Occupy Cafe is launching a systematic inquiry into the evolution of the #Occupy movement.  

NOTE: This discussion was part of "Round 1" of our inquiry and is now closed.  Our conversation continues with our "Round 2" thread here.  And help us harvest more from this round here.

The questions below were taken up during a Cafe Call on 11/15.  Participants in that call, as well as subsequent readers of this thread, posted their reflections here and then continued the conversation.

We are now pausing for a "harvesting phase," where we "listen together" and reflect on what has been said.  There is a discussion thread in our "Harvesting" group here, where we can share what we have gleaned.  Please join us in this collective meaning-making process.

Below is the post that initiated this conversation:

I first heard the term "Occupy 2.0" from Walt Roberts a couple of days ago, as he anticipated the dismantling of Occupy Portland where he has been active.  Occupy Cafe is launching an inquiry starting today into the question of what this might look like.  We plan to collectively craft a vision, or set of visions for the future of this movement as an offering of support to all those who have fought so hard thus far.  

To all those brave souls in the encampments: you have already succeeding in radically changing the dialogue in this country and around the world and our thanks and gratitude and admiration go out to you.  What might be possible now?

We begin with this inquiry:

  • What are the most positive things you have experienced emerging from Occupy 1.0?
  • What are the dilemmas/opportunities in the current situation of the Occupy Movement?
  • What question, if answered, might make the greatest difference in the development of an effective response to the clearing of so many #Occupy sites?  


Ben Roberts,

Occupy Cafe Steward

Views: 1857

Replies are closed for this discussion.

Replies to This Discussion

The question below came up in a comment from a post in process artist Chris Corrigan's blog. The question, in a sense, is a question in response to questions two and three that you've  posted, Ben:

What does it mean to revolt in a society that is built on freedom? 

And the comment in full,

For me, here’s the thing. Occupy needs to be doing its thing. I see it as an invitation. It is up to people in power to use that invitation and ampliofy it, take it to policy making places, to legislatures, to regulatory hearings. 

The only revolution that is possible in the democratic capitalist world is one of incremental shifts that eventually move to the heart of the matter. Soviet Union and Iran are not good examples to compare with because the systems of control are completely different.

What does it mean to revolt in a society that is built on freedom? That is the question, and for me the answer is not clear but it includes something like “a massive diversity of tactics of action and conversation.”

Occupy is ONE of those tactics. Hope is another. Maybe Obama is another. conscious placemaking, opening space, practical decolonization…anyone waiting for the definitive moment of overthrow in THIS society will be waiting a long time. better to get out there and do something and let the diversity of resilience overwhelm the cynicism of injustice.


What does it mean to revolt in a democracy?

It means that democracy, no democarcy ever in history, addressed itself  to income inequality.

The revolt is the awakening to the persistance of income inequality..it's permanance..so far

I noticed you used the words "democratic capitalist" tigether..


that's it,


that's the deal here.


no drive to address or correct income inequlaity in either of those words.

Just to be clear, Linsday, those aren't my words. Those are Chris's words.

another way of asking the question, then, might be:

how can we successfully address income inequality in a (quasi-) democracy? or perhaps, quasi-democratic plutocracy? 

(if we're aligned with this framing of our context).


thanks Rafi..how about

 "does democacr address income inequality?

If not, how can we change that?..

 (quasi- implies that a real democracy addresses income inequakity..it doesn't..it never has)

Tthere has always been plutocracy from the time we left the ancient tribal communities Aerin recalls to us.

 There has always been a 1% and a 99%..  The first democracy in Greece arose from a violent rebellion by the 99%..they settled for democcracy which gave them a voice but not any promise or commitment to end extreme income disparity.

 Our own democracy did the same.  From the beginning our consitution, our democracy as framed by our forefathers, as replicated throughout the world, never promised or sought to reduce income inequality.

 From the beginning it has been about control and expoitation of natural resources by the 1%,..the 1% who framed the first democracy in Greece..the 1% who wrote our constitution, framed our democracy. 


The answer therefore lies in redefining the relationship between natural resources, we the people , the government who serves us ( as a poa serves) and private interests.  The whole key to income inequlaity has always been in these relationships.

A prior question must be "Should democracy address income inequality?"

Is the freedom that democracy protects a freedom of opportunity or an equality of outcome?

When you say that "There has always been a 1% and a 99%" you're confining your assessment to only recorded human history and ignoring the 95% of modern human history or the 99.5% of human evolutionary history in which we lived in Nature's gift economy in an egalitarian, non-acquisitive way.

You're also ignoring a deep current in American democratic thought, going back to Tom Paine and Thomas Jefferson (and coming from John Locke), that the source of all wealth - the land under our feet - is common property and its value must be shared among all.

The Founders promoted the idea of equality of opportunity, not income equality, and (for some) the common ownership of the commons. Once we began to use our intellect and our physical strengths to extract an income from the earth, then it was unavoidable that some would extract more and others less - even without coercive expropriation.

