Marianne Williamson: We Must Maintain a Healthy Sense of Protest

Partisan politics is something we actively avoid discussing on this site. Instead, we prefer to operate in the domain of provable fact. But that doesn't mean that we have written off the political process entirely.

Yes, we believe our own efforts (and those of most of our readers) are much more effective when targeted at the individual and local levels. And we don't hold out hope that sovereign governments will suddenly start implementing solutions that constructively address the economic, energetic, and environmental issues we focus on at this site.

But we are still citizens of the countries in which we live. There is a political mechanism (however broken) for effecting change through our voting power and our civic involvement.

In this week's podcast, Chris talks with Marianne Williamson, a first-time Congressional candidate from California, about the options available to us. This is not an endorsement of Williamson or her political views, but an exploration of the political system with an "outsider" candidate one whose observations will likely resonate with many members.

This interview addresses key questions like: What power do we have as a populace to effect change? What change should we be demanding? How should we be demanding it?

On the Foundational Importance of Economic Justice

Any time you have even the most subtle economic tyranny, you are going to have an analogous situation elsewhere. As soon as you allow for economic injustice, do not be surprised if there are other forms of political injustice. I think that is important, first of all. If you allow the unholy alliance between government and moneyed interests to protect their perch, when it has to do with economic power, it is not surprising to see that there will be the same drive to protect that perch in terms of political power. That is why you see a connection between unfair banking policies, unfair tax policies, unfair trade policies, and even unfair criminal justice policies. It is all connected. The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone there. Whether it is something like economic justice because of the dominancy of unfair influence wielded by the corporate sector in terms of tax and banking, the NSA spying or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, even the National Defense Authorization Act, any time you are giving power in general to any one group, they are going to wield it within every context that they possibly can. 

On the Need to Maintain a Healthy Sense of Protest

The capacity and permission to healthy protest is the lifeblood of a democracy. If freedom does not include the freedom for the reasonable guarantee that you can gather in group protest and it be safe and a safe place for you to go with your children, then it is like you were saying before: of the people, by the people and for the people, we are currently mocking the Gettysburg Address. We are a government of a few of the people, by a few of the people and for a few of the people. Lincoln said that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people would not perish from the earth. It is already perishing.

Not only does of the people, by the people, and for the people – as we were talking about the fact that you cannot disconnect the economics and the civil liberties, if you are talking about what you are talking about now, which is what you just described. To show up at an Occupy protest meant you were surrounded by SWAT teams with the kind of technology that they had and the kind of stories we have all heard from Amy Goodman and others, then our democracy is in serious trouble.

Those of us who are old enough remember a time when this was not true. I am not saying the Vietnam protestors were not looked at and that their leaders were not harassed. There was not what there is now. I think what concerns me sometimes with young people is that they do not remember a time when it was not this way. Once again, the psychological factor is there. Too many people are becoming inured to transgressions against our civil liberties.

Take the NSA spying. If you have a newspaper report where the NSA spying is put right next to an article about Kim Kardashian’s wedding dress, and you are not from a generation that would guffaw at that, that is what you were brought up with. You do not remember a time before the Telecommunications Act of 1996. You do not know. That is what concerns me now. Once again, it is a psychological issue. We are losing our healthy sense of protest. 

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Marianne Williamson (27m:59s):

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

regarding the legal system and our unwitting enslavement.

I can't tell you how happy I am to see this interview.  If it represents the new course you have hinted at for 2014 and beyond, I am on board.
I have, in my own not always coherent way, been advocating a similar approach for some time on this site.  That is, look at the issues and decide what the right approach should be, not what tptb say.  Ms. Williamson is, according to her campaign website a strong advocate for taking on climate change:

[quote]Too much of America’s energy – 81%, in fact – continues to come from fossil fuels that pollute our air and water, causing global warming and weather disruption more intense with each passing year.

This is not just unfortunate, or even critical; it is a clear and present danger to the future not only of our country but to life on earth.    

Our reliance on oil makes us dependent on energy supplies from other countries, particularly in the Middle East, drawing us more easily into military actions to defend access to oil. The federal government supports the use of fossil fuels by handing out massive tax breaks and subsidies to energy companies that are among the most profitable corporations in the world. The top five oil companies made $1 trillion in profits from 2001 through 2011, yet they receive $10-52 billion in tax breaks and subsidies every year.

