Occupy Ancient China

Occupy Ancient China

In battle, use the ordinary to engage the enemy.

Use the extraordinary to secure victory.

The flavors are only five in number, but their blends are so various that one cannot taste them all.

In battle, there are only the ordinary and extraordinary forces, but their combinations are limitless.

So… inevitably it came to violence. This is deeply upsetting -draconian violence perpetrated by a state against its own people is always upsetting.

The Sun Tzu teaches us that this inevitability does not lie in any inherent qualities in our opponent, but lies in the inherent qualities of conflict itself -in particular ‘the ordinary’.

‘The ordinary’ is what is expected -what is traditionally done. The ordinary is the physical manifestation of a protest; that is; people actually standing on a picket line. It is lining armies up to face each other on a field of battle.

But no conflict is ever won by use of the ordinary. The ordinary is what you use to pull your opponent to where you can best use the extraordinary to defeat them.

‘The extraordinary’ is more than just the unexpected. The extraordinary is an advantage you have that your opponent does not know about. It is the spy in their ranks, it is the cavalry hidden by the trees west of the battlefield, it is using the Easter tides to get your ships upriver past their camp. No conflicts are ever won by using the ordinary. All conflicts are won by using the extraordinary. (For more information see the last five thousand years of human history.)

According to the Sun Tzu, these are the two forces in battle. That’s it. Two. But like the senses, like musical notes, their combinations are infinite. (Sidebar: the Sun Tzu is fractal. The ordinary/extraordinary continuum can be used in your daily life, even in an altercation with one person.)

The ordinary in a protest situation is the inevitability of its violent breakup. The extraordinary is what happens next. The egregore is set free. Memes promulgate that spread the impact of the violence around the planet.

Finally (finally) I understand what the shit Ben Kenobi was talking about. Get struck down, become more powerful than I can possibly imagine.

An opportunity was perhaps missed -as Naomi Klein pointed out- to lawyer up on a massive level. (High ranking supporters dropped the ball here as it should have been a pro bono opportunity par excellence. As a lawyer you can write your own check after that. One phone call and it’s off to the supreme court.) That would have been ‘using the extraordinary’ while our opponent was using the ordinary.

The other missed opportunity was in the creation of an international permission asset. This is marketing speak for something like an opt-in email database. Yes, Occupy uses social media but their media choices are broadcast assets, not permission assets. The crucial difference is in securing a lean forward audience. What would happen in the next election if there were a series of databases (one would be shut down) numbering in the millions of willing supporters prepared to ask questions and vote accordingly? How would that change the responses we get from our leaders?

Fortunately, with the large social media following and the memes and such we are halfway there. And it’s working. Even according to the New York Times, the political lexicon has been permanently ‘occupied’. There is now a global audience of millions willing to read and share information relating to how the one percent and our elected officials are fucking us with a mesh bag filled with frozen pineapples.

What happens next?

Weirdly, the best case scenario lies with what the Republicans do next. If they can manage to field a candidate that isn’t unrelentingly stupid, illiterate, drunk or apparently rapey then maybe we can scare the incumbent into making some changes. As it stands, despite his unpopularity, the President could probably eat a baby on live television and still win a second term. Everyone now knows (see previous link) that Wall Street, like a sexually transmitted disease, lives six inches up the ass of the most powerful job in the world. But the Sun Tzu teaches us to disrupt our opponent’s alliances:

Do not allow your enemies to get together.
Look into the matter of his alliances and cause them to be severed and dissolved. If an enemy has alliances, the problem is grave and the enemy’s position strong; if he has no alliances, the problem is minor and the enemy’s position weak.

What happens  if we can extract promises around lobbying and the systemic bribing and manipulation of the public sector by the corporate sector? When they are running scared they will promise everything under heaven to stay in power.

Who has won?

Most of the camps are gone. Some pensioners have been assaulted by the same state they spent decades of their working lives funding. The theatre of engagement has moved beyond the physical.

It’s moved to a space we magical folk know extremely well. Ideaspace. The majority of the first world supports the position taken by the Occupy movement, we have a diffuse (and thus unassailable) network in which to spread ideas and share questions, we have unkillable, recurrent symbols ready to be deployed at the drop of a hat and we have an opponent about to pucker their lips and get on their knees in a dark alley to secure our approval. (I’ve had this discussion with Jason a number of times but I maintain that in the last election, Obama ‘used’ social media to ‘speak to us’. This election we’ll use it to speak to him. Our turn now.)

We have embedded an unstoppable idea virus in the ontology of the First World. If that isn’t fucking magic I don’t know what is.

Which means if we play this right we will be able to defeat our enemies with the very same egregore they helped us create. That would be what the Sun Tzu calls taking whole.

Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards… Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.

Over to you, captain.



Add yours
  1. 1

    this is brilliant, thank you! The Ben Kenobi reference reminds me, unfortunately, of how big the Death Star seems right now. But hopefully Jedis move fractally.

    Would love to hear more about the “international permission asset” concept. Is this your own idea or is there a discussion of this going on somewhere? Timely.
    Anne´s last blog post ..Meet the Jumpiup Corn Doll Family!

  2. 2

    Good insight, Gordon. One of the biggest problems in the country is it’s so easy to dominate media coverage with emotional hot buttons. You want to win blind support while robbing us blind? Wave a flag, play a country song, talk about abortion, death panels, and how you do all this for freedom. And yes people …gay people want to get married right here in our back yard. Worry not. We won’t let the terrorists win.

    That crap gets attention. It gets coverage. It sells ad space. It’s empty. It’s meaningless.

    Nice link to Mr. Spitzer!

  3. 3
    Simon Tomasi

    Fantastic post, I love how well you’ve used Sun Tzu. What the Occupy movement has done is indeed magical, but… I remain unconvinced to its long term effects for two reasons.

    1. Like the Wikileaks I’ll wait for a bit longer to see what effects it has “on the ground”. Will it change the current world order or will the super rich and political elites just adapt?

    2. Some of the popular movements in North Africa have resulted in a change from military dictatorships to ultra conservative governments. This to me is a worrying trend and whilst I understand that the culture in the UK and Egypt differ, I’m hoping that this is not something riding on the back of all such mass people movements.

    Technology does allow for some extraordinary moves in this battle, I’m excited to see what happens next.

  4. 4

    just effing brilliant.

    your commentary helps keeps me focused, on a daily basis of what (magically) needs to happen in the world..

    most excellent synthesis

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