If we wish to continue in this extractive paradigm (and we have little choice with 7 billion mouths to feed), then income and wealth inequality are unavoidable without coercive expropriation and redistribution. 

Here is another lovely harvest from the 11/15 conversation courtesy of John Veitch in NZ, cross posted from here.  This is for round two, when we asked "what are the dilemmas/opportunities in the current situation of the Occupy Movement?"

Breakout Group: five members.

Ellen Friedman:

We've been asking if occupying 24/7 is valuable or not. 

How do we create a commons: The common should be reclaimed.

How do we build coalitions?

How can we use the tools of participatory democracy. 

We could not foresee that this movement would start nor how it would develop. What wee need now is a strategy to keep it growing. 

Ron Czecholinski:

There's too much chaos and not enough effective organisation. 

I see two big opportunities:

To work at hearing each other and turning that discussion into decisions for action. 

To move this conversation into our local neighborhoods and workplaces.

Ian Adair:

We need to Occupy Peoples Minds. 

Iwanka Kultschyckyi:

Philadelphia, PA in Facilitation and Dilworth Plaza Working Groups.

Lots happening here. Our challenge and opportunity is to find reasonable solutions.

Our Dilemma: We find ourselves practicing what we see in Congress. This is our educational opportunity to change that. 

John S Veitch:

Occupy Christchurch is mostly young people. Little political experience and limited organizing experience. They are learning a lot. They need time together. 

There's opportunity to use the tools of the movement, like the People's Mic, but the technique needs to be practiced and people need to be confident about using it. Brilliant done well.

In Christchurch, NZ, we have two local losses of democratic control. One regarding the earthquakes we've been having, which puts the city under the authority of a government appointed organisation, not answerable to the public. The City Council has been sidelined. Two; regarding the use of local rivers for irrigation, conflict arose between farmers and the local regional authority regarding the allocation of water rights. The government chose to dismiss the regional authority an appoint a board of officials instead. 

There is opportunity to protest in many places, but the group don't know the issues, they are difficult to motivate to prepare signs and shout outs. Lots of room for training and planning and effective mobilization of our resources.

Ellen Friedman:

There is an opportunity to see our work from the systems level; both micro and macro activities.

We have problems with our own communication on the ground.

We are also participants in maintaining the system that is harmful to us all. 

Notes by John Veitch.

Thank you so much everyone for all the fabulous postings to this discussion.  Now it's time to pause, listen and reflect; to MAKE SOME COLLECTIVE MEANING!  Can you dig it?

We have a "Harvesting Group" specifically dedicated to this task (or at least the IDEA of it, thus far!).  I have created a thread there devoted to this Occupy 2.0 discussion. Please join the group and begin the harvest!  

Many hands make light work!

Here's a suggestion for how to contribute:

  • Try taking ten or fifteen minutes to do the following
  • Browse through the "#Occupy 2.0" discussion and identify one or two things you find compelling.  Look for things such as:
    • Specific phrases, paragraphs or posts
    • General ideas, themes, patterns or questions  
    • Things that surprised you or challenged you in some way.  
  • Post each individual gleaning separately here in this discussion (i.e. if you found three things you wanted to harvest, give them each their own post).
  • Note that you can link to specific posts from the main discussion so that it is easy to find the original post you are referring to or quoting from:
    • Click the little chain link icon that appears at the top of each post, just before the words "reply by" and the name of the person posting. 
    • Copy the url that appears in your browser
    • Paste it into your harvest posting.

You might also reflect on this classic "question for all seasons," courtesy of The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations that Matter:

What is taking shape here?  What are we hearing underneath the variety of opinions being expressed?  What is in the center of our listening?


1. What are the most positive things you have experienced emerging from Occupy 1.0?

The physical occupation phase got the attention of the press and the public.  It initiated a national dialog about inequity.

2. What are the dilemmas/opportunities in the current situation of the Occupy Movement?

Once it gained the national mic, the Movement had no stated mission, no objectives and no platform.  So it has appeared to the broad American public to be more a matter of bitching than seeking productive change.  Listen to this 10 minute segment of Slate Online Magazine's weekly "Political Gabfest" for 18Nov11.  Slate is a reflection of mainstream Democratic thought and even it is begging the Occupy Movement to produce an attainable platform.

3. What question, if answered, might make the greatest difference in the development of an effective response to the clearing of so many #Occupy sites?

Is a substantial majority of all Americans willing to support a Constitutional Amendment to cut all funding by monied entities to legislators?

If the answer is yes many other problems in jobs, energy, healthcare, agriculture, foreign wars, etc. will begin a path to solutions in the best interest of the people.


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Regular Calls are no longer being held.  Below is the schedule that was maintained from the Fall of 2011 through Jan 10, 2013.

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