How do we overcome the fear towards change? Call it magic!

Occupy Paris marks three weeks
Matraquage nocturne à « Occupy la Défense »,16174.html
Text borrowed from my comrade Eric of "los indignados" in France:
Yesterday, November 27th, was a special day in Paris: it was the third week since la Défense
was occupied. The celebration took place as usual at the “house of indignation” with music,
dances, cuddles, chants and other displays of affection. A place which is a victim of capitalism
was transformed for a day into a free site where brotherhood and democracy gave master
classes. The icing on the cake was the installation of a cardboard dome to protect those who
had been living there for 22 days from the rain and frost. Ever since the opening of the camp
site at Paris, one thing was made clear: we would not be allowed to put up tents or use timber
and derivatives, since the police consider them as dangerous objects and materials. Therefore,
the dome was made of cardboard in order to show the police they rules are useless when
cleverness and will go together.
That night around 3am the camp site was charged by the CRS (French riot police), the fifth
charge against that pacific site. I had witnessed the previous four CRS charges to dismantle the
camp site. Every time the CRS were sent with a different excuse, such as the construction of
a cardboard tent, the placement of a tarp to get protection from rain, or for having built a cook
out of pallets. That night, the excuse was the cardboard dome. That was the excuse for beating
those who fight for their rights, which are everyone’s rights, the excuse to bring violence to a
site that has always refused violence.
I request my fellow policemen of la Défense not to follow more unjust orders, orders which
are not their own. I tell them they must understand one thing: after each charge the camp is
destroyed only to be reborn bigger and stronger, that psychological war is only detrimental to
themselves, as foolish words fall on deaf ears.
There is yet one thing they are not aware of: people’s desire for freedom cannot be silenced by
an insult, a push, a truncheon or a gas can. Freedom cannot be silenced and that is why it will
always remain the most beautiful of words.
I send my fellows at la Défense the warmest embrace, the dearest kiss, the most committed
I request my fellows at la Défense to continue to defend all they are fighting for day after day, all
that makes them stronger as the night comes, all that fills them with satisfaction, as it fills me as
the sun rises.
I request my fellows at la Défense to resist, to continue to shout “freedom!” whenever they are
under attack, to continue to embrace nonviolence, to show the way to Paris under that halo of

But where are you in this?

Hi T_indignadx, thanks for sharing the article with us. Many years ago I got involved in a certain movement but got disillusioned and left because of the dynamics that didn’t work for me: lots of guys making a lot of noise but little substance drowning out the softer more timid people like myself who were thinking about alternatives, solutions…you know- what happens after we make the political change we want to see happen? What do we want to build, what do we want our lives to look like? And so my motivation for getting involved in Edgeryders is that I wanted a space like that, that would allow me to think with others about how to build the future we deserve, based on practical experiences of what work for others- less focus on the ideological discourse. And so I am curious about what it is about the position expressed by Eric that you share? How did it happen, did you try other paths or approaches towards affecting change and if so which ones do you think work from your experiences? (btw, did you ask Eric if it was ok to post it here?)

Hi Nadia,

Thanks for dropping by.

I will try to reply by sections:

To the question of where am I inside this story is that our movement’s occupations all over the world experience this kind of repression every day since this all started. The episode described by Eric is a representative sample of the every day life of all camp sites.

Many years ago I got involved in a certain movement but got disillusioned and left because of the dynamics that didn’t work for me: lots of guys making a lot of noise but little substance drowning out the softer more timid people like myself who were thinking about alternatives, solutions

Within our movement there is a very low possibility for any one feeling this way, we are lucky, there is room for every one. We have a self organized structure for those who need to develop strategies and make future plans (policies, surveys, polls, legal studies, campaigns, mapping, communication, etc), while the rest can easily explore and express their creativity in many different ways (art, tv-radio, documentaries, including crushed cans noise and -of course- drums).

…you know- what happens after we make the political change we want to see happen? What do we want to build, what do we want our lives to look like?

