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 OC.org, 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
12/31/11

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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A friend of mine is an organic gardener who has chickens and goats, lives about an hour away from me by public transportation, is also involved with Occupy, and invites me out about once a year for tea in the garden so that I can escape from the city and be reintroduced to the chickens, whose names I always forget, and pet the goats. My friend just emailed me a link to what is happening in Detroit, which I think is of great importance:

http://www.nationofchange.org/work-reimagined-detroit-gets-creative...

Here's what I wrote back, slightly edited (the video is one that David Eggleton posted here on Occupy Cafe):

Yes, that's what it's all about. Thank you for sending it along. Here's a short video of a teach-in that permaculturalist Andrew Faust gave at Zucotti Park to Occupy Wall Street NYC:

http://vimeo.com/33206215

The Democratic Party operatives who co-opted Occupy San Diego didn't get everybody. Occupy Garden is still doing good stuff. Those who are marching, chanting, holding up signs, registering voters, petitioning, making demands on government, and getting themselves arrested won't accomplish anything. Gardening does. Your chickens and goats are more productive than anybody in government. Government can't produce anything, not a leaf of lettuce, not a single egg, not a drop of milk, not even the bombs it needs to stay in the mass murder business.

Once upon a time there was a very big, very successful organized crime syndicate like Murder, Incorporated, but this one wasn't just a small gang that killed a few dozen people like Murder, Inc., this gang was global and killed millions of people. This huge gang was called the United States Conglomerate Corporation, or USCC. Unlike most gangs, this one didn't just let whoever was strongest be the leader, they let everyone vote for who would be the gang officers, but of course the gang itself set its own agenda. After many years a lot of people got tired of the gang killing millions of people with impunity, so they decided to vote for somebody who was against killing. Against all odds, their candidate won. "Finally," cheered the people, "now we'll have some change!" But nothing changed. The new gang leader kept trying to get the gang to stop killing, but everybody in the gang was making a lot of money from killing, so they just keep right on killing. Eventually they killed the newly elected leader and got another leader who understood what the gang was all about. Nobody lived happily ever after. End of story. It isn't a very nice story, but it isn't a fairy tale either.

Here's a better story. Once there was a little child named Sage who lived in a nice house with a mommy and daddy who both worked. Sage had a lot of spare time alone after school and became interested in gardening. At first mommy and daddy didn't pay much attention, but when Sage began bringing vegetables from the garden to mommy and daddy to cook, they saw that gardening was a good thing and that it saved them time and money shopping for vegetables and the vegetables tasted better. Then Sage's mommy got laid off. After a few weeks of futile job hunts, mommy became depressed. Sage saw mommy crying, but instead of trying to comfort mommy, Sage said, "Mommy, I need some help in my garden. Will you help me?" Mommy was very sad, but being a mommy had no choice but to wipe away the tears and see if there was something to do to help the child. Mommy saw the garden Sage had planted and enjoyed helping Sage cultivate it. Soon mommy and Sage had enlarged the garden, were growing almost all their own vegetables, and had enough left over to give some away and sell some. When mommy's unemployment ran out, mommy stopped looking for work because by now the garden was supplying enough food and extra income to compensate for the lost job, as long as they were careful not to waste money on things they didn't need. But then daddy's company moved away and Sage's daddy no longer had a job. Daddy tried desperately for months to find another job, but without success. One day mommy walked in and saw daddy crying. But rather than try to comfort daddy, mommy said, "I'm sorry to bother you, but Sage and I need some help in the garden. Will you help us?" Well, you know the rest. With the help of daddy, the garden expanded to the point where it not only supported the family, but fed most of the neighborhood. And everyone lived happily ever after. Isn't this a much better story? This story is still a fairy tale, but it needn't be, because in some places it is already happening.

I really enjoyed the few hours I got to spend at your place. Restoring the earth is the only way we can restore our own humanity.

Love,

--Mark

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