Legalized corruption makes it almost impossible to truly take on the power of Exxon-Mobil and other oil giants that receive massive tax breaks from the government. Once again, until we deal with the issue of money’s undue influence on our political system, none of this will truly change.[/quote]

I agree with her that a third way must be found in the halls of Congress to address all issues.  Many issues are developing that are attracting coalitions between the left and right, not least of which are the environment and civil liberties.  Taking them on in a fact based, data oriented way should be the hallmark of a growing noisy and at times civilly disobedient movement to replace our truly dysfunctional government with people who care about democracy.

BTW, the reflexive anti-Boomer mentality that has found a place on this site as well as the larger media is wrong headed.  The youth that Chris and Ms. Williamson are appealing to would do well to emulate the Boomers and seek their advice in moving forward.  Ms. Williamson admits to being a Boomer and, if I understand correctly, so is Chris.  Remember, the Boomers were anti-LBJ and anti-Nixon.  In the main, they were and are anti-war, pro-environment and pro-civil liberties.  The fact that some members of the generation are now in the halls of power, does not negate the the ethics and basic human values that most still believe in.  They share a lot with today's young people and goodness knows they have vast experience in political action.  If the one "Occupy" and one gun rights events I attended are any indication, there is a lot of grey hair among both groups.


I like this gal!

I love that this discussion is happening and someone who gets it is exercising their voice and direction for change. One very interesting point I found was encouraging people to have their response be understanding and not fear based. I currently see the chips stacked against understanding. Here are some of the ideas that I think would turn this around. I see a deep need to qualify DOING. If the things in our lives see the average person doing less work, more play, more love, more cooperation, less debt, more heart centered interactions, then I see the likely outcome will be encouraging UNDERSTANDING. If we see the DOING as increasing debt, increased competition, increased poverty, wage gap, increased comodification of life and experiences then the people will surely be fear based.
I don't think of Climate change as something that needs fixing, I see it as one of the symptoms of our seperation from each other and life. If we change our internal workings and then react to those changes then we will naturally behave in ways that directly and indirectly begin to reverse climate change. Climate change reversal must be a symptom of our change, turning away from todays control ideology, and returning to our relationships in non-monitzed ways to find the answers. Those psychological issues discussed here must be where we place our focus and attention, and further our noticing skills. Thru the lense of truth and trust.


we boomers protested the vietnam war, it ended, while how many other usa wars continued and how many new wars sprang up?  mish had a visual aid showing where us forces are stationed around the world.all ovr basically.vietnam ended but us policy didn't. and hasn't.
thinking protest will change anything, is failing to realize it changes us .not the gov't. not policy. 

protest makes us think if we protest, we have been heard. and once we feel heard, we go back home. the web is being used this way big time.and so are we if we buy into this.

last i have to call on chris who has always said change will come from the outside in. voting in a candidate in the status quo system is 180 degrees from that… now saying if elected marianna can change everything from within and you too can feel part of it?..c'mon you really think so?  if so then why and how? one voice to represent?

mlk didn't run for office. he got a grass roots movement moving. moving so well they killed him to stop it.

i'd like to see marianne and chris get a movement started on the outside. then i might subscribe to it.not to see them killed, but then i would know the people are really standing up to protest. getting t he people to vote in a non counted system is pure stupidity. but sheeple will be sheeple.

i am big time disappointed to see this article.what is next? an article from jamie dimon saying how the banks have our best interests at heart?







[quote=sand_puppy]I like this gal!
I really do too, and the main reason is that she's clearly done her inner work and I have a gut-level trust that she will remain true to herself however long she spends in D.C., as did Ron Paul.
Real values and convictions are things that I value within myself, and I believe I can detect them in others as well.
Will it change anything to have one person with a strong inner compass and matching compassion in D.C.?  Probably not, but like the old joke about lawyers goes it's a start!
And, yes, I am a (tail end) boomer, but I truly think that the "me" generation has well and truly dropped the ball and will have to shift greatly to rescue an honorable legacy for itself. My thinking on this centers on the fact that pretty much everybody in power right now is a boomer, and the level of outright ignorance and denial is just stunning as the existing power centers do everything (in)humanly possible to ignore reality and keep the top spinning for just a little bit longer.
Will Marianne Williamson change the game?  Nope, probably not, and neither will I, or you, or anyone else in particular.  But together?  Maybe.  What else ever has?

