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Articles tagged Micah White

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

Posted 23 hours ago on Nov. 29, 2015, 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“Micah White argues convincingly that established modes of protest are outdated and sketches the outlines for how activists can and must innovate.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.

Shift the paradigms of protest: Preorder now!

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.


a unified theory of revolution

Posted 1 week 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.


Four years.

Posted 2 months 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


Protest is Broken

Posted 5 months ago on June 29, 2015, 10:24 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: Activism, Micah White, Protest is Broken

From the co-creator of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a refreshing manifesto that inaugurates the future of social...

Posted by The End of Protest on Friday, July 31, 2015

Advice for the next generation of social movements: “Never protest the same way twice.”

“Protest is Broken.”

Attracting millions of people to the streets no longer guarantees the success of a protest, says Micah White, 33, the cocreator of Occupy Wall Street.

“Occupy was a perfect example of a social movement that should have worked according to the dominant theories of protest and activism. And yet, it failed,” says Micah in an interview with Folha de São Paulo, the largest daily newspaper in Brazil.

Micah White argues that the use of violence in protests is effective, but only in the short term. And he argues that learning to use social networks to benefit social movements is one of the greatest challenges of activism. “The biggest risk is becoming spectators of our own protests” he says.

Living in a rural community on the Oregon coast, with about 300 inhabitants, Micah, and his partner Chiara Ricciardone, now run Boutique Activist Consultancy, an activism think tank specializing in impossible campaigns.

Micah was in São Paulo, Brazil on May 26th to participate in the launch event of GUME (“Knife Edge”), an engagement agency founded by Regina Augusto.

Folha de São Paulo: How would you analyze Occupy Wall Street today? What went wrong?

Micah White: This is the big question and of course I've been thinking about it since the end of Occupy. For me, the Occupy movement was a “constructive failure,” which basically means it was a failure that taught us something about activism.

The real benefit of Occupy Wall Street is that it taught us the contemporary ideas and assumptions we have about protests are false. Occupy was a perfect example of how social movements should work. It accorded with the dominant theories of protest and activism: it was a historical event, joined millions of people across demographics from around the world around a series of demands, there was little violence. And yet, the movement failed. So my main conclusion is that activism has been based on a series of false assumptions about what kind of collective behavior creates social change.

F: What are these assumptions?

MW: First, the central idea of contemporary activism: urban protests, with large numbers of people in the streets, primarily secular, and that revolve around a unified demand. The idea is basically, “Look, if we get a million or ten million or a hundred million people in the streets, finally our demands will be met.” However, if you look at the last ten, fifteen years, we have had the biggest demonstrations in history. And the protests continue to grow in size and frequency, and yet they have not resulted in political change.

F: Now what?

MW: What we learned from Occupy, and also with the Arab Spring, is that revolutions happen when people lose their fear. So I think the main trigger for the next revolutionary movement will be a contagious mood that spreads throughout the world and the human community.

For me, the main thing we need to see is activists abandoning a materialistic explanation of revolution—the idea that we need to put people in the streets—and starting to think about how to spread that kind of mood, how to make people see the world in fundamentally different way. That's about it. The future of activism is not about pressing our politicians through synchronized public spectacles.

F: It's not about pressuring politicians?

MW: No. I think the standard forms of protest have become part of the standard pattern. It’s like they are expected. And the key is to constantly innovate the way we protest because otherwise it is as if protest is part of the script. It is now expected to have people in the streets, and these crowds will behave in a certain way, and then the police will come and some of the people will be beaten up and arrested. Then the rest will go home. Our participation in this script is based on the false story that the more people you have in the streets the higher your chances of getting social change.

F: Can you explain better what you're proposing?

MW: What I am proposing is a type of activism that focuses on creating a mental shift in people. Basically an epiphany. In concrete terms, I think there is much potential in the creation of hybrid social movement-political parties that require more complex behaviors of people like running for political office, seeking votes, participating in the city administration.

F: The use of social networks is quite controversial among contemporary activists. Some say it is a key tool to increase the reach of the protests, others say it exposes the movement to monitoring by the authorities. What's your opinion?

MW: This is one of the key challenges. Social media is one of the tools that activists have, and we need to use it in some way. But in fact, social media has a negative side, which goes beyond police monitoring.

During Occupy, we experienced it: things started to look better on social networks than in real life. Then people started to focus on social media and to feel more comfortable posting on Twitter and Facebook than going to an Occupy event. This to me is the biggest risk: to become spectators of our own protests.

