NOTE: this discussion is now closed to additional posts.  Our dialogue on Occupy 2.0 continues with our Round 3 thread here:

Occupy Cafe has stepped into the movement-wide conversation now swirling around the evolution of the #Occupy.  This thread continues the discussion begun here and on our 11/15 Cafe Call.

If you have not already done so, please examine the Mind Map produced with prodigious effort by OC Member Ellen Friedman, attached.  We want this conversation to build and evolve, so this kind of harvesting is invaluable.

We offered these questions as the second round of our inquiry commenced:

  • What is taking shape here? What is underneath what we are hearing? What is in the center of our listening?
  • What is missing from the picture so far?  What are we not seeing?  Where do we need more clarity?

Please note that this is a hosted discussion.  We will periodically be asking people to step back or step up, to make sure it is balanced and there is space for all voices to be heard.  We will also ask that side conversations that emerge be taken onto new discussion threads so that this core conversation remains focused and readable.  Thank you in advance for your help with this!


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If it passes and the 1% don't like it, the Supreme Court will invent a technicality with which to strike it down as unconstitutional, the same way that they used the Equal Protection Amendment to disenfranchise voters in 2000, and their decisions, however unjustified, unprecedented, or even irrational, cannot be appealed.

But the 1% might like it and let it pass, because it would make people think that their votes actually count, when the truth is that the Supreme Court can ignore the popular vote and install whoever they wish at any time. 

Until we have a direct vote on whether or not to go to war (most people in the US are opposed to the trillions spent on unwinnable wars), whether or not to use our tax money for bailouts, and whether or not to authorize law enforcement to use violence to deny us our 1st Amendment rights, voting is insanity, stupidity, and against everything that OWS stands for. Authorizing people we can't hold accountable to make those decisions for us, when we know that they are unlikely to act in our interests, doesn't make sense.

If the old system is so great, why not suggest that the General Assemblies abandon direct democracy and instead vote to empower individuals who can't be held accountable to make all OWS decisions?


The Election Reform Act 2012 has a direct vote provision.


Suppose there is a piece of legislation that has a possibility of passing, Jon, that would ensure honest elections, honest government, and one of the provisions in it would give me personally a trillion dollars and the fulfillment of even my wildest dreams. All I'd have to do is vote for legislators who might vote for that legislation, and petition every legislator I could to support and vote for that legislation. Sounds good, right?

Not to me. I still wouldn't vote.

First of all, during the time that the legislation is being drawn up and considered, my vote would consent to allow the US government to continue murdering innocent children with drone bombs every day. I consider myself a somewhat moral and ethical person, so I won't consent to that.

Secondly, I'd be buying into both materialism and politics as usual. I'm opposed to both materialism and to politics as usual.

Direct democracy is self-governance. It isn't something you ask legislators to do for you, it is something you do for yourself. 

What government giveth, government can taketh away. That's why it is important to have a direct participatory democracy where we don't have to beg government for favors, but can make our own decisions.

At this point in time, anything with regard to legislation or Constitutional amendments is an attempt to co-opt the Occupy movement away from creating a new system and back into politics as usual.

Today is election day in Egypt. Although the revolutionaries in Tahrir Square have tried to organize an election boycott, the United States and the Egyptian ruling military junta have put millions of dollars into getting out the vote. At least one major demographic, the older members of the Muslim Brotherhood, will definitely vote, although much of the MB youth have joined their peers in Tahrir. Any vote, no matter who wins, will count toward legitimizing the military junta, which will be able to remain in power with US support by controlling the economy and controlling a majority of the Egyptian legislature. If enough people vote, the military junta will not only be able to hide behind a civilian government that it controls and dominates, but it will also be able to claim the consent of the governed and pretend to be a democratically elected government when it is still a military junta.

Those boycotting the election will not vote for any regime that tear gasses, beats, arrests, tortures, shoots, and murders Egyptians for protesting the corrupt military regime. This is the same regime that ran the country when Mubarak was their front man, and will continue to run the country if they can use an "elected" civilian as their front man.

