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21st Century Revolution

By Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2012 Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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Discover other titles by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall at

The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of An American Refugee

The Battle for Tomorrow: A Fable

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Cover image by cisc1970

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Table of Contents


Part I Occupy Wall Street and the New Economics

OWS: Ramifications for Real Change

OWS and the New Economics

Part II My New Life in New Zealand

Part III Capitalism’s Last Gasp

The End Days

The Privatization of Public Services

Medical Censorship

The Corporatization of Health Care

Part IV Psychological Oppression: the Role of Corporate Media

Corporate Censorship

Propaganda and Disinformation

Stigmatizing the Working Class

Left Gatekeepers

Part V Change Making

Engaging the Working Class

Reclaiming the Commons

Part VI The Endgame


The American political landscape is undergoing rapid change. I published the first edition of 21st Century Revolution (as Revolutionary Change: An Expatriate View) on August 30, 2011. Two weeks later, the book was totally out of date with the launch of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in Zuccotti Square. No one, even its founders, anticipated the ability of the Occupy movement to catch fire among disenfranchised American youth and impel them to direct political action. The corporate elite believed a massive anti-austerity movement, comparable to those in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, was impossible in the US. They fully believed that Americans would passively accept deep austerity cuts, supposedly necessitated by the 2008 banking crisis, because they lacked the will and wherewithal to mount or maintain organized resistance to oppose them.

The elite were also caught off guard by the massive Seattle anti-WTO protest in 1999. Then, as now, no one believed massive antiglobalization protests overseas would spread to the US. The US power elite had total confidence that continuous exposure to a corporate-state system of sophisticated psychological messaging (i.e. brainwashing) had rendered the American people too confused, demoralized and apathetic to try to hold their own elected leaders to account.

In 2011, as in 1999, they were wrong. In just two months, the Occupy movement has used the combined tools of social networking, strategic outreach, consensus governance and mass civil disobedience to build the largest mass resistance in the US since the 1930s.

Like the first edition, 21st Century Revolution differs from other books and articles on the Occupy movement in its emphasis on social class and obstacles the progressive movement faces in recruiting low income and disadvantaged workers. Nine years of living overseas as an American expatriate has caused me to see this issue very differently than when I first emigrated in 2002.

Like Revolutionary Change (the 2010 edition), 21st Century Revolution is a collection of articles originally published on my blog: “The Most Revolutionary Act.” I divide the book into six parts. The first, “Occupy Wall Street and the New Economics,” is totally new. In addition to looking at the class dynamics influencing the Occupy movement, it examines the new light OWS has shed on our broken banking and monetary system. Part II, “My New Life in New Zealand,” briefly discusses my reasons for leaving the US and the political and social features that make my new home uniquely different from the US. Part III, “Capitalism’s Last Gasp,” examines the train wreck global capitalism has imposed on society and the planet. Part IV, “Psychological Oppression: the Role of Corporate Media,” looks at the role of the mainstream media in shaping the American psyche and preserving the status quo. Part V, “Change Making,” makes some wild guesses about how real change is likely to come about. Part V contains two new articles on gun control and the citizens’ rights movement. Part VI, “The Endgame,” makes a few predictions about post-capitalist society.

Part I Occupy Wall Street and the New Economics

With the recent simultaneous (Homeland Security coordinated) crackdown on numerous public occupations across the US, the future of OWS as an inclusive mass movement is uncertain. Of the major urban occupations, only (as of January 11, 2012), only Occupy DC remains. Many local occupy movements have morphed into anti-eviction groups and are occupying foreclosed homes, both to prevent their owners from being thrown into the street and to open up vacant housing for the homeless. Despite the clear need this fills, some organizers are concerned that the narrower focus will be less effective in attracting new activists. Young people struggling with student loans, unemployment, inability to access medical care, and other urgent problems are likely to be too distracted by their own stresses to be drawn into a movement that doesn’t address their specific needs.

The Risk of Turning Into a Social Welfare Movement

The Zuccotti Square occupation has moved into donated offices in lower Wall Street, complete with computer stations and large meeting spaces and storage space for donated food, clothing and bedding


While they continue to carry on outreach and organizing activities, the original Occupy Wall Street activists are far less visible tucked away in offices. Moreover it seems they devote a lot of time to assisting the homeless with food, housing, and other social services. This is a very different role from building a mass protest movement. Although they continue to hold general assembly meetings in their new digs, in a lot of ways they are starting to resemble all the other foundations and non-profits who struggle – and fail - to empower the disadvantaged through outreach, education and direct social services.

