Richard Moore



Some necessary characteristics of a transformational movement
I think it is self evident that radical transformation can only be accomplished 
by some kind of mass movement. The current regime is both unwilling and 
psychologically unable to change its destructive course, and such powerful and 
entrenched regimes have never in history been displaced from within except by 
overwhelming and organized opposition from the mass of the population. 

What kind of mass movement would be appropriate to achieve the kind of 
transformed world envisioned in the previous chapter? In this regard it is 
important to keep in mind that if the movement succeeds in dislodging the 
regime, then at the moment of collapse the movement will be running things. That
is to say, the movement's leadership structure becomes the default leadership 
structure of the new society - regardless of what the rhetoric of the movement 
might have been. If the Bolsheviks are in charge when the Kremlin falls, then 
you end up with a Bolshevik-run society. Or if the leadership structure of a 
non-Bolshevik movement is weak, then the Bolsheviks dominate the aftermath. 
That's been the story of every revolution.

This observation suggests that the movement needs to model itself on the society
it intends to create. If the society is to be democratic and decentralized, then
the movement had better be democratic and decentralized to start with.  And if 
the society is to be based on localism and all-inclusive participation, then the
movement would be well advised to seek a similar basis. The more the movement 
resembles the new society, the more the activities of the movement will serve to
prepare the people - and to develop the functioning infrastructures and 
communication links -  for the new society. If we seek a world where ordinary 
people run things democratically, then we can think of the transformation as our
first collective project. It gives us a chance to learn how to collaborate 
effectively together without resorting to hierarchy. 

Interestingly, the anti-globalization movement does to a certain extent follow 
this paradigm. Typically there are affinity groups which come in with their own 
consensus about what kind of protest events they want to get involved in, how 
they will respond to police provocation, etc. And then at the event all the 
participants get together and use a consensus process to set the ground rules 
for the overall protest. The movement's process is consensus based, 
decentralized, and based on voluntary collaboration. 

But the anti-globalization movement is not the kind of movement that could bring
about the transformation of society. It thinks in terms of protest only - it has
no strategy for changing society. It doesn't have a comprehensive vision of 
anything to replace the current system. It doesn't even have a mechanism for 
deliberating as a movement and making strategic decisions. It is a justified 
expression of anger and frustration, but it has no real direction or coherence 
as an agent of social change.

Perhaps even more important, the anti-globalization movement is not a mass 
movement. It brings together those who already share certain values and 
attitudes, but it doesn't address itself effectively to the problem of mass 
recruitment. It is a movement of activists. It can mobilize tens or hundreds of 
thousands, not tens or hundreds of millions. The kinds of actions that can bring
down a regime include things like general strikes - where everything shuts down 
for a month nationwide or globally. It includes things like strategic sabotage 
by collaborating insiders, not just monkey-wrench stuff, but bureaucratic 
shenanigans, like Pentagon commands that never get delivered, and corporate 
accounts that strangely go to zero. It includes things like military units going
on self-declared stand down. Actions on this kind of decisive scale are not 
feasible until the sentiments of the movement have become the sentiments of the 
people generally.

The anti-globalization movement is recurring improvisational street theater 
performed by the usual noble suspect suspects - who in effect vanish to the four
winds between performances . Any transformational movement needs to be an 
on-going, evolving project. It needs to develop a sense of identity and 
coherence, an understanding of where it's going, and a strategy for getting 
there. And that strategy needs to include an effective propagation program if 
the movement is to achieve mass proportions.

Some of the challenges facing such a movement
Each of the characteristics mentioned above presents serious challenges. Let's 
look first at the requirement that the movement "include an effective 
propagation program if the movement is to achieve mass proportions". How can the
movement and it's recruitment program reach the masses - how can it be 
all-inclusive? Should it tell different stories to different constituencies, the
way today's politicians do? Certainly not, because that would be 
counter-democratic and would hardly be a way to build an enlightened society. 
But then, what outreach message can appeal to all audiences? What would be the 
"identity" of a movement that can appeal to everyone? What would be it's stated 

I suggest that the agenda of such a movement needs to be absolutely minimal - 
the bare fundamental principles only. In our case, based on the ideas I've been 
developing, those bare principles could be summarized more or less as 
"Democracy, peace, and sustainability". Of course this would need to be restated
in more poetic language - as in "Liberty, equality, fraternity", or "Life, 
liberty and the pursuit of happiness". 