I would remind everyone, Vietnam ended, eventually, after much protesting and despite assassinations of JFK and RFK and a dedicated pro-war establishment. Civil rights made giant leaps forward in the 50s and 60s thanks to grassroots political actions despite assassinations of MLK, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers and a dedicated racist establishment throughout the south and to a lesser degree elsewhere.  Both of these movements involved a lot of civil disobedience, beatings and some killings.  If you aren't willing to risk a lot, you won't get much done.
Neither of these movements would have accomplished much without grassroots mass actions influencing government policy making.  Remember the infamous  saying attributed to Chuck Colson (sleezeoid general counsel to Nixon, later converted to born again Christian after a prison sentence)  "Once you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow."  It isn't clear whether he was referring to the Vietnamese or Congress, but I think the sentiment should apply to any movement to change the hearts and minds of our elected critters.  You must play hardball.

We have not had true grassroot movements of sufficient size or militancy to effect legislative actions since Vietnam.  When we can fill the mall in DC with supporters of a third way, there will be change.  Although the internet can make some parts of that easier, the internet itself cannot replace mass numbers of people in the streets disrupting the smooth functioning of the status quo.  That hasn't been done in a long time, but must be if you really want significant change.  If you think you can do it without changing political powers, you are fooling yourselves.  The corporatocracy is firmly in control until we change it.


ferralhen,Well, I'm a pre-boomer (for whatever that's worth), but I feel your pain.  My initial reaction was "enough with the protests already – we need to focus on what we can control (at least to some degree) – our lives, our communities, our local economies, etc.".
However, I've noticed something interesting, starting with the drama of the Occupy movement.  "TPTB" are in fact quite scared of people power.  As one example, look at the hornet's nest Manning and Snowden tipped over.  In a well-ordered dictatorship, they would have been quietly disposed of, the media would have published a short series of articles condemning them as enemies of the people, and that would be that.  Instead, it was the instant and massive public outrage over the clear disconnect between the "official story" and the reality that has Washington running scared.  (In an earlier era, it was Daniel Ellsberg's revelations that helped change U.S. policy on the Vietnam war.)
So on balance, I think it's worth helping to get a few mavericks in Congress, and continuing protests – not that they will bring about massive change, but that they can help to keep at least some weight on "our side" of the scales.  Meanwhile, also keep preparing for a very different future.

I liked the interview, a refreshing change from the last few interviewees with their rather tedious Austrian bona fides….



Perhaps Ms. Williamson will follow in the footsteps of other independent female politicians in recent light, Kshwana Sawant in Seattle for example, or Elizabeth Warren, both with commitment to challenge the status quo. We need more like her, not afraid to disconnect from the two party system and stand for something more.


I find Ms. Williamson’s reference to the Abolitionist movement of the American late 19th century particularly instructive. While most know of the vast differences between Abolitionists on the one extreme, and the slave owners on the other, many are not aware of the substantial role played by the middle, or moderates in this volatile conflict of social relations.


The years of slavery and the resulting American Civil War have been described in many ways, encompassing many themes, from State’s Rights issues to the argument  that slavery was a “necessary evil” needed for the control of labor, but in the end, the conflict was primarily about class relations and class structure.


Slavery was (and still is) a class structure that requires exploitation to function.


Specifically, exploitation in the form of ownership of another human being for the purposes of appropriating that person’s work product for personal profit.


During the period of conflict pre-Civil War, while historical memories focus on the extreme positions, (Abolitionists vs. Salve Owners) much of this time was consumed with arguments from “sensible people”, realists, pragmatic types that sought compromise and stood to keep the extreme sides apart with stiff arm separation.


They introduced and supported legislation that made life easier on slaves, passed laws banning exportation or importation of slaves (1808), and numerous other types of half measures that sought to relieve the plight of the slave, but never really attacking the central issue-which was intrinsically confrontational, and dangerously so.


