Occupy’s Greatest Debate: Evolution vs Revolution (For the hell of it…)

I’m the one on the stage, wearing orange…

One of the most popular songs at Occupy Vancouver’s opening day was the Beatles’ Revolution. I remember when it came on the first time, shortly after I did my first speech on taking corporate money out of politics. I was excited and pumped-up after speaking to the crowd- they loved my proposal and I already had the backing of my local MP. It felt like we were on the path to a very exciting journey…

From my estimate, the majority of people who came to OV were people who wanted to see a change but who weren’t up for a Russian style revolution. Had they been, I doubt that thousands of people would have been cheering for my proposal to reform electoral funding. Had I known what I do today, I probably would have been more observant that day and tried to identify those who weren’t cheering.

Over the next couple of weeks I discovered that there was a minority who wanted anything but electoral reform- they came to Occupy with well-established revolutionary ideals. We debated evolution vs. revolution throughout OV, the lines were clearly drawn, and it was no coincidence that the revolutionaries were the same people backing the violence of the Black Bloc.

By the time I’d been at Occupy Toronto for a couple of months I learned the reason the revolutionary camp was so steadfast in their beliefs. Partly this was based on the hoodlum factor- disenfranchised young people can only see violence as an answer. But, also, there was a major influence from people who followed the teachings of Trotsky and Mao.

The socialist ‘obedience cults’ had really done a number on these people…

What makes Trotsky and Mao different than other political philosophers? It’s simple, and can be explained best using the words of Mao: “Change must come through the barrel of a gun.” Trotsky takes things a bit further saying that we must live in a permanent revolution.

Somehow, I don’t feel this is the change that most Canadians want to see- is it?

For the past couple hundred years, Canada has been mostly going down an evolutionary path. Our country did some good things, some bad, and some horrible. We’ve been great at heralding our positive achievements, less good at assessing and remediating the bad and the horrible. But, eventually, we seem to get to those.

What happened at the residential schools is a great example. It is probably one of the worst cases of the horrible parts of our history, and it took a very long time for our country to acknowledge the damage that was done. Even now, while we have been awakening from our slumber, we could be doing a better job in many ways. But, this is part of evolution, we do our best to learn and improve along the way. Most Canadians want to see justice for residential school survivors.

Granted, we could definitely improve the process. But, compared to other countries, we are well ahead of the curve in evolutionary terms. I’m not so sure how well a plan for an evolutionary path would work in other countries- particularly those ruled by violent dictators. (real dictators, the kind who would kill or imprison me for writing this essay.) It’s hard to argue for evolution when you see neighbours getting carted away to secret prisons each night.

But, then, we must think about what takes a country to the place where the people let themselves be ruled by a violent dictator. Violence begets violence, right? Any incidence of violence is like hitting a drum in an echo chamber- you can’t stop the noise from reverberating, it will last as long as the energy has dissipated. The more intense the violence, the lower the note, the longer it takes to fade away.

Let’s take as an example the events of the G20 in Toronto. The city and the police ran an unreasonably high security budget for this event. Partly as a result, an unreasonable amount of people were arrested for insufficient reason. Many Canadians are unhappy with that result- but, equally, many Canadians are indifferent (or even enthusiastic) about the number of arrests.

Now, let’s imagine if the demonstrators behaved differently- the Black Bloc didn’t show-up, no windows were smashed, and everyone treated each other (and each other’s property) with respect. And say, for some reason, that there were still the same number of arrests. Do you think that as many Canadians would have been as accepting of so many people being detained in this situation?

Of course not! Now, there may have still been a reactionary contingent that is happy to see ‘hippie protesters’ getting tear-gassed- there will always be the few. But, most Canadians would have risen out of their seats and had been genuinely upset. However, all it takes is for a few people to light a police car on fire, and all bets are off. The more often this violence occurs, the more likely Canadians will back the need for a police state.

