I previously suggested a coherent coordinated strategy to unite Occupy Edinburgh and effect real change. Since then events have led me to believe that it is unlikely that people will be persuaded to do as I suggested. However, there is a new and exciting line of thinking emerging, one that I shall attempt to describe here.
Background: human evolutionary history
Our “modern” brains evolved when we were hunter-gatherers, living in small groups. We can only effectively empathise with and relate to a certain number of people. That is surely one reason for the levels of exploitation and unhappiness seen in many large organisations, not least the multinationals whose often psychopathic tendencies we seek to combat. Relationships break down in such big groups, unless a huge amount of thought is put into their structure. (Although, yes, it can be done, as David Erdal explains in his wonderful book, Beyond the Corporation, Humanity Working, in which he examines the success of employee-owned businesses such as the John Lewis Partnership.) Egos come to the fore as people battle for power, for their needs or simply to be heard. Rivalries and rumours thrive, opinions harden and the original purpose of the group is lost as it becomes sclerotic, moribund and ineffective.
Even small tribal groups developed mechanisms for effective communication (of which the Circle Method is, it seems, a modern derivative). Large groups, without careful planning and without such methodologies, are almost bound to founder.
Current state of Occupy Edinburgh
I leave it to readers to judge whether any of the above could be said to apply to OE! More positively, there are many new ideas circulating for mini-campaigns, and people are meeting in various small groups in which they feel listened to. People’s energy, creativity and sense of belonging is nurtured in such groups.
So where to now? Semi-autonomous circles!
It seems obvious to me that OE should evolve into a loose coalition of semi-autonomous activist “cells” united by certain general principles and rules. I suggest our credo should be: “We work peacefully for a more equal world, promoting community not consumption.”
I used the word “cells”. This is not a great word, as it has a connotation of resistance and/or terrorism. The movement is about hope and reform, and about re-awakening, or channeling, people’s creativity and inherent love of their friends, family and the environment. The word “circle”, on the other hand, has many positive connotations, and it also relates to the effective Circle Method of communication (which I suggest every new circle adopts).
Specifics: what do the circles do?
There are already many brilliant ideas in circulation. (I cannot claim the ideas are mine!) In summary, there should be a mix of witty awareness-raising stunts (by all means using YouTube etc.) and practical down-to-earth activities. Some of these can be negative (drawing attention to the ludicrous activities of the taxpayer-owned RBS, for example) but many should also be positive (drawing attention to/supporting the many local community groups that are out there). As part of this, circles should listen to and help give a voice to the disenfranchised. And how about some carrotmobbing?
As I was out getting some sunshine and pondering all this, I passed a charity bookshop. A book in the window caught my eye. It was a play with the title Wondrous Flitting. What serendipity! “Flitting” has the connotation of moving on, of being light on one’s feet, of being flexible, of evolving… “Wondrous” – well, what do you think? Time to leave St Andrew’s Square with grace and dignity, and find real unity in diversity?
…A final thought, how about calling the circles “Serendipity Circles” – you never know what great things may emerge by apparent chance!