An open space for global conversation
"The root of the word economy itself comes from the Greek meaning 'home,' the place we occupy," writes Occupy Cafe Steward Gary Horvitz in his short piece on "why we're doing this." It should therefore come as no surprise that the subject of a New Economy is intimately bound up with our vision for the movement itself. And it is also no coincidence that we have Gary to thank for inviting Charles Eisenstein to join us on Monday,12/12 for the eighth in our regular series of "Vital Conversations" Cafe Calls. Now that this call is complete, please review our "Collaborative Tablecloth" notes, and continue the conversation via the thread below.
Our intention is to produce the "raw material" for a declaration of what might be possible for the movement in this terrain. The questions below provide our focus, and we invite you to offer our thoughts as we explore this further. Meanwhile we have convened a small team to take what has emerged and craft it into a one or two page statement that can be presented to the wider movement in general, and in particular to people planning to participate in Occupy Wall Street's 12/18 "unconference" on the Vision for the movement going forward. You can participate by joining the "Occupy 2.0: New Economy" group, where we are using this Forum thread as our "home base." We are also planning a call for Wednesday, 12/14, time TBD. If you wish to participate, post your availability here.
As the Occupy movement continues to evolve, it seems increasingly important that a positive, creative focus emerge at the core of what we standing for. We know that our current economic system is morally, and increasingly financially, bankrupt. Over the past decades, much deep and innovative thinking has gone into imagining alternatives to the current failed approach, i.e. a "New Economy.".
Conversations about a New Economy have evolved naturally out of the focus on Wall Street that sparked this movement. And they have been among the most active discussions here at OC.org as well. Paul Bernstein spoke powerfully to this subject as a conversation starter for the 11/14 Cafe Call. The New Economy dialogue has also flourished via the forum discussion "A new Economy--Exploring the Heart of Sustainability," started by Gary Horvitz on 10/26, which had 177 posts as of 12/11.
We are now honored and delighted to by the opportunity to deepen this conversation with the help and inspiration of Charles Eisenstein. Charles is the author of Sacred Economics and The Ascent of Humanity. "No Demand Is Big Enough," his "Reality Sandwich" blog reflecting on the nascent occupation of Wall Street, should also be considered "required reading" for those who care about where this movement is heading. An excerpt:
We protest not only at our exclusion from the American Dream; we protest at its bleakness. If it cannot include everyone on earth, every ecosystem and bioregion, every people and culture in its richness; if the wealth of one must be the debt of another; if it entails sweatshops and underclasses and fracking and all the rest of the ugliness our system has created, then we want none of it.
No one deserves to live in a world built upon the degradation of human beings, forests, waters, and the rest of our living planet. Speaking to our brethren on Wall Street, no one deserves to spend their lives playing with numbers while the world burns. Ultimately, we are protesting not only on behalf of the 99% left behind, but on behalf of the 1% as well. We have no enemies. We want everyone to wake up to the beauty of what we can create.
Inspired by Charles' insights and our sense of the current moment in the Occupy movement, we invite you to join us for this Vital Conversation. We are framing our conversation around the following questions, which we invite you to respond to via this forum thread in advance of our call as well, in order to help "seed" our dialogue:
I agree, Occupy is the wake-up call. It is up to us as Occupiers to keep bringing up the conversation. I talk about it to everyone I meet. I know someone who wears the Guy Fawkes mask (backwards) out all the time to spark conversation. I thought an idea would be to leave our signs in places so they would be seen by people starting conversations. We have to get these ideas into public awareness!!!
Thank you for your comitment to this awakening, your daily partcipation in it. That is where we can be an effective catalyst..out there in our communities in ordinary places, in places of need. I love that you are using symbols of Occupy to initiate discussion.
I hopewhere you are people do gravitate towards and not turn away from those sysmbols. At the moment I am not sure that Occupy stands for help and change or leadership in the minds of most Americans or around the world.. Here on my island our struggles against the plutonomy make no reference at all and aren't at all helped by anything Occupy is doing..
