Monday, October 31, 2011

OWS bypasses, even ignores, established methods for speaking out

"As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney hone their lines, trying to work out a position that sympathizes with the aggrieved while reassuring their donors, the OWS message to both candidates is the same: 'This isn’t about you. It’s between us and them,' pointing up to the Masters of the Universe on the executive floors—not the mouthpieces of the corporate chieftains but the actual power.
OWS is clearly inspired by Tahrir Square. Yet Egyptians succeeded in toppling the Mubarak government not because they occupied the square but because their occupation exerted direct pressure on the country’s most powerful business interests. As SUNY Stonybrook sociologist Michael Schwartz has detailed, by shutting down the tourist industry, disrupting construction projects whose financing had already been committed and initiating general strike actions that threatened to shut the Suez Canal, the occupiers of Tahrir threatened the interests of the economic elite—and that is what brought down the regime.
Clearly, something similar—nonviolent action that directly challenges the economic elite—is required here if we’re to succeed in making serious change. It’s daunting, but there is a precedent. Before there were civil rights laws, people broke the back of Jim Crow by picketing, boycotting, getting beaten and arrested by the tens of thousands, in direct action against the most powerful forces of their society."

I like that OWS is basically ignoring ALL elites; economic, media, political, and just saying hey, everything is screwed up and we need to work on fixing it.  The elites will have to be steered from what THEY want to be talking about to what ACTUALLY NEEDS talking about.  Go OWS.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Occupy Iowa City statement of principles

The Occupy Iowa City General Assembly approved the following statement of principles over the course of a two part discussion on Oct. 23 and 24, 2011.

In the fierce urgency of now:
  1. We observe the destructive power of militarism throughout the globe, increasingly spurred on by national and corporate greed, fear, and desire for complete domination over people and resources.
  2. We witness the greatest disparity in the distribution of wealth since the Great Depression.
  3. We observe corporate and individual greed on an unprecedented scale, resulting in the upward flow of capital, the impoverishment of the working class, and the dismantling of the democratic process.
  4.  We witness the exploitation of the Earth and its natural resources, and its disastrous effects on climate, agriculture, food, waterways, and all living beings.
  5. We witness concerted efforts to criminalize and oppress human beings on the basis of ability, age, class, gender identity, gender expression, sexual identity, religion, race, ethnicity, and nationality.
  6. We witness political repression and incarceration of dissenting voices and political ideologies.
  7. We witness the degradation of public schools which do not provide the skills needed for creative and free thought, or for full participation in economic or political systems.
  8.  We witness the infiltration of the profit motive into all spheres of life.

Therefore, Occupy Iowa City, based on the material and social conditions of the world today, and aware of the particular responsibility we bear as people who reside in the United States, articulates the following principles:

  1. We stand in solidarity with the brave people participating in Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy movements throughout the world.
  2.  We affirm inherent human rights and recognize the utility of the United Nation’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” as a model for the articulation of these rights, but additionally affirm the need for protection of diverse and indigenous cultures.
  3. We affirm the need for safe and affordable housing for all human beings.
  4. We affirm the right of human beings to choose where they live and work, and to engage in these activities free from intimidation or harassment from the state, employers, employees, financiers, or the community.
  5. We affirm the need to protect the environment and believe that a just world requires all people and organizations to take full responsibility for the ecological implications of their actions.
  6. We affirm the right of all people to have access to appropriate health care as well as clean and nourishing food and water.
  7.  We affirm our commitment to peace and the belief that entities, including nations, states, and private capital, should never pursue war or brutality of any kind.
  8. We affirm transnational interdependence, which rejects colonization, military occupation, and economic and cultural imperialism.
  9. We believe in the equitable and just distribution of all resources, opportunity, and wealth.
  10. We affirm the necessity of affordable public education for all people, so that they may be fully informed, creative and curious participants in a just society.
  11. We affirm our commitment to the process of democratic decision-making, and believe all people deserve an equal voice and vote.
  12. We affirm the interconnectedness of these principles and seek new paradigms to bring about systemic change.
This is a living document and is not all-inclusive.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Leader" of Egyptian revolution is no such thing

"Even now, everyone from grassroots activists to top intellectuals continues to insist that no leader is necessary. 'No, no, no, no. Not one person,' says Alaa Al Aswany, Egypt’s most acclaimed novelist, who has been aligned with the protest movement from the start. 'We’re not asking for a hero, you see?'
This notion is in keeping with the decentralized ethos of Internet organizing. And as Aswany points out, it made the movement a perfect foil to Mubarak’s entrenched and suffocating authority—“because the revolution was leaderless. That’s why the Mubarak regime couldn’t control it, right?” But it’s also a reflection of an animosity toward the very idea of a leader, stemming from a long history of corrupt autocrats. Many Egyptians hold this sentiment and share a reflexive suspicion of anyone who looks like they might be trying to take charge."