There’s a reason so many people believe in their hearts that the Black Bloc was infiltrated by the police. It’s because there’s no better way to justify a police state than to run around in scary (to average folk) black costumes, smashing windows and setting things on fire.

As John Lennon said “When it gets down to having to use violence, you are playing the system’s game.”

I’ve studied history, and searched desperately for an example where violent revolution has succeeded. You know what? I haven’t been able to find a single example. That said, the world has a contemporary shining example of where evolution has succeeded. Can you guess where that is?

I’ll give you a hint…


Yep, Iceland! Now, I know what you are going to say- we’ve got Celine Dion, and she’s no Bjork. And, you are right about that- as the Quebecois can tell you, Dion appears to be the revolutionary’s choice. But, we also have Feist, and she’s as peaceful as a Canadian can be!

To be more serious- Iceland changed their world without a single gun being shot. Instead, the people collectively realized there was a problem and insisted that it is fixed. So what happened? Well, they told the bankers where they could shove their debt, arrested them, and got to work on evolving their country’s economics. Things are doing pretty well in Iceland today.

Or, we could go the path of the Greeks. Many (but not enough) Greeks raised their fists and tried to start a revolution. Unfortunately, this failed miserably. All they got was a bunch of broken windows, incinerated cars and violence that is still reverberating through their society. And, now, the bankers are telling them to switch to a six day work week.

If we were in a truly repressive country like Turkmenistan I wouldn’t even bother recommending we take a peaceful evolutionary route. The problem is, there, it wouldn’t turn out to be peaceful- anything but. Having organized Occupy Harper, I’d probably be dead right now in many other countries.

If you want to live in a repressive society, I’ll give you an easy way to do it- and you don’t even have to leave your home town. Just get a group of people to regularly go out together, bait the police, smash windows, and burn down a few cars. Eventually, you too can live like a Turkmen!

Instead, why don’t we spend our time educating and sharing information with our neighbours. Tell them how great things worked out for Iceland, explain what things need to be changed in Canada- help them understand the dangers of using violence to get there. Organize peacefully.

And, if the conversation get’s heated? Just play a little Feist…

Permanent link to this article: http://www.genuinewitty.com/2012/09/05/occupys-greatest-debate-evolution-vs-revolution-for-the-hell-of-it/


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    • brotherwolf1 on September 6, 2012 at 09:25
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    Oh Greg, i can write a detailed thesis on Occupy. Do you REALLY want that ? :-)

    1. I think we should all write detailed theses about Occupy. Perhaps we can save the next movement from the mistakes of the past…

    • Standing Water on September 6, 2012 at 11:17
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    What OV really spoke to is the breakdown in public education (k-University) in British Columbia since the socreds gutted everything. We have a centralized education ministry in victoria, and local “elected schoolboards” that do nothing but catch flak for the continual budget shortfalls.

    There is a heavy-handed psychological authoritarianism (obedience cult is a good word for it) in play in public schools today. There was a brief period between the abolition of corporal punishment in schools and the introduction of this new obedience cult, and from my observation, things worked rather well. Too well.

    “compared to other countries, we are well ahead of the curve in evolutionary terms”

    British Columbians were rapidly evolving outside of any schema of formal authority. The teachers were regarded as helpers; do the work, don’t do the work, it’s your life. Then things changed…the corporate authoritarian cultists with their “human rights” (really more like “human resources”) policy came along. They’ve been manufacturing obedient cultists since the early 90s. Now, I am not saying that the public education system in BC Is so depraved as to be overtly manufacturing maoists and trotsykites—but what it is doing is priming kids for those sorts of obedience cults.

    This sort of issue is reaching a head in the Universities where it is now more or less impossible for freethinkers to get degrees, except by not saying anything at all in class—the idea that a University exists for anything like “free exchange of information” is anathema to obedience cultists, as we learned from OV. This University problem is having and will have serious impact on the judiciary and civil service over the next few decades. You simply cannot run a judiciary when the legal profession that acts as “proving ground” for judges is full of obedient nitwits.