Seems like common people don’t usually ask themselves this, this is why edgeryders exists and this is why I living a great adventure sinse March 2011.

The movement is constantly raising this questions, and that is making some people uncomfortable, which for me is a good and reliable indicator that we are on the right paht.

And so my motivation for getting involved in Edgeryders is that I wanted a space like that, that would allow me to think with others about how to build the future we deserve, based on practical experiences of what work for others- less focus on the ideological discourse

Please as soon as your work with the CE is finished, you know you are welcome to join us :slight_smile:

To the question: “What it is about the position expressed by Eric that you share?

Last November 23th it was my turn to wake up with the bad news that our building at the main square was destroyed by the police at dawn. I rushed to the dump outside my town to recover at least some of the important documents of our “Information Desk” but it was too late. The work of one month during the elections campaign gone, even though two days earlier the police chief himself guaranteed us that we were ought to maintain the place for two more days…and we trusted him!

The evening just before that, I went to bed with the picture of Occupy Chicago’s Kitchen dumped upside down on top of a garbage bin.

I also share Eric’s attitude towards repression, the “occupy love” response to crisis, Is because we feel empowered.

How did it happen, well, the main reason why I chose the story is precisely that very same question, HOW can this happen in Europe, the so called first [class] world? I also find it shocking! But part of the answer is here:

did you try other paths or approaches towards affecting change and if so which ones do you think work from your experiences?” every day, all over the world (we suddenly became a global movement) people are testing new approaches to transform society. Nevertheless, in the case of evictions, we shall use the fail-proof strategy learned from all time heroes:

To the question “did you ask Eric if it was ok to post it here?

you ask because I did not post the original link of the public blog where this entry is displayed? ‘cause I feel I have somehow to protect my sources, or you mean “here” in a platform hosted by the CE/EC? both my questions reply yours (I hope)

Thanks again,


Yes, I personally find that particular aspect a bit unsettling…not thinking about the future we want and behaving as though things happen upon us rather than by us. Thanks for the invitation, you never know I might just take you up on it :slight_smile:

Although I must say I am not the least bit surprised by the violent reactions to the protests- the tendency towards “othering” brutality as something that happens in other places by other people that are nothing like us is one I find deeply disturbing. It’s the same tendency that I suspect is why the alarm bells aren’t going off for more people about surveillance and data-mining…I wrote about this here if you’re interested:

My question was about whether you, T_indignadx person not movement, had tired other ways at affecting change.Ones that maybe failed- why does this effort feel different? or does it? I’m trying to make up my mind about what strategies really make sense for me as an individual. I have found that while many want some kind of “change” it’s hard to change one’s behavior or attitude. Being exposed to inspiring alternatives (e.g. people making different life choices) might be one alternative, but you need to be able to identify with the person…I’ve tried to lure people into reflecting on their relationships to different technologies. I’m still developing it, but the approach I tested with the Techno Tarot Card performance seems to work and is fun for both me to do and I think the participants who come to get their cards read :slight_smile:

Oh and my question was whether it was ok with the original author for you to post “his” material here.

Is mass action still a source of hope?

Hi T (are you the T I know?),

interesting story. Headlines material!

We were at the 15-M hub meeting in Spain and got to know the indignados movement a little better. It seems that there is a belief that important goals can be accomplished by showing up in a public square in large numbers (and certainly the Tahrir experience seems to confirm that). I come from a generation (and a country, Italy) that did that a lot: demonstrations with half a million, even a million people were not that rare. But that did not get us very far: a former Prime Minister, Bettino Craxi, pointed out that one million people in a country with 60 million inhabitants are a minority, and he refused to adjust his policies as a result of protest demonstrations. He promptly got re-elected.

So what is your perception? At least some young people believe in showing up and occupy stuff. How would this bring about the change they want? Is it good for any kind of change or only for some?

