In all revolutions, the agents of change – usually a small core of fired-up individuals – reach a personal point of reckoning where to do nothing becomes harder than to step forward. Then come the televised actions, the rebellions on campus, the random acts of defiance in high schools, supermarkets, malls, workplaces. A mass of support accrues. The little daily confrontations escalate. Momentum builds.
And finally the revolution ignites. Very often the ignition spark is a single symbolic act that takes the old power structure by surprise, a gesture that becomes a metaphor, living forever. Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on the bus. A Vietnam protester feeds a daisy into the barrel of a rifle. A dissident stares down a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square. Nelson Mandela walks out of his prison cell in South Africa. A freedom flotilla breaks the siege on Gaza. These memes penetrate skulls like bullets.
The biggest impediment to revolution is a personal one: our own deep-seated feelings of cynicism and impotence. How can anything “I” do possibly make a difference? Most of us have trouble accepting radical change as a viable option. Entrenched in a familiar world, we cannot imagine another. It’s hard to see our current system as simply one stage of a never-ending cycle that sooner or later will fall and be succeeded – but this process of creative destruction is exactly how the world works.
We don’t need a million activists to jumpstart this revolution. We just need an influential minority that smells the blood, seizes the moment and pulls off a set of well-coordinated strategic moves. We need a certain level of collective disillusionment (a point I think we have now reached) and then we need the leaders of the affluent, “First” world nations to fumble a world crisis like global warming, a stock market crash or a nuclear standoff in the Middle East. By waiting for the right moment and then jamming in unison, a global network of a few hundred of us can pull the coup off. This November we create a sudden, unexpected moment of truth – a mass reversal of perspective; a global mindshift – from which the corporate/consumerist forces never fully recover.
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