NOTE: This discussion was originally classified as "hosted" but has now been moved to the "member initiated" category.  In the view of the OC Stewards, what is taking place here is a debate rather than dialogue.  In a "hosted" discussion here at, we request that balanced participation be encouraged and that regular summaries occur recognizing all the views being presented.  

While we have no objections to people using the OC forum to engage in debates, as long as they don't cross the line into personal attacks, such discussion is not what we are seeking in the "hosted" category.  

Ben Roberts

We are delighted to have Occupy Cafe member Mark E. Smith offer this hosted discussion on the provocative idea of an "election boycott."  

As "host," Mark will strive to keep the conversation orderly, offer regular summaries of the perspectives being presented and encourage balanced participation among all those who are engaged.  Here's Mark's initial summary:

An election boycott is the only known way to nonviolently delegitimize a government. It doesn't overthrow the government, it simply denies it the consent of the governed so that the government can no longer claim to have the people's consent. Among the many forms of noncompliance, such as removing money from big banks, boycotting corporate brands, withdrawing from the system and creating alternative systems, learning to live on less so as not to have to pay taxes, etc., refusing to vote can be one of the most crucial and effective tactics.

Thank you, Mark, for volunteering your services as "host!"

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It sounds to me like your life experience is ideally suited to just this task. You express yourself just fine, at least in writing, and you are acutely sensitive and compassionate around the area of "being talked down to." The latter cannot be taught.

Just reading your last post, I can tell that you have about 100 times better understanding of how communication works at the "story" level than I do.

I believe you are one of those people who can bridge the gap between the narrative and story levels. Bless you for being here and part of this movement!

By the way, your pie chart idea sounds brilliant.

Gisele, not only are you not stupid, you are brilliant. And you have a real advantage in that you can see things in ways that most people cannot. We've been taught how to see things, but that teaching never stuck to you. Instead, you've been looking at things your own way, because that was the only way you could, and arrived at much clearer ways of seeing things than the rest of us.

I agree with everything Mr. Blue just said. 

Gisele, it's hard to believe your background when you communicate so well here and seem to fully understand all the arguments, and also work at synthesizing them.

I work with an activist who is very much the "east cost academic elite" and he's a really good guy but honestly I think he's actually incapable of simplifying his thoughts and speech. I've never met anyone with such a vocabulary. I'm a writer and heavy reader and I don't understand many of his words -- makes me feel undereducated, and I'm not!

It's sad to see the disconnect between academia and "the real world" but it's certainly there. I've been in both worlds. I don't want to embrace ignorance a la the current GOP who are running candidates who don't even have a grasp of American history (look at Sarah Palin saying that ANYONE can be president, even if they never read the Constitution and don't know what wars of aggression are and probably don't even know who our traditional allies are -- but what the hey), but I also realize the academics almost always fail at arriving at the right answers for society. They're too Ivory Tower, too disconnected.

Also I think the message we have now is not really different from previous times, during populist uprisings. This isn't the first time people have risen up against Wall Street, and the rhetoric then was the same. Populism is the movement that has always made the message pretty simple -- it was the movement of farmers and people getting screwed by bankers. You might want to Google Populist Uprising and read a little bit about it if you haven't yet.

I also am sorry that we always have to end up in "us against them" movements. Now it's the 99% against the 1%. We're all people.

If you really want to understand the thinking behind our current situation, you should read Ayn Rand. The 1% follow her like a religion. THEIR narrative tells them that they are the "producer class" and everyone else is the "loser class." This is funny because of course it's total fucking bullshit. Many of them don't even work for their money -- they make it off financial transactions. Many inherited it. But we all know it's small business that actually is the backbone of the economy, not multinationals, and we all know that outsourcing jobs for decades to take advantage of slave labor isn't producing anything except cheap crap imports and ruined communities here at home.

But this is the twisted narrative, it's the story the super rich tell themselves to make themselves feel better about wallowing in luxury like pigs in shit while the rest of the world wipes their asses for them.

If we could smash that narrative, that would be a major plus.

They are not the "producer class" -- they are the "looter class" (another Ayn Randism). They are looting the economy. LOOTING IT.


We also need to make people understand that our Congress just signed into law a new bill that makes us officially a police state, if we were not already officially a police state after the PATRIOT Act.