Mass Action -with brains- will always be effective

Dear Alberto,

Many thanks for coming to check out my first contribution, and yes I am your fellow UEvoke Agent T

It is amusing that you consider my post a headlines story. As I explained earlier to Nadia, these incidents are very common in the streets of Europe (capitals and small towns) but they get censored by mass media, whenever it is convenient, or even worse:

Taking the streets seems to be effecive to achieve almost any kind of change. My statement gets backed up by the amount of ebergy that is being wasted in order to bring us down.  “LAPD undercover cops infiltrating Occupy camp before raid”

And the over all response since the very beginning of “phase III”:

#TwitterCensorship Blocks #OccupyWallStreet from Top Trending Topic Twice

Yahoo Apologizes for Blocking ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests, Blames Internal Spam Filters

It’s funny how during 2011 spring-summer occupations in Spain, we were telling ourselves that all this show and scandal about our campsites was a cultural response, that in the UK and in the US the public was used to witness and participate in occupations lobbying for changing policies in front of the Parliament (the Big Ben) and in front of the White House. But after 17S that “no big deal” turned into a huge WOW!, that surprise was unexpected and it demonstrated that demonstrations are in fact effective anywhere, anytime.

I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and one of the nation’s foremost experts on crafting the perfect political message. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

I think we could direct the analysis to your comments into the differences between demonstrations in Italy then and now. As a Social Innovator I would like to  focus on the socio-economic profile of those demonstrators and their education level. What is new or differente now? Who used to take the streets back in the days? Who is camping in Rome these days? How do they do it now? I have a compilation of research articles about this in Spain and elsewhere, I would love to have your insight as an Italian.


A archaelogy of demonstrations

Back in the days, there would be organizations.

The main opposition party, or the trade unions - more rarely environmntalist campaigners - would call for everybody to meet in Roma in Piazza dei Cinquecento, just outside the main railway station. The necessary arrangements with the police would be made, negotiating the itinerary of the march. Police showed up, but they would be pretty relaxed. People showed up in large numbers: mothers with prams, old age pensioners, high school kid with Invicta backpacks, men walking their dogs, whatever. The demographics was everybody.

The message sent to the government would be in the numbers: a stronger presence would mean more heartily felt disagreement with the government’s policies. People did not try to storm government buildings or clash with the police - that was not the point ot it. Somebody would give a speech, but these marches were so big that perhaps only a few tens of thousands (out of a few hundreds of thousands) would get to hear them. Newspapers, t-shirts and mineral water would be sold. People would chat and socialize, as they marched and on the myriad special trains and buses to and from Rome. All in all, a highly ritualized, civilized affair. At that time (the late 80s and 90s) Italy had one of the highest turnout at the elections in the West.

At the time I really believed in it: a channel for public dissent that was friendly to all citizens, irrespective of age and physical conditions. I was a card-carrying member of a theoretically moderately socialdemocratic party. Trouble is, it did not work. Now I only commit to arenas where I can see my personal contribution making a change, even small. I will not be a number anymore. Not because I dislike it (I had great fun) but because it. Does. Not. Work.

What is it like now in Spain?

If it does not work, what works?

Several years ago (euh, decades), it worked rather well: the organization of peaceful public manifestations. I myself organised a few events of this nature, and it was indeed very fun. And it worked: officials listened, and did all that was necessary to meet the expectations expressed in these events, and even beyond.

Nowadays, there are fewer and fewer people getting involved in public manifestations (well, in Canada. few dare to be seen in these events.) We rarely see very large public protests in Canada.

Even the student protests are struggling to meet their targeted goal of participants, by preparing one year in advance.

Online petitions do not work either (at least in Quebec). They have no impact at all.

Directly talking to government authorities. Getting to talk to them on the phone. Getting to meet them in person. Houlà. Bon succès, and be prepared to take the test of persistence.

So how to get the message across? ? ?


Hello Lyne,

Nice to have contact with someone from Canada!!

I do not want to contradict Alberto, but I would cheer you up by saying that demonstrations in Canada really make an impact nowadays.

