The Problem with Movements

by Cynthia Cone

The problem with movements is that movements start to lose, I think quite often, sight of humanity, of human beings as individuals. – Ian Mackaye

While I believe that the intended end results of certain social movements are necessary, especially in a world where evolution is constantly taking place, I also agree with Ian in the fact that movements tend to lose sight of the individuals who are involved with them. I will never forget that President’s Day in February of 2011 when Mike and I participated in the Veterans for Ron Paul March in Washington, D.C. It was easily one of the most powerful things either one of us had ever been a part of. Thousands of people came together in support of a man we believed would finally bring America’s troops home and end the wars overseas—the wars that were making a chosen few very rich, while men and women died for their greed. It was invigorating to be around so many like-minded individuals. Later that night, a bunch of us gathered at a bar to let off steam and celebrate the end of a day we would all look back on fondly, forever. We drank, danced, shared ideas and listened to some great music. It seemed that we had only one thing on our minds: victory was indeed possible. As the MC screamed that our next stop would be Tampa, FL during the RNC week, I was all in. See you in Tampa!

vetsforrpAs the months forged on and it became obvious that the fix was in regarding the Republican Primary, a lot of infighting seemed to be taking place. Some of it was petty, some of it was legitimate disagreement on political philosophy and a lot was just plain ego; but either way, that warm and fuzzy “Kumbaya” feeling that we had captured for a brief moment in Washington, D.C. was long gone. So, about a month before the RNC, some of my friends and I said, “Fuck this shit, lets just stay home.” Had we given up on our “beliefs,” on what we wanted to see the world become? No—but we were certainly beginning to become very disillusioned with the idea of  “The Movement.”

I was sitting at the computer one day when I read a post where someone asked how “The Movement” should handle a certain issue. It was right then, at that very moment, that I decided I no longer wanted any part of any movement. I am not saying I haven’t asked people for advice at certain times in my life—I am sure we all have—but inevitably, in the end, I like to make my own choices, my own decisions, based on my own unique experiences. I may take someone’s advice into consideration, but to give all of my power away to a movement? Fuck that. How can one very large group of people all think and feel the same way about something without varying degrees of disagreement? It can’t. How can there be only one solution to so many complex problems? There isn’t. While we all may be very firm in our views and beliefs, at some point we have to understand that this is a big country with a lot of ideas and, while open debate is always good, at some point it may have to be followed with some compromise as well. So, while I agree that there is much common ground between me and some of my friends who call themselves the Liberty Movement, I find it best to stay on the outskirts. A nonconformist if you will.

As the one-year anniversary of Occupy rolled around, I really toiled with the decision to go to their action on Wall Street. I was definitely not looking to go down the movement road again, but in the end I decided to attend, and I am glad I did. The one good thing about movements is that there are some really amazing individuals involved with them. I spent a lot of time in the weeks leading up to the Occupy event thinking a great deal about my mom. There was a brief time that my mother and I were on welfare when I was a little girl. I remembered the day she took a job as a school bus driver and was finally able to get off of the system. She had worked so hard her entire life, yet she barely made enough money to live. After almost 30 years, she was eking by on less than $33,000 a year, living in one of the most expensive areas in the country. By the time she died, she had spent her entire career paying into a Social Security system that she would not live to collect one check from. She had not one penny in her bank account. I decided that, while it was too late for my mom, I still cared about the people going through similar situations, and that going to Occupy was the right and moral thing for me to do.

I know there are some who have preconceived ideas about what Occupy, and the people who are involved, are all about, but I can only speak from my own experience. The people I met were concerned about most of the same things the Liberty Movement people were concerned about: GMO’s, lobbyists, the FDA, NDAA, HR 347, the Fed, wars, the MSM, drones and the list goes on.  I had some great conversations with some very intelligent individuals. I marched with a cognitive scientist from Cornell and several artists who had been involved with the movement from its inception. But would I consider myself part of the Occupy Movement? Fuck no. I am just an individual named Cynthia who has decided to take part in things she believes in, and I think if we all looked at ourselves and the world in that way, we would find there are a lot more things we could come together on.

When I saw that  “Stop NDAA” was calling for people to flood the courthouse in NYC on February 6, I knew this was a cause I had to be a part of. I had been ranting about the NDAA since before Obama sneakily signed it into law on New Years Eve, 2011, and I knew there was no way I could not go. I made my protest sign, hopped on a train and headed into downtown Manhattan for what I hoped would be a big showing of support for the plaintiffs in the Hedges vs. Obama case.  A good number of people showed up—as a matter of fact, we filled the overflow room at the courthouse—but what surprised me the most was that I did not see one person in attendance from the Liberty Movement. I thought for sure at least a few familiar faces would be there; but as I looked around, I saw this was most definitely an Occupy crowd. I pondered that a lot in the days that followed, and I even emailed my thoughts to a journalist friend who was there covering the story.  As it turned out, she too had noticed the same thing.

In many ways I felt just as deflated as I was after the Veterans for Ron Paul March, but then I began to come to my senses. As long as I continue to take part and be active in the issues that matter to me as an individual, what do I care about “Movements”? Movements do exactly what the power structure wants them to do. They keep us divided. So, as I sit here listening to the wise words of Fugazi’s front man, I look forward to taking part in both the March for Peace next week in Port Jefferson, and the March for Bradley Manning in June. Which “Movements” will be in attendance? I don’t know, and I don’t give a fuck—but will you be there? I sure hope so.

About the Author: Cynthia Cone is an Ex Con with no college education and very bad punctuation. She is currently living in Long Island, NY where she pays extremely high taxes and likes to drink.

Twitter: @2100hours

3 thoughts on “The Problem with Movements

  1. All of the “Movements” you mentioned have inherent problems. They either offer no real solutions or think that by putting different people in the game that the game will change. Movements like these are destine for failure because although they start with good intent , there is no real vision or ideas put forth that really change a thing. A true movement needs to identify the problems and have a plan or alternative to fix the problem. The Zeitgeist Movement identifies the problems and offers alternative solutions that , in theory , could fix the majority of the worlds issues. The problem is to get people to think outside the prescribed box that the media, governments and institutions have forced upon them. You are absolutely correct in stating that these issues do exactly what is intended : To keep us divided. Realization is the first step and much of America and the world really see whats going on but have no clue what to do. Sharing is the second ,but protesting big corporations with a Starbucks Double Mocha Latte in your hand while tweeting on your Iphone is not the answer. Acting on them is the third step which requires changes to the ways you are told how to live. And the forth step , well , that’s to be determined by how well the first three are implemented.


  2. This is the kind of intellectual honesty that might actually get us somewhere. Another excellent piece that says what really needs to be said.

    I continue to see a movement towards liberty by many people, but that movement is not defined by certain personalities or egos. Rather, a movement of the philosophical underpinning of the mood of a collective of people in general such as the growing libertarian viewpoint in American politics is to what I’m usually referring when using the terminology, “liberty movement.” It’s about a society’s philosophical underpinning, and not about some exclusive group or self-appointed leaders of a hierarchical clique.


  3. Pingback: Chaos 2013: Year in Review | Chaos Section

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