Greetings fellow cafe folks.

I'd like to offer an alternative perspective on OWS. First I'd like to introduce myself-


I'm a native San Diegan, facilitator/process artist (co-host of the 14th annual World Open Space on Open Space in Moscow in '06; co-editor of Russian translations of process arts books and articles, including Open Space Technology: A User's Guide and the mini-hosting guide for World Cafe), .
After having been involved for about two weeks- which included one week of staying at Civic Center Plaza overnight- I decided to no longer take part. 
I blogged about my participation from the very beginning.
And the last two posts go into the reasons why I've ended my participation in the Occupy Process.
I've lived half my life abroad- Iran and Russia (and was eyewitness to the Islamic Revolution (and the Iran-Iraq War and the US hostage crisis) in Iran and collapse of the Soviet Union. 
My own politics are in many ways aligned with those taking part. I was arrested in front of the CIA at age 17 (civil disobedience), at age 18 went public with my intention not to register for the Selective Service, throughout my twenties was a war tax resister. While in Russia, I protested the wars in Chechnya. 
My worry - and that of a few others who share the values but not the strategy of OWS- is that elites are actually interested in seeing OWS continue and grow because little of consequence will come of it. I've seen in my life subtle and not so subtle means of engaging masses- including highly educated people- in movements that actually bear little fruit.
I think this comment by Richard Moore (linked to on my blog) sums up - a lot of my concern (I will add that I don't 100% agree with his perspective but at its core I think his point is a good one) where I'm coming from:
What I am sure of, is that none of the grass-roots initiatives or movements currently on the scene have any hope of changing anything. In fact, activist energy is increasingly being channeled and managed by the very system we are hoping to change. As with Obama, who managed to fool all of the people some the time, and even now is fooling some of the people all of the time. 'Hope you can believe in', if you're dreaming.
But someone like Obama can only channel those who see hope in the political system. More and more people are realizing there is no hope in the political system. So we are getting things like The Zeitgeist Movement and Anonymous, that cater to those who have given up on politics, and give them something to 'join' or 'follow' so they can pretend they're 'doing something'. Here is a relevant posting on Zeitgeist:
The latest of these vehicles of co-option is the Occupy Wall Street movement. This one's really a humdinger. It has all the right slogans, and an appealing internal process. Its success is not surprising, because it is the latest version of a formula that has been thoroughly tested and refined 'on the ground'. We might call it the 'twitter formula', and we've seen it in the 'colored revolutions' that were used to bring about various desired regime changes, and more recently in the 'Arab Spring' movements, that soaked up lots of energy and prevented unwanted regime changes.
Four years ago progressives found hope in Obama. This time around they're finding hope in the Occupy Wall Street movement. In both cases, this 'hope' became available all too easily, was accompanied by all the right mainstream publicity, and offered easy ways to join in and become not only a follower, but an active participant. This is what co-option looks like.


I'm curious how this all lands for you!



p.s. feel free to share with others, but do not include my last name (if you know it).

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I do not share the certainty, as so much seems in-the-works yet.  Maybe there is writing on the wall that I don't (know how to) recognize?

I tracked down something from Richard, about whom I did not know, that I mostly like:

"If we really want to change the system, we need to learn how to come together as humans, moving beyond the ideological structures that have been created to divide us from one another. We are all in this together, and a better world for one is a better world for all. It’s not about winning, nor really even about agreement: it’s about working together in pursuit of our common interests."

I suspect he went too far with "a better world for one is a better world for all," though.  That is, I don't know what it means, without a description of the one.

David, thanks for yor reply (bad keyboard here)

I think it is fair to call e on y certainty.

Y best nderstanding of what it takes to create a powerfl ovent is a good container. 

I dont see ch evidence of that. So, I a - to pt it blntly- not holding y breath.

If yo see evidence of sothing else encoraging, id love to  hear it.

Very interesting first person perspective on how the challenges of keeping #OWS democratic, and the challenges of the intersections of power, money, facilitaition/process.