How would I know? Because police have been marking occupy demonstrators with invisible ink! ( a bit nazi, isn’t it?)

Tell me if your government would not care about protestors and their demands, would it be taking such a risk?

About “getting the message across”: my personal view is that it takes a profound level of involvement within the system in order to get a message effectively and quickly across, the kind of career that turns you into another corrupt politician or civil servant who is by that time sold to the interest of few.

Nevertheless, I am happy to tell you that in a sense the answer (exported to the whole global movement) is being explained and spread around by a Canadian citizen (Congratulations!!).

I woulod prefer not to post his speech in this forum, but if you are interested, please contact me outside edgeryders in order to get the link.


Hi again Alberto,

In Spain at the beginning demonstrations were very special, just imagine after so many years of dictatorship, using the right to complain was kind of a luxury.

Later on it became pretty much the same as you describe, they stopped working, mainly because people found out that they were being used up by unions.

You refuse to be a number, neither I like it, but we have to admit that we are nothing but numbers for the state, we belong either to the number of people who did something or who did nothing about whatever we feel is wrong.

Demonstrations are of course not the final and decisive act to achieve any change, that is mainly where unions and opposition parties made the mistake: they would call you to the streets but they would not give you the opportunity to participate more deeply, they would never give up their power, of course! They only used people to show up (*show off), nothing else.

In Spain, the latest demonstrations worked because there is no flag, we go out with our own particular demands, representing ourselves, we like this new style! Is like a blend between showing up in numbers and making your small personal contribution.

“Like a blend”

“… between showing up in numbers and making your small peculiar contributions.”

Good synthesis. I still see some risks: I have seen them at work in Barcelona, with few people doing most of the talking. Not necessarily the most creative ones, judging by a political language that is not significantly different from that of the 1970s (especially with the Latins: northern Europeans seemed more down-to-earth).

But then again, no participation system is risk free.

70’s Speech, dinamics and mindset

Hi Alberto,

I think we’ve reached an iterestingt inflection point here, related to the dynamics of observators and the movement: Why is exactly that you perceive the old fashion speech of attendees to the HUB as a risk?

Is the risk perhaps that we will somehow decide to "follow " these few union leaders and their ideas?

Please tell me, now I am curious! :slight_smile:

Conspiracy vs. emergence

I guess my main problem with the discussion at 15-SHM is the continuous reference to some sort of evil master plan: capitalism is scheming, engineering the financial crisis to reduce us all in poverty while appropriating an even larger share of the wealth for the 1%. This went unchallenged, with the exception of one Icelandic guy who suggested no one is really in control.

Here’s why I have problems with this attitude.

  1. It is plain wrong. Megascale phenomena (globalization, global warming, the rise of the car civilization...), to the best of my knowledge, are best explained as emergent processes: very many actors, each trying to get to their own goal within the constraints of the situation as they perceive it, recreate the situation. No one ever intended to heat the planet: people were just burning coal, because, you know, other people wanted to buy that energy. And those people, the buyers, they needed it to turn it into goods and servics that still other people wanted to buy, and so on. Global warming is quite elegantly framed as an an emergent property of the fossile-fuel economy. A similar argument can be developed for The Crisis, however defined.
  2. Like many conspiracy theories, it is politically so attractive that it is very hard not to suspect it to be intellectually dishonest. Hey, this is not our fault! It's the Cabal's fault! It's the Black Chamber. It's the witches in 17th century Europe. Hitler, a master political communicator, blamed hyperinflation and mass unemployment in Germany in the early 1930s on wealthy (Jewish) industrialists and bankers. This plays on very well known cognitive psychology results (check out Nobel laureates Daniel Kahnemann and Amos Tversky): we are hardwired to react to easy, powerful narratives. The conspiracy is one such narrative. It appeals to our ape brains and absolves us on all responsibilities: politically, a killer product. Leaders (or would-be leaders) must find it very difficult to resist to the temptation to use it. And, T, don't tell me there are not people who want to be leaders of 15-M, because there clearly are... though your movement does have antibodies against leaderism.
  3. It leads back to the traditional political system. Ok, so it's not us, it's them, right? Nothing we can do about it, short of a dystopian mass elimination of the 1% (1% of the world population = 70 million people = 12 Holocausts). So we need to exert indirect pressure on them: change the law/the tax laws/the Constitution/whatever. All potentially good things, but they imply building political infrastructure: parties, pressure groups, media etc. etc. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the idea, but most of what I heard in Barcelona pointed to an irreducible diversity of the movement with respect to traditional politics. I would contend that such a diversity is not really compatible with a "not our fault" kind of approach.
All this is exquisitely old fashioned. The environmentalist movement went that way in the 80s, and it had far better theoretical tools. I am told the same happened to the ultraleftist movement in the 70s, but I was too young for politics then. Quite unpleasantly, these movements generated small number of leaders who were coopted into the élites, becoming members of parliament, government officials, academics. The supporters, they were, again, reduced to number, waiting for the next liberation movement.

