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#Occupy - Nov 9

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage.


Who knows where the occupations are going – it's just great to be moving

Gary Younge, Guardian
As Wall Street wormed its way into everyone's life, so Occupy protests grow everywhere: symbolic for now, but changing debate
----
The occupations are essentially symbolic. Their aim is not to challenge the existing order directly but to highlight its inequalities and inequities in the hope that the public will be galvanised to transform it. This comes by way of description rather than criticism. In less than two months they have achieved more than anyone could have imagined.

The Occupy movement has provided a large tent in which a range of previously atomised struggles can now camp. It's a place where those working against war and to protect environment, library services, legal aid, public healthcare, public sector jobs (to mention just a few) have been able to find one another. Every weeknight in Nashville between 100 and 150 people meet at 7pm for a general assembly which is open to the public. Laura Wallace, who works to distribute local foods from local farms, helps moderate the meetings. "I've lived here for five years and I never knew these people were out there," she says. "It's really exciting to be part of this bigger group that comes together in a common space with a common goal."

The occupations have shifted the conversation about what the problem is. Prior to its emergence the trend was not to talk truth to power but to slur the powerless. Politicians went almost unchallenged as they variously identified the troublesome 1% as Gypsies, Muslims, asylum seekers, trade union activists or public sector employees. Now we are back to talking about the people who created this crisis and the system that sustains them.

The occupiers have also provided a living example of the kind of world they would like to see.
(6 November 2011)



Occupy Cross-Roads: What Will Happen If OWS Loses Its Park?

Danny Schechter, Smirking Chimp
... The hard real-world contradictions of urban life have bumped up against the idyllic hopes of the occupiers as all the urban crises that our society has ignored and neglected surface in that half acre of hope.

There are man/woman handlers and gladhanders, doers and dopers, ragers and even rapists and so many poor with no where else to go. There are cops on the outside (and many on the inside) who plan for and hope for the worse.

... JA Myerson writes on the new, must read OWSNews.org website that many are preparing to evacuate the park in this winter of growing discontent as the lines between those who want change and those who don't become clearer.

"For the last week or so, the 1%-owned media have been doing everything possible to give their fellow 1%-er and good friend Mayor Bloomberg the political cover necessary to seize Zuccotti Park. They have made an example of a restaurant whose business is suffering because of barricades - but who put up the barricades? They have made an example of the unsanitary conditions arising among a community deprived of facilities - but who deprives it of facilities? They have made an example of the homeless people and drug addicts who populate the park - but who has denied them anywhere better to go? And now that they have cultivated the image of a failed project (after themselves erecting the barriers to its success), they appear to be gearing up to demolish it."

The New York Times believes (and perhaps hopes) the occupation is sputtering, writing, "Occupy Wall Street Protest Reaches a Crossroads."

That could happen because revolutions don't run in straight lines and don't happen only when those most aware among us want them too. The occupiers have the sympathy, but a company called Brookfield owns the property in a society where property rights trump human rights.

There are rumors that a new location is being considered.

Revolutions happen when social and economic conditions insure they are unstoppable, when the crisis makes millions understand not only their inevitability but their desirability, and when many forces converge and see no alternative.

It's one thing to call a General Strike, but mounting one requires more than staging a mass protest in one city for one day after less a week of mobilizing. Yes, the turnout in Oakland was impressive but it could not be sustained.

As Noam Chomsky advised before it happened, "you have to educate-educate yourself and others---before you strike." The violence of a few was used to discredit the efforts of the many, prompting as many criticisms from within as from without.

Why does a macho handful always feel the need to prove how militant they can be?

There are no shortcuts to building a deeper and broader movement. Organizing is not easy but is always essential. Being right is never enough!

The Italian theorist Gramsci advised revolutionaries a century ago to fuse "pessimism of the intelligence and the optimism of the will." He was right about that then and is right now.
(7 November 2011)



A Chill Descends On Occupy Wall Street

Fritz Tucker, Countercurrents
On Sunday, October 23, a meeting was held at 60 Wall Street. Six leaders discussed what to do with the half-million dollars that had been donated to their organization, since, in their estimation, the organization was incapable of making sound financial decisions. The proposed solution was not to spend the money educating their co-workers or stimulating more active participation by improving the organization’s structures and tactics. Instead, those present discussed how they could commandeer the $500,000 for their new, more exclusive organization. No, this was not the meeting of any traditional influence on Wall Street. These were six of the leaders of Occupy Wall Street (OWS).

Occupy Wall Street’s Structure Working Group (WG) has created a new organization called the Spokes Council. “Teach-ins” were held to workshop and promote the Spokes Council throughout the week of October 22-28. I attended the teach-in on Sunday the 23rd.

According to Marisa Holmes, one of the most outspoken and influential leaders of OWS, the NYC-GA started receiving donations from around the world when OWS began on September 17. Because the NYC-GA was not an official organization, and therefore could not legally receive thousands of dollars in donations, the nonprofit Alliance for Global Justice helped OWS create Friends of Liberty Plaza, which receives tax-free donations for OWS. Since then, Friends of Liberty Plaza has received over $500,000. Until October 28, anybody who wanted to receive more than $100 from Friends of Liberty Plaza had to go through the often arduous modified consensus process (90% majority) of the NYC-GA—which, despite its well-documented inefficiencies, granted $25,740 to the Media WG for live-stream equipment on October 12, and $1,400 to the Food and Medical WGs for herbal tonics on October 18.

At the teach-in, Ms. Holmes maintained that while the NYC-GA is the “de facto” mechanism for distributing funds, it has no right to do so, even though she acknowledged that most donors were likely under the impression that the NYC-GA was the only organization with access to these funds. Two other leaders of the teach-in, Daniel and Adash, concurred with Holmes.

... I’ve attended two mock Spokes Councils in the past month. At the Spokes Council in Washington Square Park on October 15, the unelected facilitators set the agenda: Occupy Washington Square Park. Then they set the terms of debate, breaking the group into three circles: those who wanted to occupy and possibly get arrested, those who wanted there to be an occupation and would assist those being arrested, and those who wanted to build the movement in other ways. I went with the third group.

The facilitators told each group to elect a facilitator, a note-taker, and a spokesperson who would read the notes from each group’s meeting. Almost immediately, one of the members of the OWS inner-circle asked my group if anybody had a problem if she facilitated. Nobody objected, so she was “elected.” Although she was in the one group that opposed occupying Washington Square Park, she lectured us about the need to occupy public parks.

I was vocal in my group, arguing that the fundamental problem in our hierarchical, bureaucratic society is the lack of a truly democratic, dialogic way of relating to one another—not that public parks close at midnight. I repeated the arguments I had raised in previous General Assemblies, concluding that OWS’ main goal should be to develop dialogic, democratic methods in the occupied areas, and to extend this way of life into every home, workplace and school, and in local, regional, national and international bodies.
(4 November 2011)
Grassroots democracy is hard ... especially among people who are basically strangers, such as at Occupy protests. The General Assembly / Work Group model was a good first step, but it is not the last word in effective democratic procedures.

Suggested by EB contributor cdresearch who writes: "Provides a less than flattering angle that probably shouldn't be overlooked."

-BA

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