Here is a wonderful example of how Occupy through witness and solidarity with oppressed groups can catalyse the kind of action and support it will take to turn us away from the abyss
This letter came in response to the Occupy Ports Action which did not stand in solidarity with workers or witness worker conditions in any way but this eloqouent letter to Occupy is very moving. The writer was selected by port drivers to speak for them..to speak for their conditions.(which occupy did not do) Occupy made them visible to the 1% by jamming access to the ports ( preventing the dirvers from being able to complete their pick ups and deliveries) I will never see a semi the same way again. But that isn't thanks to Occupy it is thanks to this author's eloquence.
That is how Occupy's anarchist jam the sytem tactics can work but if every action to jam the system included in the signs in the voice of those actions a mindfulness for the conditions of the ordinary people who are victims of what Occupy is jamming..that would multiply the impact and have an even greater catalyzing effect.
Same with the Occupy Housing to date. The clarity of witness and solidarity with the victimized homeowners just isn't there ..they aren't even in the most vctimized communities because they are not plugged in to any of the ongoing real wolrd work fighting these conditions. In addition to the house occupiers there should be thousands of occupy people marching in these commnities with signs that witness what the banks and in the case of NYC mr plutonomy himself, Mayor Bloomberg, have done to the nations' poorest inner city neighborhoods
I am not seeing how Occupy's Occupy Housing's strategy is heightneing awareness of anything we don't already know, how it is catalyzing anything. What is it pointing too? Is it using the visibility of their effort to point attention to the Presidents intention to exempt baks from all criminal prosecution in exchange for a meager and bank administered settlement? Is it point to Tammy Baldwin resolution to block that? Is it pointing to the crime investigations by attorneys general in the states where they are doing Occupy Housing? Seems very disconncted from understanding to me.. Moveons work of trying to educate arm and help individual victims of robo foreclsoures is much more useful. Their advice on action..don't leave your homes, don't go with the foreclsoure process stay put is much more useful that what Occupy is doing.
To be a catalyst Occupy has to give up or modify its insistence on anarchist tactics. and values.it's weddedness to this process of revolution or at least learn how to conduct these operations in a way that truly connects to people. truly shows solidarity with them, truly shines a light on what will awaken awareness.
Just wanted to add this very interesting article from Salon (a progressive left wing usually pro-occupy journal)
It points out that Occupy's sense that the port is a critical hub whose day to day opertaions rae vital to the economy is correct but their purpose and effect unclear as it didn't hurt the 1% at all..it mostly hurt the 99%.
From the anarchist politics of Occupy..mega success..great anarchisr street theater
but does that have instrinsic value to any one?
against the standard of catalyzing change was the dock occupation sucessful? not so much did anyone walk away with an actionable message?
against the standards of witnessing and standing in solidarity with the most disenfranches? not so much..cost them quite a bit
was this even a nuisance to the 1%
not at all.
Not sure if this is where we continue the thread from Charles' wonderful segment yesterday. I feel that the Transition movement, which already has 5 or 6 years of trial and growth- already is 'on the ground', practical, and not agressive or demanding or 'us and them': simply concerned folks deciding to bring forth the local talents and resources in their areas, I envision a natural alliance with the Occupy Movement 2.0... and think there is much to incorporate from the already formulated Transition strategy.
As for a slogan, how about: "Livin' local and lovin' it!"
here in UK we are connecting Occupy with Transition which has been going locally for a few years. We are also looking towards a global Strike in May 2012 when people will switch to the alternative system. I agree with MS below that we have to put all our efforts into getting this alternative going so 3) ensure that there is an alternative that supports workers, providing a place where they can retreat to in order to boycott, divest from, and sanction all activities associated with the profiteering of the 1% so that the worker is no longer a slave to the wage.
OAKLAND OCCUPIERS COST ELDERLY OWNERS A SALE WITH THEIR OCCUPATION OF THEIR BUILDING.
Here is a quote directly from the Occupy Wall Street blog that underscores my sense of of the public werainess with Occupy's self centered anarchist street theat
"Just for the historical record, the building they chose to occupy and vandalize wasn't foreclosed nor is it owned by a bank. It is, in fact, owned by a partnership that consists of a small group of senior citizens who range in age from their 70's to their 90's. Like me, they are baffled as to why anyone would do this.
