An open space for global conversation
Occupy Cafe has stepped into the movement-wide conversation now swirling around the evolution of #Occupy. Our next Cafe Call for the inquiry is Tuesday, 12/13 from 4-6pm EST.
This thread continues the discussions here and here as well as on the series of Tuesday Cafe Calls that began on 11/15, the day Zucotti Park encampment was dismantled. On our 11/29 Cafe Call, we engaged in a harvesting and synthesizing dialogue that is reflected in this "Community Tablecloth" Google Doc, excerpted below.
If you have not already done so, please examine the Mind Map of the round one of the conversation, produced with prodigious effort by OC Member Ellen Friedman, attached below.
We begin this week once again in "harvesting mode," looking to capture and synthesize all the valuable "gems" that have come forth from our dialogue thus far and to identify the deeper themes and questions running beneath them.
Please note that this is a hosted discussion. We will periodically be asking people to step back or step up, to make sure it is balanced and there is space for all voices to be heard. We will also ask that side conversations that emerge be taken onto new discussion threads so that this core conversation remains focused and readable. Thank you in advance for your help with this!
Thank you so much to everyone who participated in today's call. Please review our "Collaborative Tablecloth" produced by all the participants in the Cafe Call, and then consider these questions as we continue this third round of dialogue:
You might also want to check out the new groups that are forming around our inquiry, a list of which can be found here.
About 20 years ago, when I was just beginning to organize marketplace models, I recruited Dan Quinn, author of "Ishmael", to join our board on a strategy to provide an online marketplace for earth-friendly goods. Dan had just won the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship, which awarded $500,000 to the best idea for addressing global problems presented as a novel. The odd thing about his novel, in this regard, is that the main character asserts that there is no solution, and we'll just have to rebuild a better world after civilization collapses. I asked Dan how it could be that such a proposal could win, and he told me what the judges had told him: "Everybody else submitted stories about what they would do if they were in charge of the world."
So I think the "next level of thinking" perhaps is a focus on how it might be that everybody could be running the world, before we focus on our own schemes. In the conference calls "listening" has been a recurring concern, and a value that has achieved consensus. I'm hopeful that this local consensus will translate into action towards developing a forum where every voice that has an idea can be heard, such that everybody knows they've been heard, and so consensus made possible. Can you imagine how we might accommodate perhaps many thousands of voices?
Perhaps by not censoring voices that make you uncomfortable?
Insisting on a very narrow realm of "civility" ensures that only the intellectual elite will be part of the conversation and ordinary working Americans will be excluded.
I was only there for a little while on Nov 29th but I returned in time to look at the Collaborative Tablecloth (what an awesome concept) and just wanted to say the word AMPLIFY as representing what's next after OCCUPY, really resonated with me personally.
I highly recommend the experience of participating in these calls, even if you can not be there for the entire time.
I agree about that resonance. For me that means joining our voices, rather than raising them.
There were three group harvests from our 11/29 Cafe Call. Here is the one from "Table 1," excerpted from the "Collaborative Tablecloth" Google Doc used for the call:
There were three group harvests from our 11/29 Cafe Call. Here is the one from "Table 2," excerpted from the "Collaborative Tablecloth" Google Doc used for the call:
There were three group harvests that were drafted during our 11/29 Cafe Call. Here is the one from "Table 4," excerpted from the "Collaborative Tablecloth" Google Doc used for the call:
Here is a very well-produced document from Occupy Toronto on "What Is Next for the Occupy Movement?", based on a conversation held on November 25th.
Bob Jones offered these thoughts in another discussion he initiated a little while ago, that I believe is worth picking up here:
Since the coordinated nationwide crackdown and evictions by mayors on Occupations last week, many in the OWS movement have been asking this important question.-Where should this movement and local groups focus their time and energy to be most effective now?
Based on what I have read so far from various articles, there seems to be a shift from focusing on occupations to:Primary- Focus on reaching "critical mass" as soon as possible. The logic is that until we have lots more folks involved across the country, we will not be very effective at making major changes in legislation. .Secondary- Focus on issues that are most important - possibly repealing Citizen's United case.I agree with this approach but I would like to hear ideas from others.
Here's a provocative piece out today from "conservative" NY Times columnist Ross Douthat entitled "The Decadent Left." I think it speaks to our Occupy 2.0 conversation. An excerpt:
The O.W.S. protesters, on the other hand, haven’t even settled on concrete political objectives. As two of the movement’s more perceptive conservative critics — Matt Continetti in The Weekly Standard and James Panero in The New Criterion — have said, many protesters seemed more interested in founding a kind of Paris Commune or Oneida Community in Zuccotti Park than in actually participating in public-policy debates.
This has led some liberals to argue that the Occupy protesters should find a way to imitate the more pragmatic efforts of unions and environmentalists. In a recent issue of The New Yorker, Jane Mayer highlighted “the difference between the focused, agenda-driven campaign” fought by critics of the Keystone pipeline “and the free-form, leaderless one waged by the Occupiers.” Given that anti-Keystone activists succeeded (at least temporarily), she wrote, “the Occupy movement could do worse than to learn from the pipeline protest.”
But there’s a sense in which the pipeline protesters and Midwestern unions are exactly the people that the O.W.S. crowd should not learn from, if they aspire to appeal to a wider audience than left-wing activists usually reach.
Yes, Occupy Wall Street was dreamed up in part by flakes and populated in part by fantasists. But to the extent that the movement briefly captured the public’s imagination, it was because it seemed to be doing what a decent left would exist to do: criticizing entrenched power, championing the common good and speaking for the many rather than the few....
Whatever your politics, there’s arguably more to admire in the ragtag theatricality of Occupy Wall Street than in that sort of self-righteous defense of the status quo. Even if it has failed to embrace plausible solutions, O.W.S. at least picked a deserving target — what National Review’s Reihan Salam describes as the “moral rupture” created by Wall Street’s and Washington’s betrayal of the public trust.
Better a protest movement that casts itself (however quixotically) as the defender of “the 99 percent” than a protest movement that just represents Democratic interest groups. And better a left that flirts with utopianism than a left that adheres to the dictum attributed to Leonid Brezhnev during the Prague Spring: “Don’t talk to me about ‘socialism.’ What we have, we hold.”
Indeed provocative, my dear anonymous friend.
I agree completely that the one thing Occupy did in the beginning that briefly connected with the 99% was to speak broadly to the fact of social, economic and political disenfranchisement of the 99% by the 1%..
That message can easily get lost issue by issue in the fashion the traditional left fought Keystone Pipeline, for example. But it was important to stop the pipeline ( it's not actually stopped..it's still being built and is basically ready to just turn on so its not too late for Occupy to catch up. ).
Occupy didn't speak at all. Didn't even take the opportunity to connect the dots for the American and Canadian people which they could have used their visibility to do.
I agree completely with the author that Occupy has to transcend and be apart from these traditional left wing interest groups..it has to have its own authentic voice that the 99% recognize as their own.
That is not now the case and Occupy may have lost creditbility with the real 99% to a point where it cannot reclaim any influence or truly claim to be an authentic voice of the 99%. ( That's what its 33% approval rating as of 11/16 says to me)