radical is the new sensible . . .

We Are a Movement of Movements -by Rivera Sun

The organic, many-faceted aspects of our movement reflect the natural processes of Life.

The organic, many-faceted aspects of our movements reflect the natural processes of Life.

I feel like shaking everyone and saying, don’t you get it? We don’t need a Movement of Movements – we are a movement of movements.

My friends, we have been trapped in old dominant paradigm thinking. We have been steeped in warmongering, hierarchical, competitive, control-based mindsets since birth. We think we are lacking something, or that we’re ineffectual at organizing, or we’re failing. We call for a Movement of Movements, like the War to End All Wars, a rallying cry that will amass the allies on the edge of the battlefield so we can massacre our enemies.

It makes me want to laugh – and cry.

We want to name, label, categorize, and control the emergent phenomenon of this revolutionary resistance. We want to take the wild flurry of activity that is erupting on a thousand fronts and turn it into an army for change. We want to call it something because then we can control it. This is what our lineage of science and religion has taught us: if we give it a name, it is ours. If we trademark the Movement, we can capitalize on it. If we organize it all in one place, we can make it work to what we consider its highest potential.

We need to let go. We need to surrender to this very large phenomenon and join with it. We need to trust each other, the causes, and the organic, emergent nature of what is happening . . . this is revolutionary. This is a way of participation that is radical in our society.

The long history of invasion, conquest, genocide, wars of aggression, and abuse of people and the planet has indoctrinated us in false beliefs that we must organize everything in order to survive. But these old patterns of competition and control are a worldview perpetuated by the wealthy elite, who profit from such mentalities at our expense. To this end, they have abused the theories and philosophies of the Judeo-Christian God and Darwin, alike. They school us in fear-based, violent mindsets to ensure that we will never pose a serious threat to their dominance. If we do not emancipate our minds from their worldview, we will remain blind to the greatest strengths of our movements.

We are a thousand points of light.

We are a thousand points of light.

Building a Movement of Movements seems to be the logical, strongest, and wisest approach to breaking our opponents’ power, but our real strength may lie in our myriad movements. The empowered elite are fighting us on all fronts. We have them surrounded on all sides. Our plethora of issues distracts them, divides them, and weakens their centralized position. They sit in the fortress of wealth and power, staring wild-eyed into the living, breathing, diverse jungle of opposition. There is nothing they would like more than to see us assemble all of our strength in one place and march down the road to their fortress. Then they could destroy us in one swoop. So, from the balustrades of their socio-political system, they taunt us and mock us, calling us disorganized and inefficient.

We are not disorganized. We are organized differently.

“We are the ivy crawling up the buildings, the moss breaking down the bricks, and the dandelions shooting up in the sidewalks. We’re as vast as the planet and as microscopic as infectious disease. The Dandelion Insurrection isn’t a handful of radicals. It’s all of Life itself!” – from The Dandelion Insurrection

We must learn to look at the interconnections of our myriad causes and wage struggle through collaboration, not control. Our causes are not at odds with each other, nor do they need unification under one name or coordination from a central command. Instead, we need to collaborate strategically, using our diversity of issues as our strength. If we look at the overlapping issues of health, economy, jobs, peace, surveillance, education, energy, housing, environment, democracy, and so on, we will see that every movement is working to replace destructive, corrupt systems with constructive, life-supporting, sustainable alternatives. Our strength lies in our inherent unity, not in the label attached to it. Our only weakness is in our uncertainty . . . and the fact that we remain unaware of the power of our situation.

We can tap into the collective and coordinated strength of our many movements by learning to strategically collaborate with one another. A few key elements of such an approach are:

  • 1) Celebrate other’s achievements; the success of one cause is the success of the whole.
  • 2) Support each other’s efforts through solidarity, encouragement, resources, media campaigns, etc.
  • 3) Take time to analyze the interconnections of the movements. Search for untapped strengths and sources of support. Identify pivot points of change and opportunities for other movements to help sway a critical element of your own movement.
  • 4) Talk with each other. Find out how your efforts overlap and look for opportunities for strategic collaboration.

