Occupy Wall Street Protests

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Beltov
Occupy Wall Street Protests
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Comrades in Europe have been following the developing occupations and general assemblies in the US with interest. According to the Occupy Wall Street site there are occupations in 52 cities across the US, with a whole bunch of Facebooks and Twitter feeds appearing. We'd like to write an article on this movement, but we're a little short of information and analysis from the troops on the ground. Could our US comrades fill us in with their thoughts here?

We're also aware that many of you over there are keen to take part in the occupations/assemblies and asking the ICC for advice. Maybe we could use our Internationalism Facebook to co-ordinate things? It's probably better to do that there than on this forum. You can always email us directly too from this site. 

:)

B.

 

jk1921
Who is paying for the free

Who is paying for the free pizza? Or have they figured out a way to decommodify food all of a sudden? Seriously, what reality do these general assemblies have? Is this something coming from the initiative of the protestors themselves or have "general assemblies" become a kind of activist/media buzzword in the wake of the events in the Middle East, Spain and elsewhere? Right now it looks like the movement is seriously confused, hampered by the same kind of anti-political bent that we have seen elsewhere, yet imminently open to manipulation by the likes of Michael Moore. Of course at this stage, what can we expect when the working class--particularly the youngner generations--are struggling to find the class terrain?

It would be good to hear reports from anyone who is on the ground there.......

Pierre
Hi cdes Long day today. It's

Hi cdes

Long day today. It's almost 4 am here. Forgive me if I skip the yada yada and get straight into it. I know its been a while...sorry for my absence. I spoke to two cdes today in real time. That always makes me feel better about things. Anyways..

So back in June at the beginning of M15 and before that even I've been wondering if a "Tahrir moment" would ever materialize here. Back in August, I got my answer.

I've been following the Occupy Wall St. stuff very closely since day one. In my heart I have a great feeling about it, in my mind-- not quite as much, but close. Personally I see a strong proletarian character arising from these occupations, heres why;

Check this out (http://youtu.be/Ccazpyz0RyQ) as well as this (http://www.occupytogether.org). I've never seen anything spread this quickly and spontaenously but bare with me thats not what is so convincing to me.

There is some seriously critical and pervasive thought processes flying around in the air right now. Who are they critical of? The "1%". Anti-authoritarian ("tackle the guy with the megaphone" etc). Just watch the live stream (http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution) you can see for yourself the things happening.

On the 24th I found a facebook page called OccupyNC. At first there were under 40. After meeting the people who started the page (a group of single mothers) they enrolled me as an admin and I decided to intervene, at a personal level. As I'm writing this were currently at 140 people who are willing to come down and support the occupation physically.

Pierre
(cont'd) Somewhere around the

(cont'd)

Somewhere around the 60 mark I created an open discussion forum. Man, its ideologically juicy. Like a big ideological steak. Nomm nommm nomm. Some typical lines I've been hearing:

-"We have to use the vote. We have to get our people in office, from the bottom up."

-"We have to elect Socialists."

-"I can't afford to drive 90 miles. We should occupy something here."

-"I am Troy Davis."

-"I'm young. I'm unemployed."

-"I want to fight for my future."

"Join Anonymous." "Vote for Ron Paul."

-"This is all Obama's fault."

-"I haven't seen much change since 2008." etc, etc.

Granted, I've been organizing people all day-- but I'm intervening ideologically when its appropriate. I posted an Emma Goldman quote on voting that got a lot of attention. People are engaged in openly critical dialogue, seemingly almost spontaeneous-- but when you look much deeper you can see the causes.

Earlier on the phone the cde Ana said something profound to me. This movement has the advantage of starting out "left-wing" and possibly becoming proletarianized. In Wisconsin recently, we saw the opposite. Working class movement co-opted and sold out by the left-wing of the bourgeoisie.

So I will continue to intervene at a personal level, although I hope we can debate this and come to some collective decisions. I have some meetings to attend in preperation for the occupation saturday mainly dealing with specifics. But I will check back in as much as possible and keep you all posted.

By the way I have a personal cde in #AnonOps feeding me some information. He is telling me my state, North Carolina is the fastest growing of all Occupy groups. Earlier today we were under 400 as a state. Now there are more than 1,000. In just 24 hrs. Thats some serious movement. I'm not surprised though, we have continually had the Top 5 unemployment rates in the nation during this "recession."

Anyways if you guys have questions, or advice-- thats what this is all about. Like I said I will stay posted I have to catch some shut eye. Goodnight for now

con amor revolucionario <3

Jamal

Pierre
tired.

I have been having discussion all day. Luckily though I am also very well fed and wined lol. xD

Anyways I have to get rest soon. Im getting up in the AM tomorrow for more discussion. Heres what the General Assembly Planning Meeting came up with:

Planning Meeting for Occupy Greensboro

Welcome and Check In

Proposed Ground Rules

Recap of Occupy Wall St model

Explanation of Consensus decision making

Proposed Agenda Items:

Decision Making Process

Where and When- need to balance urgency with thoughtfulness and being prepared

Working Groups/ Logistics

-food

-site/space logistics

-childcare

-media/publicity

-security -first aid

-"big picture"

coordination group

-meeting facilitators group

-alliance building

-resource organization; donations, etc

-affinity groups; folks you feel connected to

-research on Gen Assembly model and other models that may be of use to us; "best practices" Liason/ Permits/ Police/ Legal Issues Set Facilitators and Date for Next Meeting Evaluation of Meeting 

Pierre
Proposed Ground Rules for

Proposed Ground Rules

for Conversations/Shared Agrements general assumption of people's good intentions

spirit of love and compassion

keeping conversation peaceful/ calm/ non-violent/ postive

incorporating Step Up- Step Up; basically, this means that if you are the type to talk a lot in meetings, step up and challenge yourself to listen. if you are the type to stay quiet, step up and challenge yourself to speak.

thinking about challenging oppression

dynamics in conversation not interrupting; one person, one mic

 

Sorry for the breivity cdes. I'll try to post my personal thoughts tomorrow morning sometime. Rest first

- Jamal

radicalchains
Thanks!

Thanks for keeping us all updated Jamal! It would be great if you could go into a little bit more depth on the content of some of the discussions. I realise this is difficult as there is a lot going on and you are very busy. Try not to wear yourself out too much... save some energy for the final overthrow of capitalism. 

The impression I get so far is that a lot of what is going on is premised around living differently within capitalism but maybe wrong about this, what do you think?

Pierre
Cdes, Just got back from yet

Cdes,

Just got back from yet another round of disccusions based around the details of the Occupy Greenboro General Assembly.

Radicalchains, your impression is not unfounded. As always, there is a lot of talk about reforming capitalism-- most talk I hear is about European "welfare" states. There is already a strong tendency towards forming short-sided economic demands. There is also a lot of references to the Unions.

Basically, whats going on in detail is this;

Since Monday or Tuesday we have grown from 40 some people in our open discussion group to over 200 (Two-hundred and twenty one as I'm writing this) today. Granted, most people so far have only partcipated behind their computers. Around 10 of us met in person yesterday for facilitation purposes.
 

Tonight will be the first official meeting of the General Assembly. The flyer has been widely circulated and the discussion remains extremely active. My phone rings all day and I find my self going off into 30-45 min political conversations with new and different people everytime...I will post back tonight on the results of our first General Assembly meeting.

Another interesting development is that I've have been granted admin rights in a few powerful facebook groups, namely all the major Anonymous groups in the US. If I wanted to I could have circulated a message on Twitter right now that over 800,000 people would see-- but as they say Anonymous is a "shadowy collective". Another interesting aspect of this is I now have access to some fine statistics, which are as follows:

Starting (9/30/11) with our local Occupy Greensboro facebook group: 658 active users. 15,965 post views. 260 posts.

Anonymous North Carolina (actively supporting our local groups with logistics) 8,991 active users. 458,157 post views. 6,402 posts.

Hope that clarifies some things. I have these in offical PDF forms. Back with more later

- Jamal

 

Crisanto
Thanks Jamal

Thanks comrade for updating us about occupation on the ground. Keep it up. Hopefully the ICC-USA could make some notes or text perhaps about that occupation?

Pierre
Another productive day

So today was different.

As soon as I woke up I had a few provactuers threatening the feeling of general well being we had going on. Said person happened to be ex-military and I was the only one who stood up to him. He said he informed the police about us some how threatening him? Threatened to sue for deleting comments, just a general macho shithead. Kept making lewd comments about the "recessions grip on his balls" and we got very close to crossing some kinda boundry with some of our groups responses. Lol.

But there was a heavy feeling of anger and frustration in this thread, as well as others on the facebook page. That combined with the fact that this group has many many single mothers is giving the group a really warm fuzzy militant super mom feeling.
 

So the physical meeting. I was the first one there came with a family friend Greg Meyerson (also a local professor at NCA&T SU) as well as his son. 15 min or so after 9 pm outside of the local courthouse we had first count 36, then eventually at the heighth got up to near 60. We talked until around 11 pm.

Mostly it was diverse youth, white working mothers, and a strong presence of LBGT activists as well as ISO. One woman brought all six kids from Thomasville which is an agricultural suburb about 40 min away. One man from Winston (30-40 miles), One student from Boone (2 hrs or so) and a few from Raleigh (90 mi) and Chapel Hill (50 mi) (been taking Internationalism to the bookstore there since Leo visited me. 2 copies each time). There was also a city council women who was the third to arrive after me and my people, and a middle aged woman named Laura.