When my turn came to speak, I brought up the plans of “the leaders of the allegedly leaderless movement” to commandeer the half-million dollars sent to the General Assembly for their new, exclusive, undemocratic, representational organization. Before I could finish, the facilitators and other members of the OWS inner circle started shouting over me.

Parts one and two of interest, too.



Thanks, raffi.  I hope this discussion will be featured.

I've mentioned the need for a constructive program in a few places and in a few places on this site thinking is moving that way.  When a movement is only opposing business as usual, even while relying upon it, issues of governance quickly become divisive and dissipating, while construction/production would increase ways for and volumes of vital flows.

The funny thing about the Occupy Process (somehow I prefer calling it that to "Movement" as it feels qualitatively very different from a "Movement") is that this Beast is also an experiment in community, however accidental.

It's almost as if the Process's very existence is a Conversation - or more exactly a multi-layered, interlocking series of conversation held in place by a Metaconversation- onto itself. And so, while the overall tone might be oppositional the fact that it is taking place in physical public space creates a multidimensional ripple effect.



Clearly, the folks who contributed the half million dollars didn't have a sense of that.

David, can you say more what you mean? I don't quite follow. Thanks!

I'm thinking they thought it was a movement that needed means to accomplish its objectives and attain its goal(s).  An expanding conversation needs more and more participants, not a pot of gold.

On another hand, if someone wanted to disturb the conversation/movement, throwing money at it would almost guarantee troubles.

Thanks for the clarification, David.

And good point!

Interesting perspective - yours and Fritz. I also have many years of facilitation and community building experience. My involvement with my local occupy movement has generated very similar perspectives.

I have been in conversation with a variety of people in consideration of an adjunct process that would encourage more effective organization and facilitatation. I imagine a combination of World Cafe style conversation and the structure and decision making process of Sociocracy.

I would be interested in your thoughts on a solution.

Ron, greetings!

I suspect - like in any natural system- there are a  number of different workable solutions.

What I think we need first of all is a powerful container for collaboration. And we also need a number of people at the get-go who are capable of sustaining such a container. I imagine that before even talking about staring an Occupation (I'd called it something else, perhaps- even if less sexy sounding- a "Reinhabitation." I think that powerful container for collaboration can be created when you have a core group trained in Open Space Technology, Whole Person Process Facilitation (as taught in the Genuine Contact Program), and Dynamic Facilitation.

I've heard really good things about Sociocracy. I read the book and didn't really get it. I have experienced and facilitated a little of World Cafe and still don't get it. Fortunately, I've been around on this planet to know that that is not really an indicator of anything. And my gut says that a Sociocracy and World Cafe combination would also work well... : )

The thing is at this point, I'm not sure I'm willing to put more energy into the Occupy Process as it is or to even start from scratch...and personally I go back and forth. Part of me thinks that I have a responsibility to share my skills with others and another part of me is just frightened of the life-depleting field of my local occupation...


The OWS movement may, very well, not achieve anything of significant and lasting change, but that will not be due to its imagined co-optation by the Illuminati/Bilderberg/Trilateral Commission One World Order conspiracy (since no such all-powerful conspiracy exists).

Richard Moore offers a useful overview of the shifts in power in Western civilization (I particularly appreciate his metaphor of the "controlled demolition" of the global economy as an analogy to 9/11), but he suffers from the same extreme oversimplification and villainization tendencies of all those who need to see the world in black and white, us vs. them, Manichean terms. The New World Order conspiracy theory was invented by John Birchers in the 50's and, frighteningly, some on the left have bought into the story. In truth, the power elites are also just a bunch of individuals trying to achieve some semblance of consensus.

OWS is a messy experiment in direct democracy and the liberation of the people's voice. Anyone who expects it to be otherwise is naive or deluded. If it fails to make systemic change possible, it will be because of the lack of analytic breadth and depth and the near impossibility of achieving a common vision from so many diverse participants.


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