Our movements are revolutionary; their manner of collaborative, horizontal organization is the most natural, organic system on Earth. We terrify the empowered elite because we reflect, in our very structure, the most powerful force on the planet: Life. In what they call our disorganization, we embody the natural systems that the patriarchal, Puritanical European colonizers have been trying to repress and control for thousands of years. Our movements are as frightening to them as a liberated woman, or the pagan religions of old Europe that succumbed to the first invasion of the mentality that now engulfs the empowered elite around the globe. We are organic and uncontrollable . . . and we are, ultimately, unstoppable.

Instead of codifying our movements under one name, we must learn to recognize who and what we are. We are a movement of movements, a great multiplicity of motion. We are a thousand points of light. We are Life, itself.


Author/Actress Rivera Sun is a co-founder of the Love-In-Action Network, a co-host on Occupy Radio, and, in addition to her new novel, The Dandelion Insurrectionshe is also the author of nine plays, a book of poetry, and her debut novel, Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, which celebrates everyday heroes who meet the challenges of climate change with compassion, spirit, and strength. www.riverasun.com

This essay was inspired by a group of women during a Women Weaving the World discussion. Many thanks to all of them for the deep reflections, but particularly to Kathe Schaaf who spoke of the movement of movements in an eye-opening way. Learn more about Women Weaving the World here.


  1. February 14, 2014    

    Thanks, Rivera for this piece summing up the Women Weavers.
    There’s a lot in this I find very useful, especially the concrete strategic thoughts at the end. The one point that I’m left unsure about is comparing a “movement of movements” to the Earth and her eco-systems. I see it more in terms of an immune response of the body (or Earth, but let’s start small) to cure a disease naturally. The various parts of the body and molecular constituents of that area were doing excellent work on their own, and even participating in the whole body, no one was separate. When there is an illness, everyone comes together and sends nutrients and energy to that part/area, sometimes slowing down the work as done regularly, but emerging toward a healthy system. The “diversity of our issues” I think is not as nice as it sounds–it means that either there is a key illness in some part of our shared body and we need to locate it and work on it together, while not ignoring the whole work of the body in the meantime, or it could also mean that there is a spreading disease and not only are homeopathic treatments not working anymore, but we need to really get to an allopathic doctor for this one. You know what I mean…
    I put “diversity of issues” in quotes”” because I think that its a false diversity–it’s the, to quote Dorothy Day, “the dirty rotten system” showing up in so many places and it’s a struggle for so many. By calling it “diversity” it makes it sound like these challenges are somehow natural, and I am no longer convinced that they are. I think that they are manufactured. Thoughts?
    Love, Stephanie

    • admin admin
      February 14, 2014    


      Thank you for these reflections. Natural is an interesting word. I think the problems we are facing are “natural” to the system of domination and exploitation. I think such systems do occur in what we consider the natural world, but they are generally balanced by the stability and adaptability of other types of systems. However, the domination and exploitation of the human species has outstripped “natural systems of checks and balances” …. unless we include ourselves as activists and aware citizens in our framework of “natural”, which I’m inclined to.

      I think your analogy of an immune system is very intriguing. We are like an immune system response, but more than just a “kill the pathogen and exterminate it” response, we take many functions that lead to overall health. Some people do constructive program, others do holding actions or obstructive program, others work to remediate the damages of the system to fulfill the role of healing and regeneration. It is quite likely that in addition to dealing with one key illness (destructive capitalism or what have you), we also have a number of side ailments that compound the situation. This is like a patient with diabetes who also has high blood pressure, edema, insomnia, and mental health issues. Which ailment caused which? Or is it more useful to ask, how does each ailment affect the next? And, do we need to seek one remedy, or several at the same time?

      Love back to you, Rivera

      • March 25, 2014    

        We are like an immune system response, but more than just a “kill the pathogen and exterminate it” response, we take many functions that lead to overall health. Some people do constructive program, others do holding actions or obstructive program, others work to remediate the damages of the system to fulfill the role of healing and regeneration. It is quite likely that in addition to dealing with one key illness (destructive capitalism or what have you), we also have a number of side ailments that compound the situation. This is like a patient with diabetes who also has high blood pressure, edema, insomnia, and mental health issues. Which ailment caused which? Or is it more useful to ask, how does each ailment affect the next? And, do we need to seek one remedy, or several at the same time?”

