Occupy Wall Street: An Open Source Movement

The Occupation is gaining depth and breadth, nationally and globally.  The appearance is that spontaneous actions have arisen and continue to proliferate, cross-pollinate and act independently from the original occupation on Wall Street itself. Though there is a groundswell of coordination, no one is directing, no manifestos have appeared. No leaders have been elected. No one speaks for it all. The message may appear to be muddled, yet action appears everywhere and support materializes as if on cue. This is an open source movement.

To the extent that the metaphor of software development applies, we are speaking of the source code of a popular uprising, the core framework of a perpetually liquid process that is accessible to everyone for development and augmentation. No one owns it, no one controls it, no one approves new forms of usage in advance. There is no hierarchy. No one person or committee of meta-users decides which portions are to be discarded. It's all out there all the time, available for improvisation. It's evolving everywhere simultaneously. It's a circle whose perimeter is nowhere and whose center is everywhere.

The movement, however, is also occurring on multiple levels, on the ground in each occupation location as well as everywhere else, wherever there are virtual occupiers in support of what's happening in any specific location. Oddly, the original space in New York's Zucotti Park might even be becoming more of a tourist attraction by now than a local symbol of an international movement. It's power is far more apparent to those at a distance than to those across the street. It would be very New York, after all, for residents to be  saying, "OK, you made your point. Why are you still here?"

The concrete occupations are literally holding space for the dynamic evolution of greater and distant iterations. There are holding the territory that generates the meme in virtual space. They are each holding a piece of common space in which to conduct a primary experiment in open source community development, the literal creation of micro-economies, diversifying into the functional capacities scaling to the systemic complexity of a living organism. They are the in vivo proof-of-concept.

Not only that, but now as the different occupations themselves begin to connect to each other, much as imaginal cells do in the dissolving (once functional social) matrix of what was once the caterpillar. They begin to recognize and attune to one another. The occupations on the ground are now creating a network of space holders and beginning to re-organize at ever higher levels of complexity in a morphogenic field that is expanding, awakening, constantly living, dying and discovering itself in any given moment.

The occupation, both on the ground and among virtual occupiers, is primarily happening at the direct, concrete, consensus reality level, where Marshall Ganz's "Story of Us" evolves into living reality. There are people living outdoors who require support to sustain the occupations through the winter. This is an immediate topic for the think-tank working groups on the ground. Those not on the ground must attend to the literal space holders of the occupation movement as they continue to improvise and develop the original source code that continues to spawn worldwide iterations. That iterative process continues now as the network of sites deepens its organizational capacity and begins to interface with multiplying virtual communities of support.

The second level of the space-holding function of the occupations is at the more personal psychological/emotional level, where each individual creates and modifies the "Story of Me." The presence of the occupations is literally breaking a spell of cynicism and denial; the self-delusion, the mass semi-trance induced by pervasively coercive, metronomic Orwellian messages of the grow-or-die corporate paradigm. We begin to experience the possibility of embodying different values, resisting the relentless monetization of our psyches, ways of communicating and managing our energies, we become more open, curious and tolerant of the diversity of experience that is showing up in the virtual occupation communities. We find our hearts in the midst of promise.

A third dimension of the occupation is at a dream level where the larger "Story of Now" emerges and begins to differentiate. It may be more accurate to call it the collective unconscious dimension of experience, where the imagery of our collective story is being formed and negotiated by everyone simultaneously. Here we are invited to create a new story of what is possible. The inner space of imagination is awakening on a broad scale and the energies of ingenuity are unleashed. Here everyone becomes an autonomous developer of movement software on a mass scale. Needs are perceived, addressed, material networks of support and augmentation are appearing.

From this perspective, the conception of specific "demands" in the political realm, appeals for change addressed to the dynamic structures of business-as-usual are still premature, even foreign, even though there appear to be a set of widely understood issues that may well eventually become an agenda, or even burst forth whole as a party platform.

For the time being, though, the actions that arise, regardless of location, frequency or nature, are those of a continuous and vitally energized seemingly chaotic process that is diversifying, reality-testing at all levels and continuously re-organizing at ever higher levels of complexity. It's amazing to witness.

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Comment by Gail on November 16, 2011 at 12:16pm

Yes, it is amazing to witness.  And so exciting.  Big Brother won't listen to me but my brothers and sisters do not shut me out.  How refreshing!!!

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