Also, for the record, this building may have been vacant but it wasn't abandoned. To the contrary, it is for sale with two offers currently on the table. A third prospective buyer backed out due to fears that these misguided "revolutionaries" would return.
I can't adequately express the extent to which I'm saddened by the betrayal of a movement that had incredible potential to bring about much needed change. Perhaps, Occupy Oakland can still reinvent itself as a group that chooses its "friends" more judiciously and, in the process, become far more "inclusive" by attracting into the fold people, like me, who remain wholly committed to peaceful protests"
This underscores my ongoing critique of Occupy Housings misguided and to many, especially those aggrieved, offensive tactics that are just reactionary spontaneous uniformed and not very useful antics.
Considering the system is set up by the rich, for the rich, it seems obvious that any attack on financial flows would necessarily impact the 99% still dependent on the exploitative system. Moreover, any REAL impact would likely be resolved by firing enough workers to recoup any losses. The article mentions a twenty day blockade of the ports would cause a $6-20 billion loss. No doubt that would result in many workers laid off, while the 1%, insulated as they are from attacks on capital, might lose millions of dollars, but are able to ride out any strike until those starving, jobless workers beg for their jobs again, realizing there is no alternative but to work for those who own productive capabilities
To me, this implies three scenarios: 1) be content with the system and try to survive in it, 2) justify the 99%'s loss of income by saying it is merely the creative destruction of the transformative process of structural change, or 3) ensure that there is an alternative that supports workers, providing a place where they can retreat to in order to boycott, divest from, and sanction all activities associated with the profiteering of the 1% so that the worker is no longer a slave to the wage.
If the Occupy movement is looking to "hurt" the 1%, they are going to have to find tactics that are limited to affecting only them. Aside from shaming, harassing, and generally annoying them, there is not much else one can do that will be limited to only them, since their economic activities are the foundational supports for the ENTIRE economic activity of the world.
Is there any chance to structure a kind of OCCUPY BANK? This could provide an institution where the people are able to have direct influence in the policies they choose to abide by, pooling their resources to perhaps forgo interest rates altogether, or fund restoration projects, etc...with democratic policies voting for what should be done with the people's money (or everyone can choose where their money goes to and what it helps).
Personally, I think the first thing occupy wall street should do is LEGALIZE CANNABIS. If we are serious about a sustainable, green economy that negates oppression, militarization, etc...then there is not a much more influential change that can/needs to take place than that. It would immediately save the country $77 billion dollars and jump start local economies through a superior SUSTAINABLE product.
Regulate the income to plug the financial hole and support those programs that have been cut and one particular action will have major impacts that resonate in many different sectors. Oh, and I hear it cures cancer too http://www.cannabisculture.com/articles/5169.html ; http://www.amazon.com/Marijuana-Cures-Cancer-Joan-Bello/dp/146633049X With so many uses, can you imagine what the world would look like if cannabis was the new currency, the new medium of exchange? Everyone could grow their own!
Besides that, check out Free Energy as a way to eliminate the stranglehold of energy companies. (There is a documentary called Thrive! that was streaming in full but has recently been taken down that focuses on this. At the moment it can be rented for $5 http://www.thrivemovement.com/ The gift economy is being subverted!!)
Occupy Wall Street can BDS every company that doesn't comply with a strict standard of operation, attacking the means by which those groups profit through destruction while engaging in direct action to dissuade them from exploiting humans and nature for personal benefits. If communities assume there will be damage caused due to their toleration of the elite members who contribute to suffering (like when WTO meetings led to millions of dollars worth of damage for nearby businesses) they will think twice about inviting/allowing them in, so that there will be no sanctuaries left for these corrupt institutions.
Create an institution where the gift economy is truly exemplified, bringing together people everywhere to help each other and combat the illusion and feelings of isolation and alienation. If we are able to occupy places, re-inhabit them, and REAPPROPRIATE THE RESOURCES FROM THE 1% so that they are no longer used to enrich the few, but instead support the life operations of all species, we can boycott the very system that creates classes in the first place.