For these and other reasons, I believe there will be strong consensus to resume the public occupations when the weather warms up. There are discussions on a number of Occupy sites about the need to follow the example of the Spanish anti-austerity movement – by setting up smaller, neighborhood focused occupations to facilitate the involvement of minorities and the traditional working class. (

The Value of Public Occupation as a Tactic

First, nothing crosses the digital divide quite so effectively to Americans without Internet access. While the majority of low income minorities now have Web access via their smartphones, their ability to download data, music, video etc. is extremely limited compared to activists who access the Internet through their PCs and laptops ( Second, the Occupy movement has given American youth their first taste of genuine civic engagement, a powerfully intense alternative to the empty, isolated lives we all lead under post-industrial capitalism. Most will be strongly motivated to continue to seek out the natural high associated with group membership and involvement. Third, the rapid destruction of the US middle class will greatly enhance the size and effectiveness of Occupy Wall Street as a blossoming resistance movement. The continuing lay off of thousands of teachers, social workers, counsellors and other government workers creates an extremely large pool of well-educated and self-disciplined prospective activists to recruit from. It also eliminates the traditional buffering/monitoring a strong middle class plays in preserving and protecting the status quo (I discuss the “policing” role of the middle class at length in “Engaging the Working Class in Part V). By eliminating this stabilizing force, the ruling elite has no choice but to fall back on brute force (police, army, intelligence security personnel) to control their domestic population.

Finally in the two short months OWS monopolized the public and media spotlight, we could already see evidence of its impact on global financial markets and domestic and foreign policy. According to many analysts, the refusal of Americans to passively accept austerity cuts has been a major factor in the current Eurozone crisis – largely because further austerity cuts is the only option on the table to address the debt crisis in Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal.


Meanwhile many American pundits attribute the failure of the Supercommittee to reach agreement on cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to OWS.

It also seems likely the presence of popular unrest in all major US cities emboldened the Iraqi parliament to withdraw legal immunity (for war crimes) for any US troops who remained after December 2011 (thwarting Obama’s efforts to extend the December deadline for their withdrawal.


The Occupy Movement: Ramifications for Radical Change

Occupy New Plymouth - Day 3 and Report on New Zealand Occupy Movement

(October 18, 2011)

In my view, the most impressive accomplishment of #OccupyWallStreet (OWS) is the speed with which we have found a collective voice -- without resorting to cookie cutter slogans or short term policy demands. This hasn't been easy. Coming from the perspective that nearly everything in the system is broken, where exactly do you start? Yet the coherence of the OWS vision is obvious from the speed with which it has spread to 1,000 similar occupations around the world. My own participation in Occupy New Plymouth has to be one of the most inspiring, soul-changing experiences of my life. Not only has it given me the unique privilege of connecting and hearing the views of young (some high school age) activists, but it has taught me how to totally set aside my usual routine for the more important task of change making.

Occupy New Plymouth started with a rally of about 35, and an open forum in which activists read statements and spoke about their reasons for participating. The forum was videoed and will be uploaded to YouTube. It was a big shock for the older established activist community to meet a strong cadre of 15 young (some high school age) well-read activists with highly developed political views. Neither group had any idea the other existed.

A total of about 50 of us maintained the occupation throughout Saturday with five maintaining it overnight. The occupation has received surprisingly strong support from the community and the police (we're right across from the New Plymouth police station). People of all ages drop in throughout the day to ask about our reasons for occupying Robe Street Park and express their own thoughts about fixing a broken New Zealand economy and political system. My main role has been helping to coordinate food and other necessities. Occupy New Plymouth updates are available from

The Occupy protests were larger in the bigger New Zealand cities (New Plymouth only has a population of 55,000). Wellington had a kick-off rally 200, with a dozen maintaining the occupation overnight; several hundred marched in Christchurch, with thirty staying overnight; in Auckland 2,000 marched up Queen Street with 100 committed to maintaining the occupation until November 30; in Dunedin (a strong student town) there is an on-going occupation of 70 on the Upper Octagon. Occupy Invercargill had a similar turnout as New Plymouth but have yet to post a Facebook update.

Refusing to Let the Media Define Us

I feel the second most important accomplishment of the Occupy movement is our absolute refusal to let the media to define us. I was sitting next to our spokesperson Luke (age 17) when the Taranaki Daily News rang him Sunday to find out why Occupy New Plymouth was still occupying the park in front of the courthouse. Luke had already given them a detailed explanation on Saturday about the New Zealand political process being totally controlled by international banks and corporations and the 1% of New Zealanders who own most of this country's wealth. That wasn't good enough. They wanted to know specifically what was going on in New Plymouth that we were protesting.

Luke covered the phone to consult with the rest of us. "We don't have a say," I suggested. The others seemed to like this. The reporter didn't get it. "We all feel that we don't have a say in government policy," Luke explained. Today's Daily News also quotes from a pamphlet Occupy New Plymouth handed out stating, "One in five of our children currently live in poverty," and “Our government repeatedly undermines democracy by passing legislation under urgency to fast track public consultation." (

The national coverage of New Zealand occupations (which TVNZ refers to as Anti-Greed Protests) in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill has been mostly even handed. However we have received the same criticism - of being incoherent and disorganized - as the American OWS protests. I suspect the New Zealand coverage we're getting stems from success of US activists in transforming initial dismissiveness and derision to grudging respect.
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