About 3 hrs before the meeting a chick named Nia at Bennett College (who Im told is this awesome activist !!!111) posts something about race that divided the group right down the middle. From what I saw, most people whom the group as labeled "light skinned" are of the persuasion that race shouldnt be an issue anymore. This pissed some people off.  I had brought up the Greensboro Massacre and posted a few images from the Sit-ins movement which some Black folk were trying to assert we didnt have the right to use.

Also, from my angle it seems it was a premeditated intervention on their part. There positions are socialist but they wont stop talking about race. I tried to intervene calmly at first and the bullshit and personal attacks got out of hand and I resigned from my facilitator duties for the meeting beforehand.

Later on at the meeting, there was a lot of Black Nationalist perspectives being pushed on the group under the pretext of opening racial dialogue. This began as soon as the introductions were finished. I made a comment about unwarranted wire taping which someone percieved as a reference to COINTELPRO??? And for me to bring that up was apparently construed as divisive.  So I had the LGBT, the ISOers (they were 5-10, college kids, one with more interesting experiences) and a few of the more Nationalist leaning Black people riding my case.

There was a lot of what I and others were calling "reverse racism". Basically I saw that focusing on the needs of the 10-12 black folks there for the majority of the meeting was agitating the middle class white folks. 30 min before the end people began trickling away and about 30 or so of us remained and got into some really..... passionate conversation. There was a lot of yelling and moving around and getting in peoples faces. The chick from earlier accused me of being white and privlidged and I got upset to the point of tears. There was a lot of yelling but when I got upset everyone stopped.

And then it kinda just reversed tones after that. She tried to like console me, I was still fucking pissed. And we were able to continue on and we got all the logistical work done for that meeting except the details of the occupation, which we barely had time to touch on. There was references to the fact that Egypt, Spain, and NYC were not "spontaneous" but in fact "their comrades had been on the ground pushing for this for 2 months.

I have to say after some folks lost their voice and left, and alignments were made with in the group, the conversation intensified rapidly into some basic socialist arguements. However, the ISOers were clearly leading the facilitation of the group at this time. This again caused agitation among some of the middle class white folks. I was also agitated that they let some people leave so coldly and calculated. So Im really not sure how much their actions accomplish for the group in the end.

Anyways sleep, more later

- Jamal

Pierre
Im gonna post some more

Im gonna post some more details about what i perceived as affinity groups with in our group later on when I wake up. Also did I mention we all agreed to meet again on Sunday and there has been good response on facebook. Seems we didnt really lose anyone everyone was just "cold". It was 43F 

radicalchains
Excellent posts!

Excellent posts Jamal. Talking about problems specific to minoritites is one thing but when arguments and discussions turn into 'races' and who is more oppressed is quite another. Class must be used to unite over the divisive nature of' 'race' and so-called privileges of the slightly less exploited! There is a huge problem of 'white' workers believing themselves to be 'middle-class' and having empathy/sympathy for 'oppressed minorities' not that that is bad but it is a misunderstanding of the whole situation and leads to all sorts of confusions. Some of which I think you descibe and are experiencing. The woman you mention giving you a hard time sounds completely out of order. Don't be shy to give her back what she dishes out!

As the little known grafitti said:

"The only race is the rat race"

 

Good luck and all the best!

 

Pierre
Ok as expected, there was

Ok as expected, there was some quite serious political discussion on the FB group today. I'm figuring out most affiliations. The ISO and LGBT people are activists from the same front, theyve been working together in Greensboro since the 80's. Everyone just seemed so young, I really didn't think of the generational gap between me and the "facilitation" group.

By the way the whole "facilitation" of the group game under attack today. There was a gap in leadership, an acute ideological debate broke out on a comment under one of our group documents and so I posted a personal intervention which said this:

"Yes; I can say a lot more. Clarity and transparency is key.

Facilitation can be defined in a number of ways. 1) the act of facilitating, the state of being facilitated. This implies a facilitator/facilitated dichotomy. 2) The lowering of a threshold for reflex conduction. 3) The increasing of the ease or intensity of a response by repeated stimulation.

So to just start facilitating things in a group, to me, is to say; 1) theres an assumption that people require facilitation. 2) that the things and systems that oppress people need to be lifted for better discussion, and 3) That facilitation is supposedly supposed to ease the transmission of ideas between individuals in the group.

Starting with the last point, the facilitation last night 30-45 minutes into the meeting did not ease the conduction of ideas among the group because people still had a lot to get off their chests and were not allowed to openly voice their opinions, in a way that made sense to them. No one was paying attention to who was raising their hand first I don't think, it was more about the fact that we all had something to say and weren't all allowed our peace.

The second point, the fact that the way we are reified and alienated from each, which in turn makes us behave certain ways and perceived in certain ways is going to affect the group. What concerns me most is WHO is the ones deciding and setting these relationships and WHAT is their reasoning behind doing so. We had a large show of people from all walks of life. Middle class to working poor. There were white people, black people, hispanic people, arab people, jewish people..short people tall people big people small people. Kids! But the fact that everyones so fucking gung ho about making clear these LINES between people is making everyone feel some kind of way. I think its of utmost importance to discuss systems of class and racial oppression. Its inherent within the system. But heres the thing that pissed me off: We came their to make swift decisions about action. Action that wouldn't just have us marginalized by local media and police. So many people within the group if you remember from last night expressed thats why they felt this movement was special. How many times did we hear that?

As other people have said in the group, this is about challenging the dynamics of how everyday life is like. We all are victims of a cultural hegemony that comes from the 1%. That's how they force their dominant ideologies on us. By coming together in a place where all people could see us and are welcomed with us… a general assembly of the people…were creating a space where the ideological hegemony of the 1% is no longer a factor. And thats part of the reason why I got so upset last night because if you don't realize how special that is your going to destroy the movement. As people have stated this is about "democracy". But not the democracy of a Constitutional Republic. It's about so called "direct democracy", "democracy of the people", and personally to me the working people in this country gaining some power and a voice to challenge the foundations of these oppressive systems were forced under now is what this movement is about.

  In Ancient Greek slave society. As oppressive and backwards of a society that could be. Pre-feudal. There was a system called "allotment" where a long, long rope would be doused in paint and guards of the state would go into the public and rope of 500-1000 people randomly. These bodies were basically called general assemblies, and were used to set laws in place for the WHOLE STATE. The next day the process would repeat, except during war and on holidays and this was essentially their SENATE. Now hold on. You have to understand when I say that they randomly roped people of i really mean, they would go to the square, or plaza, and during all the business that was going on all these people openly in the bazaars would be brought in. shop owner, shop worker, master, slave, gladiator, foreigner everybody.

In my opinion, this form of sorta like, a lottery of democracy, ensures that the true interests of the group and general populous are allowed to have their say and participate in the concerns of the local community and "state". Combined with economic justice (which is a WHOLE nother story) and the use of agriculture you could federate people at a local level and make decisions as a community like this. Within or without the direct interdiction of the current government or state. There are ways to make a selection of people completely random for bodies like I have been describing in 2011. As well as giving people notice. We need things like this, in my opinion.

Anyways, what I'm advocating is not "non-facilitation". I just feel like you need to let the assemblies be what they are right now without choking them and suppressing the flame with ideological constraints. By using a system of note keepers, time keepers, and an elected agenda each time we go. Everyone can have their say during the meeting (2-5 minutes i think is sufficient if our size is similar to last night) and we can reserve parts at the end of each issue to have a consensus upon. If you have to leave and cant make a consensus about the issues the group is discussing, sorry thats like senators absent during a vote. Am I making sense? I'm just saying, its just one meeting. For an occupation. And if as a group we decide to have other functions, great. Just slow down lets let everyone have their clear voice and speak their peace first. Definitely not advocating "non-facilitation." Also, with regards to working groups… they could be created on facebook! and people could join them freely! then at the meeting wed already know! The healing process doesn't not have to happen all at once at these meetings. All Im saying. You have to understand these deep issues of race and class are going to take years and years to come to truth and reconciliation over. And thats assuming like, total full out revolution. Its a process and by immediately throwing out these harsh dynamics at people that have been faced with all that drama and suffering their whole lives are going to feel weird. Slowly, tactfully on when it comes to wounds that deep. But also we have to remember our collective history and what were up against. The allusions I had made to the Sit-ins, as well as the November massacre were to demonstrate that the problems of the old movements are still VERY apparent. And they will take control of the group in an instant. We have to actively combat this, we can fall back into our semi-meaningful existivenesses. I remember when we had 36, now we are 317. Wake up people. Don't destroy the movement."

kollwitz
from nyc

thanks proper_propaganda for all the hard work and the reflections!  i went to the occupy wall street in nyc today.  i want to first give a general description of what i saw happen there and my impressions.  then i would also like to pose some questions for further reflection, especially addressing the issues raised in the previous post: facilitating and working groups.