Which brings me to direct constructive action: people trying to hack away at the problem, one facet at a time. This is where my heart is, and why I think Edgeryders is important: it exposes the tentative solutions that young people are working on.

I remember that the Madrid unrest started out with a focus on the problem of housing. We have a killer piece on Edgeryders: Vinay, telling us about himself working in a city he can’t afford to live in. Do you think you and/or somebody from the movement would be interested in participating to the discussion? Any good solutions?



Alberto, many thanks for this cool peice of critics

I guess you presented and solved the problem, closing the discussion.I just LOVE it, very useful, thanks!

Of course there are LOTS of people who would love to lead the movement. Imagine right now almost a thousand campsites around the globe apart from the Local Assemblies and the Marches in Europe and North America, it is a sweet pie :slight_smile: Marches in South America are not that special, but they have all our support as well.

This is the perfect moment to do something different and special, with the experience and mistakes of the past and the knwoledge that we are constantly acquiring while we exert direct action in issues like foreclosures.

Can I borrow your post PLEASE? Can I translate it and spread around?



… but we are on our guard! :slight_smile:

My pleasure, T.

Of course you can use this material. Everything here is licensed under creative commons-by (you can do anything as long as you quote the source), and I am only glad to be of service. But I can do you a better deal: I volunteer to help in getting the conversation going. I think I can get others to do so, starting from the radical fringe of the Edgeryders team.

Here’s my proposal. In January (on the 9th, to be precise), Edgeryders will launch a new campaign about democratic participation, probably called “we, the people”. We will try to map out what young people are doing to reinvent democracy. This includes the opengov/opendata movement, that a few people have already touched upon in Edgeryders; stuff like participatory budgeting; but also more radical endeavors like the Chokepoint project and, in general, Internet activism. And, of course, the occupy/indignados “real-life” participation.

The conversation we had on this mission could be the basis for an Edgeryders mission on systemic change through political participation. We could write the mission brief together, asking the community the hard questions; get the conversation started, and push it out through social media. You could reach out to people you respect, within and without the movement. With a little luck we could have a moment of truth, in which you guys see yourselves through the eyes of people like me, who are really really sympathetic but need a few kinks ironed out before we can join forces.

What do you say?


I am really looking forward to the launch of the new campaign ‘We the people’.

I saw this video today: ‘We-defining-Me’,

I had to share it here! It beautifully explains the moi-nous concept.

Let us try and try, and try…that’s all we’ve got

Hello Alberto,

Thanks for the invitation, I’m in, although I am very busy, we are in the middle of a revolution and things are happening well above speed limits.

We are in the middle of a consolidation process of the global coordination based in social cohesion (as opposite of the way that the European Union was established).