In retrospect, these so called “moderates” did incalculable damage to the movement by sidestepping the (now obvious) confrontation that had to occur, and delayed by decades, if not centuries, what could have and should have been a straightforward morality call. In hindsight of course, efforts to make life easier on slaves while still allowing slavery to be legal is a preposterous and nonsensical position, and these machinations and delays remain a dark stain on American history.


Fast forward to today, and we have yet another nationalized class structure that requires exploitation to function, appropriates an individual's work product for personal profit, while at the same time consuming finite natural resources and destroying the environment at a truly alarming pace.


An even more compelling case than 19th century America it would seem, yet, we have still no shortage of moderates and “sensible” voices adding their “contributions” to the political economy.


If we should be so fortunate as to have descendants who may be in a position to judge these current times in hindsight, as we have had with the issue of slavery, I hope they are more generous in their assessment of our morality and critical thinking skills.


I wish Marianne Williamson the best in her endeavour.

I like her too.  Too bad she's not running in Virginia.  I thought Tom Perriello was was the best thing to happen in our district;  his tenure was way too short. 

I have always enjoyed listening to Marianne Williamson when I've seen her on TV. I certainly have resonated with her message on spiritual issues. The podcast was an intelligent, thoughtful conversation between two people looking for ways to effect positive change in our country.
But . . .

I suspect it's too late for such things. Not just when it comes to political and economic change, but the most important change of all, sufficient radical change in our relationship with this planet. Enough nonreversible tipping points have already occurred with rising temperatures, melting Arctic ice, large methane plumes, acidic and depleted oceans, and all of them happening at an increasingly accelerated rate, for such things as who runs for political office to really matter. Nature has taken over now and we are helpless to reverse or even do much to mitigate the enormous changes we've caused in our biosphere. To me, this is like having a discussion about changing the captain on the Titanic after it's already hit the iceberg and is sinking. Too little, too late. Some climate scientists say the Arctic ocean could be ice-free in the summer by 2015 for the first time in millions of years, causing major changes to the climate. Melting permafrost and ocean clathrates will release even more methane along with possible fire storms. Methane is a very potent GHG which will further add to climate instability. The fact that we are losing 150-200 species per DAY doesn't seem to penetrate our denial. We could be looking at only another 20-30 years before the planet becomes uninhabitable. The web of life is unraveling.

Fukushima is another example of our thoughtlessness and carelessness when it comes to the health of the planet. Every day for over two years, radioactive water has poured into the Pacific. It is due to arrive on the west coast soon. It's unlikely they will be able to stop the outflow for some time and, in fact, are talking about releasing the water in the storage tanks into the ocean. Tepco's many lies about the severity of the problems at Dai-ichi lull people to sleep. But there are deadly consequences for what is happening there on the inhabitants of the ocean and those along its shores. It has the potential to affect the entire Northern Hemisphere.

I've come to the conclusion that given the above, we are no longer dealing with a matter of how to change what is happening, but with how to face the consequences of our actions. We had our chance as a species and we blew it. Protests, no matter how healthy they are, aren't going to change this dire picture. What we can change is how we choose to respond to it on an individual basis. Things are deteriorating and aren't going to get better. We are like patients in hospice faced with the end. Will we use our impending death as an opportunity to grow until the last minute or will we meet it with fear and denial? Only thing is, most people don't even know they are terminal and are busily engaged in business as usual, meaning political strife, wars, further resource depletion and pollution and the attempt to control others through propaganda and economic predation. There isn't time to change such ingrained behavior on the level it would need to. There isn't the will to alter ourselves radically enough to matter. Most people just don't care.

So here we are. Run for office, write a blog, dig a garden, plant a tree. Do whatever will fulfill you with the time we have remaining. Knowing our time is limited gives it even more meaning, not less. Besides, it's hard to just do nothing, especially for those of us who are used to success and achievement. We don't know how to handle a problem that can't be solved. So we'll continue to do what we've always done. Until our time is up.

My good wishes to Ms. Williamson in all her endeavors.