There are two reasons that lead me to this principle of minimum agenda. The 
first arises from facing the same problem that politicians face: every time you 
commit yourself to something, you are likely to alienate more people than you 
please. Let's take pacifism and disarmament for example. There are lots of 
people who would be turned away if adherence to those principles were a 
pre-requisite for supporting the movement. Many believe that peace comes from 
military strength. Many would also be turned away if the agenda included, 
"Automobiles and jet planes are unsustainable and must be replaced by 
appropriate technology systems." We may think such people are misinformed or 
short-sighted, but be that as it may such people probably make up a majority of 
the population. 

The second reason for minimality of agenda has to do with democracy. If we seek 
a democratic society and a democratic movement, then who has the right to impose
at the outset any programmatic agenda? If the movement is to model itself on the
society it wants to create, then the movement's agenda needs to arise from the 
grassroots of the movement itself. If a world without weapons of mass 
destruction really does make sense, then won't the movement figure that out for 
itself? And won't the obvious finiteness of resources inevitably lead to a 
critical re-examination of society's energy uses?

This kind of movement has a quite different character than an 
ideologically-based movement, such as a socialist or anarchist movement. Those 
kind of movements seek to mobilize a discontented society by offering a program 
that is "good enough for us all to rally around".  The main task of the movement
is one of mobilization, not agenda building. You might say these are 
freeze-dried movements - just add organizers. A movement based on democracy is 
rather a self-creating affair. It expresses itself as a creative, evolving 
process of self-invention - rather than as a "rally around" process.

A democratic movement also has a different kind of leadership than most existing
or historical movements. Movements typically consider it to be a good thing if 
they have a strong, charismatic, and articulate leadership cadre. People like a 
JFK, a Gandhi, or perhaps a Ralph Nader or a John Dean, depending on your tastes
and beliefs. Such leaders take responsibility for much of the thinking for the 
movement, and their personal courage and perseverance play an important role in 
keeping the momentum going and the inspiration alive. All of these things, 
though convenient tactically, are counter-productive or even dangerous for any 
movement that wants to develop democratic processes and which is likely 
eventually to be pursuing a radical, counter-establishment (ie, 
transformational) agenda.

Democracy is about people learning to claim their own empowerment. It is about 
people awakening to the realization that they can and must take responsibility 
for creating their own destinies. For that reason centralized leadership and 
pre-packaged ideologies are each democratically disempowering. Democracy is 
about creating a society in which leadership exists holographically throughout 
the society, unleashing the immense productivity of parallel invention. Such a 
society is not a society of followers or believers, it is society of thinkers 
and doers.

Any kind of centralized leadership, besides being counter-democratic, is also 
highly dangerous for any movement that seeks radical change. If any such radical
movement develops to the point where the regime begins to feel threatened, then 
it is all too easy for the leadership to be harassed, arrested, imprisoned, or 
even killed - with devastating consequences for the movement that has allowed 
itself to become dependent on that leadership. Martin Luther King is a clear 
example of a leadership assassination that brought an end, or serious 
curtailment, to the further evolution of a mass-based movement . King was about 
to pursue strong links between the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements, and 
because of his death that potential opportunity to move on to the next level of 
movement scale, inclusiveness, and synergy never happened.  If he had gotten 
that bigger ball rolling, it might have been able to continue without depending 
on him personally.

There is no way our movement could avoid being perceived, at some point in its 
development, as a threat to the established regime. Otherwise the movement would
not be making progress toward transformation. The holographic leadership model 
is not only consistent with democratic principles, but it is well-suited to 
protect the the movement from regime reaction. The movement should offer no 
strategic points of vulnerability. It should defend no Maginot Line and it 
should follow no Great Leader. Stifle any part of a holographic movement, and 
the same thing bubbles up somewhere else with new energy. A bit like Agent Smith
in The Matrix. 

I closed the previous section with this summary identified necessary 
characteristics of our movement:
"Any transformational movement needs to be an on-going, evolving project. It 
needs to develop a sense of identity and coherence, an understanding of where 
it's going, and a strategy for getting there. And that strategy needs to include
an effective propagation program if the movement is to achieve mass 

So far in this section I've tried to develop three principles, in response to 
these requirements. Those principles are agenda minimization, creative 
self-invention, and holographic leadership.These principles do not directly tell
us how the necessary characteristics can be achieved, but I suggest they give us
a foundation and a language which can now enable us to address those issues more

Let me begin by expanding on the notion of holographic leadership. I'm not 
trying to invent something here. I'm simply exploring the consequences of two 
rather reasonable assumptions: (1) the movement is based on local consensus, and
(2) efforts are made within the movement to achieve wider consensus by means of 
conferences, Internet, exchange visits, shared projects, publications, etc. If 
we can make such assumptions, then we could expect there to develop a gradually 
harmonizing global consensus which is at the same time owned locally and shared 
globally. It cannot be stifled because it takes root everywhere and joins up 
with its neighbors whenever feasible.  Holographic leadership is like kudzu, and
only a cutting is needed to start a new plantation.

