Five Principles: Occupy Cincinnati

The Occupy Revolution is clearly a force to be reckoned with in our culture. Even at this early stage the battle lines are being drawn. Many cities are resisting this new people-powered movement, as it feels threatening to status quo politicians and the 1%, so influential in the current political climate. This in spite of the glaring corruption and inequality of the old system.

Disorganized and still finding our footing, we nonetheless have already proven our value. The political discourse is being framed differently, big banks and huge financial entities are beginning to understand that their power may not be limitless. Corporations are learning that their grip on global culture may not be as firm as imagined. Most importantly, we are finding our voices and our power, and connecting in new ways with each passing moment.

Here in Cincinnati, we face challenges similar to other occupations. Our encampment was shut down after two weeks, with 145 citations and over 50 arrests, which led to a Federal lawsuit based on First Amendment rights. Since then we’ve been looking for a new, sustainable encampment, while still carrying out our various processes and actions.

We have had our successes. We targeted four local council members who supported the 1%, all were defeated. We joined with other Occupations in Bank Transfer Day, moving money and staging street theatre. We built an oil derrick to highlight local Senator and Super Committee Member Rob Portman’s unwillingness to rid us of oil and energy subsidies. Yet to me nothing is a greater success than adopting these five principles.

Peace, Love, Equality, Justice and Solidarity. Fine words, every one. And the idea behind each word is tremendously powerful and empowering. These words speak well for us. They create the basis for a system of ethics. Let’s take a moment to consider the implications of holding these principles.

1] An End to War. There can be no war with the principle of peace. It’s antithetical. As Albert Einstein said, “You cannot simultaneously prepare for war and for peace.” Any policies or actions that promote war cannot be condoned by Occupy Cincinnati. Also implied, an end to personal violence. We have far too many situations in the old culture where wounded and fear-driven folks lash out, power trip or otherwise act out in a fashion that is deleterious to human health. We wholeheartedly resist such behaviors.

2] Reversing Globalization. We cannot find these adopted principles in the system of globalization. Designed and built for the profit of the 1%, there is no equality or justice in extractive practices like mining and logging, child and underpaid labor and poorly made products. To honor our principles, we must necessarily extract ourselves from the globalized system to whatever extent we can, starting with spending our money locally and starving behemoths like Walmart.

3] Restoring Communities and Ecosystems. We have no equality when corporations ravage communities and living systems just to make a buck. We have no legal recourse when government sides with corporate interests. With these principles, the Occupation can work to create a generative, rather than extractive culture. Organic food production, sustainable, local energy solutions, community-building and getting involved with local government are all implied in the principles of equality and justice.

4] Reconstituting Government. Federal governments across the globe have proven time and time again where their loyalties lie, and it is not with we, the people. This Occupation must focus on reconstructing governments based on Internet-enabled technologies and human need. The archaic, dysfunctional, corrupt system of government that serves the 1% must be replaced.

This is powerful stuff. Revolutionary stuff. And yes, revolution is what we are about here in the Occupied Territories. Of course, with these principles our efforts mirror the efforts of Gandhi, King and other change agents who refused violence at every turn, and yet created something fundamentally better than the condition that existed previously.

With this worldwide Occupation, we begin to see the scope of what we are about. Creative acts of solidarity, fresh eruptions from the Arab Spring, talk of a constitutional assembly – doesn’t sound much like a fad. It sounds like revolution. But as we are committed to peace, it does not mirror bloody revolutions from the past [can’t speak for agents of the 1%]. It reflects something completely new under the sun, an uprising such as the world has never seen.

I encourage other Occupied Territories to adopt these or similar principles. Such principles form the frame we operate within, the lens through which we apply ourselves. And while we cannot control violence from the state, we can hold to our process and principles, and do all we can to make this R-Evolution as peaceful and agile as possible.

Read other articles by Jim, or visit Jim's website.