Wael Ghonim, author of Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater than the People in Power, spoke with Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition about the Tahrir Square Revolution. Inskeep questioned Ghonim’s claim that “this revolution has no leader,” arguing that many people played leadership roles—such as writing, speaking and organizing—in midwifing the Egyptian Revolution. Ghonim answered:
I think this is not leadership. When I say a leader, it means that directs the revolution, where it should be going. Before the revolution came, what we were doing is increasing the awareness and calling people to action. What we did was calling for, you know, massive process that turns into the revolution on the 25th.
That doesn't, you know, give me the title of leadership, because at the end of the day I don't - you know, I did not - and I would have not been able to take charge and tell people what to do and negotiate on behalf of them.
The fact that there is no leader is evident on the floor. There are so many people that have done extraordinary efforts and that have sacrificed. There are so many people that have died, but there was no clear leadership that made decisions on behalf of the people.
Ghonim’s eloquent differentiation between working toward a revolution and leading it got me to thinking about the possibilities of truly leaderless action.
It’s become a cliché that Occupy is a leaderless movement. Although a number of dedicated individuals have worked tirelessly to make it happen, no one has arisen to a credible position of leadership. Despite desperate GOP claims to the contrary, Occupy is not “Obama’s advance team," nor is it a pressure wing of the Democratic Party. It is nothing if not cosmic energy blooming from a cryptic anti-advertising meme planted by Adbusters. It is an idea whose time had come.
The question remains, is the “leaderless revolution” a convenient myth or does it represent a radically new form of organizing consciousness?
If it is just a convenient myth, then clear leaders will emerge. Should they exercise any real power, they will be flipped, arrested, bought off, or assassinated. If, on the other hand, Occupy represents an evolutionary leap, then perhaps we are truly witnessing Gaia’s awakening. Are we witnessing a reorganization of consciousness?
In 2012: Return of Quetzalcoatl, Daniel Pinchbeck suggests that indeed atomized consciousnesses are coming together to form a global consciousness:
It is my thesis that the rapid development of technology and the destruction of the biosphere are material by-products of a psycho-spiritual process taking place on a planetary scale. We have created this crisis to force our own accelerated transformation—on an unconscious level, we have willed it into being. Human consciousness, the sentient element of this Earth, is in the process of self-organizing to a more intensifed state of being and knowing—what the Russian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff called a ‘higher octave.’ When the Hopi talk of a Fifth World, or the Aztecs anticipate a Sixth Sun, when St. John foresees the descent of the Heavenly City or New Jerusalem, they are describing the same thing: a shift in the nature of consciousness.
Such rapid exponential change is not uncommon in evolution. In Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body, Neil Shubin describes an “arms race” that broke out among ancient fish: the survival strategy was “get big, get armor, or get out of the water.” He also shows how bodies might have evolved from single-celled organisms as a way to prevent getting eaten. Shubin looks at an experiment that shows rapid evolution in response to certain stimuli. Martin Boraas introduced a predator into a petri dish filled with single-celled alga. It took only a few years before the alga clumped into multicellular organisms.
If animated matter can so rapidly join into more complex forms in response to stimuli, how might consciousness similarly evolve? Perhaps the new stimulus is not a predator but a rapid and democratized communications technology that borders on telepathy. Our era has witnessed the invention of the flashmob and the near crash of Twitter after Michael Jackson’s death. This is no laughing matter. Within days of Michael’s ascendance into the celestial neverland, the Internet erupted with tribute videos.
Here we see septuagenarians grooving to Billie Jean.
Here Filipino prisoners dance to Thriller.
What is the rapid global communication of Twitter, Facebook, cell phones, text messaging, videoconferencing, etc., if not the connective tissue of what threatens to be a new species of human? Are conditions ripe for a next-level consciousness to arise? Is it possible that we no longer need leaders? Is Gaia once again awakening?