F: What do you think of the Black Lives Matter protests that are happening in the United States since last year, the result of racial tension in the country?

MW: Of course I fully support this movement. I am black, I have experienced the discrimination that they are protesting. But thinking strategically, I believe it is very important never to protest directly against the police. Because the police are actually made to absorb protest—the objective of the police is to dissipate your energy in protesting them so you'll let alone the most sensitive parts of the repressive regime in which we live: politicians and big corporations. We must protest more deeply.

F: What do you think of the use of violence in protests?

MW: Studies suggest that protesters who use violence are more effective than those that do not. I think violence is effective, but only in the short term, because you end up developing a kind of organized structure that is easy for police to infiltrate. In the long run, it is much better to develop nonviolent tactics that allow you to create a stable and lasting social movement.

F: But doesn’t violence exclude the public from the movement?

MW: People become alienated and become frightened when they see the black bloc tactic because they do not understand and can not imagine doing it. And movements work when they inspire people, when they are positive, affirmative and make people lose their fear.

It's a difficult balance, because you also do not want to be on the other side and only support forms of activism that are tepid and tedious—you have to find a middle ground that excites people and also leaves them with a little fear. No one really has a remedy to resolve the issue.

F: Your book THE END OF PROTEST decrees the end of the protest as we know it. Can we reinvent protest?

MW: Protest is reinvented all the time. Every generation experiences its own moments of revolution. The main thing is that we are now living through a time when tactical innovations are happening much more often because people can see what others are doing around the world and innovate in real time.

I think the future of revolution starts with people promising themselves that they will never protest the same way twice. This is very difficult for activists because they like to follow patterns. But when we are committed to innovation, we will invent totally new forms of protest. People did not expect to see something like Occupy when it emerged. And now we do not expect the next big movement... but it will come.

Micah White's first book—THE END OF PROTEST—will be published by Random House of Canada on March 15, 2016.

Interview Source: Folha de São Paulo


Activism in Crisis

Posted 5 months ago on June 15, 2015, 11:30 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: Micah White

I dream of a hybrid movement-party that wins elections in multiple countries.

The Crisis Within Activism is a Crisis Within Democracy

“We are living through a period with the largest protests in human history. But they are not working. And when you reach that point, instead of repeating the traditional protest behaviors, screaming and holding posters, you have to innovate,” says Micah White, cocreator of Occupy Wall Street and formerAdbusters editor, in an interview with Brazil's CartaCapital about his book, THE END OF PROTEST.

Micah spoke with CartaCapital during his recent visit to São Paulo for the launch of GUME ("Knife Edge"), a new engagement consultancy.

CartaCapital: Is there a crisis in today's representative democracies?

Micah White: Absolutely. In addition to a crisis in representative democracy, there is a crisis in the model of activism, how people protest. There is a crisis in the power of people to force governments to do what they want. We live in a time when there appears to be no way for ordinary people to influence their governments through protest… This means there is no democracy.

CC: Does this mean that the democratic system does not work anymore?

MW: I do not think in any way that the dream of democracy is dead. The dream of democracy has been going on since the beginning of civilization and humans have always been fighting for democracy. For five thousand years we’ve been overthrowing pharaohs, kings and tyrants in a struggle for democracy. Now we're in one of those moments in history when we have a low point of democracy, but there will be a high point of democracy soon. This requires, however, a kind of innovation within our concepts of activism.

CC: How is it possible to reduce the power of corporations in government?

MW: The only way to remove the power of corporations in our society would be to create a social movement capable of winning elections. As movements and as activists, we have avoided the only solution, which is: we have to build social movements that can also function as political parties. This is a need that we do not want to hear. We think we can just organize large protests and get really angry. Occupy Wall Street was a once in a lifetime event and it did not work because we were chasing a false theory of how social change happens. We believe, or wanted to believe, that a large number of people going to the streets can cause changes in their governments, but when we achieved a historical social movement, we realized this story of change is not true. Now it is clear that the only way to win power is to create a hybrid between a social movement and a political party. Something that does not have leaders, but has spokespeople and an organizational structure that lasts more than six months.

CC: How is it possible to achieve social change through protests?

MW: Today, social movements ask their participants do very basic and small actions: to take to the streets, holding posters and shouting. These are very basic behaviors and no longer have a political effect. Occupy Wall Street and the 15M in Spain, brought more complex behaviors, such as participating in general assemblies or utilizing hand gestures, but these are still very simple behaviors. I think we have to ask more of social movement participants. We must show that social movements require difficult behaviors like, winning elections, drafting legislation, governing our cities ... We need to demand a greater investment than just show up. The Internet allows us to ask for more. Thanks to social networks, it’s time to treat participants as capable of developing sophisticated behaviors and teaching each other how to to spread these actions globally.