Thank-you all. I have no choice but to synthesize in order to grasp your logic. I paste your posts into word. For the long ones I increase the space between lines. Then I start cutting and pasting stuff in whatever order that seems right to me. At the same time, I am reducing paragraphs. Then what I think are you main points emerge.

I am going to do that google but probably won't read that book you mentioned. There are so many other things to read online and I do want to do what Mr. Blue suggested. I want to find ways to simplify messages so that they are more accessible. Aside from that I want to counter specific ruling-class messaging.

Mark, you are right that I see things differently.

For example "A rising tide lifts all boats" has been used to defend tax cuts for the wealthy. I don't understand how that saying supports tax cuts for the wealthy.They seem to be saying that they will make the tide rise and we are all boats so everybody wins. If we are all boats some of us are row-boats while others are yachts. How does giving more money to yachts cause the tide to rise? Even if you gave money to all the boats they still couldn't impact the ocean. I cannot for the life of me figure out how that saying supports giving money to the wealthy.

The only way the saying makes any sense is if the 99% are the ocean and the boats are the 1%.

We (the 99%) are the rising tide that raises all boats.

I really wish someone could explain to me how that saying supports tax-cuts for the wealthy. I still can't see the connection. I tried thinking of the ocean as money but it still doesn't work. It must apply somehow because it's been used multiple times and everyone else seems to accept that it supports tax-cuts for the wealthy.

The rising tide is money. The logic is that if the wealthy keep more of their money (pay less taxes, have less expensive regulations), they will invest it back into the world through creating more jobs, building more industry, etc. 

What actually happens is that they just take the money and run.

They run away to the Cayman Islands and stash it in offshore accounts. They close up their industries and run away with them to third world countries and use slave labor to make cheap crap products they sell back to the increasingly impoverished Americans who shoot and riot over it on Black Friday at Walmart. 

And they vote themselves astounding pay raises and bonuses because THEY JUST CAN'T FUCKING GET ENOUGH.

Can you imagine? Can you imagine how rich the top 1% rich are? They're like Emperors. They can't even fathom how much money they have.

Anyway, it's actually a race to the bottom, all this rising of the tides of death.

It's also called "trickle down" economics, meaning the rich will let some of their wealth trickle down onto the "loser class" because they are so good they are almost godlike and certainly god must have wanted them to be rich or they would not be, right? Yup, that's the logic.


Okay, so the ocean is money. Everybody is still boats. If we give the people in the yachts more money they will hire workers who create wealth which raises the tide.

I still think my way makes more sense.

The tide is the workers who create wealth through labour. The boats are the 1% who rise on the labour of the workers. Workers spending the wealth from their labour creates more jobs.

There is so much talk of "emerging markets" and their importance. That is so they will no longer need American consumers. American consumers already gave them all their money. That money is the seed money to exploit consumers in new markets.

You ain't dumb.

Thanks for this giselle and you are so right..the more you know . really know that's worthwhile, the more simply you can say it, the more readily all will understand's actually a hallmark of genious ( with one notable exception, my beloved Buckie Fuller who invented his own language..if he had written more simply and everyone got it way back when we might be further along and not in this mess.

It has been a delight to be on this exploration with all you.  For all its deviations and snow drifts it is one of the most through in depth explorations/collaborations so far here at Occupy Cafe.



Ok, here are my edits.

        A complete replacement of our political system is virtually impossible.

It depends on what you're replacing it with and why, but in the context of this conversation I'm saying a complete transfer to direct democracy does not seem possible to me now.     

-          If we do not act there is a danger of chaos as the situation worsens.

There is certainty of chaos due to collapsing economic and ecological systems and the rise of a fascist police state in America.      

-          Most people who vote are invested in the current system of government. They are unlikely to stop voting as a tool to replace it.

Yes, they are unlikely to stop voting with no alternative they can believe is better, and when the system will just keep running anyway.

-          Discouraging the more enlightened people from voting will just result in more of the same. We will be unable to support the representatives who want reform.

I don't think you can discourage people from voting who want to vote. They don't listen to that argument. They find it depressing and deflating and will argue that it is the only way to run government. The rest of the people already don't vote. There are representatives who are decent people and running in the current system who would enact positive change if elected by honest vote counting and if they were numerous enough in office to enact the change.     