And what would this consensus be about? What questions? That's in fact obvious: 
the movement needs to figure out what it's about: "Who are we? Where are we 
going? How are we going to get there? How are we going to get everyone else on 
board?" In other words, it seems that the early movement will be largely about 
dialog - about facing these big questions together with a shared intention to 
get through to the other side, and about building networks and sharing ideas. 
Eventually, when a consensus has begun to emerge and the constituency is large 
enough, the movement can begin moving from the dialog of words to the dialog of 
collective, holographically-led actions.

Let's focus again on the problem of propagation. In other movements, propagation
might mean things like getting out flyers, setting up a website, establishing an
organizing committee and a volunteer list, obtaining a grant and a list of 
endorsers, scheduling a demonstration, etc. With a democratic movement, we need 
to think in terms of organic models, not organizational ones. We are not selling
on a mass basis, we are approaching on a face-to-face basis. With plants, 
propagation is about a seed, nurturing, and new seeds in turn which are spread 
around. That is how a democratic movement can grow and propagate, without 
introducing centralization and hierarchy. To pursue this organic model, we need 
to understand what is the seed and how does it spread, as regards our movement.

The experience of democratic empowerment
Many things propagate by means of a transformative experience. Christian 
fundamentalists, for example, often describe a "born again" experience that 
inspires them to follow a new more dedicated path. In religions generally, one 
typically sees "conversion" experiences of some form or another. In terms of 
spreading new ideas or paradigms, there is typically an "ah ha!" experience that
occurs when the full meaning of the idea clicks into consciousness.

My working hypothesis is that the propagation vehicle for our transformative 
movement will be a transformative experience - an experience of collective and 
individual empowerment. There is an image in my mind that symbolizes for me this
experience. It was a moment in a film within a segment showing the cheering 
crowds at Salvador Allende's inauguration as President of Chile. The moment 
shows a woman crying and cheering with exuberant joy and hope on her face. 
Somehow I couldn't look at that clip without identifying with that woman and 
feeling what she seemed to be feeling, and shedding a tear or two of my own. It 
is a feeling that was both contagious and precious: the moment of realizing that
things are going to get better, we are in charge finally, and we don't have to 
be afraid anymore. Those are the kind of faces I expect to see on the day the 
regime awakes from its denial and waves the white flag.

My hypothesis is basically that the moment of transformative comes with the 
realization, "We can make a difference. We all of us can find common ground. It 
is our responsibility to do what needs to be done. No one else will do it for 
us."  Such a realization does not come from reading or talking - not in any deep
visceral sense. It comes instead from going trough a certain kind of group 
experience. The kind of experience I have in mind is one that has occurred many 
times with actual groups and it is characterized by certain phases of dialog 
that seem to occur naturally, out of the dynamics of human communication.

Let me say something first about the kind of group I have in mind and the reason
for them coming together in the first place. Imagine a group of ordinary people 
from a community, say about twelve, who come from diverse backgrounds, and have 
diverse interests and beliefs. In other words, the group is in some sense a 
microcosm of community.  And indeed, this characterization applies to many of 
the actual groups who have gone through this empowerment experience. As for the 
reason for such a group to come together, there have been many. As a general 
characterization, such a group typically gets together because each of the 
participants thinks it is worth their time and effort to try to find an answer 
to some common question or questions. And regardless of what the questions might
be, the predictable phases of dialog seem to always occur.

In the first phase, people quite naturally articulate their own personal answers
to the question, or introduce new concerns, reflecting their interests and 
beliefs. Being a diverse group, the various contributions to the discussion 
usually seem to be at odds with one another, and there can be a tendency for the
group to descend into debate and repetition without a great deal of listening 
going on. The discussion can tend to jump all over the place, with everyone 
talking at cross purposes. With appropriate facilitation, it is possible to 
redirect the energy during this phase, turning the experience into one of 
creativity by enabling people to actually hear one another. During this initial 
phase, the focus of attention is on the ideas and views, with the people playing
the supporting role of advocates for their ideas.