Unfortunately, many US citizens aren't as intelligent as Egyptians, and will happily vote for a government that tear gasses, pepper sprays, arrests, and kills them for protesting, and will happily authorize that government to continue to use violence against them, as long as political operatives can convince people that if they vote for the government that has wrecked their economy and is suppressing civil dissent, they might have a chance of obtaining some reforms some day.

I'm not saying that petitioning never works. There were certainly slaves who gained their freedom by convincing their masters that they should be freed. But the real question is whether we should be putting our energies toward convincing our government to be less oppressive, or toward establishing a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Those who wish to work within the system, are those who believe in the system. They are willing to allow the system to continue to murder innocent children every day in their name, as long as they are allowed to believe that there is a possibility that the system might someday be less oppressive and a bit more benevolent towards US voters themselves.

If you really think that the corporations and the military-industrial complex will allow the puppet legislators they fund and control, to vote for anything that allows the people rather than the puppets to make decisions about war, taxes, and regulations, you're wasting your time with Occupy Wall Street because you have faith in the essential goodness of the US military empire and its ability to reform itself. You don't want real change, just temporary reforms.

Even if the Election Reform Act addresses all of the hundreds of problems with our electoral system and our system of government, including those which would require at least two dozen Constitutional amendments, if it is passed by Congress and signed by the President, it can be repealed by Congress, by a Presidential secret or public signing order, or by decree of the Supreme Court.

The question of democracy is a question of power. Who has the power, the government or the people? If the government has the power, it is a tyranny. If the people have the power, it is a democracy. 

When the people have the power, they don't have to petition their elected officials for anything, they simply decide what to do and then do it.

What part of "Power to the people!" don't you understand?

For once, I've got to agree with Mark.

This law will never work because it will be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The only cure is a constitutional amendment which will 1) eliminate corporate personhood in ALL it's manifestations and 2) make public elections publicly funded.

Suppose, Mr. Blue, that both those Constitutional amendments survive all the obstacles and become Amendments to the Constitution. Corporations will no longer be considered to have the Constitutional rights of persons, and elections will be publicly funded.

So we have an election and you, Mr. Blue, happen to have turned out to be one of the most inspirational people in the Occupy movement, have spoken to wide acclaim at every Occupy site in the country, have made many videos which went viral, and have become a "household" word. So you run for President and garner a phenomenal 90% of the vote.

That could happen because you wouldn't need to be a millionaire or cater to the 1% to be able to run in publicly funded elections, and the corporations wouldn't be able to spend billions of dollars on prime time mass media to smear you. The results of the popular vote are announced, the country rejoices, and you start packing your bags to move to the White House.

Then the corporations put enormous economic pressure on the Electoral College and a majority of Electoral votes go for your opponent, who only got less than 10% of the vote. Okay, so we need, at a minimum, another Constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College. That's because the Constitution banned citizens from voting directly for President and Vice-President and said that only the Electoral College could do that. Of course it also said we couldn't vote for Senators, and that was changed, so the third Constitutional amendment is also possible. We get that passed and your 90% landslide can't be overturned by the Electoral College.

So now you breathe a sigh of relief and book a flight to Washington, D.C. But there's another problem now. Several places in the country had incidences of electoral fraud. Usually this would be ignored, as the powers that be would simply say that the fraud hadn't altered the results of the election. But this time the Supreme Court decides that the fraud violated the Equal Protection Clause (the one that was intended to protect blacks but was used by the Supreme Court in 2000 to disenfranchise blacks, and, incidentally, all other voters), and announces that you cannot be sworn into office until they have resolved the question of election fraud so as not to deprive citizens of the voting rights the Supreme Court says they don't have anyway. And the Supreme Court then finds that the fraud was so serious that they have no choice but to nullify the election and order that a new election be held.

