Tuesday, November 1, 2011

OWS works on structure


"When Graeber and his friends showed up on Aug. 2, however, they found out that the event wasn’t, in fact, a general assembly, but a traditional rally, to be followed by a short meeting and a march to Wall Street to deliver a set of predetermined demands ('A massive public-private jobs program' was one, 'An end to oppression and war!' was another). In anarchist argot, the event was being run by 'verticals'—top-down organizations—rather than 'horizontals' such as Graeber and his friends. Sagri and Graeber felt they’d been had, and they were angry.
What happened next sounds like an anarchist parable. Along with Kohso, the two recruited several other people disgruntled with the proceedings, then walked to the south end of the park and began to hold their own GA, getting down to the business of planning the Sept. 17 occupation. The original dozen or so people gradually swelled, despite the efforts of the event’s planners to bring them back to the rally. The tug of war lasted until late in the evening, but eventually all of the 50 or so people remaining at Bowling Green had joined the insurgent general assembly.
'The groups that were organizing the rally, they also came along,' recalls Kohso. 'Then everyone stayed very, very late to organize what committees we needed.'
While there were weeks of planning yet to go, the important battle had been won. The show would be run by horizontals, and the choices that would follow—the decision not to have leaders or even designated police liaisons, the daily GAs and myriad working-group meetings that still form the heart of the protests in Zuccotti Park—all flowed from that."

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In my previous post I mentioned that it appeared to me that the OWS was using an organizational structure that would only work for smaller, less complex groups.  OWS seems to be figuring this out as well and has proposed adding to the General Assembly a Spokes Council:


The Occupy Wall Street Spokes Council
A Spokes Council is structured similar to the spokes of a wheel:  It is designed to combine large group participation (like in the GA) with small group deliberation and consensus process.
  • Each group selects a “spoke” to sit with the other “spokes” in a circle in the middle of the meeting space, with the rest of their group sitting right behind them
  • Spokes have no authority and are not decision-makers. They actively discuss all agenda items with all other members of their group who have joined them for the Spokes Council.
  • Spokes are responsible for communicating any diversity of sentiments that may exist within their group to the rest of the spokes council
  • Spokes rotate at every meeting, and can be recalled by their group at any time
  • During Spokes Councils, individuals in multiple groups are free to sit with any group that they are a part of and to move around at will
  • Movement Groups may partner with Operations Groups and/or Caucuses

Decisions & Decision-Making
  • The four types of decisions that the Spokes Council attend to are:
1)     Decisions related to the logistical operation of Occupy Wall Street
2)     Approval of Occupy Wall Street budgets and expenditures
3)     The addition or subtraction of Operations Groups and Caucuses to the Spokes Council
  • All Working Groups and Caucuses will be admitted to the Spokes Council that adhere to the above definitions of an Operations Group or Caucus and that agree to abide by the Principles of Solidarity adopted (as a working draft) by the GA [available at http://www.nycga.net/about/]
  • The only reason a group may be asked to leave the Spokes Council is for either repeatedly disrupting the Spokes Council’s process or for behaving in a way that seriously violates the GA’s Principles of Solidarity
4)     Amendments to the functioning of the Spokes Council that do not alter the power of the GA

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   I'm not sure I grasp exactly how this works but I'm glad to see they are working on some method that will streamline the General Assembly.

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