The media, in desperation to understand a leaderless revolution, tried to pin the title on Ghonim.  But as this article shows, he didn't want to be a leader, didn't think the movement needed a leader, and has never acted in any way to take such a position.  In certain projects, there really is no need for a leader. ICA works and it helps people.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Message of support from Cairo to OWS

Solidarity Statement From Cairo

Posted Oct. 25, 2011, 2:39 p.m. EST by
To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it's our turn to pass on some advice.
Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years-long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic development or urban renewal scheme.
An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organizations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immiseration reinforced by a massive increase in police repression and torture.
The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, capitalism and the austerity-state now even attack the private realm and people's right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed-upon homeowners find themselves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.
So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy , real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and disciplined? Reclaiming these spaces and managing them justly and collectively is proof enough of our legitimacy.
In our own occupations of Tahrir, we encountered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces forgathering, leisure, meeting, and interacting – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inaccessible, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, particularly for the marginalized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst .
What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engagement being made in the occupations avoid the empty ideals and stale parliamentarianism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occupations must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.

But the ideologies of property and propriety will manifest themselves again. Whether through the overt opposition of property owners or municipalities to your encampments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic regulations, anti-camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.

We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government's own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party's offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us. But at the end of the day on the 28 th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.
It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose. If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.
By way of concluding then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never givethem up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.
Comrades from Cairo.
24th of October, 2011.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

can you organize too much in ICA?

"'We are supposed to be inclusive, and I worry that a few of us appear to be making the decisions for all of us,' volunteer Rob Piper said in one of the meeting's earliest statements. 'We must decide whether we are a circle jerk or a social fucking movement.'"

There's no shortage of talking, and you never know who will take hold of the People's Mic. Persuasive speakers on all sides can give General Assembly meetings a roller-coaster feel. Someone always seems to oppose a budget proposal, or have a strong dissenting opinion on something that seems on its way to sure passage. Just one voice joining the debate at the last minute has the power to sway the entire discussion.
With every proposal, there are questions and there are concerns, and the process continues and continues. The facilitators say numerous times the group has strayed off process. Questions are sometimes ignored for being 'off-topic' even when they aren't, time constraints are cited and frustrations boil over. Occupiers curse, speak out of turn and sometimes they just keep on talking, despite 'Mic Check' calls over them. Those on all sides alienate each other."

* * * *

I don't know the solution to this. Handling finances and infiltrators are important issues. But really, a 3-hour meeting?  A 5-hour meeting?  I'm going to guess that both NY and Denver OWS is trying to organize a bit too much for an ICA.  The simplicity is getting lost.  But, if a group gets that big, and needs to consider how to help those who get arrested, etc., there does need to be organization.

So I'll go out on a limb and say once your group is so big you need to build a sort of bureaucracy, then abandon the idea that you are working under ICA. Those methods will no longer work.  And I think they're too worried about a "leader" since such a position can be seen as just another position, not one that controls the whole system. 

This is the sort of stuff that needs to be thought through more; when does ICA work, and when should it be abandoned for more organized methods?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A collection of articles on Occupy Wall Street

"70 percent of the survey’s 1,619 respondents identified as politically independent, far-and-away the vast majority, compared to 27.3% Democrats and 2.4% self-identified Republicans.

A whopping 71.5% of the sample earns less than $50,000 per year.

50.4% reported full-time employment, and 'an additional 20.4% were employed part-time.'”

* * * *

"The Occupy movement, decentralized and leaderless, has mobilized thousands of people around the world almost exclusively via the Internet. To a large degree through Twitter, and also with platforms like Facebook and Meetup, crowds have connected and gathered.

The first two weeks of the movement were slow, media coverage was slim and little happened beyond the taking of the concrete park itself. But then a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge prompted hundreds of arrests and the spark was ignited.

On October 1, #OccupyBoston started to show up on Twitter. Within a couple of weeks, #OccupyDenver and #OccupySD and others appeared."

* * * * *

"On Sept. 17, Constitution Day, about 1,000 people assembled in lower Manhattan to protest Wall Street, the government’s bailout of too-big-to-fail banks, and the growing gap everywhere between rich and poor.
The world ignored them.

By Oct. 15, the occupation had spread to hundreds of cities, in America and across the world, and that Saturday witnessed mostly peaceful marches comprised of tens of thousands of citizens across the world."

* * * * *

"Demands would require a leader, someone to give a face and a name to the demands. Without formal demands, we are left to presume from the actions of the loose group that it is protesting the situation that drove the economic crisis in 2008, which has not been resolved to anyone's satisfaction and which is responsible for the dismal economic outlook -- especially for people in their 20s looking for their first real jobs.