 

kollwitz
from nyc

i got there at around noon and there were probably about 300 people. at first it looked like people were just milling about and it was difficult to sort out what exactly was going on.  i guess i was looking for centers where one could get information, and i finally spotted two tables that had posted the agenda for the day.  there was a workshop on civil disobedience and how a group of protesters being attacked by the cops could defend themselves non-violently.  there was a collective table with food available to anybody who was hungry.  there were also people going arouns with a newspaper which i was told was the first paper put out by the protesters (more about this paper in a moment).  in another part of the plaza there was a group engaged in meditation.  more or less in the middle of the plaza there were people sitting at their laptops engaged with social networking.  everywhere there were people talking, greeting, discussing.   the civil disobedience and meditation workshops were listed on separate billboard as part of the day's agenda.  on the billboard appeared also the time for the General Assemblies: the first at 2pm and the second at 7pm.  at 3pm the billboard listed: march.  marches have been held to union square last weekend, and there was one that went to 1police plaza last night, apparently to 'send a message' to the cops that they can't just indiscriminately pepper spray people.  as i was walking around waiting for the 2pm general assembly, a young person approached me and asked me what i though tof what i was looking at.  i told her that it looked very lose and aimless on the surface, a hodge-podge of different influences and ideologies, that the one unifying thing seemed to be a general dissatisfaction with and deep questioning of the future under capitalism.  it did seem like about everybody had something to say about how capitalism is at the root of the social, economic, environmental disintegration being lamented.  i said it was noticeable to read on some of the signs laid on the floor, the caption "the revolution has started".  and asked her what she thought. she said she thought it was completely disorganized and aimless.  she was from great britain, so i asked whether she was in london a couple of months ago, when there was a similar development, and she said she was, and had the impression that it was better organized overthere. then came the time of the general assemly.  and here something very interesting happened about the newpaper that was being distributed.  the person that apparently edited and printed it was virtually denounced for not having responded to the collectivity.  a lot of people expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the paper was put out without consultation with the general assembly and that this violated the spirit and the organizational heart of the protest.  i listened to this very attentively.  it turns out that the group of people that made the decision about this paper in fact were pressed by some major media to come out with articles which expressed the demands of the movement.  a girl who was part of this group said that they had addressed the media because there was not a coverage of the movement which really reflected its nature in the major media outlets, and she was told the reason was because of the lack of specific demands.  feeling that pressure, a few decided to come out with this paper (i have not read the articles, but people at the assembly said it was not reflective of the opinions of the assembly).  when i returned home, several hours later, i went on the internet and saw that the new york times published a late edition article about......the paper put out today by  occupy wall street, praising the movement for its ability to come out with a press.  at the assembly the issue of transparency was also raised, as people started to question where the money for publishing came for.  this incident leads me to think that there are 'organizers' of this movement with their own agenda, and some may even try to make a name for themselves as a reporter for a job for when the movement will be over.....it also made me think that the media themselves are trying to get a foothold in the movement to 'direct' the demands it may come up with.  so, there was a discussion about the general assembly itself.  i said that i agreed that the action carried out by this 'press committee' was in violation with the nature of the general assembly, that it was important not to fall for this kind of outside pressure, and that it is better instead to widen the discussion, to make the general assembly really live through open debate and mandates given to committees who are then responsible to the assembly for carrying them out.  the the girl who told me about the media's pressure said this would not happen again, and the committee would be changed.  three people agreed, but by then a lot of people had dispersed, and some loud chanting started to happen as most of the people gather in the plaza were readying to start a march.  we continued discussing for a little longer, where i posed the question of next wednesday, when the transit union and the union that organize the doorman, security guards, and maintaince peope will participate in the movement (how exactly they plan to do this, i don't know, but they have expressed 'solidarity' with occupy wall street).  i said that this is an issue that should definetley be discussed at one of the general assemblies.  i asked, what is the consensus and understanding about the participation of the unions?  what does everybody think?  has there been a discussion?  an agreement?  what is the significance of this?  what can the movement do to engage the workers?  so, this girl explained to me how the working groups work:  they are basically committees that propose items for discussion, and i understand they are well prepared, with specific points for discussion.  she told me that people go to these working roups and pose the topic of interest. the topic may be accepted or not.  it is not clear to me on what basis, and she could not explain. she said that the 7pm meetings are really the meetings where the most interesting discussions happen, and that the 2pm GA will probably be phased ou because of the overwhelming job of organizing all the rest.  she also said that the issue of the presence of the unions has been raised, and that i should defienetely contact one of the working groups to see if it can be put on the agenda.  but i do not not when i can go back to zuccotti square.  the protesters then held a march across the brooklyn bridge.  by then there must have been about 2,000 people who jooined.  at the foot of the bridge, on the manhattan side, some people took to the paved part of the bridge, where cars go by.  the cops intentionally let them pass and then, about 1/3 across the bridge, police vans coming from the brooklyn side blocked them.  they stretched a net from one side of th ebridge to the other and arrested a whole bunch, probably 200 or so.  letting the protesters go in that direction was totally intentional.  one marcher said he went in that direction thinking the cops were escorting them to keep them safe!!  it looks like the city administration has about had enough of the disturbance, and is looking for ways to provoke a confrontation and then unleash repression.  this was the case already last night, when the march went, of all places, to 1 police plaza.

now, as to the general impression, and the comments made by proper_propaganda.  a part from the leftists and the ones who go to zuccotti square with signs that read "vote for ron paul", the bulk of the protesters seem to be very skeptical and distrusting of everything 'organized'.  there's a lot of talk like 'the GA?  you'll see it happen when it happens'.  "the march?  i'll go wherever they go".  this attitutde is not necessarily just the result of some libertarian-anarchic influence, it also results from a lack of experience.  but it also reflects a genuine search for a way to take things into their own hand, to reject the habit of submission to what others decide, to give a conscious direction to decisions that are made collectively, to fight the fear of making decisions, and the fear instilled by the oppression of a ruling class over the ruled.  in that sense, i think i disagree with proper_propaganda stance that seems to be, if you try to help give a direction to this energy, then you are suffocating it.  helping this great energy find a sense of direction, encouraging everybody to really speak up, participate in the discussions with the time keeper, the elected agenda, and the note keeper is very good.  but there must be a discussion, a debate of the issues, and a conclusion.  this does not mean that everybody must agree on the same thing.  there can be disagreements, but the debates must aid the clarification.  sometimes it will not be possible to make a decision, but it is important to make conclusions, to say what the agreements are, what the disagreements are, and set the stage for the next discussion, to deepen.  this is not stifling the debate and the GA with ideological constraints.  this is a vital process for the life of the GA.   similarly, the working groups should not be these bodies that are somewhat independent of the GA, that don't respond to the GA, and instead respond to ....to what?? i think that as revolutionaries, when we intervene in these events, we can help draw out the maximum potential from them, and i think that if we find the organic way of doing it, a way that really corresponds to the needs of the movement, we can aid it greatly as it strives to develop a consciousness of itself.   

anyway, this is my two-pence worth.  i really wish somebody was here in nyc to help out, to go with me, to help the movement.  but discussing on this forum will also be great help!

Fred
Thanks to Propaganda and

Thanks to Propaganda and Kollwitz for their descriptions of what's going on in what sounds like a confusing situation. But this is a new type of situation for NYC and the States, so participants have to find their feet. Kollwitz offers some concrete advice as follows; " helping this great energy find a sense of direction, encouraging everybody to really speak up, participate in the discussions with the time keeper, the elected agenda, and the note keeper is very good.  but there must be a discussion, a debate of the issues, and a conclusion.  this does not mean that everybody must agree on the same thing.  there can be disagreements, but the debates must aid the clarification.  sometimes it will not be possible to make a decision, but it is important to make conclusions, to say what the agreements are, what the disagreements are, and set the stage for the next discussion, to deepen.  this is not stifling the debate and the GA with ideological constraints.  this is a vital process for the life of the GA" he also goes on to say that revolutionaries "can help draw out the maximum potential" and that "we can aid it greatly as it strives to develop a consciousness of itself."

Haven't we recently had comments like these elsewhere on the site? Was it Verizon? Comments like " we have to find our voice", "everyone has to be allowed to speak" "we don't all have to agree but we need to make a conclusion". to me this sounds like the proletariat learning to find itself again, and starting to practise again it's own democratic way of being; lost and repressed for so long.

Of course these assemblies are not proletarian assemblies as such. Not yet. But there may be workers present, or at least watching. And we have to start somewhere. This is at least a beginning and is better than nothing ie. no assemblies at all.Kollwitz wishes there was somebody else there to help out. I wish that too. But let's wish Comrades propaganda and kollwitz all the best in their magnificent efforts and thank them for their enlightening reports to this forum.

kollwitz
what's next?

700 people were arrested yesterday while they marched on the brooklyn bridge.  this is about 1/3 of the total number of marchers.  the media are more and more pushing the movement to have a 'concrete 'ist of demands', which amounts at forcing the movement to speak in the sense of reforms, of 'economic injustice' euc, in a word, to take the steam off the indignation and questioning around capitalism IN GENERAL.  i had a very interesting discussion with  a young person yesterday, who told me that he thought a list of demands simply waters down the aim of the movement which he thought was to make the revolution.  of course this is premature, confused, a-political.  but in the icc there has been and there is a discussion of how the generation of the 60's saw the revolution as possible but not necessary or urgent, while today there's a sense that the revolution is necessary but not possible.  are things changing?  what is the significance of these young peole talking about the revolution? 

another spin off of this conversation was precisely the question of demands.  is it reformist?  is it revolutionary?  what about when the working class goes on strike, and does have a list of demands?  how different is that form of struggle from this one, or from when the workers themselves stage walk-outs in an attempt to escape the unions stranglehold?

he also talked about the alienation of labor.  as a person who works at a gas station, he said he was pumping gas instead of helping find ways to use cleaner energy to help the planet recover.  he talked about how this job ran directly against his nature and his principles, and distorted the relationship with his fellow human beings who came to get gas for their cars.  the potential for the development of class consciousness is defienetely there, it seems to me.  this is not so much for the immediate, but for the long haul.

sorry for the brevity, but sometimes it's best.  short, but to the point!