In the war on drugs, drugs won: http://www.courierherald.com/opinion/133845243.html
New energy systems: http://www.thrivemovement.com/the_code-new_energy_technology
And the ecological economics, or a steady-state, non growth economic institution is basically what we probably need to start moving towards. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3941
Thanks for your thoughtful reply and for taking time to read the linked article.
In terms of Occupy Protests, like the Port, I think with a little more thought and planning and some guidleines for all their actions that point to meaningful goals and don't injure the vulnerable 99% or cost them wages as the port action did. One of the key criteria should be not to cause ANY collateral damage to the populations they claim to represent, especially the most vulnerable. I like the idea of targeting a specific company and its place in controling all of us . It would have been far more effective to just have a massive show with chants and signs pointing exactly to that pointing to how wthat effects the 99%, stating some of the reality of the truckers that was in that beautiful moving letter from the truckers I cited above.. A protest connecting the dots for viewers and readers who will be witnessing the event.
Your larger point is very true The first people who will be hurt, in the short term, if we are successful in toppling corporatocracy are the most vulnerable. When we begin the work of taking our lives , our economies, our government back from the hands of 1%..who are not all corporations some are just long term orchestrators of all this, there is a risk of immediate fall out that will hurt the weakest first and most. There will be a long dry time as Rev. Roberts wrote in his beuatiful post. The earth and her people will cry for a long time. When we stop being consumers and debt incurrers disengaged from our own destiny and start being co-creators of a sustainable new economy of balance which invests in the dignity of all and invest in the dignity of future generations, future earth there will be difficult time of transition. We will have to lead more modest lives, consume less, be less wasteful deal with huge increases in those who need extra help.
There is a short term risk when we suddenly stop feeding the tapeworm of corporatocracy. It may very well hit the poorest and most vulnerable first.It will call on us to do more personally one to one to help at the local level and that will happen too. All liminal space..all transition involves great risk, great uncertainty but that can't hold us back from trying to cut the tapeworm off completely. We just need to be as realistically prepared as possible at the local level to absorb some of the initial impact one on one. But also, when we redirect all the bilions we are using to support oil companies and subidize the privataization and centralization of food and medicine we will have more public resources available to redirect to helping us through this transition and its fall out..whatever it is.
"Is there any chance to structure a kind of OCCUPY BANK?"
Here's info about an effort that is several years down the path to opening a new kind of real bank.
For the protection of consumers it is illegal to open any kind of bank or credit union outside of the charter process and application to an authority. Most state's still offer state charters, I think. Under the charter the new bank also is subject to the system of regulations which are intended to insure the safety and soundness of the institution and to maintain public confidence in the institution.
These rules do not necessarily preclude a community reinvestment bank totally committed to the credit and service needs of a local community or a lending strategy driven by larger social goals. That is possible right now anywhere.
Many years ago when I was on the New York State Banking Board. I was instrumental in creating just such a bank, Community Capital Bank..don't know what happened to it though. Also Independence Savings Bank many years ago spun off a community reinvestment arm headed by Marilyn Gelber who is now head of the Brooklyn Community Foundation. What Independence did is a good model for local investment without a separate bank charter,
But it definitely is possible.
Make an appointment at the Mass. Banking Department and they will give you the parameters and conditions required for a new charter. Reach out to ACORN or their successors ( they have a new name I think)..they know 9 or did when I was on the Board the whole system cold, they would understand how to go about this..how to frame it. Also Ralph Nader..he was always a well informed and articulate voice for community banking. Also, the obvious.. I would reach out to Chuck Schumer, to Barney Frank and to Bernie Sanders.
This disaggregation at the banks expense to create a nationwide network of community banks should be part of the "restitution" and correction for what has happened.
I was on the Banking Board through 11 shocking years of mergers and acquisitions that virtually wiped out all institutions that once existed and operated exactly on that basis.
I have advocated here on numerous occasions to glazed eyes and closed ears that one of the goals of Occupy should be to insist on a disaggregation of these too big to fail banks directed at restoring this community bank infrastructure that once existed and could and should exist again.
There are plenty of folk who understand banking and finance that Occupy can turn to get smart on this stuff. They really need to do that