Here are the questions we are discussing on the ground and over the phone on Sunday, the second day of #NatGat, from 1-4pm Eastern.  please join the conversation here on this forum thread as well!

  • Hour 1: What challenges and opportunities do you see in the quality of the personal relationships relationships we are developing in the Occupy context and beyond? 
  • Hour 2: What assumptions do we need to test or challenge in thinking about tension between "reformers" and "revolutionaries" that has emerged via the Occupy movement? 
  • Hour 3: What did we learn from the experience of the encampments that can inform a new iteration of community building that has the power to transform our world?

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how exactly is anarchism not a good idea but anarchistic capitalism is? that seems antithetical to me

Ah. I would argue anarchistic capitalism is not "real" anarchism. It is libertarianism --> anti-government free market capitalism. Anarchism generally understands that capitalism is itself a coercive system that fundamentally destroys social relations. Hence the inability of capitalism and democracy to co-exist (owners consolidate wealth to exploit workers). 

Anarchism is generally a movement towards a classless society. Capitalism reinforces class. At least that is my own reading... 

What assumptions do we need to test or challenge in thinking about tension between "reformers" and "revolutionaries" that has emerged via the Occupy movement?

The biggest assumption that I, as someone who feels themself firmly within the revolutionary rather than the reformer camp, would like to test or challenge, is that progress has occurred through nonviolent protests, legislation, and civil disobedience.

Gandhi opposed colonialism. There is more colonialism now than in Gandhi's day. It is somewhat more subtle, in that the imperialist US doesn't install its own ministers to govern conquered territories, but instead installs local people, often trained by the CIA in the US, to administer countries that the US has conquered, in ways that favor the US and disadvantage the peoples of those countries, but are we do not call those countries colonies. Countries which we invaded and conquered, where we assassinated their leaders, destroyed their infrastructure, and installed regimes favorable to us, like Iraq and Libya, are de facto colonies but aren't called colonies. Since the US government assumes it has the right to control the entire world, there has been no real progress in reducing colonialism.

Those who wish to attempt to work within the system often point to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal as a model of progress achieved through government legislation. But with a few exceptions, almost everything in the New Deal has been repealed. Governments may grant some temporary concessions when their only alternative is to risk losing control altogether, but as soon as they regain control, they eliminate such concessions. There is less regulation and oversight of banks now than there was before FDR, so no real progress was achieved through legislation.

Anti-war protests have been huge, and the global street protests attempting to prevent the Iraq war are said to have been the largest in history with millions of people in the streets everywhere, but the war was not prevented. Indeed there are more wars occurring now than previously. There has been no real progress in reducing wars through protests.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., supported Civil Rights. There are more Black people in prison today in the US than during MLK's time. There are fewer civil rights for everyone. No real progress in protecting civil rights has been made through nonviolent tactics.

I think the tension between reformers and revolutionaries stems from the untested and unchallenged assumption by reformers that past reforms have brought about progress. Unless progress can be defined as more wars, more income inequality, and fewer civil rights, there has been no progress that can be attributed to nonrevolutionary strategies and tactics.

Some countries that have had successful revolutions, like Cuba and Venezuela, have accomplished a great deal in decreasing income inequality, fending off colonialism, and increasing civil rights, but I don't know of any countries that have done the same without revolutions.

For various personal reasons I do not participate in phone discussions, but I hope that somebody might bring up some of these points in Hour 2.


Hi Ben :
Life happened. The occupy movement needs to have a separate education system that defines life in different terms as opposed to the economic contrivance that we currently have. We will never have a new way, until we have a new weigh. The whole system of what we value has been hijacked to support the ever-take.

We have to end the ever-take. To do this, we have to question some very fundamental issues, like why do we think that democracy or republic is the best form of governance. Or why, during the whole obamacare debate does nobody point out that you stand a better chance of enjoying life if you avoid medical doctors at any cost. Once they have you ...

I think we need to look at life by function, rather than an economic balance sheet. Perhaps the group can think out criteria for measurement - how do we really know if we are getting anywhere? What is 'getting somewhere? If we abolish money - which problems do not go away. What if we abolish debt and keep money? Occupy 8.0 is coming back to see how Occupy 2.0 progresses - make them proud.

I, like Mark, will abstain from the phone call format.


Lemme writes, "...we have to question some very fundamental issues, like why do we think that democracy or republic is the best form of governance. Or why, during the whole obamacare debate does nobody point out that you stand a better chance of enjoying life if you avoid medical doctors at any cost."

I agree. Reformers don't want to discuss fundamental issues that could lead to revolutionary change.

#occupyweed (legalize it) -- if over 50% of the American population want it and the occupy movement got behind it, it would be a relatively easy win pointing to a successful campaign with rippling consequences moving through the entire economy. it is a social/ecological justice issue that directly deals with race, prisons, income disparity, health care, sustainable (green) industry, environment...


regarding reform vs. revolution, we are in a process of biospheric collapse. we need to create a rupture with the current status quo/economy. We are working for $, which forces us into jobs that destroy the planet. A mortgage strike would be a radical break with the current state. "abolish the wage-system" is a good starting point too. 

