In January 2002, when we first marched to demand a Congressional Investigation of 9-11, we passed out worksheets, which mapped out the Eight Stages of Social Movements (chart is on page 130 of Global Outlook) , and the Effective and Ineffective Roles that activists play (page 132), pointing out that we were at Stage One- Alerting the public that a Critical Social Problem Exists.
Bill Moyer, author of Doing Democracy The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements, a strategist for Martin Luther King, Jr. who had been organizing and empowering activists for forty years, was with us. He taught that all social movements have been about the struggle between power-holders and the rest of us, that societal myths allow power-holders to maintain their position, and that exposing their secret violation of those myths, ideals, values is a catalyst for social change.
All social change, from the abolition of slavery, the right to vote for African Americans and women, the growing environmental movement has helped empower people and pulled other movements forward. When movements succeed, however, there is backlash, power-holders try to undermine social gains. This phenomena is at the core of 9/11, an act of fear perpetrated by a criminal elite who feared losing power. Terrorism and war are classic methods to expand state power. 9/11 was used to roll back civil liberties globally, justify the construction of a police state to protect the few against the majority who oppose government and corporate policies, and to frighten the world into silence and submission. As Aung Sung Suu Kyi wrote:
- "It is not power that corrupts, but fear -- fear of losing power and fear of the scourge of those who wield it."
The biggest societal myth of all is that power-holders are all powerful, wise, and the rest of us- stupid, powerless, atomized, weak, vulnerable, unable to change our situation. In a climate of fear, power-holders prevail. When the supporting myths are shattered, and people find the courage to oppose and expose tyranny, tyrants fall, institutions fail, policies can change to allow genuine self-governance.
The last four and a half years the media and government have relentlessly threatened the American people and the world with pending terrorist attacks, and unending war.
The attempts of the Bush Administration to crush any genuine investigation, the dubious joint Senate House Intelligence Oversight Committee’s Official Inquiry into “the failure of the intelligence agencies to prevent the attacks, the eventual announcement of the creation of a 'Cover-up Commission' to be run by Henry Kissinger (which was like waving a red flag and saying “We did it!”) gave the critics of the official story credibility.
In 2004, books were written, films were made; citizens’ organized International Inquiries, hearings, mock Grand Jury trials. citizens’ presented evidence, and provided analyses of the September 11th attacks that were more substantiated than the 'conspiracy theory’ the government and press used to sell the Patriot Act, war, the construction of 'Homeland Security' and the expansion and reorganization of the military and intelligence agencies.
An Emergency 'Truth' Convergence held in DC on the anniversary of the 9/11 report and the Downing Street Memo, brought together many movements, all struggling against press censorship of their issues. A pattern became discernible.
Stage Three occurs when recognition of the problem and victims grow and 20 to 30% oppose policies. This has happened more than once in the 9/11 Truth Movement, when the victims’ families forced the creation of The 9/11 Commission, and again when the victims’ of the deadly toxic dust emanating from the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings drew attention to the deadly lies about the safety of air quality at Ground Zero which claimed more lives than the collapses. The government would like people to be content with the Report, the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission, but these large myths have been challenged on many fronts.
Passage of the Patriot Act, violations of fundamental constitutional rights, the surfacing of damning evidence of doctored intelligence, and official lies in the mainstream press has sparked a wave of new groups, websites, protests, actions across the country. Fahrenheit 9-11 surfaced the damning footage of Bush’s non-response to news of the terrorist attacks and the Bush-bin Ladin family ties to a wider audience, the tip of the 9/11 Truth iceberg. Resolutions appeared to demand a repeal of the Patriot Act. The desire to rid the country of the Bush Regime drew a tremendous amount of energy. Large numbers protested at the New York Republican Convention, and worked to get out the vote for the 2004 Presidential election. The 2nd stolen election created a greater movement for 'real' election reform, and greater awareness of the ability of the press to censor vital information surrounding the myth that America is a 'legitimate democracy.' Questioning 9/11 broke the mainstream press baricade.