Absurd? No more absurd than that corporations are people, money is speech, and that if the President does something, it is thereby legal. And that last part is the problem because now they certainly don't want Mr. Blue to have the power of a unitary President, as the things you might do might not please the 1%. So if we want your unprecedented 90% landslide to put you into the White House, we'd definitely need a fourth Constitutional amendment, either abolishing the Supreme Court, or at a minimum limiting their supreme power so that they couldn't override the popular vote.

Okay, if we can get two Constitutional amendments introduced, passed, and ratified, there's no reason we can't get four.

But then election officials all over the country start announcing that the central tabulators that counted the votes had been hacked, and had flipped the results, and that it was really your opponent who'd gotten the 90% vote and you'd only gotten 5%. Well, everyone knows that's impossible, but since there is no way to verify the audit logs of the central tabulators, because they can be hacked without leaving a trace for the forensic investigating techies to find, as impossible as everyone knows it is, we can't prove that it didn't happen. Since we've already either abolished the Supreme Court or limited their power so that they can't intervene in presidential elections, it would have to go to Congress. And if Congress happens to prefer your opponent, they aren't going to investigate, they'll just swear in your opponent, as happened with at least half a dozen Congressional elections in 2006.

Okay, so we get a 5th Constitutional Amendment, that takes electronic voting machines and central tabulators out of elections, the way that the German Supreme Court did, because they conceal the electoral process from the public and are therefore incompatible with democracy. If we can get 4 Constitutional amendments, a fifth isn't too much to ask.

Do you see where I'm going with this, Mr. Blue? It isn't five amendments that would be needed, or even fifty amendments--if we want the popular vote to be the final say, we'd need a new Constitution that vested power in the hands of the people, instead of in the hands of the government, so that the will of the people could not be ignored or overridden by the government.

Our Constitution was written by the 1%, to ensure that the 1%, those who owned the country, would always rule the country. Have you read the discussion on my website about our counterrevolutionary Constitution? Tragic as it might be, I suspect that you might find yourself agreeing with me again. ;)

The Oligarchs have won so far by decieving the public into believing the wealthy and the middle-class are on one side, and the poor are on the other. The objections to "class war" are intended to frighten the middle-class into believing that poor people are the threat. Further, that entitlement programs take money away from the middle-class and give it to the poor.

The conversation is proceeding as though the middle-class already accepts that they are being massively ripped off by Oligarchs. If they really did believe what we know, there would be hundreds of thousands marching in the streets.

We are speaking to the kind of people who pay Snooki 32 thousand dollars for a Q&A at a UNIVERSITY!!!!! These are among the most educated Americans. They are in university. Imagine all the people with only a high-school education. We need the support of people who watched Kim Kardashian's wedding.We need the support of black Friday shoppers who stampede over one another for a deal.

The Oligarchs win because they shorten their messages and they don't confuse busy people with too many facts and long explanations. We, on the other hand, quickly skip past our main message and get bogged down in trying to teach people about all the complex ways we are being subjegated and what we are doing on the world stage etc. as though if only we tell people about all this then they will be convinced and agree with us. That isn't how it works.

Look how successful the birthers were in convincing people that Obama is Muslim and not American. Many Americans still think that 911 terrorist got into the states over the Canadian border. Being right isn't good enough in this battle.

The central fact that needs to be repeated over and over again and appear on huge signs is that 1% of Americans have 62% of the wealth. Better yet, in a dead simple pie chart with 1% written in the 62% section next to another pie chart showing the distribution from the 1970s. That is what will get people into the streets. Not long explanations about how government has been corrupted etc.


In Egypt, Tunesia, Greece, Spain, and other countries, hundreds of thousands of people have gone into the streets, including much of their middle class, only to be met with violent repression by the minions of the 1%.

It is only by delegitimizing a government, refusing to vote in its elections so as to deny it the consent of the governed, that change can come about.

