Tom Atlee on ‘Occupy Wall Street’


Richard Moore

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Begin forwarded message:

From: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••>
Date: 16 October 2011 20:53:47 GMT+01:00
To: •••@••.••• (undisclosed list)
Subject: #Occupy – a dance of inspiration and strategy
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Dear friends,

Here are some more good articles and websites about the Occupy Together movement, the global extension of Occupy Wall Street.

In this posting there are a number of pieces about strategy and tactics – appeals to and descriptions of nonviolence (including some tips useful in everyday life as well as demonstrations); what contributed to their success in holding onto their NYC site; the logic of their non-partisan messages that are not tied to specific demands; etc.  You’ll also find a powerful video highlighting the hypocrisy of US officials condemning crackdowns on Arab Spring protests while condoning crackdowns on domestic Occupy protests.

I’ve also excerpted an inspiring, sober open letter from long-time Christian activist Jim Wallis.  His whole article is worth reading.  It was sent to me by my friend and colleague Rosa Zubizarreta who writes:

“I highly recommend that people GO. visit. see for yourself. engage in wonderful conversations. volunteer. contribute…. yes, there are clearly challenges and difficulties (it’s certainly not perfect, as Rainbow Gatherings and Peace Camps and Soup Kitchens and all of those various manifestations of “free zones” are not perfect…) AND, it is so very much alive, filled with many wonderful moments and lots of learning and creativity and connection…  On Friday morning in Occupy Boston, there were several classrooms visiting… their teachers bringing them in for a field trip…  it was awesome!”

Others have written to me about conversations happening among finance professionals about the changes that are needed in their sector – conversations stimulated and energized by the Occupy Wall Street protests.  Increasingly, this aspect of nonviolent protest – encouraging urgently needed conversations about change – is becoming the trademark of this movement.  And this is an invitation to those of us who know how to make conversations meaningful and productive…

Blessings on this 13.7 billion year old highly interactive Journey.


PS:  You might find interesting the discussion about the John Lewis incident in the comment section of my last blog post

A call for for Occupy Wall Street-related groups to increase their nonviolent discipline, providing numerous links to demonstrate the importance of nonviolence for their success.
”Hell no! We won’t go!’ Bloomberg backs down over dawn ‘eviction’ of Wall Street camp after mob storms his restaurant
Anatomy of a Victory: Occupy Wall Street Wins a Big One – a very informative account of factors that led to OWS winning its right to continue to occupy Liberty Square.
Occupy Wall Street organizers blast MoveOn and insist on their non-partisan nature, including liberals, libertarians and others in the 99%.—short-film.html
“I am not moving” – a very powerful video juxtaposing (1) scenes of police attacks on Occupy Wall Street protestors (and other protests) with (2) excerpts of Secretary Clinton and President Obama talking about how mid-East governments should tolerate Arab Spring protests.


Excerpts from
An Open Letter to the Occupiers from a Veteran Troublemaker

by Jim Wallis 10-13-2011 10:18 am

You have awakened the sleeping giant, too long dormant, but ever present, deep in the American democratic spirit. You have given voice and space to the unspoken feelings of countless others about something that has gone terribly wrong in our society. And you have sparked a flame from the embers of both frustration and hope that have been building, steadily, in the hearts of so many of us for quite some time…

I inquired of one of the non-leaders who helped lead the first days of Occupation what most drew him to get involved in the demonstration and he replied, “I want to have children someday, and this is becoming a world not good for children.”

My 13- and 8-year-old boys came to mind when I heard his answer, and I felt thankful. It is precisely those deepest, most authentic feelings and motivations that should preoccupy you, rather than how best to form and communicate superficial political rhetoric….

Keep pressing those values questions because they will move people more than a set of demands or policy suggestions. Those can and must come later…

The new safe spaces you have created to ask fundamental questions, now in hundreds of locations around the country and the world, are helping to carve out fresh societal space to examine ourselves — who we are, what we value most, and where we want to go from here….

Even in forums where business and political leaders meet, they too are asking those questions and using terms like “a moral economy” as a way to interrogate our present and failed practices. I’ve been in such a gathering this week — just days apart from visiting yours — where the participants slept on featherbedding in five-star hotels rather than in pup tents on the sidewalk. And yet, surprisingly, they were asking many of the same questions you are.

Keep driving both the moral and practical questions about the economics of our local and global households, for that is what the discipline was supposed to be about in the first place…. Nonviolence is not just a critical tactic but a necessary commitment to moral and civil discourse that can awaken the best in all of us….

Finally, do not let go of your hope. Popular movements are the only force that truly brings about change in society. The established order is never as secure and impervious to change as those who preside over it believe it to be.


And as a highlight in the excellent
see Nonviolence Focuses on Communication
posted by Alice Khatib

1. Your objectives must be reasonable. You must believe you are fair and you must be able to communicate this to your opponent.

2. Maintain as much eye contact as possible.

3. Make no abrupt gestures. Move slowly. When practical, tell your opponent what you are going to do before you do it. Don’t say anything threatening, critical, or hostile.

4. Don’t be afraid of stating the obvious; say simply, “You’re shouting at me,” or “You’re hurting my arm.”

5. Someone in the process of committing an act of violence has strong expectations as to how his/ her victim will behave. If you manage to behave differently-in a nonthreatening manner you can interrupt the flow of events that would have culminated in an act of violence. You must create a scenario new to your opponent.

6. Seek to befriend your opponent’s better nature; even the most brutal and brutalized among us have some spark of decency which the nonviolent defender can reach.

7. Don’t shut down in response to physical violence; you have to play it by ear. The best rule is to resist as firmly as you can without escalating the anger or the violence. Try varying approaches and keep trying to alter your opponent’s picture of the situation.

8. Get your opponent talking and listen to what s/he says. Encourage him/her to talk about what s/he believes, wishes, fears. Don’t argue but at the same time don’t give the impression you agree with assertions that are cruel or immoral. The listening is more important than what you say- keep the talk going and keep it calm.


Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute, POB 493, Eugene, OR 97440  /
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