be the colours of the revolution…
#BLUEGREENBLACK by Micah White
We are players in the game of Revolution: the long cat-and-mouse game between Power and The People that has been raging since our side first demanded democracy in antiquity. Over the many centuries of civilisation since, sometimes our progress has been slow and sometimes great leaps have been made in a week, when just the right spark comes along; but through it all, the guiding dream that unites us in a great historical chain has been the same: a people’s democracy constituted by liberty, equality and community.
The world is a dark place now. Maybe we are in the Iron Age or the Kali Yuga or just the last gasp of a dying species. But I saw something magical emerge during our insurrectionary storms of 2011-2012 that gives us reason to keep living and fighting until the bitter end. I saw that you and I are now closer than ever – closer than any previous generation of humanity has ever been – to achieving the dream of people’s democracy. And not just in my country or your country, but in every country. A people’s democracy on a global scale is within reach… if only we have the courage.
I say courage because all too often it seems that The People shies away from its historical destiny. We get scared as a movement both when we fail and when we succeed. We look back on our past victories (The French Revolution, the defeat of fascism, May ’68, Occupy Wall Street, etc) and instead of seeing an inspiring proof that we can do it again and better, we accept cynicism and see only our excesses or the ways we failed to live up to our Ideal. We don’t see how close we’ve come; we only see how far we still have to go. And looking back on history, it seems to me that most of the time The People have failed to take Power only because we let the status quo rule, out of deference to their elite and fear of their police.
Revolutionary politics progresses through spurts and experiments: the lessons of failed revolutions are internalized by one generation and new tactics are tried out decades later by the next. It is a slow game but every so often breakthroughs happen.
In the middle of the chaotic whirlwind that was Occupy, those of us participating in egging on the storm saw a sublime possibility emerge: mirage-like on the horizon, a tantalizing political vision appeared that used peer-to-peer technologies to connect the 99%’s revolutions from Egypt to China and America to Spain into a single social organism. If only for a brief moment, the internet gave us the ability to think, learn and act together at the same time, and everywhere at once. Hashtags became wormholes that collapsed space and time because it didn’t matter if a jammer was in Madrid or Oakland, they were playing into the same Revolutionary Game. A united front became possible the moment we started fighting for a shared platform that was struggling to articulate itself.
That project was never completed. Occupy’s intensity was not sustained long enough to achieve the next step: acting together at the same moment to target the same enemy, everywhere-at-once. To take down a global enemy of The People like Goldman Sachs, who has 72 offices worldwide, and send a chill down the spine of every other megacorp in the world. Now the next step in The People’s long march to democracy is clear… and there is just enough time to pull it off.
Our greatest task as a species is to find words in our language for this new universalist-leaderless politics – and then fight for them. A hybrid blue-green-black politics that mobilizes The People in Cairo as well as it does in Beijing and New York City toward liberty, equality and community.
Blue – the colour of Intellect and Imagination – stands for mental environmentalism and our party’s commitment to the vision of internet democracy championed by Anonymous, WikiLeaks and the Pirate Parties of Europe. Blue is about the spiritual insurrection: the revolution in our mind and inner-reality. It is our quest to steward the mental environment by balancing the rational (Intellect) with the irrational (Imagination) in politics and life and culture. A distinctly Blue psycho-politics gels a range of Left and Right organizations and concerns into a fighting force. Equally proponents of banning advertising in schools, protecting open source software, circumventing censorship, ensuring transparency of government, upholding public anonymity, liberating and de-commercialising information – the umbrella concern is with restoring our cultural and psychological health. Blue warriors vow to change the way information flows and to shake up the production of meaning in our society.
Green – the hue of Earth and Immortality – stands for the four-decade-strong resistance movement against environmental degradation, which we must win for a sane, sustainable future. Green is our collective project to find meaning in an eternal political act, our will to overcome mortal finitude with a multi-generational struggle to save the Earth and our children’s children. Green politics is as much a response to death and life (and the terror of living through the ecological end-times) as it is a rejection of authoritarian-consumerism and ecological-fascism. Philosophers Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek have said that ecology is the opium of the masses because governments can use the environmental crisis as an emergency excuse for totalitarian rule. And it is well-documented that Australia and America’s militaries are already training for an environmental apocalypse while others like Pentti Linkola and James Lovelock are openly calling for authoritarian environmentalism. We must tread a course between the need to implement some kind of global egalitarian environmental regulation – whether it be carbon rationing, emission limits, or maverick initiatives funded by a Robin Hood Tax – and the danger of force and impatience. Green requires that we think and act globally – a very dangerous thing.
Black – the tenor of Struggle and Justice – stands for our party’s promise to abolish corporate personhood and institute a new post-capitalist global world order in which corporations bow to the will of the people. Black is the colour of Occupy and anarchism: nonviolence, horizontalism and innovation – the qualities that make our movement great. Black is our militant-edge but it is also our belief that no modern revolution will be successful without a steadfast promise to virtue – especially nonviolence and charity – in pursuing Justice. Guided by the light of Fidelity and Patience, Black stands for our commitment to humility, goodness and wisdom in pursuing our long-term goals. Fidelity is about never giving up hope. And it is also about resisting the temptations and distractions that are thrown in our path to lead us astray.
It may take years or decades or centuries to finally realize the #BLUEGREENBLACK vision – we do not know what the future holds. To enter a fight not knowing if you will see the final victory takes courage. But like the North Star that guides lost travellers, #BLUEGREENBLACK is a vision that gives our long march a direction. So wherever you are, look up and look around, and join the fight for people’s democracy.
Micah White is the editor editor-at-large of Adbusters and co-creator of the Occupy Wall Street meme.
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