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An american revolution

October 10, 2011

If you had talked to political experts at the beginning of 2011 and they would have told you Americans would never do what Europeans have done for years and take to the streets, but that has now changed with the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which with the backing of the Unions has gained considerable momentum.

Many of the talking heads of most TV punditry have dismissed the movement as a group absent of a leader or a purpose, which misses the point, this is a new response to new stimulus.

The protesters have also been portrayed by the right-wing media as a ragged band of students and the young unemployed, who are just there because they have nothing else to do. For such a supposed desperate band of youngsters, they seem remarkably together. Pay a visit down to Park, as I did a couple of weekends back, and you will be surprised by the sophistication and discipline of this organization with its news rooms, libraries, bloggers, social media experts, and even newspaper publishing.

The OWS movement initially driven by angst against the bailout of Wall Street’s fat cats, is really a plea for attention from the edge of a base who feel that politics has deserted them.  It’s likely that there are millions of angry Americans sitting at home sharing the same perspectives as those on the street.

It’s also been called anti-American by some, for rising up against American values of self-made success, but it’s clear that the traditional American “rags to riches” dream as exemplified by Steve Jobs, is fast becoming a shadow of its former self. One might even argue, that the outpouring of grief over Jobs’ death, is in fact, a recognition that stories like his will be more of a rarity in the future. Maybe we aren’t just mourning the death of a man, but of an American ideal.

This is because there’s another revolution happening right in front of our eyes, a digital one. The idea of a  “job”, let alone the career, is being continuously hacked to pieces by a combination of outsourcing and the rise of viable technological alternatives. Layer on top of this the debt situation and you have too very big issues on collision course.

These powerful forces are beyond the control of the individual, but also national governments and even political structures as large as the European Union.

As we can see from both the economic and political situation, our existing structures cannot support this changed world and we are therefore likely to see that through a process of natural selection, new models will gradually emerge.

OWS won’t be a national political movement in the traditional sense, but many of its members and supporters will end up trying to change things at a local level, rather than struggle against the inertia of change centrally.

The next American revolution may not be a bloody political one, but it will end up  transforming what we  for granted today. The important thing to recognize that change is likely to come from the ground up, rather than DC downwards.

These new systems and organizations will acknowledge the new “more from less” reality” which will be different from the system they grew up with.

Corporations can certainly expect to find an element of the population unchanged by events and circumstances and even thriving financially, but for others, things will be tougher and the only way for companies to respond to this change will be to radically re-think the notion of the business they are in and to invent new models that can adapt to the change.




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