        We often have to ask ourselves whether the treatment is worth the side effects. As individuals, we have the ability to make personal quality of life decisions. The question for any collaborative effort is who is empowered to make the final decisions as to what action should be taken and when. How do we assign authority commensurate with responsibility?

  2. February 14, 2014    

    Obviously there is a lot in this that got the wheels turning here, thanks.

    One more thought I had about this overnight, is that we are talking about a “paradigm shift” and what that means to me in practice is combining wisdom and science. So we have views of indigenous people saying that “we are a part of the Earth,” on one hand; and on the other, we have science telling us that we are the universe itself. The earth, the universe etc. evolved human beings. So if we predicate our thinking on the notion that we are separate from the earth, only then can we compare ourselves to her–e.g. “she doesn’t do that, so why should we…”. IF we see ourselves as part of the Earth, we might also hear that our conscious awareness of the issue is calling us to respond to the challenges we are faced with collectively, which puts everything on the table.

    The Earth doesn’t call herself an eco-system of eco-systems, she doesn’t even call herself Earth. She doesn’t even call herself “she” or “her.” People do that, and it has meaning if it leads itself to a new view in how we respond to the calls from deep within to generate a harmony in our life system. Hierarchy need not apply, we can also consider organization in terms of cycles, concentric circles, etc. As Einstein put it, “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison (of separation) by widening our circle of compassion…” We keep making room but it doesn’t mean that we have to eschew structure all together. That becomes ideology quick, and all ideology is short-lived. The Earth herself is a kind of a structure; and we love her.

    • February 14, 2014    

      Hi there, Taos!

      Been enjoying the interchange, and it solidified something for me. All the symptoms we see have to have AN underlying cause, I am convinced of that. But we don’t have to respond with a single-issue approach, as worked so well for Gandhi in the Salt campaign. We can do it by conceptualizing our unity and holding it in our thoughts, putting it up there on the wall as we shape our individual responses. There has to be SOME intelligible shape to the mvt. Fascinating to work out what it will be! Love on the love day, Michael (see my Facebook post)

      • admin admin
        February 15, 2014    

        Beware of the convenience of a single cause. (Wow, don’t I sound like a moaning old soothsayer.) What I mean is that we need to carefully examine causes and conditions, and discern, to the best of our ability, what the cause or causes – and the remedies – of the issues are. We may find that there is one unifying cause to all of our world’s problems. Or, then again, there may be two. LOL! However, I completely agree with you, Michael (and Stephanie and I have conversed on this subject today, too) that forming an intelligible shape to the movement (or movements) will be beneficial.

        Our brains like a certain kind of order. And the Universe is large. Fortunately for the Universe and our brains, spiritual philosophy has expanded the mind’s potential to use our inherently interconnected nature to expand our comprehension of our Universal nature. Happy Love Day. I can’t wait to read your post. Rivera

        • admin admin
          February 15, 2014    

          However, based on the excellent feedback from you and Stephanie, I did make a few revisions. I included the key elements of strategic collaboration in the main body of the article (and added an element), emphasized the role of planning because, as you both pointed out, it is essential, and clarified a few lines that I felt were causing some confusion. Thank you. I am so honored to be the recipient of your insights. Rivera

  3. Richard Hillwig Richard Hillwig
    February 16, 2014    

    Thank you, this is a topic I have been struggling with how to articulate a bit of late and you put some things in perfect clarity for me. Amazing read.

  4. Peter Harris Peter Harris
    February 16, 2014    

    Hi Rivera Sun and others. I have read with interest what you wrote Rivera and I see the direction that you are going. How do we as many separate entities use our common interests to bring us together into some cohesive force that can actually have some real effect on our situation and make real change for good. I am giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, and assuming that if you are reading this you do want good change, not bad. There are many people with many agendas who would claim to know the real meaning of the word love, and to be able to teach others what it is. I for one am sick of these people. Usually they trying to sell some system or another, for their own financial gain, because being so enlightened, they deserve it somehow. I am not a joiner for this very reason. Show me an organization and I will run the other direction. Almost always it amounts to fat sheep pushing weaker sheep around to get at the feed first. So, I will not likely be signing any membership cards. However, where my beliefs and concerns coincide with others of the same mind, I can see ways that I can work with them. For instance, many of the citizens of this nation see the problem of the ever increasing power of the wealthiest class of Americans, and can see the ever increasing control that they are exerting on everything from politics to how much we pay at the pumps and the price of food. I, and many of the people that I have talked to in this country are rightly concerned about the ever increasing complexity of our lives. It is a wonder that any of us can find the courage to get out of bed in the morning. This is an area, that I think that I can work on with almost anyone that has the same concerns that I have about it. I don’t have the answer, but I do have a lot of good questions. Now I have to go restore power to a lot of things that are turned off here where I work. I will continue my thoughts later.