-          We have structural corruption at all levels of government. We must try to stop the corruption or the country will continue on the same path of environmental destruction and mass-murder through war.

-           We have a system that doesn't represent the will of the people, only the will of the economic elite. We have to understand every mechanism that supports that and change it. We also have criminals rigging the system at every level. Yes, we will continue on the path of Empire, pollution and resource extraction until we pass a tipping point and our society collapses.

-          Americans have spent years investigating vote-rigging and will be preventing or documenting any rigging they can identify.

-           Some Americans have been doing this -- very few. Most are still blissfully ignorant and think the system works, or they already have dropped out of the system.

-          Some types of vote fraud are more difficult to accomplish with higher voter turnouts.

-           Yes. Overall it's more risky to try to rig elections where people really care. Still, at the top levels they are prepared to deal with dissent and absorb it, and continue on.

-          The success of the Occupy movement is evidence of widespread dissatisfaction which can be tapped to support candidates who recognize the need for reform on issues like corporate personhood and campaign finance.

-           Yes. 

-          If people feel cheated because their votes didn’t count they are more likely to rise-up in civil disobedience and demand possibly radical change.

-           They are more likely to be aware, and awareness adds to our overall intelligence and evolution, which will lead, hopefully, to positive action. Whether people demand change within the current representative system or create a new system entirely is up to them. But until they are aware and fed up, they will do nothing.

-          The Occupy movement will inspire protests where fraud is suspected.  This will pressure authorities to respond although the response may be violent.

-           If the Occupy movement focuses on how our elections are/may be rigged, they could bring tremendous attention to the issue. Protests and other legal actions may result. Protests will likely inspire violence on the part of the cops.

-          The only way to restore legitimacy to the electoral process is to return to paper ballots which can be physically tracked and verified.

-           That's the only way to have a proper vote count. The entire electoral process must be freed from money influence, become responsive to the community grassroots levels, and many other reforms need to be put in place to make it true representation.

-          Direct democracy can only work on a local level.

The only way it can work beyond that is to use the Internet, which cannot be made safe for voting. So, yes. It can only work in relatively small groups. If someone can structure a process by which it works beyond that, I would be interested to see it.

There's an old Sufi story about a magician who owned a flock of sheep. The magician was too cheap to hire a shepherd or build a fence, but he didn't want his sheep to run away. So he hypnotized the sheep and told them that they were magicians. Believing that they were magicians, the sheep were content to stay in the magician's pasture until he slaughtered them and never tried to run away.

it's a strange story, but I think about it often. Why would I fight for freedom if I've been hypnotized into believing that I'm already free? Why would I struggle for power over my own life if I've been hypnotized into believing that I already have power over my own life? Why would I try to stop government from harming me if I've been hypnotized into believing that government and I are equal and that therefore government has no power over me?

I was told this story almost fifty years ago, and I'm still finding new meanings in it. I've heard that Sufi stories have many levels of meaning, and this one seems to reveal new levels of meaning the more I ponder it and try to relate it to my own experiences and perceptions of reality. At first glance it seems like a rather simple, sort of silly story, and it is easily dismissed as such. By once having heard it, it stuck in my mind and kept popping up again and again, each time with a new revelation of, "Oh! That's what it was talking about!"

Some of you may already have heard it and some may not, but because it might have the same effect on you that it has had on me, I think it is worth posting here.With regard to voting, I think one meaning of the story may be, why would I work towards having a voice in government, if I've been hypnotized into believing that I already have a voice in government?

Thank you Mark..Sufi wisdom speaks through the ages. And you are right..that is exactly our condition..hypnotized into submission and cooperation..isn't that our work here to change transform that into awareness from which we can collaboratively creeate a new reality for all of us?

But how can you do that if your freedoms are an illusion? Unlike the sheep we are fenced in. We just think the fence is to protect us and we can open the gate and walk out. Now anyone who tests the gate can be whisked off to the slaughter house without so much as a chance to say good-bye.

Doesn't that mean faith the constitution or the bill of rights are an illusion? Awareness alone doesn't provide the freedom needed to create a new reality. Can we collaboratively create a new reality without first smashing the illusion of freedom and replacing it with genuine freedom?


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