What begins to happen next, even if facilitation fails to keep the process 
entirely smooth, is that people begin to shift their focus of attention away 
from the ideas being discussed and toward the people they are dialoging with. 
The realization begins to set in that even if you disagree with someone, you can
still understand that they have their own sincere reasons for their views, and 
that their needs and aspirations as people deserve to be respected just as much 
as do your own. With this realization comes a deeper, more respectful kind of 
listening, and a new level of mutual trust. A measure of time and patience is 
required to reach this phase. But once this phase is reached, that then enables 
a whole next phase of group creativity, where attention is balanced between 
people and ideas.

Once people are listening with respect, then they begin to think of the bigger 
picture - not what do I want but what do We want. They begin to say things like,
"What if we took part of your idea and part of my idea, couldn't we both get 
what we need?". Whereas before each mind was pursuing the advocacy of its own 
situation, now those same minds are collaborating in their examination of a 
common problem. This harmonization of attention liberates incredible creative 
power. In twelve diverse life experiences there can always be found much wisdom 
and understanding. We've all learned a thing or two in life's journey, and each 
of us has gaps in their understanding. When the group begins working 
collaboratively together, then each can contribute when their own experience 
enables them to make a positive contribution to the creative process. Perhaps 
only one person is able to come up with some critical insight, but that then 
becomes an insight of the whole group, and the whole group gets the benefit. 
When this kind of synergy occurs amazing creative breakthroughs are frequently 
the outcome. Within such a space of collaborative synergy, the group mind turns 
out to be wiser and more creative than the individual mind.

When people go through this kind of experience, there are two important outcomes
that typically occur. The first is the progress made in addressing the problems 
under discussion. In many cases, as I have suggested, this progress can be 
substantial. This is a "small transformation" - in the people's understanding of
those problems and their possible solutions. There is also a "big 
transformation" that occurs, and that is the one that I believe will be the seed
of our transformative movement.

The big transformation arises out of the social experience of the group's time 
together. Here was a group that began at odds with itself, went through a 
community bonding process, and then found itself empowered to deal effectively 
with questions which may at first have seemed unsolvable. Regardless of what the
problem was about, it is an amazing paradigm shift to realize that ordinary 
people can be wise and creative, and don't need to depend on experts and 
organizations to solve their problems. Even more significant is the experience 
of finding common ground. The realization that abstract beliefs and values are 
irrelevant to our real needs. We can happily build a barn together, even if we 
don't agree on philosophy or religion. The things that divide us into interest 
groups and factions are phantoms - scarecrows that lead us to assume that dialog
is futile. When you realize that we are all in this together, that we need to 
find solutions that are good for everyone, and that we are capable of being wise
and intelligent in pursuing those solutions - then you have experienced 
democratic empowerment.

In chapter 8, "Overcoming factionalism: the power of dialog", I'll present a 
case study of one particular group experience that occurred recently in Ashland,
Oregon. And I'll say more about facilitation and many other aspects of these 
kinds of gatherings. For now, I would like to explore the potential implications
of this kind of transformative experience for our movement. 

A movement based on harmonization
The kind of group dialog sessions described above offer incredible potential 
value to our movement. Let me once again quote the identified necessary 
"Any transformational movement needs to be an on-going, evolving project. It 
needs to develop a sense of identity and coherence, an understanding of where 
it's going, and a strategy for getting there. And that strategy needs to include
an effective propagation program if the movement is to achieve mass 

I'd like to offer you a hypothetical scenario - a sequence of events that could 
reasonably be expected to follow from one another, assuming that sufficient 
motivation could be developed at each stage. You might think of this scenario as
a "feasibility sketch" or a "straw man proposal" for how our transformative 
movement might develop.

The scenario begins with some initiative by some group of people who are 
motivated to get together, accept the fact that our global society is going 
downhill fast, and address the question of what can realistically be done about 
it. The group brings in an appropriate facilitator, and takes a few days time 
off to see what they can come up with. They experience the various phases of 
dialog I've described, and they emerge with some productive ideas and a 
transformed sense of democratic empowerment. 

In our scenario, this event is the primordial birth of the movement and the 
people that emerge are the movement's first seeds. 

