There's been a great deal said about the Occupy Movement in the past two months. Some of it in support and praise, some of it in criticism. Many have admired their courage, while others have decried their lack of specific goals, solutions,the cumbersome nature of their leaderless structure. Some have even said that they are doomed to failure because of it, as shown here.
The Occupy movement says it stands for open, participatory, non-hierarchical decision-making — a utopian socio-political order where near-consensus, rather than a simple majority let alone authority, rules. No one propels a singular Occupy agenda, because everyone is entitled to propel their own agenda with equal verve. No one is a leader because everyone is a leader, according to the Occupy ethos.
“We have no leader — we work autonomously, and most of us are unaffiliated with any particular group,” according to the website for New York’s General Assembly, the “participatory decision-making body” behind Occupy Wall Street. “We have come together as concerned individuals who simply want our collective voice heard.”
But on the ground, the supposedly collective camps have been criticized even by their own members for adopting the very structures they seek to eliminate — namely hierarchy and the domination of a few over many others — or for self-imploding into chaos. Even Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show spoofed the idea that New York City occupiers fell into the very social structure they sought to upend, dedicating a satirical segment to the class system that apparently developed in Zuccotti Park as the days wore on.
But where the movement failed to achieve its ideal of horizontal decision-making and egalitarianism in the camps, protesters can at least take comfort that the odds were stacked against them from the start: The evidence, in the laboratory and in real life, tells us that human nature, whatever our idealistic intentions, prefers a pyramid.
See that, Occupy is doomed to fail because "human nature" demands that we submit to a heirarchy where the many are dominated by the very special few.
IMO That's complete nonsense.
Yes, it's true that human nature is prone to factionism, and to the charisma of personality. Leaders happen because they happen to choose a direction and other people choose to follow them. if you Step Up, there is a chance that others will follow your lead. That can, will and does occur with Occupy Wall Street, I've seen this first hand at the Occupy LA General Assembly. Leaders Happen. Others who wish they were being followed will grumble and kevetch. Cest la vie.
The leaderless element of the movement has two points. 1) It protects the movement itself from the long standing anti-protest tactics of "targeting the leadership" in order to stymie and quell it's forward progression. This was how the Civil Rights movement was put into disarray after it's charismatic leader Dr. King began to move onto the issues of Vietnam, Labor Rights and Income Inequality.
They Killed Him.
They also Killed Bobby Kennedy. Malcolm X was murdered. Huey Newton was murdered by police. Members of the American Indian Movement such as Leonard Peltier were jailed on questionable charges or shot dead in gun fights with police. The M.O.V.E. tenement was Fire Bombed. And so forth and so on. Leaders soon become Targets. Followers become dependent upon them and when they fall, so does the movement.
Having no official "Leaders" changes that dynamic.
Also and more importantly, 2) the Occupy Movement is open to all who wish to come to it, and all who wish to contribute. If you have a problem with Occupy, it's direction, strategy and/or tactics you can "Get on Stack" (get in line to speak) and make your criticisms known to all. If you think you have a better idea - Speak Up - and let that idea be known.
There is no guarantee that others will agree with your brilliance, maybe they will, maybe they won't - but everyone and ANYONE can push and nudge the direction of the movement toward improvement, simply by showing up.
That is what is truly awesome about Occupy. It is the purist in Direct Democracy and bottom up control. It's messy, it's slow, it's inefficient in a way that makes the Senate look like pack of Will E. Coyote Geniuses of effective governing. But most importantly, it's Fair.
In a way, You right now are a part of Occupy if you want to be. You are are effectively a part of Occupy Daily Kos.
We're here and we plan to stay. Nobodies making us leave. Well, noboby except maybe Markos. That's up to him.
Ok, now that we're here - what are we going to do,eh?
Well, how about we try and tackle some of those "Solutions" our brother and sister Occupy's are having so many problems with?
Some weeks ago Occupy Wall Street and it's other occupations adopted a "Declaration" of their issues and intent. A Copy of that Declaration is located here.
Here are the key issues they brought forward:
- They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
- They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
- They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
- They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
- They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
- They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
- They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
- They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
- They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
- They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
- They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
- They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
- They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
- They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
- They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
- They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
- They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
- They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
- They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
- They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
- They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
- They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
- They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*
We can choose to adopt this declaration, or possibly to amend and edit it for our own purposes.
To each one of these concerns, there is a solution - possibly more than one. I've numbered them for clarity and discussion. We can refer to them as OWS#1 - OWS#23.
I will edit and amend the list as comments come in until we have consensus.
Let me also include the ten point set of suggestions from Michael Moore which he posted here last week.
10 Things We Want
A Proposal for Occupy Wall Street
Submitted by Michael Moore
1. Eradicate the Bush tax cuts for the rich and institute new taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporations, including a tax on all trading on Wall Street (where they currently pay 0%).
2. Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries when that company is already making profits in America. Our jobs are the most important national treasure and they cannot be removed from the country simply because someone wants to make more money.
3. Require that all Americans pay the same Social Security tax on all of their earnings (normally, the middle class pays about 6% of their income to Social Security; someone making $1 million a year pays about 0.6% (or 90% less than the average person). This law would simply make the rich pay what everyone else pays.
4. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, placing serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and the banks.