  5. Peter Harris Peter Harris
    February 16, 2014    

    I wish this had an editing capability so I could go in and change things that I could have said better. Maybe I’ll write elsewhere and edit before posting here.

    • February 16, 2014    

      Peter, I will see if I can find an editing capacity for these comments. I thought you were quite articulate in your first comment. Although, when I first read your second comment “I wish this had an editing capability so I could go in an change things that I could have said better.” I assumed you meant in my article, not in your comment! I had a good chuckle over that. Rivera

  6. May 19, 2014    

    Thanks for expressing interest in these ideas. Let me know what you think. Rivera

  7. Stevo Stevo
    May 30, 2014    

    Do you consider federalism hierarchy / centralisation?

    • May 30, 2014    

      It appears that Federalism is both a hierarchical structure and a centralizing power structure. There can be decentralized, hierarchal structures. And there could, perhaps be a non-hierarchal Federal power distinct from States, Counties, Cities. Good question to ponder in all its permutations.

      • Stevo Stevo
        May 31, 2014    

        I don’t think hierarchy deserves to be placed in between warmongering and control-based mindsets and horizontalism fetishised to such a degree. Sure, we can agree there are many illegitimate hierarchies that need dismantling and how a greater amount of horizontalism can empower us, but I don’t see these as apposing forces of bad and good.

        I don’t think solely “letting go” is going to cut it. We should let go, let of control and embrace the benefits of organising swarm like in networks, and this is wise advice. The starting point of power should non-hierarchical as possible, minimising barriers to entry, distributing rights and responsibilities equally in order to harness collective intelligence and democratising power, empowering personal autonomy and aggregating network strength through cooperation. Horizonatalism is good and we should embrace it.

        Though organising like this does have it’s weaknesses also. Chaotic due to the lack of simplified message. Resources it takes to build and maintain trust through out the network, which is essential for mass communication. Social bonds are weaker than hierarchies, making it difficult turn agreement into action. Slow to designate unifying consciousness. Highly susceptible to reflecting propagandised culture. I could on. Point being horizontalism has just as many negatives as hierarchy.

        Horizonatalism/decentralisation alone cannot provide the required discipline, strategy and power. It makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact. Sure, we can creep up as natural as moss, ivy and dandelions, and we may overtake some abandon buildings, but elsewhere we’ll be easily beat back.

        We need to organize in full capacity with a mixture of decentralised power and democratic centralisation, horizontalism is our safety net. To do this we need to conquer our fear of centralising power that has been implanted by neoliberal propaganda through union bashing, attack on government, love of internet and stop placing decentralisation over centralisation like the atomized consumers and Facebook/Twitter users we are.

        “The drawbacks of networks scarcely matter if the network isn’t interested in systemic change—if it just wants to frighten or humiliate or make a splash—or if it doesn’t need to think strategically. But if you’re taking on a powerful and organized establishment you have to embrace hierarchy.”

  8. Stevo Stevo
    June 4, 2014    

    I think “letting go” is a bit like Anarchism and the general call for decentralisation. It’s perhaps a helpful long view guiding strategy, not a general tactic to embrace. In the short term I see democratic hierarchy as necessary for a more horizontal world. I think fully embracing letting go would cause more harm than good, similar to how libertarians want the State abolished to free selfs from corporations, such a clear path to liberation I feel is simplistic.

  9. July 14, 2015    

    I understand where you are coming from, but I can’t risk that “swarming at the bottom” will be sufficient. We are all dysfunctional in this Crisis-of-Crises and must all be open to change. What emerges from network swarming are holarchies (nested hierarchies), which need not have echelon hierarchies (bureaucracies), governments, corporations. Networking may not be a sufficient process.

    see: http://nuet.us/2013/06/26/bottom-on-not-bottom-up-business-entrepreneurs-dead-end/

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