The next scene calls for some motivated agency to follow up on this initial 
experience. Perhaps the initial group, based on their sense of empowerment and 
responsibility, and guided perhaps by the outcome of their group thinking, might
take it upon themselves to organize follow-up sessions as a way to to share 
their experience and to spread the word of empowerment - a word which means much
the same thing as liberation. By this or other means, let's assume for the sake 
of the scenario that other such sessions begin to occur, bringing in new 
participants mixed in with participants from previous sessions. Ordinary people 
asking big questions, discovering their own power and wisdom in the process, 
realizing that we are all in this together, and understanding that we have a 
responsibility do something about our situation.

My hypothesis is that this propagation scenario is both feasible and appropriate
for a democratic movement seeking to achieve a transformed world. Although the 
people involved are motivated by various values and concerns, the movement 
itself approaches new people with no agenda at all, not even the principles of 
democracy or sustainability.  The approach is simply an invitation to 
participate in a certain kind of group exploration, one that others have found 
to be an exciting and transformative experience. Indeed the word "democracy" 
really has no meaning until you've been through the transformative experience. 
Once you've done it you don't need to talk about it, you just want to do it. 
Democracy isn't the agenda of the movement, rather the movement itself is the 
expression of democracy. 

My hypothesis in this regard also sees these dialog sessions as being the way 
the movement develops "a sense of identity and coherence, an understanding of 
where it's going, and a strategy for getting there". Those are the questions 
which are essential to the movement, and those are the questions that it's 
empowered group wisdom would naturally turn its attention to. 

If such a movement were to begin and spread, then it would bring with it a wave 
of social harmonization. Imagine for example a community which has traditionally
been characterized by strife between two different immigrant groups. Perhaps 
there has been fear, and suspicion, and mutual distrust. If people from 
throughout such a community were to begin participating in these dialog 
sessions, breaking through the fear and suspicion and finding common ground and 
mutual respect, then that would have a transformative effect on the community. 
Particularly if enough sessions were held to involve some reasonable percentage 
of the population. Enough that everyone would know someone personally who has 
been through the experience. People who come out of these kind of sessions are 
usually enthusiastic about the experience, and they would naturally be sharing 
what they experienced with their family and friends. We could expect the spirit 
of the community to shift, for the different groups to stop perceiving certain 
people the "other" but instead as another member of "us". The harmonization and 
empowerment that occurs within sessions can be expected to spill over to the 
community more generally. And this has been experienced, on a limited scale, in 
real communities, as we shall revisit in chapter 8. 

If the movement develops to the point where these kinds of things are happening,
then it would presumably catch the attention of activist and community groups 
around the world. Divisiveness in communities is a major social problem, for 
reformers as well as administrators. One might expect seeds from an initial 
successfully harmonized garden to spread far and wide, due to a variety of 
motivations. But motivation for participation turns out to be rather irrelevant 
to the outcome of dialog sessions. The sessions,  by their inherent nature, can 
become seeds of a democratic movement, regardless of who organizes them or for 
what reasons.

Supposing the movement becomes geographically widespread, then another level of 
harmonization becomes possible. In particular, I'm thinking of dialog sessions 
that bring in people from different places where the movement has experienced 
success, or faced challenges. Ideas can be exchanged, new creative ideas can be 
generated that take into account different concerns that were identified in 
different places. This is the kind of dialog that can lead to harmonization of 
the movement as a whole. It's not that some representative group makes decisions
for the movement - rather such dialog identifies large scale consensus when it 
exists, and it generates new ideas and insights to be taken back home. This is 
how holographic leadership can be achieved.

Such a movement would by this time have seriously raised eyebrows around regime 
radar screens. Divisiveness in our societies is systematically encouraged. It's 
today's version of the ages-old dictum of divide and rule. That's why people 
like Clinton make it a point to alienate conservative voters, and why people 
like Bush rub it in the face of liberals. Liberals are meant to see 
conservatives as being the problem with society, and conservatives are meant to 
see liberals as the source of societal decline and loss of values. When the 
regime begins to see that control formula being systematically undermined by 
some propagating activity, they will be rightfully concerned. To them, 
harmonization represents destabilization - of their control mechanisms.

I cannot suggest a way the movement might respond to the emergence of some 
unforeseeable elite reaction. That must be the business of the movement itself. 
Presumably the participation of prominent citizens in the dialog process would 
afford the movement some degree of protection from suppression. The one thing we
can be sure of is that the movement will at some point face very challenging 
situations and provocations and will need to become capable of responding to 
them effectively and coherently.



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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland
    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
      suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the
      Reichstag fire."  
      - Srdja Trifkovic

    There is not a problem with the system.
    The system is the problem.

    Faith in ourselves - not gods, ideologies, leaders, or programs.
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