Even if 90% of the people understood the message and were out in the streets, as long as 50% of them continued to vote, thus granting their consent of the governed to the government that was using violence to suppress them, that government could still claim legitimacy and other world governments would continue to recognize it as a democratically elected government--even if it had already murdered thousands of its own citizens.

As long as those who understand the problem continue to vote in elections funded (to the tune of many billions of dollars) by the 1%, and allow the corporate-owned mainstream media to turn elections into popularity contests instead of being about issues, they cannot bring about real change.

Real change doesn't come about because 10,000 people are jailed for protesting, or a thousand people are wounded or killed for protesting, real change comes about when people refuse to vote, refuse to grant legitimacy to the system that is oppressing them, and everyone can see that the system of oppression no longer has the consent of the oppressed. 

Until that happens, the forces of evil can continue to depict Occupiers as fringe dissidents, when we are clearly the majority. Here in San Diego, because we were evicted, there are days when there are only a dozen or so people at Freedom Plaza. But we have 14,000 online supporters and many more who don't want to declare their support publicly but show it surreptitiously by donating money and food anonymously so as not to endanger their jobs.

Only the Tea Party, Ron Paul supporters, and others of their ilk, a small minority in US politics, still believe the mainstream lies that the problem is entitlements rather than military spending so enormous that the Pentagon can lose, mislay, and be totally unable to account for a single penny of $2.3 trillion dollars in an average year, without one letter of reprimand being issued, one investigation being opened, or any attempt by Congress to prevent it from continuing to happen every year. 

Many of these ignorant people have tried to infiltrate the Occupy movement, but most people just laugh at them. The problem isn't entitlement, the feds, class war, or anything like that, the problem is an out of control government that has become a global genocidal empire and must be replaced with a direct democracy where the people have a real voice instead of a sham and meaningless uncounted vote.





Hi, Giselle.

You make a good point, that we need to reach more of the 99%. I think, however, that it is a losing battle to try to reach the people who are into the Kardashians. I hate to say it, but those people are sheep. We need to reach people who are reachable.

That said, I think there are a lot of people who are reachable. But you need at least a few short paragraphs. You can't distill what Occupy is about in a sound byte. It just isn't possible. That said, I have done a lot of work putting together short flyers for disparate audiences that will fit four to a page. I will share them here. Use what you want and throw the rest away:

For the unemployed and newly poor:


Unemployed or underemployed? Neck deep in debt? Uninsured or underinsured? At risk for foreclosure? One illness away from bankruptcy? Kids living at home who can’t find jobs after graduating college?

You’re not alone. 1 in 6 Americans are in your shoes.

  • Corporations and the super rich get tax cuts, bailouts, and obscene bonuses.
  • The rest of us get unemployment, downward mobility, foreclosures, and lack of affordable insurance.

Don’t like it? Do something! Join the Occupy movement.

Together we will chip away at the symptoms and root causes of corporate control until we the 99% take back our government and make it work for us.

Join us and make your voices heard!

For the elderly:


Whatever happened to a secure retirement?

  • Congress can’t wait to make cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Housing and Urban Development.
  • Meanwhile, corporations and the super rich get tax cuts, bailouts, and obscene bonuses.

How did this happen? Through the legalized bribery of unlimited campaign contributions, corporations and the super rich have bought our elected representatives.

Does that make you mad? Then do something about it! Join the Occupy movement.

Together we will chip away at the symptoms and root causes of corporate control until we the 99% take back our government and make it work for us.

Join us and make your voices heard!

For students:


Tired of constant fee hikes? Wondering if there will be a job for you when you graduate? Worried about how you’ll pay off your student loans?

  • Corporations and the super rich get tax cuts, bailouts, and obscene bonuses.
  • Students and college graduates get the shaft.

If you’re sick of being used like an ATM, get mad.

Then join the Occupy movement. Together we will chip away at the symptoms and root causes of corporate control until we the 99% take back our government and make it work for us.