Pierre
General Assembly 2

Thanks cdes for your advice and kind words of support. This is the first real proletarian-ish struggle in which I've been involved. Also I've only in the past two years been labeling myself a left-communist. So thank you cdes and elders for helping to pass on the flame.

Yesterday, the meeting was held indoors at a local University. About 30 attended. There was no time wasted on identity politics at this meeting. Thats not to say idenity politics are a waste of time. The class just had more important things to discuss this time around. And here they are:

"OCCUPY GREENSBORO

10/2 Meeting Notes

PROPOSALS RATIFIED:

A QUICK SHOW OF HANDS FOR WHETHER OR NOT THE UNCG NEWSPAPER WAS ALLOWED TO REPORT ON THE MEETING. REPORTER WAS TOLD NOT TO SLANDER THE GROUP.

THE PROPOSAL FOR A ROTATING PAIR OF FACILITATORS WAS AGREED UPON.

THE PROPOSAL FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF WORKING GROUPS WAS AGREED UPON.

POINTS OF DISCUSSION:

- The need for introductions and conclusions at each meeting. Whether we are at agreements or disagreement

- A concern for mass public participation in the discussion.

- Shock and disgust at the repression of the Police & State. Concerned over the obvious injustices taking place. Concern for the future of the children and young people in general.

- A concern over the sustainability of the current system.

- The sentiment that many people have been "Angry Americans" since the Vietnam era. Sick and tired of seeing victims of wars and bad foreign policy.

- A concern for people "at the bottom."

- A notion that things are getting worse quickly. It's time for a change.

- A notion that were all in this together. The more unequal society is the worse off everyone becomes. "We're only as good as the least of us."

- The point that other progressive Local initiatives should be supported.

- Support for sustainability, a move away from petroleum.

- Support for "green" technologies.

- The notion that capitalism is the problem

- The disillusionment with National politics. A concern for the right wing's ties to religion and fundamentalism. Things like "Citizens United" destroy the political landscape.

- The fight against income inequality.

- A concern over debt in general. Especially the debt of students

- An admission of heavy student debts from a few in attendance

- A concern over the general lack of dignity and compassion. The notion that this may have started with the internet.

- Concern over how we are alienated from our natural social relationships, as well as nature.

- Concern that we are all still viewed as human beings regardless of political orientation.

- Concern over money being cut from social welfare projects, like schools and other things.

- Concern over the government demonstrating that they don't want people to know about the movement. - The notion that were at an interesting point in history. That more and more Americans are becoming aware.

- Supporting the right of return for indigenous peoples.

- Concern that group facilitators don't gain too much autonomous power. Time-keeping, note-taking, and remembering who wants to speak should be their main function.

- "Maybe we need a different word than 'Facilitator'."

- Concern over the working groups autonomy. Support for them being under the direct control of the General Assembly.

- Concern over whether the state/government is giving back to people what the people are owed. Regardless of what terminology we use to describe this.

- Standing up for the LBGT community and Gay rights. A concern that if the State Assemblies proposal is passed, many people will be left without health insurance and other resources people deserve.

- A need to talk about shared experiences. Especially concerning class and race. Also, an analysis of how these two themes tie into each other.

- The duty, as long as personal responsibility, to learn about community organizing and social change.

- A fear that so many people are still not aware of whats going on. Many people are still not conscious.

- Getting people out of a cycle of inaction, depression, and/or cynicism. Keeping things helpful and positive.

- Concerns over Family.

- A reference to the mortgage crisis.

- Concern that OWS "become more like Tahrir, and less like London."

- Fears over the primary use of Facebook.

- The notion that facilitation should be rotated.

- A show of faith in the politics of community.

- The notion that "militancy and non-violence" are two distinct options for change. The notion that our movement should remain peaceful.

- The need to open dialogue with people who are showing interest. Whether they can articulate and actualize that interest or not.

IDEAS FOR ACTION

- In terms of occupation ideas, an occupation of the new Jail downtown.

- The need for working groups.

- Goals and demands "need to be clarified". "What do you want the outcome of this action to be"?

- A concern over the groups synergy before any action is taken or agreed upon.

- The notion that this is a marathon not a sprint.

- The notion that having roles helps democracy.

- A concrete agenda before each meeting.

- A list-serve, or group email/newsletter function.

- Contacting other Occupy Together groups and getting them involved.

- A concern about getting people out there everyday schedules and responsibilities in order to support whatever action we decide upon.

- The creation of a group newspaper for Occupy Greensboro. Or at least some type of regular hand-out/bulletin.  
 

Ill will post more when I get back in. 6pm GA at the library. Chao for now

Proper_Propaganda

Pierre
Just some words of advice on

Just some words of advice on the race thing: I think "cutting people social space" due to racism & racial constructs is really dangerous. Most people are aware of racial injustices and behave accordingly. Anything else is abnormal, in my opinion. If there is open racism and prejudice however, that's probably a different story. But if theres respect, understanding will soon arise from discussion.

Also, a few stats: Occupy Greensboro FB page now has over 530 "likes" and the discusison group has more than 35,000 posts viewed. There are 900 active visitors of the page.

POST MEETING EDIT: Another great turn out. Around 50. Many of the people at the last two meeting were new faces. I'd put the total number of people who have showed up in person so far at 65-85. There were a few people who came that are widely known for past activism in Greensboro. Activism surronding labor organizing as well as the old CP, and the old CWP.

A comment was made that we shouldn't disrupt peoples daily lives because the economic crisis has done enough disruption. This comment receieved a hearty round of applause. Then an illusion was made to the General Strike in Seattle 1919. How the workers continued all social services, even garbage collection, in order to maintain the continuation of every day normality. That comment did not come from me. :D

I will post more later in detail, as I have been. But first, have you guys ever heard of a "stack"? Basically the two facilitators are keeping track of who puts their hand up. Created a lot of uneasyness and chaos. I for one don't like the system, I'd rather people just speak out respectful. Seems like the group would stay on focus/topic more easily that way.

soyonstout
facilitators / chairs, etc.

On the idea of the "stack,"  I just posted something on libcom about how I've been in meetings where the "facilitator" is someone who's a veteran leftist activist who goes around "facilitating" meetings and I've felt like disagreements were actually suppressed, rather than discussed openly.  At PMs the ICC does a kind of "stack" thing but it is an event hosted by an organization, about a predetermined topic--it is not a meeting of some kind of mass of people to decide the direction of their movement--anyway, I've seen a lot of different things about the processes in different towns.  In Denver, a group of anarchists who wanted to discuss pacifism critically were grassed up by whomever was "behind" that occupation because they insisted on non-violence as something that was not up for discussion.  Likewise, I've seen a number of emails for the events in my town in which different full-time reformist leftists are pushing for the aims of the occupation to be decided beforehand.  To me this is the biggest danger of the movement--the leftists and front groups and full-time "activists" taking control and turning it into another demoralizing campaign for a utopian reforms within the framework provided by the state.  Here is the discussion on libcom: libcom.org/forums/news/ussles-protest-wall-st-18092011

jk1921
Unfortunately, the movement

Unfortunately, the movement still seems to be mired in the call for utopian reforms; all the while expressing a very clear anti-political bent. This is something we have seen in most of these mass movements (Spain, Israel, etc.) that we must try to understand. I think Kolowitz is right that this reflects an embryonic desire to take control of the events and not to concede the terrain to the professional politicians, activists, academics, etc. However, at the same time, this totally hamstrings the movement. The entire idea that there can be a mass movement w/o demands, really w/o goals seems very dangerous to me and is likely to lead this movement right back into the hands of the professional politicans/activists it is so suspicious of. Marching over the Brooklyn Bridge was to walk right into a police trap. Could a more serious discussion of tactics and strategey have avoided this? Perhaps. Perhaps, this will also serve as a lesson in future struggles. I remember J. Grevin talking about a struggle in the 80s, when the workers wanted to march on Wall Street. Inter's advice was not to do this, but to march into the industrial part of the city, so as to make the movement visible to other workers and to encourage them to join the struggle. This entire idea of a leaderless struggle is very dangerous and symbolic of the very difficult time the proletariat will have in recovering the lessons of the past. Still, it is very early and we need to do more to understand what seems to me like a new form of struggle emanating from the unemployed, youth, marginalized, etc. This is not the same as the Verizon strike and there seems to be important differences even with Wisconsin, which did not seem to have the same anti-political bent (perhaps why it was more easily recuperated by the Democratic Party). Is this a new form of struggle? How can these struggles link up with more classic point of production struggles? Especially, when--as Kolowitz's anecdotes suggest--many of these younger protesters reject the entire idea of a point of production struggle? Does this reflect their marginalization from the laboour process?