How do we find joy and meaning when we realistically understand that it all ends "6 feet under."  The same planetary predicament you describe is shared by each of us in our individual human lives also.  Our human life ends with our passing and our bodies being laid to rest in the earth.  And the same of my wife, my beloved dog, and children.
Where do we find joy and meaning while we live when we understand that this is the eventual outcome?   

For further info see Guy McPherson's latest update on 12/20/13:

But now I seem to be making more sense, well at least that's what my false sense of reality is feeding me. And after all this time I had just got comfortable in my label.
We went thru our first opportunity to make the necessary changes in the 1960's. Now in our second attempt we have shoulders to stand on. All is not lost until it is! These are special times and during special times what was a miracle is now ordinary, latent gifts and talents that have laid dormant are coming alive. Granted this time around the rides going to be a bit more bumpy. We might need to borrow Arthur's yacht idea.

As the center falls away look to margins. The paradox is only a paradox in the context of separate beings in an objective universe.

This machine may only be able to light one light bulb at this time, but it's 3d printing is scalable.


i see a similar set of circumstances as jdye51, however i haven't rolled over and died yet. people will survive this…maybe not me…but i am trying to not only live in a sustainable way, but leave behind the tools for the survivors to use. …all the fields that are currently cleared, were cleared by hard working individuals and horses back in the 1830's(where i live) who had an eye for their offsprings future.
we must think past ourselves. we must think past

the way to find happiness and deal  with being at some point 6 ft under, is to see that we are not the only generation of mankind to be here.we can enjoy our hard labour.we can enjoy what it brings. and we share. and we plan and we leave more behind than we took. we let go of entitlement and are thankful the roof didn't fall on us today. we have gratitude for the state of being.


i am an artist. i try to leave something behind that brings meaning to those that follow me.

i must transcend my own wants and needs, at some point.

we must see to leave behind something to work with.   soil, structures, society, receipes

so i try to live in a way that takes little and leaves way more than i started with.





Does anyone remember Ross Perot's 3rd party?  That was the best chance and the powers that be killed it.  I just don't see the legislative process correcting the problems that they created.  A big correction in markets has to occur to wake people up.  But let's hope the next step is not totalitarianism.  History is not encouraging on this contemplation.

Rosehip, we are lost. We can't 3d print water, food, healthy soil. Technology isn't going to save us. As methane is released, it will change the planet in ways we can't even predict with our climate models. But we know enough to realize we are in danger. The Permian extinction event is believed to have been caused by the release of methane triggered by warming from volcanic eruptions. And it can happen quite quickly - in a matter of decades. There are planetary forces much more powerful than our ability to contain them. In our ignorance and hubris, we have tampered with the balance needed to sustain our lives. It's over, we just haven't realized it yet. We are in the midst of a sixth Great Extinction event.Hold onto your hat, it's going to get bumpy.

We aren't going to survive this. We are losing too much of the very things that sustain us. The plankton are dying, the coral reefs are dying, the forests are dying. The soil is depleted, the water is polluted and we're emptying irreplaceable aquifers. We've destroyed the ecosystem that allows us to live.
It doesn't matter what we do. There won't be anyone to appreciate what we've left behind. We are among the last humans to live on the planet. In fact, what we've set into motion could very well result in the loss of all life on the planet. Increasing temperatures are triggering feedbacks we can't alter. We're poisoning the earth and its oceans. And most people either don't even know about it or if they do, don't care. They don't really want to know. It's too much to take in.

How do we take in the knowledge that we are a dying race on a dying planet? All of our instincts want to deny that. We cling to hope - technology will save us, it's really not that bad, some of us will survive to start over, etc., etc. Nope, not going to happen.

So make your art. Plant your garden. Because it seems like the right thing to do. Because it makes you feel better, But it's not going to make a real difference in the end.

I wish it wasn't like this. I wish we'd woken up sooner. Now it's too late. So enjoy the life you have while you have it. I salute your efforts to leave more behind than you started with. Too bad more of us didn't do that when we had the chance.

Joyce,It has been warmer than at present for longer than the present, and particularly in the arctic, at least six times in the last 4000 years. It was warmer in the last interglacial period about 110,000 years ago. Why is this time different?