The Occupy movement flared brightly and for a period, captured the attention of the media worldwide. That level of interest has receded but against some expectations, Occupy persists and shows no sign of disappearing.
One of the criticisms of Occupy is the lack of a coherent alternative to the current social order; there are numerous, maybe hundreds of protestations against, but no focussed protestation for, to which people can lend their support. This is an intelligent strategy by Occupy. My own interpretation of the benefit of Occupy is that this is an awareness raising exercise, something to prick the imagination and a successful one at that.
Bear with me a moment while I deviate. In Youth Justice, we work with the “Cycle of Change”, pictured below.
Pre-contemplation: Quite happy smoking, no intention of quitting.
Contemplation: Some thoughts that quitting might be beneficial.
Decision: Yes, quitting is the thing to do and identifying a plan to achieve that.
Action: Put said plan into action.
Maintenance: Smoking stopped completely and gradually the cravings disappear.
(Re)lapse: Either a cheeky couple of fags on a night out or a return to 20 a day.
Occupy is a movement that reaches out to individuals and challenges them to move through the Cycle of Change. Occupy may promote a change in society, but society is made up of individuals, without individuals coming together and moving forward as a collective, nothing will ever change. So here is my interpretation of the Occupy Cycle of Change;
Pre-contemplation: You are either unaware that society is unfair or you think nothing can be done about it.
Contemplation: You understand at a minimum that there is a “1%” of people who have a hell of a lot of money and power and that in comparison, the “99%”, which almost certainly includes you, do not have much. You may think that something should be done about this state of affairs and possibly, even, that you should be one of those who does something.
Decision: You decide that yes, you should do something to promote equality in society. You have a look around at the groups who work towards the same and decide on something you might do to support them.
Action: You put your money where your mouth is, start supporting equality in society online through social networks, lobbying your MP, donating to a worthwhile organisation or even strolling along to a meeting or protest.
Maintenance: Happy that you are doing something beneficial for society, you keep up the pressure, keep doing whatever action you have found you can dedicate yourself to, no matter how small. You have achieved a lasting change as an individual and who knows? Maybe a lasting change in society.
(Re)lapse: Disillusioned with lack of progress or during a personally stressful and busy time, you fall off the radar and your activity dwindles. Nothing left to do then but pick yourself up, dust yourself up and get right back into the Cycle.
What Occupy has done without question, is move people a step or two along the Cycle of Change. The evidence for this is in the now regularly-used terms “The 1%” and “The 99%” in the media and politics. When we hear these references, we know without doubt what they mean, this is progress. If Occupy has made you think about that state of society, you may just have moved from pre-contemplation to contemplation.
The big question of course, is “where does the movement go now?”. This is an interesting dilemma for Occupy which has lost the appeal of novelty. There are some interesting prospects; one is Occupy Records, “music for the global movement”. The album is due to be released later this year and will serve to further embed Occupy in the conscious of the masses. This is particularly appealing as Occupy becomes about more than camping on concrete, it brings an element of fun, of dance, of celebration in revolution which will certainly serve to draw increased numbers to the cause and keep shunting people along the Cycle of Change. Where I live, Adelaide, dwindling numbers and enthusiasm for Occupy have been problematic, however from Occupy Adelaide has been born Occupy Murdoch, set up to challenge the corporate media system starting from Murdoch’s own home town. This has the potential for worldwide popularity.
Occupy will continue to evolve all over the world, it is creative and alternative-media savvy in spreading its message which provides lifeblood to the movement. The more that new initiatives help people move, person by person, step by step, towards action and maintencance on the Occupy Cycle of Change, the closer we are to a better world. These are without doubt, exciting times we are living in. So, what are you waiting for? Take that next step.