 

 

kollwitz
i think this is an important

i think this is an important point that can definetely be brought up at one of the GA meetings.  comrade soyontout is totally right in describing hoe these experienced leftist activists are using the very appealing idea and term of general assembly in fact to co-opt the movemnt into a reformist and leftist terrain.  by clamoring about the facilitators and working groups, they are effectively trying to wield power, and de-vitalize the energy toward self-organization that exists in potentiality in this movement.  in this sense, they also take full advantage of the demand-less nature of the movement.  i do not think that there a rejection of the idea of a point of production struggle.  there is confusions as to economic and political demands, a nebulous understanding that 'demands' can take on a reformist nature in the context of a system that cannot provide solutions and answers.  this idea of capitalism being bankrupt and 'spent' is present in the movement, but not developed.  in many instances, tis is the reason for the reluctance to formulate specific demands.  at the same time, since the consciousness of the aims of the struggle is not clear, the absence of specific demands makes it more vulnerable, paradoxically, to the influence of reformist ideology, precisely.  so, one thing that needs to be clarified, is that demands in fact help, foster, encourage, and clarify the political path of a struggle, as long as they are demands that coincides with this need of political clarification and growth of consciousness.  but this itself needs to be discussed.  the media and the unions have taken full advantage of this weakness in the movement, and put words in the protesters' mouth about being 'against corporate greed' and against the influence of or fusion of corporate america in and with the american governement.  what needs to be pointed out is how this 'demand' is in fact reformist and utopian under the present conditions and why.  and what needs to be pointed out is also, then what  demands to formulate.  and this isn't easy.  could a demand for student debt forgiveness, for example, be an appropriate demand?  one that helps the movement clarify its aims?  what do comrades think?

jk1921
I think the issue of student

I think the issue of student debt forgeiveness could be an important one that helps the movement move in the direction of class demands. The media have interviewed more than a few participants who have complained loudly about their inability to function under the crushing load of their student debt. But is this a "utopian" and "reformist" demand? Can the state actually fulfill this demand? Or will the state's inability to fulfill it push the movement towards more radical goals?

I think the business about breaking the link between the government and corporate greed is not so much a utopian goal, as it is a bourgeois one--one that the main factions of the bourgeoisie are beginning to share. They are finally understanding that the corporatization/financialization of everything--including national politics--is beginning to undermine the credibility of bourgeois democracy. Its not surprising then that the media wants to see these demands in this movement. Whether the bourgeoisie can actually do anything about this is another question.

However, I think the most depressing feature of this movement is it anti-political sensibility. Where does this come from? It is important to note that the anti-political features of the movement do not seem to arise from the inmaturity of the movement; rather the movement seems to be very consciously anti-political. "We don't need any parties and their lies (I assume revolutionary parties are included)" and "the movement is the message" are frequent comments I have seen from participants in online forums. There is a conscious attempt to differentiate themselves from all movements that have come before (and this is where I see the rejection of point of production struggles). This is more than a weaknesses; it seems to have the character of a real pathology. Once again, where does this sentiment come from? What are the social and political factors that have led to this trans-national explosion of anti-politics from the young generation in struggle? How can it be overcome?

 

radicalchains
My two pence

 It seems rather obvious to me that in part at least the 'anti-political' bent is a result of Stalinism and the belief that all communist/workers' organisations are tyranny and end up ruling over people. Having said this I do not think 'apolitical' or 'anti-political' are valid descriptions of this phenomena. The actions and events clearly are political. The bulk (maybe not, who knows what percentage?) of the participants may reject existing political organisations and what is associated with them but they will be forced to organise more coherently if they want to take things further. The level at the moment of both conciousness and organisation seems to be quite rudimentary although gives the appearance of being impressive to those involved and looking on - a result of decades of counter-revolution, cynicism and so on. 

Pierre
"Changes in the collective

"Changes in the collective consciousness have naturally a semi-concealed character." - Trotsky

Cde radicalchains, I start this post with a quote because-- you took the words right out of my mouth! Haha :D

Anyways I agree, this is clearly a political movement. I've never had so much politcal discussion in my life! Not just that. Hanging out around town, even with people who are not involved with the "Occupy movement" (bars, shows, bus stops, etc)...much of their discussion seems politicized in a non-typical way. Maybe even sub-consciously, but it's different from the everyday small talk.

Facebook looks radically different to me as of lately...everyone has something to say that matters. Dunno if you all are keen on this or not. I understand these are not the most rational of comments on my part, but you can definitely FEEL it. In the air. Tonight. It's like a Phil Collins song or something... 

Also, don't know if you all are aware but there is a big push by many members of Anonymous to take down Facebook on Guy Fawkes day. This was announced back in February. I remember it because my birthday happens to be November 5th. Maybe the idea is to force people to talk face to face again? I dunno.......either way, on to more pressing matters......

In terms of demands, I agree with the notion that we should make legimate requests with our demands-- ones that the state has no chance of supporting. Expose the contradictions of capitalism that way. 

Things like debt foregiveness, foreclosure forgiveness, free community colleges for everyone. This is what people are already talking about, anyways. At least here in Greensboro.

I feel like if our Occupy group here can come up with some good demands, the rest of the movement could really use them. Sort of a role model for the rest of the movement and the class.

Could you cdes help me come up with some more? Also, how do you address comments about nationalization of things like oil...finiancial institutions..etc?

- Proper Propaganda

 

LoneLondoner
We are at the beginning of a long road...

jk1921 wrote:
However, I think the most depressing feature of this movement is it anti-political sensibility. Where does this come from?

I don't think the rejection of politics is at all surprising. Of course jk1921 is quite right to say that what is happening in NYC and what p_p describes in Greensboro is in reality absolutely political. But it seems to me that what is being expressed here is a deep distrust and disillusionment with the whole system and all those identified with it; a sense that there have already been too many revolts and protests which went nowhere because they were recuperated by "activists" who had their own agenda and either ended up or were already a part of the state machinery. In that sense, it is positive in the present stage of the movement that there is such a sense of distrust towards the ruling class or anything like it, and to its media. 

The problem with such distrust however, is that it is in reality no protection against the movement being manipulated, because in fact it hides from the reality that the movement is political.

What direction can the movement take? Here are a few thoughts on the questions p_p raises, on the basis of experience in Europe.

1) "Facilitators" - I may be being misled by americanisms, but if I understand rightly, "facilitators" are what in Europe we would call the "chair" or the "presidium", and they have the responsibility for running the meeting. This basically means:
a) Maintaining the "stack" (ie list of people down to speak): this seems to me essential for any meeting, otherwise it is the people with the most self-confidence who end up dominating the meeting, and others who have something to say but who are more shy about speaking in public don't get a look in. There is also a justification for reorganising the stack so that people who've not spoken before get to speak before people who already have.
b) Limiting speaking time so that real debate can take place, not just a series of "set pieces". In the CPE movement in France, the assemblies of 2-3000 people limited speaking time to 3 minutes and that worked pretty well. 
c) Taking notes, and above all keeping a list of proposals.
d) Organising decisions on the proposals (by a vote).
e) Remembering the decisions taken at the previous meeting and checking whether or not they were carried out. I recall one meeting where we (the ICC) suggested leafleting a local railroad station with a call to extend the movement: it was voted on favorably, but then "forgotten" from one meeting to the next, so it didn't get done.

All these points basically boil down to mutual respect, without which nothing is possible.

2) Working groups. Depending on the size of the assembly, these can be necessary (when there are several 1000 people in an assembly then it's impossible to discuss all the practical details of a decided action in the assembly, for example). But they must be mandated by and responsible to the assembly (absolutely agree with kolwitz on this). Non-responsible working groups are absolutely loved by leftists and professional "organisers" because they can get on with their own agenda under the cover of the assembly's credibility and authority, but without any control.

3) Spreading the movement to other people, and especially to workplaces and unemployed meeting places (dole offices etc). Immediately reject anything that looks like an attempt to "spread the movement" by appealing to "representatives" (like the unions). Spread the movement with mass delegations.

4) "Action". This is a difficult one. Somehow it is necessary to avoid two twin evils: on the one hand there are those who just want "action for action's sake" without any real discussion and without any real objective. I have seen people in assemblies propose minority "actions" justified solely on the grounds that they would "put a spanner in the works". This is utterly counter-productive. On the other hand, our aim is precisely that discussion should lead to action, so transforming assemblies into mere talking shops without a goal to action is also counter-productive.

In fact, the dichotomy between "action" and "talk" is a false one. In today's world, the working class has no "space" in which to discuss both deeper political questions and immediate action. The creation of an open space for workers to debate is in itself a prime political struggle and victory.

The goals that an assembly can set itself will to an extent be determined by its size. My impression is that p_p's assembly is still very small (nothing on the scale of Spain), so IMHO the most important thing is to get the people who participate behind their computers actually to show up and take part, and to bring other people in: publicise the assembly, and create an atmosphere of mutual respect and self-confidence, these are the vital things it seems to me.

5) Be patient. Whatever happens in the present movement, it is only a moment in a longer history. What it hands down to the future (the next months and years) in terms of lessons and ideas, will be more important than any immediate gains.

6) Internationalism. One of the most important and striking features of the assemblies in Spain has been a widespread recognition that the problem is NOT a national one (a direct contradiction to the propaganda put out by Democracia Real Ya and similar "antiglobalisation" movements). The assertion of internationalism is much easier in Europe, where many national states are gathered together in a very small area, than it is in the USA (the American flags on display in Zucotti Square a sign of the weight of nationalism and "national particularism in the US). But it is critical for any revolutionary process that might become possible in the future that workers should see themselves as part of a world class with world problems - and a world solution.

7) The race question. This is endemic to capitalism but far worse in the USA, which is deeply scarred to this day by the history of slavery, and there is no easy answer to it. One thing which might help is to remind American workers that they too have a fine history of struggle against racism which is by no means restricted to anti-black sentiment (see the article on immigration from the International Review). Black nationalism is as poisonous as any other kind in this respect.

jk1921
Weight of the counter-revolution

radicalchains wrote:

 It seems rather obvious to me that in part at least the 'anti-political' bent is a result of Stalinism and the belief that all communist/workers' organisations are tyranny and end up ruling over people. Having said this I do not think 'apolitical' or 'anti-political' are valid descriptions of this phenomena. The actions and events clearly are political. The bulk (maybe not, who knows what percentage?) of the participants may reject existing political organisations and what is associated with them but they will be forced to organise more coherently if they want to take things further. The level at the moment of both conciousness and organisation seems to be quite rudimentary although gives the appearance of being impressive to those involved and looking on - a result of decades of counter-revolution, cynicism and so on. 