In terms of violence--violence can only be against humans. Destroying property is not violent, unless you mean a "violent" break with a governing ideology whose structural violence is killing us all. 

Right on, MS. The definition of "violence" as "damage to property" or "resisting arrest, attempting to escape arrest, or defending one's self and others from police brutality," is one of the fundamental conflicts between reformers, those who want better pay and more benefits for jobs that destroy the planet, and revolutionaries who don't want to destroy the planet at any price.

Capitalist imperialism supports the pharmaceutical industry by criminalizing natural cures, and derives much of its black budget from the production and sale of the substances it has criminalized. Legalize it!

Interesting clip, Seth. I thought that Suzanne preferred that despite time constraints, the whole group use nonviolent communications to address the personal needs of those who differ or dissent, rather than being divisive and breaking up larger groups into smaller groups.

I see the imperialist flag in the room, but I don't see the voter registration forms. Surely they must be there?

I was in the group in which "tension exploded", to quote Ben's sense of what was just so in that group.  I want to affirm Suzanne's reminder about the importance of listening to someone...just listening until they are heard.  In an attempt to settle my own physiology in response to what happened in our group...the adrenaline coursing through my body...I am clinging to the remembrance of "kindness" as The Practice....a challenge "we" have is to practice matter what...kindness...and listening is a great gift of kindness we can extend to one the the the end.

Regarding hour 2 I feel that we need both Reformers,and we need Revolutionaries because some things need reformed such as Taxation Laws but there are some things that need to be abolished like the NDAA which would be revolutionary. So what I see here is a matter of compromise and figuring out where you reform and what you get rid of. I know it sounds like an insurmountable act I know BUT we can do it. Again we need both sides to sit down together with the peace pipe and the talking stick otherwise it becomes an all out shouting match. It's time to come together and become cohesive.If we can't work on this together and come up with a solution that both sides agree upon or what the hell then are we doing this for? 

Robin, delegating power to government isn't a line-item budget, and individual issues are not usually on the ballot. When people give government the power to tax, because they feel that government needs the power to tax, they are also giving government the power to do other things, like wage wages, torture, develop kill lists, etc.

Suppose that I feel that I am incompetent to manage my own affairs, and you are both competent and willing, so I give you full power of attorney and have you designated my guardian to manage my affairs for me. You might be an honest person and do a good job. Or you might be a dishonest person and rip me off, as happens many times in real life. Before I give you power of attorney and have you appointed my guardian to manage my affairs, I really should get to know you very well and have some way to keep track of what you're doing and to revoke any powers I gave you at any time that you abuse them.

We don't know our elected government officials very well. In many cases they turn out to be the exact opposite of what we thought they were. We don't have full oversight of what they do. And we have no way to revoke any power we gave them during the time they are in power, the ONLY time they are supposed to represent us--all we can do is ask Congress to impeach them and that's something that Congress has never done because it would set a bad precedent and make people feel they had some control over their representatives.

Reformers want better candidates and better laws. But reformers, candidates, and laws, are shaped by the system they are working within. I highly recommend Philip Zimbardo's book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, for an analysis of how systems shape behavior. Revolutionaries want direct democracy where the system itself is abolished, nobody has power over anyone else, and nobody can do anything without a direct vote of the people. Some people would experience severe loss. I, for example, would lose my Social Security, my subsidized senior housing, and would probably die. But the world would be a better place and billions of people who are currently dying due to capitalist imperialist policies, would have a chance at life. I agree with peace activist S. Brian Willson that, "We are not worth more, they are not worth less." Other opinions may vary.

In other words, it isn't a question of what to reform and what to abolish, particularly since reforms granted by one administration or Supreme Court ruling can be taken away by a future administration or Supreme Court ruling, but a question of whether power should remain with the system or be restored to the people. It wouldn't be revolutionary if this or a future administration abolished the NDAA, since subsequent administrations could restore it. It would be revolutionary if government no longer had the power to do things like that and supreme power over government was vested in the hands of the people. Vesting supreme power over government in the hands of the people is the dictionary definition of democracy, but it is the actual definition of anarchy. Anarchy means no government. It means no rulers, but it doesn't mean no rules. It means that rules have to be decided upon by the people, not by a small group of 1%-funded political puppets.

In organizing NatGat, the people involved didn't go to the President, Congress, the Supreme Court, or local governments and ask for an agenda. We here on Occupy Cafe don't seem to feel a need to ask elected representatives to set an agenda for us or make decisions for us. We feel competent to do the things we need to do. We're doing this because we feel a need to do this and because we believe that we can do this. We don't have a leadership council meeting in secret to tell us what we've decided. That in and of itself is revolutionary rather than reformist.

There are many people who, for various reasons, have been trying, often successfully, to co-opt Occupy away from direct democracy and back into failed politics as usual. They, like the system they prefer and wish to work within, will also fail. Occupy is either revolutionary or it too will fail. Reforms are just temporary concessions by those in power and do nothing to alter the power structure. Unless we alter the power structure from one of hierarchy to one of equality, we will have just wasted our time and passed the problem on to future generations, if there are any. A few more mishaps at Fukushima and other aging nuclear plants, and the problems will be moot.


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