Join us and make your voices heard!

For the near poor:

Living Paycheck To Paycheck?

Working twice as hard for less money? Neck deep in debt? Underinsured? Underemployed? At risk for foreclosure? One illness away from bankruptcy? Kids living at home who can’t find jobs after graduating college?

You’re not alone. 1 in 3 Americans fit this general description, according the latest Census data.

  • Corporations and the super rich get tax cuts, bailouts, and obscene bonuses.
  • The rest of us get downward mobility, foreclosures, lack of affordable insurance, increased workloads, and job insecurity.

Don’t like it? Do something! Join the Occupy movement.

Together we will chip away at the symptoms and root causes of corporate control until we the 99% take back our government and make it work for us.

Join us and make your voices heard!

Aside from outreach, there are other ways to get the 99% on our side. The occupations themselves have changed the conversation. Anyone who can be reached at this point knows that the 1% have a vastly disproportionate amount of the wealth, they know that the banks were bailed out, paid huge bonuses, and screwed homeowners. I think what the people you are talking about don't know yet is that corporations and the rich run our governments. We need to keep hammering that point home.

There are lots of ways to do this: national actions like Occupy the Courts, Occupy Congress, Occupy Foreclosures, the proposed West Coast shutdown of the ports, various boycotts and blockades are one way. Occupy forces helping folks who are in similar fights, like unions, foreclosed homeowners, folks who have had their rental deposit stolen, folks who haven't been paid at their jobs will get press and focus attention on the problems that are facing the 99%. Theatrical stunts like Occupying banks, flashmobs in shopping malls, etc. There are more ways than I could possibly think up.

Provided that we keep our message clear, all these methods will help raise awareness. Once the 99% understand how they're being used and what this will ultimately mean for them, they will join us, at least the ones who are reachable. And then the followers of the Kardashians will join us, because like I said, they are sheep.

Those are really well done and I do think that a more targeted approach has a better chance of reaching people. Once they are brought into the movement they can learn more at their own pace, or not. There has to be room for everyone even if they aren't prepared to learn all about politics and lobbying etc.

Once people get that they are being robbed, they will fight back, especially Americans. Once middle-class Americans realize who has really be robbing them blind, watch out.

Interesting piece framing Occupy 2.0 as what is "the next level"for the movement (h/t Tamara Shapiro).  A few excerpts:

Let’s keep it real: the original OccupyWallStreet call to action was put out byAdbusters, a small magazine by and for young, white, college-educated (or dropped-out) lefties. It was very quickly embraced by a much larger audience across the country, but still majority white. There are pros and cons to this. The con is that people of color, who generally have felt the effects of the recession much harder than white people, are hesitant to join in, due to a history of exclusion and even betrayal by majority-white labor and liberal movements. At the same time, though, I have heard from some black and Latino comrades, upon seeing all the white people in the streets, a sentiment of “It’s about time!” Similarly, I have always been frustrated by the apathy of many of my light-skinned brothers and sisters. So to everyone who is joining in, I say, it’s nice to see y’all. Just remember: we’re not the only players in this party, and if this is going to really jump off, we’ll need to check some of our privilege and practice real solidarity...

...If we want the full 99% to join in, petty property damage ain’t the way to do it.

The proponents of such actions usually defend them under the catchphrase “diversity of tactics.” I am all for different tactics, but what this phrase’s backers really mean by it is anonymity of tactics and absolution of responsibility. A small group of people throw a couple bricks under the cover of night and black masks, then run away from the cops, leaving the whole movement to take the brunt of the police and media backlash. Whether these folks are hardcore anarchists or police provocateurs, I don’t know. Probably some of both. Either way, I’m done with the “violence versus nonviolence” debate. I’d rather discuss strategy versus stupidity, accountability versus irresponsibility. As I mentioned earlier, I’m all for direct actions that may not be technically legal, especially occupations of banks, schools, and homes. But we need actions that speak to people, that invite them to come on in, rather than scare them away...

