Featured in The Huffington Post: Citizen Anthropologist Occupying Reno

by Julia Hammett
Published June 12, 2012

I have been an Occupier in Occupy Reno (OR) since it began last October. Many view Occupy as a youth movement, with Occupy Wall Street (OWS) as its epicenter, because of the financial meltdown; but its traditions are deep-rooted in human history, and Occupiers target social injustice worldwide. Each occupation acts independently according to its own governing processes, yet Occupiers are interconnected through social networking. There is a global awakening that capital and politics are at the heart of most human suffering. Occupiers seek the rights humans have always sought: the ability to support their families, to live in safe, healthy communities, and to have a voice in their governance. In today’s world only money can buy these dignities, but there is a sense of shifting sands underfoot.

Occupiers challenge hegemonic paradigms about leadership and power relations and are weaving a new social reality from the grassroots based on a responsive, sustainable, nonviolent model of earth stewardship. Recognitions of the shortcomings of the Left/Right political structure and how “monied interests” turn hierarchical governments into totalitarian regimes motivates Occupiers to seek alternatives. Some Occupiers consider themselves anarchists, arguing that people can self-govern and live productive, quality lives without coercion, force or violence. Gandhi advocated enlightened anarchy: “The ideally non-violent State will be an ordered anarchy. That State is the best governed which is governed the least.

Anarchy is only one form of non-hierarchical governance. Archaeologist Carole Crumley has applied the concept of heterarchy to describe stratified power relations and political and economic structures that have been transformed through social movements in any number of different ways. Social networking offers the additional potential to transform power through essentially rerouting political and economic relationships. Hierarchy is a unilineal structure intended to integrate power and capital in predictable, directional ways; heterarchy provides a multilineal model of interconnectivity. Social networking provides today’s global movements the ability for ongoing revisions through mindful assessment and rerouting capabilities to more fully integrate resources. These emerging dynamics can generate any number of viable solutions for restructuring self sustaining, resilient, and responsive governance.

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