The Occupy Movement is About Flaws in the “Progress” of Mankind


Prologue

Key to understanding the challenge I am about to relate is the opening phrase of the following blog post: “I am still reading”. That’s right, I had not completed my reading of the Occupy Bucharest Manifesto before I was moved to write a post about it. As a result, I offered an evaluation of this document based on an assumption that was incorrect. Instead of this being the compilation of a group’s thoughts, it turned out to be one person’s thoughts, someone who was quick to comment on this blog and reach out to me through Twitter, Luca Oprea.

While my premise—that this was a collective product—was premature, my respect for the quality of the ideas and delivery remain true and accurate. Luca is a remarkable thinker, and I look forward to learning more about his ideas and efforts.


I am still reading through this manifesto by the group at Occupy Bucharest, but this struck me as being a remarkable observation:

Occupy Wall Street can be seen as a basic, natural, global response to this fundamentally flawed state of things. The mindless segregation of life and energy flows from human consciousness is what led to the existence of the flowing crowds of Spain and Greece and Portugal and the rest of Europe. They have very little past and no apparent future, and as such cannot be understood through economic theory, although they are created by it. Fundamentally, human communities should cover the full spectrum of evolving life, from primary biological production, through innately collaborative social life, to consciousness and then mind.

Instead, the current state of things sees rural and urban areas feeding off of each other in production cycles that deplete the earth, social ties, and individual lives. The reason is simple – while they may appear to be separate and different communities, in fact they are only one community, its production and social flows stretching over very long distances. Capitalism speaks of competition, consumption, business and trade as essential factors which create value, but the reality is that these are low level processes which only make sense between partially developed communities.

The challenge of writing well is so large that most will never address it, much less accomplish it. But this manifesto immediately establishes itself as a record of deep

The National Architects Union Headquarters in Bucharest, Romania. Another well-designed manifesto.

thought. Cogent, succinct, and nothing short of visionary, that this document was developed by a collective is all the more extraordinary!

Have you ever wondered how it was the the United States Declaration of Independence was so well written? The language is refined, focused and accurate, so much more effective and compelling than the majority of all written work of that day, and ever since. I have often tried to imagine the mindset of Thomas Jefferson as he wrote the first draft, the level of concentration of John Adams and the others at they read it and suggested edits. What amazing clarity and understanding! We saw it once again in the US Constitution, but not as much in some of the amendments, and even less in the reams of legislation that have been generated by federal and state bureaucrats ever since.

I believe the key difference is in the thinking that comes before the word, perhaps that’s not obvious, given the vast quantities of words with no meaning that are published by the minute. Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues were all focused on an urgent need for freedom from tyranny and how to make that happen, on this they thought long and hard.

No doubt, the people in Bucharest spent considerable time discussing what brought them together. The process of writing well—the distillation down to the fundamental issues and then to convey them in compelling words and phrases—is no mean feat. This evidence of those thoughtful conversations tells me that many of the Occupy sites are having similar conversations, and that alone could be enough to justify the movement, in my opinion. As a species, humans do not gather together often enough to tap into the astounding power within their minds.

Some points about the dark road where capitalism has taken us will be argued by those who feel it is a perfect system. Regardless, in my opinion the writers of the Occupy Bucharest manifesto have done what few writers, much less groups of writers, have done in recorded history. It is well worth your time to invest in reading this document for understanding. I would love to hear your thoughts on this (to include how long it took you to read it!).

A Portal Into The Future of Education

As many of you know, my 150-year goal is to reboot Public Education and build a new system of education that starts at conception and fosters lifelong learning as a societal imperative around the world. The key success factor is this idea is to come up with a way to transition to a new system.

Salman Khan has come up with a way to do it. What if everyone could revisit topics they were no longer proficient in? What if anyone anywhere could learn new things in their spare time and have coaches and mentors available to help them when they got stuck? What if everyone could easily help anyone needing help in those topics they were comfortable in, no matter where they lived?

Watch this TED Talk by Sal Khan as he tells the story of the Khan Academy with a faculty of one. And see what the education system of the future may well look like.

“The Power Broker” Still Resonates Today

In a high school English class I was assigned a book to read that was so daunting I can remember today the feeling of shock as it was placed in my hands. It was huge! Growing up along the Jersey shore, I knew for a fact that a book this size could function as a great drag anchor for a small skiff or rowboat. It didn’t matter that the teacher was telling us we would use this book the entire semester, it was over 1000 pages, for God’s sake!

As it turned out, The Power Broker was a fantastic read, and served well as the basis for an equally wonderful course. I ended up reading farther each day and week than was assigned, and the emotional high and feeling of accomplishment as I read the last words were totally unexpected. First, I had tamed the beast. But more importantly, I had persevered to gain insight that even at the tender age of 16 I knew would be important to me for the rest of my life.

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (Vintage)The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of my first introductions to the power of good research. A fascinating look into the mind and life of a man who shaped the built environment of the state of New York like no other.

View all my reviews

As the book description out on Goodreads tells us:

…winner of both the Pulitzer and the Francis Parkman prizes, The Power Broker tells the hidden story behind the shaping (and mis-shaping) of twentieth-century New York (city and state) and makes public what few have known: that Robert Moses was, for almost half a century, the single most powerful man of our time in New York, the shaper not only of the city’s politics but of its physical structure and the problems of urban decline that plague us today.

In revealing how Moses did it—how he developed his public authorities into a political machine that was virtually a fourth branch of government, one that could bring to their knees Governors and Mayors (from La Guardia to Lindsay) by mobilizing banks, contractors, labor unions, insurance firms, even the press and the Church, into an irresistible economic force—Robert Caro reveals how power works in all the cities of the United States. Moses built an empire and lived like an emperor. He personally conceived and completed public works costing 27 billion dollars—the greatest builder America (and probably the world) has ever known. Without ever having been elected to office, he dominated the men who were—even his most bitter enemy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, could not control him—until he finally encountered, in Nelson Rockefeller, the only man whose power (and ruthlessness in wielding it) equalled his own.

Robert Moses was clearly a brilliant man on a mission to create beautiful recreational shorelines, parks, pools, playgrounds, parkways and pathways in the City of New York and the counties that surrounded it. The fact that he knowingly abused the laws to make these dreams happen could be argued as criminal intent or political genius. Certainly the millions of people who have enjoyed Jones Beach or the Triborough Bridge would never have suspected that the mastermind behind them and so much more had a racist agenda and a near-pathological belief that he was right and no one was going to stop him.

But the life story of Robert Moses was not entirely about manipulation and devious intent. Looking back, I suspect that the strongest impact upon this reader was the remarkable discipline he exhibited every day. He always worked later than his engineers, then woke earlier to have a stack of paperwork and plans ready for his secretary, who would stop by his house on her way into the office. Then he would work in the car as his driver took him to work (he never had a driver’s license, never had a job—instead writing himself into law … you need to read this book!). And while I have taken a much different perspective on life since, this was formative in my mental image of the hard-working world changer I wanted to be.

Certainly NOT what I was thinking as the drag anchor was handed to me in high school!