Each city’s local Occupy actions and focus are great, but the economic and political problems we are confronting are national – actually international – in scope. It’s time to start making our presence felt on that level. Last Thursday’s national day of action, called by OccupyWallStreet and with coordinated protests in over a dozen cities, was a great start. OccupyOakland‘s call for a West Coast Port Shutdown on December 12 is an even bigger step, and if it can be pulled off up and down the coast, it would strike a huge blow to the powers that be.

Beyond that, we can to start organize internationally alongside the people in similar struggles for democracy and against austerity in Egypt, Greece, Chile, and beyond. Who knows? Maybe we can bring that beautiful idea that “another world is possible” closer to making it real.



IMO, no "small group" of any color or persuasion would be able to define Occupy through any unsanctioned action if it were not for the fact that this Movement is mostly populated by small, uncoordinated groups.  We can invite everyone - the whole 99% - to come here to engage in being heard, an entirely positive move towards the creation of a manifesto. I think we do need to organize a realistic process that gets there from here. For example, we can adopt a familiar tournament style tiered structure composed of groups of up to seven each, with each group sending a representative to the next tier to join in groups of up to seven, etc, until at last the final group assembles the collective voice, everyone being heard whom cares to be heard. The first tier might involve hundreds or even thousands of groups, and perhaps there would need to be a month or more allowed for those groups to form here and conclude, and perhaps a week for each subsequent tier, the vital thing being that a very real effort is made to see that every voice is represented.  We'd need volunteers to enroll the members of each group, with each a closed discussion within a category labeled "tier one", and as a group concludes it's proceedings then its selectperson moves on to the first open slot in a group in "tier two", etc, with each group concluding more swiftly than the last, I would think, because mostly there is a natural consensus, so that we do discover the prevailing ideals and aims. This format might easily be accommodated by this site, and it can easily be understood to reasonably represent every voice. Of course, the total numbers might be relatively low, but perhaps just a few hundred participants from around the globe might capture most of the thinking of the rest. Not to say that any of this needs to be perfect, especially because it is always evolving and never finished.


Thanks, Kevin. It is a relief to see a suggestion that doesn't involve delegating power to representatives.

Most things don't have to be decided nationally or globally. Anything that only effects neighborhoods, can be decided at the neighborhood level. 

Of course we first have to get rid of the hierarchical government that taxes locally but makes decisions about spending that money in a centralized power structure.

Right now the General Assemblies of the various Occupy cities range from a handful of people to thousands of people. But each GA has the power to make proposals and consense on them, and to make their decisions known. 

Here's a website that collects Tweets nationally and globally from Occupies and peace activists:

I don't have to send a delegate to Egypt to find out what Egyptians are doing and saying, or to tell them what I think, because I follow many Egyptian revolutionaries on Twitter and can chat with them directly. So I usually know what has been decided in Tahrir Square without having to send a delegate there or them having to send a delegate here. If that can be done internationally, it probably can be done nationally.

But consensus has to be reached in open General Assemblies or gatherings, whether small or large, not online or behind closed doors. Once decisions are reached, we have the digital tools for communicating those decisions. 

Unfortunately, many GAs have been led astray and have abandoned a true consensus process for a modified form of majority rule. I think (and hope) that this is just a temporary detour and will be remedied as time goes on. Most are afraid of small groups being able to block consensus. They see this as an insurmountable problem because they haven't yet learned how to engage blockers in finding creative alternatives that everyone can consense on. 

The reason that individual blocks are necessary is best explained by the old joke that democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. It can only work if the lamb has a solid block, not just once, but every single time they vote on the menu. Eventually, the wolves, rather than starve, will agree to find an alternative entree, instead of continuing to insist on having lamb for dinner, but only if the lamb has that solid block which cannot be overridden by a majority. I know of dogs thriving on vegan diets, so I suspect that their close relatives, wolves, could do the same. 




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