An open space for global conversation
I'll be giving a teach-in on this at Occupy San Diego on Wednesday and again on Sunday. The discussion will be based on my own analysis along with Prof. Robert Jensen's teach-in at Occupy Austin on October 30th. Here's a link for background: http://fubarandgrill.org/node/1218
If the Occupy movement can be tricked into making demands on government, it will no longer be nonpolitical and will therefore no longer have the unity that is only possible in a nonpolitical movement. For demands on government to have any success would require participating in the system instead of noncompliance with the system. Political parties and candidates would compete to see who could tell the most persuasive lies and partisan politics would make the unity that stemmed from shared grievances across the political spectrum no longer possible.
Most Occupies seem to be aware of the problem, but a few are considering demands and need to be aware of the divisive and destructive nature of demands. As Bob (Prof. Jensen) says, "I have a suggestion for a response: We demand that you stop demanding a list of demands."
Another factor is that in order to make an effective demand, we have to have an or else. Examples of this might be: "Comply with our demand OR ELSE we'll have a general strike and shut you down." "Comply with our demand OR ELSE we'll punish you." If our best "or else" is, "Comply with our demands OR ELSE thousands more of us will nonviolently and passively allow ourselves to be beaten, tear-gassed, maced, arrested, and/or killed," it isn't very likely to be effective. That didn't work in Egypt and it won't work here because it is the US that funds, arms, and trains the Egyptian military in crowd control tactics and the suppression of civil dissent.
In another article on my website I attempt to explain why an election boycott is an important part of noncompliance, because we don't have the power to use elections to vote people out if they do not comply with our demands. If we were able to hold them accountable we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place. http://fubarandgrill.org/node/1172 And while Oakland had the numbers for a general strike, many other cities don't yet have that much support.
We have our List of Grievances and we have many brilliant minds cooperatively planning the construction of alternative systems. The only reason that people were able to take their money out of the big banks was because there were credit unions for them to go to. Without cooperatives and collectives in place, people aren't likely to leave their jobs, no matter how unpleasant, harmful, and insecure those jobs may be. We need to build those cooperatives and collectives. We need to educate ourselves instead of demanding education. We need to heal ourselves instead of demanding health care. We need to feed ourselves instead of demanding food. We need to create jobs rather than demanding jobs. We can do all this and we will, but it takes time. But as we work, the opposition will keep trying to distract us and force us into making demands on the system rather than creating a better system.
I agree Mark, if we vote we are effectively rubber stamping our MP's love affair with the banks and the big global companies, I told my local MP they should decide who they serve the people who vote them into power, or the banks.and global companies. In the UK, they can't do both. Our two biggest industries are weaponry etc and pharmacology, that is why government keeps getting involved in wars it boosts our productivity. Also we have an illness service as opposed to a proper health service, because pharmacology make large profits from illness there is no incentive for the government to change policy, they get more profits when they treat illness none if we are well..
I agree, Gael. As an update to my original post above, Prof. Jensen has backtracked on his principles and is now supporting a political candidate, and my teach-ins at Occupy San Diego were a waste of time as Occupy San Diego is now registering voters and adopting demands on local, state, and federal government. Those demands won't be met, of course, but I guess they make people feel like they're doing something. What they're really doing by making demands on government is ensuring that they'll have to continue to vote in hopes of electing people who might listen to their demands. Cleaning out the Augean Stables was a much easier and less humiliating task.
Your "illness service" sounds little different from our health care industry, except that it costs us a lot more. And the US government no longer has much of anything except weapons to export, so our major industry seems to be starting wars so that we can sell more weapons.