I don't think the protestors think much about Stalinism. If you polled them, I think you would hear alot of "What was Stalinism again?" The problem I see in the lack of demands, of not posing any clear goals is that this does not seem to emerge from the "immaturity" of the movement; rather the predominant sentiment seems to be an apolitical one. They reject political solutions to the world's problems, are conscious of this rejection and they are proud of it. If the lack of clear goals and demands were a reflection of the inmaturity of the movement then it would be perfectly understandable, but the self-conscious anti-politcism seems to me to characteristic of many modernist/post-modernist illusions that emerged in the period of the decline of the class movement in the 70s.

Still, others are right that the protestors' actions don't comport well with their anti-politicism. They are not practicing micro-politics or the politics of the personal (which in the post-modernist canon is the only legitimate form of protest possible). Their movement is embryonic of some kind of mass struggle in the tradition of the workers' movement. It just seems like they have decided beforehand to handicap themselves unnecessarily. Perhaps this is the weight of the counter-revolution in the sense that post-modernism was a distorted reaction to the Stalinist hijack of Marxism. The extent to which that ethic has penetrated society and left a mark on the younger generation shouldn't be underestimated. I just find it very difficult to understand this phenomenon and I fear we are missing something important here.

soyonstout
What I've seen where I am so

What I've seen where I am so far was the 2nd GA to plan where and when everything would kick off.  The three most problematic things I identified from this were:

1) pre-determined time-limits for each discussion (possibly this will be eliminated or easier to argue against anyway once the actual occupation begins), which ended up only hearing from about 3 people before attempting to establish consensus.

2) it's unclear how the working groups will be subject to the GA, if they will give reports, be replaceable, etc.  At the moment it's just whomever signed up.

3) the number of facilitators who are long-time activists.  Already these people are calling their connections in the even more well-connected official reformist cause-based organizations, like "Jobs with Justice" which is basically a union-cheerleader organization that totally identifies the unionized workers with the union itself and more specifically, with its most well-connected leaders.  Some of these activist folks are excited by how outpaced they feel (which is healthy, I think) but many have spent YEARS attempting to get to know all the different union leaders, progressive democrats, green party people, etc., in their various single-issue campaigning and either don't realize how different a real mass movement is from the last 10 years of their slow-'n'-steady "community organizing" or are excited at the opportunity to channel this movement of people into their more organized, stable, and well-staffed cause groups.

This is where I see the movement being not "anti-political" enough (if we accept the movement's own definition of "politics").  They distrust the two big parties and probably the various front groups of the leftists as well, but these broader kind of popular front cause-based organizations (and unions) get a free ride because they are ostensibly a-political (!).

On another note, Internationalist Perspectives passed around this leaflet, which is not bad as a conversation-starter:  internationalist-perspective.org/blog/2011/10/06/they-dont-get-it/

LoneLondoner
Doubtful about demands

proper_propaganda wrote:
Things like debt foregiveness, foreclosure forgiveness, free community colleges for everyone. This is what people are already talking about, anyways. At least here in Greensboro.

I feel like if our Occupy group here can come up with some good demands, the rest of the movement could really use them. Sort of a role model for the rest of the movement and the class.

Could you cdes help me come up with some more? Also, how do you address comments about nationalization of things like oil...finiancial institutions..etc?

A quick one on nationalisations.

1) Nationalising will change nothing because the problem is global not national

2) Today the "1%" run everything including the government. Nationalisation simply means taking things out of the hands of one bunch of 1%ers (businessmen) and putting it in the hands of others in the government. 

As far as demands are concerned, I think you have to be very careful about this. The danger with any kind of political demand is that you have to make it of somebody, and who would that be? The unions? The Democrats?

The most important thing in this situation IMHO is that people should take decisions themselves, discuss themselves, take action themselves. Anything that encourages that is good.

During the 1930s unemployed workers in America organised groups of demonstrators to prevent expulsions - there's been some of that in Spain recently also. That is something that might have a practical application and be a means to gather people around something concrete. It depends very much on the situation and the forces available on the ground though. If there are not enough people to prevent it, then repression is very readily used in "democratic" America - as the example of Brooklyn Bridge shows. It reminded me of the kettling in London, except that in London and Spain, there were enough people to kettle the police!

Pierre
Cde soyonstout hope all is

Cde soyonstout hope all is well with you my friend...

It seems like we are dealing with the same issues. Out of your points, #1 and #2 are extremely evident here. Point #3 not so much because everyday people are far out numbering these activists where I am, and usually have better, more constructive things to say anyways.

We need a pamphlet that puts forth a counter-aguement for President Obamas new job plan-- from a left communist viewpoint. That would be most useful to me here. Ill start trying to come up with some ideas.

We made front page headlines on the local paper today. Even above Steve Jobs. Our numbers on facebook have swollen to around 1500. I'm expecting a very large meeting today, anywhere from 100-300 people might attend.

Cde LoneLondoner,

How do you respond to this call for demands then? It's almost at a fever pitch. I personally liked the first Collective Statement of OWS (http://youtu.be/N8o3peQq79Q). Although it wasn't very brief. Also, thanks for all the great advice and pointers it is helping substantially.

Wishing the best to all comrades, back with more later.

- []D[]D*

PS - would this be considered kettling? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpOMlDVaXzc) ...or this?... (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HznJZKgiElA)

petey
overheard

proper_propaganda wrote:

Hanging out around town, even with people who are not involved with the "Occupy movement" (bars, shows, bus stops, etc)...much of their discussion seems politicized in a non-typical way. Maybe even sub-consciously, but it's different from the everyday small talk.

yesterday, walking through one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in manhattan, i passed two people in a hot discussion about - capitalism! not the occupiers, not the bankers, but capitalism. i didn't catch much, as we were passing each other, but i got this snippet: "that's capitalism. and you can't have that."

Crisanto
"concrete" demands are very tempting for the workers....

The line of asking/making for "concrete demands" (ie, reformist) are very tempting for the workers since at this level of struggle majority of them want an immdeiate outcome of what they want (ie, rise wages, more benefits, regular jobs, etc).

However, there might be a very small portion who participated in "occupations" who are eager to discuss the why's and how's: why capitalism cannot give in to these "concrete demands" ask by workers since the crisis exploded?; how the workers' could advance the struggle to force the capitalist class to temporarily retreat or to advance more until we can change our current conditions?

Here in the Philippines some leftist elements (acting independenty from their organizations) are started calling for "Occupy Philippines" trying to emulate what is happening now in the USA. But their mind-setting is just simply like that yet: emulate the occupation. Through their FaceBook page I also learn that even in other countries, as far as Taiwan, some elements are calling for "Occupation".

One positive thing though is different nationalities are listening, watching, emulating, the experiences of the European workers for the past 4 years....They're inspired. And I think INSPIRATION is a step towards genuine international class solidarity in the future (I hope its should be nearer!). 

Pierre
Cde internasyonalista you are

Cde internasyonalista you are very correct... this movement has some internationalist tendencies by default.

I'm going to share part of a correspondence with another comrade because I'm too tired from todays work  to explain all that happened again lol. Ill be back with more soon. Today was a great day however!! much was accomplished..... 

"In terms of Greensboro, the Occupy movement here is HIGHLY politicized. Todays meeting had swelled to around 200. The news showed up. Our facebook GA page has swollen to 1,500. Some tea party prick showed up in overalls and tried to take the floor. He was booed, told to sit down, and then asked to leave. This received applause.

We have working groups with "liasons" reporting back, and accountable to the whole GA.

We are marching from Government Plaza, around all the banks with their Skyscrapers downtown, and then occupying the Festival Park on Oct. 15th. One week from tomorrow, 3pm.

Words like socialism and proletariat are being thrown around left and right. No exaggeration. One of the guys I just met today who joined my working group (Alliance building/Fundraising) seems pretty organic and signs his emails "Long Live the 99% (Proletariat ?)."

There where some people who spoke that identified their past and current ties to Labor Unions. This is going to be one of my main focuses here. The ISOers have abandoned much of their faith-labor organizing and seem to now be completely focused on this struggle. Got into an intense debate over Egypt with them last night. Was saying I was upset the workers were not armed to protect themselves against the state violence by now.

There are some amazing things happening. I can tell you more about it, just ask me what you'd like to know.

Heres some links:

Fox 8 News video

We made front page of the local print-issue newspaper. Here's a corresponding online editorial:

News & Record Editorial

So as you can see from the text in both the links above, the media slandering us ("left wing version of the tea party", not many in the group identifies with this I promise) is my second biggest obstacle next to the Unions. I would say the third is a slight tendency towards economism, and even still some bit of electoralism.

Anyways I'm about to collapse been working non-stop all day. I hope to hear from you soon."

 

- []D[]D*

Pierre
Hello cdes So the plan to

Hello cdes

So the plan to occupy has been more solidified. Were occupying a lawn roughly the size of a football field. There will be music and a festival on the first day after a march. The march will go first to the International Civil Rights Museum (privately owned, $10 per entry), around the Bank of America building, around the Lincoln Financial building, and around a few more buildings. Were talking 15-16 story regional hubs. The workers will see us. Then were planning a GA at 7pm in solidarity with NYC.

Right now the work is a-political. Were simply coming together as working groups to get this off the ground. We will have permits, lawyers, PA systems, food, water, clothing, shelter. And none of this is costing the collective group anything substancial. It's quite amazing what can happen when people come together like this. I worry if these become semi-perminant institutions, will the government begin to view them as shanty town? But thats getting far ahead.

