tonight I went to see Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975. this is not a review of that film, which was a collection of some amazing footage woven into a questionable narrative.
but watching it, and thinking again about the black power movement’s successes and shortcomings, left me with some big thoughts about what we are currently experiencing with the explosion of actions and encampments to unveil the corruption of wall street.
the biggest thought was a question: are we, the self-proclaimed 99%, ready to occupy a world beyond capitalism?
that is, not to smash capitalism, not even necessarily to rise up in an all out armed class warfare, though the violent police and government responses may spark just that level of rebellion. but, as far as I can tell, on earth, we evolve out of the forms of the past. we build on top of ancient cities, feeding ourselves out of the soil that our ancestors were tucked into for the longest sleep.
so, are we ready to build on top of capitalism? to evolve beyond it? to redefine human economy in a way that gives us a chance at longevity?
Grace Lee Boggs talks about the shift from the agrarian to the industrial age, and how the cultural shift we are leaning into now is on that scale.
I think we have come to a place where many of us feel we are awake to a new reality, or can at least sense/dream/imagine a new reality on the horizon. a reality in which we collectively realize capitalism cannot yield the societal norms we need in order to survive and thrive as a species. a reality where we begin to practice what’s next.
we have to deeply transform our way of thinking and being – away from profit, towards interdependence.
we have to evolve something akin to legs, equivalent to the capacity to walk and make fire. the something, the capacity, is to truly measure success by the depth and authenticity of relationships, rather than the size of bank accounts, houses, lawns, cars, and over fed bodies…materials.
we have to release the part of ourselves that picks up arms out of fear, out of greed, and destroys other human life over the materials we want – militarism. we have to evolve beyond militarism as a way of managing human conflict.
these seem like massive things, but I think it is actually a series of small things, lots of tiny personal and community sized shifts. and we need to learn to articulate and share these shifts, so we can be self-aware of our actual scale.
I am in the 99%, though I am not camped out in downtown detroit. I notice that it is a much smaller-than-99% percent that are actually in the camps, on the streets all over the country. but the percentage of people feeling united is much larger.
as with the movement in 1968, it appears to be a tipping point percentage…occupy wall street – both the original and the iterations – is the central topic of misinterpretation, assumption, inspiration, opinion and narrative from the news to the water cooler to the barbershop.
it has gained the attention, respect, support and even love of people who may never join the camp or the march, but feel aligned in their hearts, and are willing to change the conversations they have with their families and communities. in that respect, it has succeeded already in changing the conversation.
in this next phase, it will be important to think about our behavioral shift.
already I am thrilled…beyond thrilled!!…at the way both consensus as a process and facilitation as a practice have been uplifted in these movement spaces. these are crucial post-capitalist necessities.
we must learn (or perhaps more accurately resocialize ourselves) to make decisions collectively, and directly, in the interest of people and planet. in fact, as much as possible, we must release the concepts of I and mine, and lean into the concepts of we and ours – our planet, our decisions, our children, our lives.
we must unlearn our instinct to look everywhere for leader-directors, and instead cultivate the skill of holding space for consensus, for change, for community, for conflict resolution. that is the art of facilitation. facilitation is not trying to sell anything, it is a method of growing ideas, alignment, community and ultimately society.
watching the film today I was struck again by how devastating it was to have beloved leaders, because the position was, and is, impossible to hold. the leader gets murdered, exiled, accused, tormented, isolated, egomaniacal, dismissed, disrespected, disconnected from people and sanity and reality…and then generations later might get a holiday, a stamp, a memorial.
we have never had the capacity to protect those who would lead us, especially if they truly love us.
but if we have no leaders, or rather, a massive multitude of leaders, sharing roles and work, sustainable and self-aware, accountable for being good participants and followers as well as holders of space – if we take responsibility for the direction of our communities, assuming our power to enact change, then we must only protect ourselves.
which is no simple thing.
capitalism is deeply based on values which are visible, numbers you can add up to measure a person. we need to think of being the 99%, this beyond capitalism, as something we carry within us. even if the campers are carried away in police vans, or cycled off the mainstream news.
being part of the 99% succeeds when it alters our behavior in our every day lives. when it grows into something we must protect – our guiding principles.
then no one can annihilate us.
then no one can infiltrate us.
the new form i believe we are taking cannot be seen by capitalism, it is off the grid. the new behaviors we practice will not all be spectacles in city parks…it is day in and day out living and organizing, direct actions, shifting from big banks to credit unions. it is sharing decision making and leadership, listening deeply, seeking solutions at the community level instead of from corporations, doing the work needed in the community, rather than wasting precious energy on just getting a paycheck.
what most terrifies the 1% is that we will realize we don’t need them, that we don’t need any form of dependence. that we can take care of ourselves and each other. that interdependence is the only sustainable societal experiment we can grow into from here, and we will not be controlled by those who won’t participate.
a stand out line in the movie is about the black panther breakfast program – that the panthers feeding their communities, the children, was more terrifying to 1968 american government than the guns.
beyond capitalism, that is what we fear to name. and that is where we are going.
my friend jodie posted an image on my page the other day which said: don’t fear change – change fear. the only thing that will keep us from the future we know we need is fear, the kind of fear that keeps us in abusive relationships because they are familiar. we deserve better, the world deserves better.