5. Investigate the Crash of 2008, and bring to justice those who committed any crimes.
6. Reorder our nation's spending priorities (including the ending of all foreign wars and their cost of over $2 billion a week). This will re-open libraries, reinstate band and art and civics classes in our schools, fix our roads and bridges and infrastructure, wire the entire country for 21st century internet, and support scientific research that improves our lives.
7. Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans all of the time.
8. Immediately reduce carbon emissions that are destroying the planet and discover ways to live without the oil that will be depleted and gone by the end of this century.
9. Require corporations with more than 10,000 employees to restructure their board of directors so that 50% of its members are elected by the company’s workers. We can never have a real democracy as long as most people have no say in what happens at the place they spend most of their time: their job. (For any U.S. businesspeople freaking out at this idea because you think workers can't run a successful company: Germany has a law like this and it has helped to make Germany the world’s leading manufacturing exporter.)
10. We, the people, must pass three constitutional amendments that will go a long way toward fixing the core problems we now have. These include:
a) A constitutional amendment that fixes our broken electoral system by 1) completely removing campaign contributions from the political process; 2) requiring all elections to be publicly financed; 3) moving election day to the weekend to increase voter turnout; 4) making all Americans registered voters at the moment of their birth; 5) banning computerized voting and requiring that all elections take place on paper ballots.
b) A constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and do not have the constitutional rights of citizens. This amendment should also state that the interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.
c) A constitutional amendment that will act as a "second bill of rights" as proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt: that every American has a human right to employment, to health care, to a free and full education, to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food, and to be cared for with dignity and respect in their old age.
We can refer to these as MM#1 - MM#10.
Kossack Frank Lee Speaking has already done some extensive and impressive work along these lines, produced a Google Doc which is at this point still a work in progress.
Highlights from the Doc Include:
1. Abrobation of "Citizens United".
2. Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform
3. Electoral Reforms
4. An Explanation of this Document
5. Fair Tax Code (Tax Reform)
6. Healthcare for All (Healthcare Reform)
7. Protection of the Planet (Environmental Protection and Energy Reform)
8. Debt Reduction
9. Jobs for All Americans (Jobs and Infrastructure)
10. Student Loan Forgiveness
11. Immigration Reform and Improved Border Security
12. Ending of Perpetual War for Profit (Foreign Policy Reform?)
13. Reforming Public Education (Education Reform)
14. End Outsourcing
15. End Currency Manipulation
16. Banking and Securities Reform
17. Foreclosure Moratorium
18. End the Fed (Inquiry into the Federal Reserve)
19. Abolish the Electoral College, Comprehensive Campaign Finance
and Election Reform.
20. Ending the War in Afghanistan
21. Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act
X22. Agriculture Reform
X23. Senate filibuster
Suggestions to expand on these items with specific suggestions can be referred to as FLS#1 - FLS#23.
Let me start by placing one of my own old suggestions on the floor - one I've diaried several times in past (as I'm sure many of us have already diared or read diaries that directly address many of these issues).
One of the key issue of #OWS is Campaign Finance Reform and getting the influence of money out of our political system. MM#10b suggests a Constitutional Amendment. Six Democratic Senators have already placed such an Amendment on the table as I diaried on Nov 2nd. Many comments noted various problems with it, so there may need to be some Amendments to that Amendment.
My own additional suggestion is that rather only chasing the supply of money, which is a bit like perpetual Wack a Mole, some steps be taken to address the Demand as well. The primary source of this demand is ad buys for television time. If the demand swamp is drained, then the supply becomes far less influencial. The fastest and simplest way to drain that swamp is to make free blocks of time air available to all qualified candidates in local, state and national races.
Technically the FCC already has the authority to mandate this using the same ruling that they established decades ago requiring all local broadcast stations to carry local news as a service to the public. If they can make the stations broadcast 3 Hours of News each day - at their own cost - they can require they include 1 hour (or so) worth of free ad time per day to the qualified candidates. Pacs and SuperPac will just have to pay their own way I'm afraid, but now at least any and all candidates can at least compete with them.
Let the strength of their arguments decide, not the depth of the donors pockets.
The primary complaint I would expect to hear about this would be from the stations who would be losing a significant portion of ad revenue, to quell that complaint the second portion of my suggestion is for Congress to provide tax credits to offset the cost of these ad buys. (And whose going to say "No" to a tax cut these days?) This would give the stations incentive to play these ads in prime time, when the credits would be most valuable rather than just at 4am.
My previous diares on this are Here: http://www.dailykos.com/...
And Here: http://vyan.blogspot.com/...
Occupy works to establish a goal of 90% Consensus. They means either everyone loves the idea, or at least can live with it. What you seek is to alleviate any "Hard Blocks" which is when someone simply CAN NOT stand or abide something in particularly. Those presenting Hard Blocks must explain their objection, from there adjustments can be made until the block is removed, much like a Senate Filibuster or "Hold" on a piece of legislation.
I'll try and update as the days goes on and add link and source references as they are provided. In a few hours I'll be out shopping, after which I'll make more updates - if there are any to make - then I'm going to visit the Occupy LA Camp for their last GA before they get evicted.
We have a lot of great minds, and great documentation here - let's put them to good use.
Stack is now open. Speak your mind.
11:36 AM PT: Ok, I'm following the commentary so far. Will probably start updates, corrections soon.