There are 100-200 people that are pretty die hard about the whole process for reasons yet to be revealed. I say 50-75 actually camp the first night. The paranoia of the cops trying to bust this up is growing. I'm hearing the word security more and more. It's really kinda strange. I think it has something to do with the events in NYC, Portland, and other places. Everyone keeps reiterating theres commitment to non-violence yet, the idea that were being watched and some one is out there trying to counter act us is moderately pervasive at this point. I've heard people allude to the Klan a few times. Not more than 3-4 instances.

Everyones getting along amazingly well. There's not so much of that southern politeness that so often prevents peoples true moods and ideas from taking the forefront. People are looking each other in the eye and making bold affirming statements. It's really quite interesting to see people empowered like this.

Haven't had much rambling from the Union department so far. The most vocal person in that department is a late-middle aged African-american woman representing the postal union. Which is interesting because the state of NC is very restrictive on Unions being a right-to-work state. In fact, they're illegal. If it's anything like the "Teachers Union" its just a limp organ which certain left-liberals and radical employees try to manifest into something meaningful. That is the consensus from the Teachers-- the Postal workers I'm not so sure. Like I said things at this point are very logistical, a-political.

Theres churches, religious-community groups/centers who have expressed interest in showing solidarity with us. Providing logistical supplies and things of that nature. So far we've been in dialogue with everything from Mosques to Synagougues and Reform Temples to UU and so-called Black churches. The spectrum is so wide they will satisfy their metaphysical hungers arguing amongst each other most likely. And everyone just seems way more focused on the money and state of the economy over anything else.

Weve sent out quite a few thousand invites. So far five hundred have responded in a supportive way. Like I said I don't see the encampment the first night being over 50. But people will without a doubt support the encampment in whatever way they can, as they've stated over and over. People have expressed the notion the process is fun, and coming and seeing everybody is a relief after work at the end of the day. The thing really has a Festival feeling to it. However theres much discussion of the state of the economy, racial affairs, and international politics. Really interesting historical things happening here people. Back with more later

- []D[]D*
 

Red Hughs
A few thoughts, in no

A few thoughts, in no particular order:

1) This movement's initial politics are complete bourgeois. Without the crisis, it would go nowhere. With the crisis, it has inspired quite a bit of activity. It is certainly not a "proletarian" movement but it open further possibilities if it gets large enough.

2) The politics in the movements in each city varies a lot, from liberal red-baiting to anarchist. One factor is that there seem to very few grass roots organizers with initial Liberal/anti-Wall Street. In smaller cities, they seem to be outnumbered by both anarchists and the traditional left.

3) It is worth intervening in the discussion but we should not pretend attacking "Wall Street" by itself is enough.

4) The movement involves lots of people who have little experience in politics or challenging the system. Aside from debating with them, it is important to provide educational material, the basic information about how the present system works.

5) The movement as a whole will most likely swell and die-off, especially given the general level of confusion affecting it. It will still be useful to provide information, make contacts and be clear in articulating what we stand for.

 

 

Pierre
Red Hughes I'm not sure where

Red Hughes I'm not sure where youre from but I would urge you to give this whole thing some time before you doom it to oblivion. The crisis is deep and continues to deepen-- exponentially. Actualize what you just wrote.

Also, its funny how you said no particular order then ordered them 1-5 lol.

To me it's too early to say this movements politics are bourgeois. I acknowledge the influence of the lifestylist-anarchists but at least where I am our character is thouroughly proletariat. Were you able to watch the video? I'd put the highest salary cap of any of the 1-200 thoroughly involved at around $60,000 a year. And a lot are unemployed or underemployed. Many are parents.

Theres a lot of respect handed out for what were doing. Getting up and taking action. From all walks of life. That is for sure

jk1921
One criticism that has been

One criticism that has been raised about this movement is its so-called "fetishization of process." I suppose the argument is that the the protestors are having a ball circling around goals and aims, but never specify concrete goals and aims for fear of damping down the festival of revolt. In a sense the protestors have developed a kind of vested interest in the event. What do we as Marxists make of this argument?

I think Red Hughes is right that the movement will eventually die out (Just like it did in Wisconsin). So what can we do in the meantime to prepare the ground for future confrontations? How do we avoid the fate of Wisconisn, where the movement was quickly recuperated by the unions and the Democratic Party? Or is this inevitable as the Presidential campaign begins to heat up?

Crisanto
Possibility of the emergence of searching minorities

While there is a strong possibility that these occupations will die down or converted into some reformist campaigns by the unions and leftists, we cannot also deny the fact that these are manifestations of discontent and questioning of many people of what is happening, about the crisis of capitalism and its causes.We can also the sense of international solidarity: emulating what is happening in other countries.

Yes these are not enough and the dangers are there.

Nevertheless, there might be also the possibility of the emergence (or perhaps they already appear) of small minorities seeking serious answers. Our main problem I think is how to reach these elements, talk to them and maintain contacts with them considering that we are still very small and many of us are very far where the "actions" are.

It is very fortunate for handful of comrades who have the means and capacity to participate and intervene in these movements. Through them we know what is happening in the ground.

There is a need to have a comprehensive summary of the lessosns our class should learn from their own experience in preparation for future confrontations. We should help them to find the correct answers of their questions in order to combat the 'ready-made' answers of the unions and leftists. This is our main intervention, I think. And the discussions in this forum is of great help.

jk1921
Interesting point

LoneLondoner wrote:

In fact, the dichotomy between "action" and "talk" is a false one. In today's world, the working class has no "space" in which to discuss both deeper political questions and immediate action. The creation of an open space for workers to debate is in itself a prime political struggle and victory.

 

This interesting and seems very important, but If this is true, what are the implications? How do workers know they need to create this space w/o discussing it first? It just happens spontaneously? There is something missing here, I think.

LoneLondoner
On the subject of demands

proper_propaganda wrote:
Cde LoneLondoner,

How do you respond to this call for demands then? It's almost at a fever pitch. I personally liked the first Collective Statement of OWS (http://youtu.be/N8o3peQq79Q). Although it wasn't very brief. Also, thanks for all the great advice and pointers it is helping substantially.

Briefly on a couple of points (it's late over here!)

First, I watched the OWS collective statement you posted. The first thing that strikes me is that it remains rooted in a "democratic" view: the denunciation of the corporations and banks is fine and vigorous, but it always seems to be from the view that this is against "democracy", as if the democratic state could actually be anything else but the voice of the ruling class. I don't think that this is surprising: the state is seen, and presents itself as, the embodiment of the interest of the collective. One of the things that outrages people today is precisely that the individual interests of the rich and powerful trample on the interests of the collectivity. Potentially, this is a very powerful idea. But only once workers stop identifying the state as the representative of the collectivity, and realise that they as a class represent the collectivity and humanity's future. We're a long road from that today, but the discussions going on now have the potential to be a step on the road towards that understanding.

On the demands issue, I think I would say two things (though again, what you emphasise will depend very much on the situation and who is receptive to what):

1) The problem with asking for debt forgiveness is that you are asking capitalism to stop being capitalist. The whole point of capitalism is that you sell to make profit. If production is not profitable, then you don't produce. The idea of producing houses, for example, just to give them away to people is.... well, communist not to put too fine a point on it.

2) Look at the practicalities. If you want to make "debt forgiveness" into a political demand (to be passed by government - and leaving aside that it is simply outside the bounds of political or economic reality today), then that means putting it through the Democratic party, then campaigning for the Democrats, then getting them into government, then seeing that... they don't do anything once they're there. Does that sound familiar? Instead, why not aim at something that really can be done, that can be controlled at grass-roots level? Why not see about going to help people who are in danger of getting busted from their homes and preventing the busts? 

By the way, I checked out a few other things on YouTube (Samuelson for example), and I am struck by how "Americano-centric" it is. Again, this is not surprising: it's all down to the weight of history and geography. But it means that one of the most important things we can say is "internationalism". This is a world problem, not just a US one. 

Pierre
Hey cdes,LoneLondoner I have

Hey cdes,

LoneLondoner I have read over your last post but don't have time to reply at the moment. So sorry. I'll respond later, most likely by this evening (its just after lunch here). Thank you as always

I'm on my way to a 2 oclock "art/propaganda" meeting. Before I left...I finally got a response from one of the persons supporting organized labor. She is a former Union rep. I put forth my basic stance on the Unions being on the side of the state, and heres what she had to say:

"Hi *****,

I agree that in some ways parts of the state have coopted parts of some union processes. I still think, though, that there is a reason that owners and managers tend to oppose unions, and to spend a lot of money union busting. Unions aren't perfect, but they are more on the side of workers than not, and are often the only institution through which workers have effective voices.

Capitalism can, for now, still provide higher wages etc. Corporations are sitting on literally trillions of dollars, because demand for products is so low. When capitalism ends, there probably won't be a need for unions. But I don't think capitalism is going to end in our lifetimes. (I could be pleasantly surprised--assuming capitalism is replaced by a better economic system and not a worse one--but capitalism is barely faltering right now, and has righted itself from worse crises than this one.)

There's a lot of different unions, and union leadership, and some are definitely less effective than others. Anyway, it's good talking to you.