    As for comparisons with iceland, I don’t know about linguistic demographics, but I suspect Iceland has not lost its linguistic identity through mass immigration. That already happened once to all of the native tribes, but now it is happening again with English and French. Absent mass-media and other dirty pool, how do you get everyone on-side when it is not even expected that all “Canadians” speak English or French? I’m not being facetious–an iceland-style evolution would be great, but don’t you think part of the capacity for iceland to do such a thing has to do with it being a smaller population with far less linguistic diversity?

      • Tamara D. on September 7, 2012 at 14:40
      • Reply

      I was wondering myself if our education system was being dumbed down… you don’t hear as much about it here in Canada as you do in the US.. Damn! They’ve been teaching us communism so they can move in a corrupt system, making the United Nations a world government while stripping all countries around the world of their independence, forcing them into dependence on this world government. Look it up, there’s lots of info out there about it. The North American Union is being set up in stages behind closed doors and even George Bush mentioned a “New World Order”. He said it in speeches in mainstream media, Obama also. The European Union has already been set up, the Soviet Union, the African Union. All part of the final plan to create a world government and streamline and centralize power for themselves while making us more dependent on them! They’re trying to set up a one world currency called the SDR. They’ve playing us, and the general public, like fools and few people realize it!

      Agenda 21 is not for saving the earth, it’s a power-grab of whole land, whole societies and will be above any individual nations law.. A restructuring of whole societies. The Carbon Tax will drive us into further debt, especially when the start adding derivatives to it! Paid the the United Nations! Moving people from rural areas into concentrated urban areas (cities) and cutting off access to vast amounts of land by turning it into “protected” zones. There are copies of maps showing the end goal of this moving around of people and most of the country will be inaccessible to most of us. That’s just Agenda 21! We are still being streamlined and centralized into a North American Union which would mean we are merged with Mexico and the US. Even if they claim we are separate our polices and laws will be completely streamlined so that our countries function as if one union. They are lying there is info out there.

      One example is the Security and Prosperity deal we made with the US and Mexico. did you know the US citizenry didn’t want it originally? So Obama just waited for awhile and then went ahead and signed it behind everyone’s backs! Completely undemocratic and rather than chide them our Prime Minister went ahead and signed it too! They do not care about republic or democracy they are forcing this stuff down our throats through closed-doors! If you’re going to do something so country-wide changing we the Canadian citizenry have to be involved! It’s our country for crying out loud!! All this behind-closed doors stuff is NOT democracy!

      What does this have to do with the article? Well, it has recently come out that police had agent provocateurs and other infiltrators in various Occupy sites and even in Montreal during the Montebello protests. The problem with the black bloc tactics people are using is that they are playing right into the hands of the people setting all this up! We, the protesters, get labeled hooligans and terrorists even during peaceful protests when the Powers That Be send fake “anarchists” to cause trouble! The real rebels that would use black bloc tactics don’t have the numbers for a real rebellion and are just scaring away the general public who close their ears and minds to them and all of us (reflectively) out of fear! We may eventually have to fight but not now! Besides, if they DID have the numbers we might be able to “fight” by, as the vast majority of Canada, simply refusing to follow laws and policies that will harm each other and our country… without violence. We could do what Iceland did to restabilize their economy… arrest the corrupt bankers (and those above them that are manipulating things) and tell the IMF and World Bank to F off!! Of course that might cause a war against us by the Power That Be using other countries, hopefully exposing this whole mess further… or other countries might follow our lead and ignore the ones trying to force all this down our throats! Their greatest power is that the vast majority of man-kind believes their lies and believes they have no choice but to do what they are told. If we , including politicians, soldiers and military, were to start to ignore them (we are far far greater in number) they would lose all power.

      I have to, again, recommend people watch The Money Masters. Then other videos on these subjects. The United Nations was set up under corrupt backers. And is highly influenced by them.

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