So there's neither message nor demands, but with a nod and a wink we all know what's unspoken. But look at the effect this has. No spokesperson means no individual for the media to fixate on, and that means the message can't be diverted very easily.
At least in the Occupy Wall Street situation, there's no shortage of information, and it's readily available, as is the basic story (just as in North Africa, no one had to tell people they were oppressed by corrupt regimes). What's fascinating is the way people have chosen to use the Internet and what they know. They're curiously united but they keep their distance from the center of it all, which could easily bring the movement down.

In the days before all of our new social and mobile technology, it may have been necessary to operate close to the center with leaders and manifestos. How else could people rally others to their causes? Social media does that work now, and it is work done friend-to-friend. New technology has caused some people to think differently about how best to unite and get a message out. They are ahead of the curve, operating out of the reach of conventional media and political jujitsu. This is both instructive and beautiful -- like watching a no-hitter in progress."

* * * *

'As more Americans debate whether to leave the sidelines and join the Occupy Wall Street movement, we should heed Dr. King’s words. Our individual silence is a form of acquiescence, and we speak volumes not only through our action but also through our lack of it. Silence signals that we are okay with what’s happening, or that we have simply given up. While Occupy Wall Street has inspired a new level of consciousness in America, we have only just scratched the surface of what will be needed to shift the political economy of our country."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The media can't figure out OWS; where are the leaders? The demands?

"The media and the officialdom seem flummoxed by the lack of obvious leaders and official spokesmen.  OWS is an experiment in something more akin to direct democracy and it explicitly places the wishes and needs of the community first. If nothing else it is exercising muscles that have atrophied badly in American discourse."

ICA has no leaders. The media needs to figure that out eventually here.  The reasons behind an ICA are usually multiple, depending on which participant/group within the movement you ask. Basically there is some core agreement for what is wrong or what needs to be changed that unifies the otherwise diverse group.  For Project Chanology, it was simply to expose the bad side of Scientology, and have fun.  Not everyone agrees WHY you need to expose the bad side of Scientology, nor perhaps HOW, but a consensus is arrived at to do something, and off they go to the street.

The fact that ICA has very simple goals makes this possible. If the goal is to become a formal organization, to run some business or government, then ICA does not work.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dailykos; "Conservative Magazine Brags of its Agent Provocateur's Role in Provoking Police Action in D.C."

The American Spectator admits to being involved in the precipitation of violence at the Air and Space Museum as a means of discrediting the Occupy Movement.
It has been openly reporting about its 'plants' among the protesters and their actions to get certain things to occur.  Included in this, today, was the presence - and central role played by - of Patrick Howley, its Assistant Editor, in sparking the police reaction and violence."

Ok, so what should you do as a legitimate protester when undercover cops or stupid "journalists" try to provoke you into doing something that goes against the ideals of your protest?  The best way to nip this problem in the bud, I think, is to plan ahead as a group. Then if somebody in the group tries to provoke some action that goes against the general plan and philosophy that's been agreed on, tell them Not Your Personal Army and tell them their idea is dumb.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy Wall Street as ICA

"We don't know precisely what will come out of this round. But if the occupiers finally manage to break the 30-year stranglehold that has been placed on the human imagination, as in those first weeks after September 2008, everything will once again be on the table – and the occupiers of Wall Street and other cities around the US will have done us the greatest favour anyone possibly can."

   OWS is ICA.  It's spreading too.  Fast.  I think this will last too. Project Chanology was after one specific organization. OWS is after a complete economic and political system.  This will take longer and much greater effort.  But the tools are there. The will is there.  I predict that OWS  will lead to great changes in our society, though it won't reach as far as many would like.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jeez, maybe you don't even need a unified message?

"Sikora added that just because the people there have different causes doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re fighting for. 'Multiple goals doesn’t mean you don’t have a clear direction,” he said, adding: “It doesn’t mean you’re unfocused.'"

I think what's actually going on here is that the protesters DO have a unified message, but the different groups have different ways of describing or explaining it at the moment.   It's clear to me that Wall Street is a problem for the US economy, that Wall Street have been getting the kid glove treatment while the rest of the country gets the shaft.  I'd say every protester would agree with that.

So, perhaps I'd alter this a bit and say you don't need an articulation of the goal that everybody agrees to.

Media conference in London: Oct. 8-9


  • Noam Chomsky, (Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media)
  • Michael Albert, coordinator of one of the world’s largest radical websites, ZNet
  • Matthew Alford (Reel Power: Hollywood Cinema and American Supremacy)
  • Jessica Azulay (New Standard News)
  • Mark Barto (London Video Activist Network)
  • Zoe Broughton (Campaign Filmmaker)
  • Brian Dominick (New Standard News)
  • Amira Hass (Haaretz)
  • Becky Hogge (Barefoot in Cyberspace)
  • Dan Hind (The Return of the Public)
  • Emily James (Just Do It)
  • Taesun Kwon (Hankyoreh)
  • Robert McChesney (Our Media, Not Theirs)
  • Laurie Penny (Penny Red)
  • John Pilger (The War You Don’t See)