CC: Do social networks have a new role in organizing and promoting protests?

MW: Absolutely. I think the role of the Internet is spreading contagious emotions. If we look at the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, it seems that the trigger was a mood that spread all over the world and was basically a sensation of losing one’s fear. People said “I do not care about the risks, this is the time to act” and went to the streets. That's what social networks do: they allow us to transfer that contagious mood of rebellion to the whole world. The other power of the Internet is in allowing us to innovate our tactics in real time. From the moment when a new tactic emerges in one city, it can be deployed in another city. So it was with Occupy Wall Street.

CC: Can the internet become something more than a network in which feelings are spread?

MW: There is a hope that perhaps the Internet allows us an electronic democracy. That's the idea of the 5 Star Movement in Italy. Participants use the internet to decide on legislation and to select candidates for the elections. The idea of the Internet enabling collective decision-making is very interesting, but difficult to achieve.

CC: Some people prefer digital activism to the street. What do you think?

MW: In the early stages, the Internet is very important for social movements. However, over time, the Internet becomes harmful because things start to look better online than in real life. This happened with Occupy. The protest looked better on Facebook than it did in the streets. This is negative because people start to prefer the online experience to the real world. So the Internet is a double-edged sword. The internet is a weapon that is not fully under our control, and it is very difficult to wield effectively.

CC: Do you believe that the advance of neoliberalism has helped reduce the importance of social movements around the world?

MW: Protests are a form of war and war is politics by other means. Protests are ways of influencing the political system by unconventional methods. And the revolution is a change in the legal regime. It is transforming what is legal into something illegal or making what is illegal legal. If social movements are a form of warfare then it is clear that the forces that are in power will use all possible means to destroy social movements. The problem is activists do not see their protests in the context of war. We see them as a big party or something, while the other side realizes the importance of the event. Above all, however, it is crucial not blame others. We must blame ourselves. Social movements do not fail because the police are very strong. Throughout history, people have overthrown governments with a much stronger police, either because they found a way to defeat them in the streets or because they managed to get the police to change sides. So when our protests fail it is because our theory of change was wrong and not because the other side was stronger.

CC: Occupy Wall Street was born in 2011 and influenced many movements around the world. To date, we have several social movements emerging in Europe also influenced by 15M or Occupy. What is the role of the internet?

MW: What happened is that a new tactic emerged and it worked, so it spread worldwide. Occupy Wall Street combined tactics in Egypt with those of Spain and applied them to the United States. The police could not anticipate this new protest strategy and that's why the movement worked. Once the police discovered how to respond to our encampments, they destroyed all the movements worldwide in the same way. Protest is a constant war of new attack strategies and counter-attack. Interestingly, at the moment we are increasing the frequency of protests. This is very good, but on the other hand, we must be skeptical because we are living through a period with the largest protests in human history, but they are not working.

CC: Do you believe that we can be in a historic moment of rupture?

MW: What I imagine is the birth of a social movement that wins elections in a country and then begins to win elections in multiple countries. Then you will see Syriza or the 5 Star Movement in three, seven or ten different countries. Yeah ... I really think it's about this storyline of a global social movement.

CC: You do not think that is too optimistic?

MW: I think we live in a time when activists are so focused on what seems possible that we do not achieve anything. We need to disturb power and not act only in safe ways. That's what Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring did. The best activism is the one that asks participants to do the things they fear.

Micah White's first book—THE END OF PROTEST—will be published by Random House of Canada in 2016.

"A democracia está em crise porque o dinheiro controla governos"

Criador do movimento Occupy Wall Street, o ativista Micah White culpa a influência de corporações nos governos pela crise política e afirma que os protestos são ineficazes e precisam se reinventar

Uma onda de revoltas contra o sistema político tomou o mundo desde 2010, com protestos se estendendo de Túnis a Brasília, passando por Madrid, Atenas e Nova York. Apesar de separados por milhares de quilômetros, os atos possuem elementos comuns. Para Micah White, ativista e criador do Occupy Wall Street, as revoltas e protestos expõem o descontentamento da população em relação à representação política e à influência do dinheiro das corporações nos governos.