Movements can splinter, but when they continue to grow they reach Majority Public Opinion. The action generally moves off the streets into schools, churches, civic groups, civic groups, theater, music. Sometimes massive demonstrations are called and huge numbers come together under umbrella issues.
There is an effort underway to conduct a Zogby Poll to determine exactly what most people think about 9/11 at this moment in time. [Results of that poll show the public is divided on 9-11 with half believing the official story and the other half believing that there has been a cover-up- and half unaware of the most basic facts about 9-11- such as the inexplicable collapse of Building #7 which was omitted entirely from the official Report. This places the 9-11 Truth Movement squarely in Stage Four.] Certainly the credibility to the Bush regime is at an all-time low. Barrie Zwicker discovered while polling audiences that people’s understanding of 9-11 often goes through stages, depending on their ability to overcome fear and examine the information. 9/11 challenges not only a person'sview of the world, but forces one to ask themselves a much deeper question “Who am I?”
Unscientific polls, such as a recent poll on CNN after Charlie Sheen publicly questioned the official story showed up to 84% of the public believe that there has been a cover-up of the truth. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s brave stance on 9-11 cost her one election. Her courage and persistence got her re-elected to elicit testimony during the Congressional Black Annual Legislative Conference in DC September 2005 on “The 9/11 Omission: What the Commission Got Wrong.” Placing the problem on the political agenda earned McKinney attacks from the press and the Democratic leadership. She also entered the taboo area of exposing how the vote was stolen in a new award winning film- American Blackout, by Guerrilla News Network.
For any social movement to succeed, the public must be convinced, at least three times to overcome their fears1st- To recognize the problem.
2nd- To oppose current conditions and policies.
3rd- To want and no longer fear alternatives. Power-holders want to maintain and expand their power, or trick the populace by making cosmetic reforms, while claiming they are solving the problem. Worse, they have used the bogus 9-11 Commission to further their agenda. Instead of Democrats attacking Republicans for their “leadership role in 9-11,” we witness Democrats vying to “do the war on terror better than the Republicans.” With enough popular pressure the power-holders begin to attack one another, or target a scapegoat,today the vulnerable immigrants, in an effort to distract and divide the public. Divide, distract and conquer. People are seeing through the diversionary tactics, however, and demanding the Impeachment (Humorist Will Durst is calling for Impalement) of Bush and company.
At Stanford University on April 21, 2006, the President had to change his plans because over a thousand protesters successfully blocked his visit to the Hoover Institute. He didn’t dare show his face; he is more frightened of the citizens than they are of him. The tide has turned.
More people are involved in Social Movements than ever before, although they are spread widely through the 9/11 truth, anti-war, anti-corporate, global-justice, immigrant rights, voting reform, electoral reform, college not combat, environmental, labor, human rights, movements, whose goals are inextricably linked.
Pressuring power-holders on their entrenched positions are a new crop of candidates raising taboo topics, such as 9/11, demanding impeachment, and shifting the budget out of a “kill and control war economy.”
While more and more people are coming to question 9/11, thanks to the relentless work of the movement, filmmakers, and the addition of voices such as theologian, David Ray Griffin, and BYU’s Steven Jones, the attacks on the movement are taking the form of media 'hit pieces' and television and movie productions lavishly attempting to sell the official line.
Bush has said, “You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones we need to concentrate on.” However, Hurricane Katrina blew off what remained of his credibility as the devastating images of flood victims and Bush’s behavior, photo ops and words revealed his capacity to tell brazen falsehoods.
Upcoming conferences, books, films, demonstrations, the participation of people at every level of society in the movement puts more and more pressure on power-holders and support for change of policies and power-holders.
The invincibility of the most dangerous empire the planet has ever seen is crumbling quickly before our eyes. We are on the cusp of Stage 7 where a large majority oppose current policies and no longer fear alternatives. Power-holders are switching positions and manuevering to control damage. There will be new laws, a change in Congress, and in the visible government leaders. How far we can affect change and how much backlash there will be to what successes we achieve is unknown. What will replace the war-monger culture is dependent on which story people choose to believe, and how actively they push for more than cosmetic reform.