The Occupy San Diego List of Demands as it looks to them:
In late November, at three (3) separate GAs, "Demands Committee" was formed and unanimous "call to consensus" was achieved on accepting as OSD Demands, and then charging Demands Committee to craft Resolutions for the City Council to act on, on the following four (4) Resolutions
- Repeal the National Defense Authorization Act & Patriot Acts;
- Get all Corporate money out of politics, and limit personal contributions to $100 per candidate, zero to PAC money;
- OSD tweaked version of the "Move to Amend" resolution, which:
- Ends Corporate "Personhood";
- Regulates all Corporations;
- Prohibits Corporate money in political campaigns, and in any lobbying effort, with penalties for doing so, and;
- A six (6) month moratorium on all California/San Diego County foreclosure;
- Debt forgiveness on mortgages to 80% of current market values, and re-mods at no more than 30 year fixed, 3% above prime, and;
- Divestment of all City monies from large banking &/or financial corporations, and reinvestment in small to medium businesses, or individuals.
(There is a mention in their announcement that the San Diego City Council is still refusing to negotiate with them. Only the City Council itself can put resolutions on its agenda.)
The Occupy San Diego List of Demands as it looks to me:
Dear Santa Claus,
We've all been good little boys and girls, we believe in you, we know that writing to you is the way to get what we want, and we demand that you come down our chimneys with the following gifts......
I wish I had the time to actually read this thread, but perhaps you'll forgive me for denying you the opportunity to preach to the choir. I just want to share my view on why the movement has no demands, and why that's a good thing (which is why I get so nervous when some of these national-level facilitators start talking about "reaching consensus" and a "coherent message for the media"), and how I respond to the demand for demands.
Step 1 is to hear the demand itself in a deeper way as a "tragic expression of unmet needs" (Marshall Rosenberg) for meaning, understanding, clarity, and maybe even connection with me, so that I can respond from love instead of like a smart-ass or with self-righteousness. Then, depending on the relationship and the context, I might respond in any of the following ways:
1. Mutual liberation from systems of oppression. The accent is on "mutual" because the accent is on empowering communities to build systems that support diversity, inclusiveness, and resilience. Unlike movements of the past, affinity group or national liberation from specific oppressors is no longer enough.
2. I can't imagine what I'd ask for because I don't see any intrinsic value in anything the current centralized security, education, governance, health care, food, etc. systems have to offer - only monetary value. It's the cultural framework of profit and loss that's got our overdeveloped country in such a mess because it depends upon the perpetuation of suffering for its success. I want to live in a world based on win-win solutions and practices.
3. I regret the arrogance of "We! Are! The 99%!" - although it did capture admirably the straw that broke the camel's back, namely the inequity of the distribution of monetary resources. For Occupy 2.0, I prefer "We! Are! The 11%!" - the tipping point that triggers paradigmatic cultural change, with Nobody Left Behind as a tag line based on a life-affirming spin on a particularly obnoxious chunk of the "patriot" act. And so yes, we have a unified "demand": JOIN US!
Great to see some higher social consciousness, Susan, and I'll try to learn from it. Thank you!
I came back to this thread and took a look at the OSD demands, and I'm reminded of yet another reason NOT to submit to the demand for demands: The minute some charade of a process agrees on a finite list, somebody will be left out. For example, it was heartbreaking to see a demand for a moratorium on foreclosure (I consider home ownership more of a privilege than a right) in the absence of a demand for cancellation of student loan debt (I consider education to a person's full capacity more of a right than a privilege) - and I personally have neither a mortgage nor an outstanding student loan, so I might be more impartial than the particular GA that had the arrogance to speak for OSD.
Occupy New Consciousness! Your appreciation was a gift, Mark, and balm for my troubled heart.
I agree Susan, inclusiveness and coming from love is the way to progress and grow something much better, but will require change within each one of us in every area of our lives to live our inner truth. one by one, we all have control of our own choices and are capable of asking ourselves honestly am I coming to this moment with love for all. We are babies again relearning how to coexist for the benefit of all and when I say all i include other species and the planet, we are all an interdependent whole.
Occupy San Diego did consense earlier on a demand to forgive student loans, Susan. But you're right, they're demanding privileges from a system based on privilege instead of creating a system based on mutual liberation.