Segundo o ativista, as diversas manifestações, que aconteceram em diferentes continentes e em um espaço curto de tempo, são um sintoma de um "sentimento contagiante de descontentamento" e só "foram possíveis graças à internet". Contudo, tanto a Primavera Árabe, em 2010, quanto o 15M na Espanha, em 2011, ou as manifestações de junho de 2013, no Brasil, foram incapazes de produzir os resultados esperados. "Estamos vivendo o período com mais protestos da história humana, porém eles não estão funcionando. E quando se alcança esse momento, em vez de repetir os comportamentos tradicionais, de gritar e segurar cartazes, é preciso inovar", afirma Micah White em entrevista a CartaCapital, na qual fala também sobre seu livro, O fim do protesto.

CartaCapital: Existe uma crise nas democracias representativas de hoje em dia?

Micah White: Com certeza. Além de uma crise na democracia representativa, existe uma crise no modelo de ativismo, de como as pessoas protestam. Existe uma crise no poder dado às pessoas para forçar os governos a fazer o que elas querem. Como não há uma forma para que pessoas comuns protestem e aprimorem ou mudem os governos, de certa forma, não existe democracia. Essa realidade gerou o Occupy Wall Street e diversos outros protestos que estão acontecendo ao redor do mundo.

CC: O problema é que a democracia já não funciona mais ou que não temos instrumentos de democracia direta?

MW: No caso dos Estados Unidos, eu realmente não acho que haja democracia no sentido de pessoas conduzindo o governo. O que realmente acontece é que o dinheiro conduz o governo e é impossível se eleger sem ter muito dinheiro. A outra ponta dessa realidade é que quem gasta mais dinheiro vence as eleições. Essa é a crise de representatividade. Com isso, também temos o problema de corporações e associações poderem financiar partidos políticos de forma ilimitada. Na verdade, nós não temos uma democracia. Temos alguma outra coisa, algo mais distante.

CC: Isso significa que o sistema democrático não funciona mais?

MW: Eu não acho de forma alguma que o sonho da democracia esteja morto. O sonho da democracia vem acontecendo desde o princípio da civilização e os humanos sempre estiveram lutando por democracia. Por cinco mil anos derrubamos faraós, reis e tiranos à procura de democracia. Agora, estamos em um daqueles momentos da história em que temos um ponto baixo de democracia, mas haverá um ponto alto de democracia logo. Isso requer, contudo, um tipo de inovação dentro de nossos conceitos de ativismo.

CC: Como é possível reduzir o poder de corporações no governo, seja por meio de financiamento de campanha, seja por meio dos lobbies dentro do Congresso?

MW: A única forma de remover o poder das corporações em nossa sociedade seria criar um movimento social capaz de vencer eleições. Como movimentos e como ativistas, nós temos evitado a única solução, que é: nós temos que construir movimentos sociais que também possam funcionar como partidos. Essa é uma necessidade que não queremos ouvir. Pensamos que podemos apenas organizar protestos baratos e ficar realmente bravos. O Occupy Wall Street foi um evento que acontece uma vez na vida e não funcionou porque estávamos perseguindo uma falsa teoria de como mudanças sociais acontecem. Nós acreditamos, ou quisemos acreditar, que um grande número de pessoas indo para as ruas causarão possíveis mudanças em seus governos, mas quando se alcança isso percebe-se que isso não é verdade. A única forma de vencer é criar algo híbrido entre um movimento social e um partido político. Algo que não tenha líderes, mas que tenha porta-vozes e uma organização que dure mais do que seis meses.

CC: Como é possível alcançar mudanças sociais por meio dos protestos?

MW: Hoje, os movimentos sociais pedem para que seus participantes façam coisas muito básicas e pequenas, como ir às ruas, segurar cartazes ou gritar. Esses são comportamentos muito básicos e que não possuem mais efeito. O Occupy Wall Street e o 15M, na Espanha, trouxeram comportamentos mais complexos, como participar de assembleias gerais ou com gestos de mãos, mas ainda são coisas muito simples. Eu acho que temos de pedir mais dos participantes. Temos de mostrar que movimentos sociais requerem coisas difíceis, como vencer eleições, escrever legislações, governar nossas cidades... Precisamos de comportamentos que envolvam um investimento maior do que apenas aparecer, e a internet nos permite isso. Graças às redes sociais, é hora de tratar os participantes como capazes de desenvolver comportamentos sofisticados e ensiná-los a fazer isso.

CC: As redes sociais podem ter um novo papel para organizar e promover as comunicações dos protestos?