The campaing will have to meet very high spectations in order to convince other indignados to join edgeryders. The “sweet” relationship between members of our movement and politicians and guvernamental institutions is reflected in this video:

Have  great weekend :slight_smile:


You, me, we, ethics and people-centered economics

Hi all,

A quick introduction. I’m Jeff Mowatt and I run a social business in the UK and a Linkedin group on Social Business and For Benefit Corporations   I offer a few thoughts on the matter of WE and collective action from our own activism.

The starting point for this was a critique of traditional capitalism which is now a manifesto from which I offer a few key points:

“Manipulation of numbers, represented by currency/money, allows writing “new” money as needed.  There is no tangible asset, or anchor.  There are only numbers, managed by whomever might maneuver into position to do so.  Economics came to be based on numbers, rather than real human beings.”

“On that basis, capitalism trumped people and therefore trumped democracy.  Democracy is about people, who since Descartes are considered necessarily real, rather than numbers which are not necessarily real.  An imaginary construct, numbers, rule a real construct, people.  That arrangement allows for disposal of real human beings, in the name of the imaginary construct.”

“Economics, and indeed human civilization, can only be measured and calibrated in terms of human beings.  Everything in economics has to be adjusted for people, first, and abandoning the illusory numerical analyses that inevitably put numbers ahead of people, capitalism ahead of democracy, and degradation ahead of compassion.”

“Each of us who have a choice can choose what we want to do to help or not.  It is free-will, our choice, as human beings.”

The paper, which was delivered to the White House in Septerber 1996 ends with these words:

“It is only when wealth begins to concentrate in the hands of a relative few at the expense of billions of others who are denied even a small share of finite wealth that trouble starts and physical, human suffering begins. It does not have to be this way. Massive greed and consequent massive human misery and suffering do not have to be accepted as a givens, unavoidable, intractable, irresolvable. Just changing the way business is done, if only by a few companies, can change the flow of wealth, ease and eliminate poverty, and leave us all with something better to worry about. Basic human needs such as food and shelter are fundamental human rights; there are more than enough resources available to go around–if we can just figure out how to share. It cannot be “Me first, mine first”; rather, “Me, too” is more the order of the day.

My blog, You, me, we, ethics and people-centered economics is a chronology of the next 15 years leading to the death of founder Terry Hallman in August 2011.


Does this mean you engage with Occupy?

Hello Jeff, this is all very interesting. Your argument about numbers (I can’t really follow the argument about their existence or non-existence, Michel Filippi on Edgeryders would be more qualified) echoes David Graeber’s on equivalence: once you start saying exactly how many kilos of potatoes a pair of shoes is worth, you break down the web of responsiblity, obligations, kinship and friendship ties that makes us human and reduce them to anonymous transaction: if I owe you 45.67 euro, our identities do not matter very much, and we could in principle transfer the debt to anybody else.

But my question is: given that you are obviously passionate about the problem, what is your reaction? Do you ty to stimulate the debate with the blog? Do you take to the streets, like T here? Do you act through your social enterprise (of which, by the way, I would be very curious to know more about)?

Tomorrow (January 19th) we will be launching a campaign on political participation, maybe you can tell us more about your experience. We already have an ongoing mission on social innovation, which you could do to tell us more about your company.

What drives activism?

Hi, I had to spend some time thinking about what you wrote and your answers because it’s a whole new world for me. Censored or not, one reads about these protests almost daily but for a less engaged person it’s difficult to really grasp their meanings. I’m 24 and I have never participated in an organized or spontaneous movement. I’m not against them, nor am I particularly reluctant… also never had an opportunity to engage in a cause that I deem relevant for myself.

So I ask you: to what extent do you stand up there for a personal reason and to what extent are you there out of solidarity, civicness, the idea of fighting for a better world? And also I notice you keep rephrasing answers in terms of “we” instead of I…-  We want, we believe, we shall… is there something that you find in the workings of your organization that makes it so interesting to be part of it? are you just a member of Indignados or are you founder/ someone from the higher end? (coordinator)…? I’m asking to get a little context and understand the motivation someone has to do this.

thanks a lot for sharing your personal thoughts on this…!