Continuation, the cycle and stages repeat in the evolution of human society. A handful of 9-11 Truth Activists can help nudge the trajectory of history off the adolescent suicidal path that we have been on. To make the major paradigm shift from a “dominating paradigm of Fear and Violence” to a mature, responsible “emerging peaceful paradigm” demands the engagement and involvement of multitudes of people. Individually and collectively, we need to recognize that power resides in all of us.
A friend of mine, Norie Huddle, says “Together we can do what no one of us could do alone.” and suggested rules for this emerging paradigm which she dubbed “The Best Game on Earth:
-Speak the truth.
-Acknowledge the truth when others speak it.
-Come from love and respect.
-Leave the trail better than you found it.
-Do what gives you joy and create joy in what you do.
-Be generous with who you are and what you have.
-Be a good friend and teammate.
-Clean up your messes, learn the lessons and move on.
-If you have an idea for how to improve The Game, share it!
Parts of the country are ahead of others in seeing through the prevalent societal myths. David Ray Griffin outlined 9 specific 9/11 myths in his recent talks in the Bay Area. "OUT LOUD- 9-11 AN INSIDE JOB?" was a headline in the San Francisco Chronicle beneath a photo of the wreckage of the World Trade Center and a decent article and photo of David Ray Griffin.[A cover story in the North Bay Bohemian (appeared 6/14/06) and on Le Monde Diplomatique (July 2006).]
Europe and Asia have seen the official story debunked on primetime television. There are hopes for a real international investigation into 9/11. [Webster Tarpley and Jimmy Walter has been lobbying for a genuine International Investigation into 9/11, and have sparked some interest in a number of countries who are beginning to challenge the official narrative on their primetime television shows and on the front pages of newspapers.] It is our responsibility, as Americans, to rein in our government; regime change (impeachment) should begin at home. As activists we should include 9/11 in the Impeachment Resolutions. If your 'Congress critter' won’t touch impeachment, oust them, even if you have to run for office yourself, because no one else will do it. [In Chicago, there were quite a few 9-11 Truth candidates, many candidates support our position, even though they are not headlining it as their issue.]
About Stage Four... Generally social movements surprise and shock everyone when they suddenly burst upon the stage after being ignored by the media for years or decades. A TRIGGER event, will suddenly help the public see that “There is a Problem.” The public responds with passion, demanding an explanation from Powerholders, and ready to learn more from the Movement.
Activists can wear different hats, and at various stages some hats are more visible and needed than others. During Stage Four- Citizens & Rebels take the stage. It is a time for non-violent actions which can be replicated across the country- rallies, marches, boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, civil disobedience. Processes that create a public social crisis and places the issue on the agenda. This requires thousands of people across the country taking action and forming new groups.
Here are the basic goals and pitfalls/dangers we should be aware of now, according to Bill Moyer:
Create new nationwide grassroots-based social movement
Put powerholders’ actual policies in public spotlight & on the agenda
Create a public platform from which the movement can educate the public
Create public dissonance by showing 2 distinct views of reality- the movements’ and the powerholders’
Win public sympathy and majority public opinion
Become recognized as legitimate opposition.
(It is not a goal or expectation to get the powerholders to change their minds, policies, or behavior in this stage.)
Pitfalls (to avoid)
Political naivety – expecting the powerholders to cave in to opposition
Burnout, depression, and dropout from the movement from unrealistic expectations
Failure to see Take-off as a success in the process of winning
Developing an attitude of arrogant self righteousness, ideological absolutism, violence, and self importance.
Dangers (to avoid)
Widespread actions must be non-violent to win the support of the public.
Professional Opposition Organization’s preventing take-off- undercutting the new rebel groups as being “politically incorrect” harming their validity.
We want to move on to Stages Six, Seven and Eight, but there will be efforts to destroy, discourage, and splinter the movement- into the dead-end of Stage Five. We must recognize, celebrate, and expand upon our successes. Stage Four is generally one of the shortest, most dramatic, stages of a social movement lasting from six months to a two years before moving into Stage Six. We all want change, but must be prepared for the long haul. Courage everyone!