MW: Absolutamente. Eu acho que o papel da internet é espalhar emoções contagiantes. Se olharmos para a Primavera Árabe e o Occupy Wall Street parece que o gatilho do movimento foi uma sensação que se espalhou pelo mundo inteiro e era uma sensação de basicamente perder o medo. Pessoas diziam “eu não me importo, este é o momento” e iam às ruas. Isso é o que as redes sociais fazem: elas nos permitem transferir essa sensação para o mundo todo. O outro poder é nos permitir inovar nossas táticas em tempo real. A partir do momento em que pessoas vêm algo nosso surgir em um lugar, elas podem reproduzi-lo em outro. Foi assim com o Occupy Wall Street.

CC: A internet pode se tornar algo maior do que uma rede na qual sentimentos são espalhados?

MW: Existe uma esperança que talvez a internet nos permita uma democracia eletrônica. Essa é a ideia do Movimento 5 Estrelas, na Itália. Os participantes vão aos debates eleitorais, mas também usam a internet para decidir sobre a legislação e até eleger os candidatos das eleições. A ideia de a internet ser um grupo decisão é muito interessante, mas difícil de atingir.

CC: Algumas pessoas preferem um ativismo digital a sair às ruas. O que você acha disso?

MW: Nos estágios iniciais, a internet foi muito importante para os movimentos sociais. Contudo, com o tempo, a internet passou a ser prejudicial porque as coisas começaram a parecer melhor na internet do que na vida real. Com o Occupy foi assim. O protesto parecia melhor no Facebook do que ele era nas ruas. Isso é negativo porque as pessoas começam a preferir a experiência online à do mundo real. Por isso, é uma faca de dois gumes. A internet é uma arma, que não está totalmente sobre o nosso controle, e que é muito difícil de usar.

CC: Você acredita que o avanço do neoliberalismo ajudou a reduzir a importância dos movimentos sociais pelo mundo?

MW: Protestos são uma forma de guerra e guerra é a política por outros meios. Protestos são formas de influenciar o sistema político por métodos não convencionais. E a revolução é uma mudança no regime legal. É transformar o legal em ilegal ou o ilegal em legal. Ou seja, é uma forma de estado de guerra. Por isso, é claro que as forças que estão no poder irão usar todos os meios possíveis para destruir os movimentos sociais. O problema é que não vemos os protestos no contexto de guerra. Nós os vemos como uma grande festa ou coisa do tipo, enquanto o outro lado percebe a importância disso. O mais importante, contudo, não é culpar os outros, mas culpar a si mesmo. Movimentos sociais não falharam porque a polícia era muito forte. Durante a história, pessoas derrubaram governos com uma polícia muito mais forte, seja porque eles descobriram uma forma ou porque conseguiram fazer com que a polícia mudasse de lado. Por isso, quando falhamos é porque nossa teoria estava errada e não porque o outro lado era mais forte.

CC: Occupy Wall Street nasceu em 2011 e influenciou diversos movimentos pelo mundo. Até hoje, temos diversos movimentos sociais surgindo na Europa ainda influenciados pelo 15M ou pelo Occupy. Você atribui isso à internet?

MW: O que aconteceu é que uma nova tática surgiu e funcionou, por isso, se espalhou. Occupy Wall Street combinou táticas usadas no Egito com as da Espanha e aplicou nos Estados Unidos. A polícia não soube responder a essa nova estratégia e é por isso que o movimento funcionou. Uma vez que a polícia descobre como responder, ela destrói todos os movimentos da mesma forma. É guerra constante de novas estratégias de ataque e contra-ataque. O interessante do momento em que estamos é o aumento da frequência dos protestos, assim como da repressão. Isso é muito bom, mas por outro lado, é preciso ser cético porque estamos vivendo o período com mais protestos da história humana, porém eles não estão funcionando.

CC: Você acredita que podemos estar em momento histórico de ruptura?

MW: O que eu imagino é o nascimento de um movimento social que ganhe eleições em um país e depois começa a ganhar eleições em múltiplos países. Aí você terá Podemos, Syriza ou o Movimento 5 Estrelas em cinco, seis ou dez diferentes países. É... eu realmente acho que é sobre esse enredo de um movimento social global.

CC: Você não se acha muito otimista?

MW: Eu acho que vivemos em um momento em que as pessoas estão tão focadas naquilo que parece possível que nós não alcançamos nada. É preciso incomodar o poder e não agir apenas com aquilo que é seguro. Foi isso que Occupy Wall Street e a Primavera Árabe fizeram. O melhor ativismo é aquele que mexe com as coisas que temos medo.


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