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Occupy Wall Street Demands a New World

Occupy Wall Street Demands a New World                        You-Sheng Li, 28/10/11


            Occupy Wall Street is an ongoing series of demonstrations that started on September 17, 2011 in New York based in Zuccotti Park in the Wall Street area but now it has become an international protest. Various "Occupiers” and supporters have modeled themselves after Occupy Wall Street in over 900 cities worldwide. People are amazed by their wide spreading influence but few know the similarity between those protestors and Taoism. A Taoist website asked me to write a hundred word comments to explore this unusual link. I wrote:


Lao Tzu says, "Heaven and earth unite to rain down sweet dew; the people, nobody ordering them, balance to equality." Now both wealth and inequality have skyrocketed in a global village that is far more complex than Lao Tzu could have imagined. Taoism provides a solid ground for ordinary people both to protest against the richest 1% and to maintain a healthy lifestyle and serenity of mind. Taoism also offers the technique: Transcendence. We all experience such moments when we emerge ourselves into the amazing landscape of nature or absorbed into a masterpiece of arts, a world of beautiful serenity where secular concerns become irrelevant. Those who have such a transcendent mind are also more likely to balance themselves to equality.


            In the above quotation, Lao Tzu linked natural equality with sweet dew. Sweet dew is only the natural plenty of the Eden Paradise or the environment in which the ancient primitive people lived. Chimpanzees share their food whenever another chimpanzee holds out an open hand. Even the food holder does not like the begging one but he still gives out a share but throws it out to show his unhappiness. Thus, even if sweet dew is only a minimum amount of food, Chimpanzees balance to equality by sharing. Furthermore, the inborn instinct that dictates food sharing apparently transcends or overrides the more superficial emotions against the beggar. Unlike chimpanzees, modern men are mainly of their own making, dictated by their sophisticated calculations and superficial emotions. We have to come deeply into my mind or deep consciousness in those transcendent moments to search our natural inborn instinct.

            Given the survival of our closely related cousins, modern apes, and the most developed brains of our ancestors, the Eden Paradise would appear to be almost unbreakable unless by humans themselves. Indeed, the migration of our ancestor Homo sapiens out of Africa was closely linked to the extinction of Homo erectus in Asia and the Neandertals in Europe. Many contemporary scholars believe that our ancestors simply wiped them off earth though some crossbreeding might have occurred.

            Among the Eden residents, Adam and Eve, there was neither leadership nor ambition. They existed only to enjoy themselves. The same applies to the primary society that Taoism admires. Similarly, those occupying protestors have neither leaders nor clearly expressed demands. They lived there together for days to form a temporary society similar to the ancient primary society. They often provide free drinks, food, and other items if anybody needs them. They also keep the sanitation of their occupied places. Although they did not yell out their demands, most people sympathize with them and understand what they want.

            Misunderstandings come from the hierarchy of our society. The top 1% claims they pay 40% of the taxes of which, a large portion goes to the military to kill other humans. The only widely used slogan among those protestors is: We are the 99% to which, some raise the slogan: We are the 53% who pay tax. The 99% still have their innocent hearts, like Adam and Eve, and dream of the lost paradise on earth while the top 1% benefit from this hierarchal social structure. David Suzuki once said to a reporter in Montreal that enterprises pursue nothing but money. After paying 40% of the country’s taxes, they still make so much money that the gap between the poor and the rich has expanded rapidly in the last few decades. The annual U.S. incomes share of the top 1% was around 10% in 1980 but was 23.5% in 2007. A parliament member even examined the tents of those protesters in London, Britain and claimed that they were 90% empty. But he never thought of examining Adam’s and Eve’s tents if they had any. He would have to start by teaching Adam and Eve what is good and what is bad first.

            Those orientated towards money and towards enjoyment of life are rarely able to work side by side. Such a rare occasion was war. Roughly between eight and six thousand years ago, the world became much drier than before. A desertification took place all over the world. This process hit the central zone from the Sahara in Africa to Tibet, Mongolia, and Siberia, so-called the Saharasia. When the Saharasia was drying out, it was a physical challenge but once humans formed the first raiding army to exploit their neighbors, the challenge they were facing was not physical or social but an ever-accelerating and rapid-upgrading hostile humans themselves that they had never faced before. Arnold Joseph Toynbee pointed out: “The human race’s prospects of survival were considerably better when we were defenceless against tigers than they are today when we have become defenceless against ourselves.” William Eckhardt (1995) raised the so-called dialectical evolutionary theory to interpret the process of human civilization. He proved beyond doubt that the five thousand years of our civilized history was only an accelerating and upgrading war culture with the two world wars as its recent peak. The Bible was right after all: Humans broke the Eden Paradise themselves.

            It is not surprising that scholars also calculated the time of the Creation and Adam/Eve to be around six thousand years ago. God regretted that he had created man, and said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before me, because the earth is full of violence as a result of them; and here I am bringing them to ruin together with the earth.” (Genesis, 6;13) Thus the Bible writers and modern scholars pointed to the same time, six thousand years ago, as the start of our modern world.

            When survival was at stake because of war, humans tend to suppress their nature in order to survive. Whenever a relatively peaceful environment seems to be lasting, human minds go back to their lost Paradise on earth. In the West, from Plato’s Republic to Augustine’s City of God, humans never stopped pursuing their dream, the lost Paradise. The Messianic Movement in Judaist and Christian traditions and Utopianism in modern Europe aim at the same dream.

            Apart from those philosophers, sages, religious Messiahs, the Communist movement peaked up with Mao’s Cultural Revolution that smashed all bureaucrats and resulted in chaotic anarchy for years. Modern democracy allows young people to listen to their hearts and express their feelings in a social movement. In the worldwide restlessness in the 1960s, young people, nobody ordering them, organised themselves into communes like the early Christians in the Roman era. The current Occupy Wall Street demonstrations all over the world are only one of those urgent cries from the bottom of human hearts: They want the lost Paradise back on earth though it is out of the line with the present order of our society.


Professor Dorian Warren from Columbia University has described the movement as the first anti-authoritarian populist movement in the United States. In conclusion, like Taoism that respect neither heavenly authority nor secular authority on earth, those protestors demand a fundamentally new world, the lost paradise.