-*****"

Having trouble getting through to her. Although, this is the first time shes given me concrete instances of why she thinks capitalism can continue and Unions are still helpful. Can the cdes help me stregthen my arguement? Thanks, back with more later

- []D[]D*

jk1921
LoneLondoner, I think the

LoneLondoner,

I think the argument is that by raising demands like debt forgiveness, it forces the movement to confront the state, since the state is the only entity with the power to enact debt forgiveness. Right now, the predominant ethic of the movement seems to be to "recapture the state" or at least to break the hold of finance capital over it. By raising the issue of debt forgiveness, it forces the movement to think past this barrier and take up the question of the nature of the state itself. Can it enact debt forgiveness? If it can, why hasn't it? If it can't, then what does that say about the direction the movement must take? I don't know if it is a question of having to work through the Democratic Party. It already controls the Presidency and up untill 2010 both houses of Congress. The Democratic Party IS the state today. Or does it then become a  question of electing "real Democrats"?

On this specific issue, and this goes to the point PP raises in his dicussion with the union activist, why can't the state do this? It would seem perfectly sensible from the point of view of captial to enact some measures of debt forgiveness: Mortgage cramdown, return bankruptcy rights to student loans, etc., to free up consumer demand, restore confidence in the state and destroy a bunch of overaccumulated capital; yet it has not done this and in fact it has deliberately blocked attempts at even modest measures like this. Why? Does this derive from some fundamental economic feature of the present crisis or is it an artifact of the intense political crisis of the bourgeoisie, where it has having a very difficult time acting in its own best interests. Is it a mistake to think that capitalism has NO room for maneovure at all? While these measures would do nothing to address the fundamental contradictions of the system, they could possibly buy it more time. How much and on what time scale? This is the queston PP seems to be up against.

ernie
Capitalism can get out of this one

Proper

 

It will take time to convince her of the role of the unions even if she is open to putting them into question. The union question is probably the most difficult question for many people to overcome.

May be you should initially take up the question of the idea that capitalism will get out of this crisis, that this is just another crisis. This is something that you can deal with by refering to the bourgeoisie's own deep concerns about the economy. For example the article linked in the thread I just started makes very clear this is worse than the 30s. The Chairman of the Bank of England last week said this is probably the worst economic crisis ever.

A specific point she makes about high wages is interesting, because real wages have been falling for 30 years in the US.

If you can convince her that capitalism is not the solid system it would appear to be, may be that will provide an opening for a deeper discussion on the union question.

May be you could send her some links to articles we have done on the crisis.

ernie
Interesting report in the

Interesting report in the Chicago Sun-Times about a demonstration by 7000 people in the financial district, its says that it "groups of teachers, healthcare workers, college students and others" www.suntimes.com/8145613-417/downtown-protesters-march-against-groups-that-wrecked-the-economy.html. This involvment of workers is important because it shows that the working class is seeing this movement as something it can become involved in, not at citizens but as workers.

jk1921
Unfortunately, the

Unfortunately, the predominant themes of these protests remain centered around the idea of "citizens" taking back their government from the robber barons. Today, it was reported that OWS would demonstrate outside the homes of millionaires and VIPs in NYC. This would seem to be precisely the wrong thing to do. In the discussion I pointed out with J. Grevin above, he emphasized the futility of such symbolic posturing. Does this result from the inmaturity or the movement or another leftist trap? Both? What they should be doing is taking the struggle into the working-class districts of the city and uniting with the workers at the point of production (not that there aren't a lot of workers on Wall Street, but you get the point). The extent to which they are not doing this and remain mired in a futile petition of the state reflects the still very low level of class consciousness. People are angry, people are willing to fight back; but they still don't know where the class terrain lies. Sometimes I wonder if we really have a firm grasp of this. What is an embryonic class demand and what is a total diversion? As the discussion with LL above about debt forgiveness shows, it is not always clear. On that point, if anyone had any doubts that the bourgeoisie read this page, take this into account: Last night on PBS News Hour, conservative columnist David Brooks (one of the more sensible and possibly sane representatives of the bourgeois right in the United States) actually argued that student loans should be dischargeable in bankruptcy. I wonder where he got that idea from???? :)

To PP's point, it is very hard to convince anyone of anything as a result of discussion alone. Usually, events have to show the way. You won't "convert" many people to left communism. You can only plant the seeds of ideas; the struggle itself is what will cause them to grow. It can be frustrating, but it is what it is. The extent to which people are willing to discuss with you and not write you off as a pure sectarian nut is itself evidence of an increasing openess; but it will take time before these class positions come into focus for the majority of those in struggle. As you write, many still believe captialism can be reformed; for many it is a question of time scale. What can be done today not 20 years from now? Chomsky echoed this sentiment in his recent analysis of OWS, saying that the youth are caught between two poles: on the one hand stale reformist ideas, on the other demaning the impossible that is simply not on the agenda today. As left communists, our job is to help the working class bridge this antinomy. If it were easy; if it happened on its own, there would be no need for a revolutionary organization. We have a lot of difficult days still ahead.

LoneLondoner
Debt forgiveness again

First of all, I think jk1921's points are very thoughtful and raise some important questions. In terms of "room for manoeuvre" it's certainly true that the ruling class has room for manoeuvre still, on the other hand I would say it's also true that it has far less room for manoeuvre than it had even 5 years ago. At the moment, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they do more QE that makes the debt problem worse, and if they try to pay down the debt they risk pushing the economy into recession.

On the problem with debt forgiveness, I think there is a big difference between bankruptcy and forgiving debt. One of the most important foundations for the whole bourgeois economy is confidence: confidence that paper currency actually is worth something, confidence that debts will by and large be repaid, etc. An attack on that is really a threat to the whole capitalist economy, even to the whole idea of an economy based on exchange. So to introduce the idea that you could simply walk away from debt without something bad happening to you (like bankruptcy or foreclosure) is potentially saying you're going to let people have things for free, when they can't pay for them. Like I said above... that's communism!

I hope someone will come back on your last post, because I found that very interesting and I am sure you are right about the question of time scale. I think I also agree with you on the way the organisation needs to be able to bridge the gap between what is felt now (experience) and the historical experience of the working class from which it derives its perspective.

Fred
jk1921 refers to Chomsky as

jk1921 refers to Chomsky as saying something like: 'demanding the impossible is simply not on the agenda today.' This is rubbish. On the eve of revolution there will still be people saying that, and they'll be wrong. There will always be those who say the proletarian revolution is impossible, and they'll come up with lots of reasons. jk also asks: what is an embryonic class demand and what is a total diversion? This is a good question. My answer is, any demand that contains within it the realization that capital is collapsing, (and implicitly that we should help it on it's way) is a class demand, and all else a diversion. To this end we must disabuse people of the idea that someone is 'wrecking' capitalism (could be bankers, or stockbrokers etc). But nobody is messing with it. Because of the falling rate of profit, and the saturated markets, capitalism is sick from it's own inner contradictions. The sooner we all realize this the better. This is what and all we need to know. And it doesn't have to take years for this understanding to be achieved. So here now is a quote from the Chicago Sun-Times to finish off with.

"Occupy Chicago — our shorthand here for the entire movement — understands that it is morally indefensible to cut Medicare benefits for the elderly without first increasing taxes on millionaires Occupy Chicago understands that it is morally indefensible for failing corporations to make massive layoffs while awarding generous bonuses to top executives."

This is a bourgeois understanding of the crisis. Tax millionaires and you needn't worry about the old - they'd probably be better off dead anyway. Stop giving the bosses noticeably large handouts - and you can sack as many workers as you want.

The proletarian understanding of the crisis has to be different from this.
We shouldn't be calling for more taxes on the rich, or for CEO's to take wage cuts, or for student debts to be lessened.
None of this achieves anything, and the bourgeoisie are unlikely to give way in the present critical circumstances. After all,
capitalism isn't there for our benefit. How did we ever come to think it was? What we need to see is the urgency for us to get rid of the whole blood-sucking system. It is after all, our blood which is sucked. When the working class realizes this,
and starts striking politically against the system, then these 'citizen' movements may begin to see sense, and a wider
appreciation of the marvelous way of life, which we embody, can bloom. This is Communism of course. In solidarity.

Pierre
Snuck Gramsci, Du Bois in (:

 

A.Simpleton
Seven of Nine .....:@-

Yes PP ,

I know the vision and work of seven of these nine : and ....yes it's true that The Unions were once a progressive force for the Proletariat : but that was when ascendant capitalism was also a 'progressive force' for humanity .

Now it is decadent , desperate and decomposing : and certainly for as long as I have been a Marxist , the unions everywhere have been nothing less than a witting or unwitting police force controlling /defusing/mystifying the true capacity for revolution that the workers have .

Rosa Luxemburg's : 'The Mass Strike' ( to pick just one of the faces above ) emphasized the power and clarity of spontaneous action not controlled by some outside 'bourgeois mimicking beaurocracy' and that was 100 years ago .

I do not agree that capitalism is 'barely faltering' : on the contrary it is bankrupt on many levels : still spitting like a dying snake but .....

Yes ..crashes and crises have forced money printing before ( and all the rest of the tricks and traps of the ruling class ) and even in decline capitalism has 'appeared' to recover but only by massive organised nationalistic barbarism ...the concise term for which is World War or by mystifying its method  shovelling numbers from one ditch into another .

It has not and can not solve its inner contradictions with cosmetic adjustments : to imply that it can is a mortally dangerous stance and in-line with State propaganda .

I understand the plausibility of ; 'at least they are more 'for' than 'against' : but it is only a plausible lie to dis-arm real power and ever more desperately 'mesmerize'  the Working Class with adherence to dominant bourgeois ideology . The ONLY antithesis to which is development of Class Consciousness which is not 'another ideology' but the begining of the end of all ideology .

****

I will now do my homework on Myasnikov and Du Bois .

As Marx wrote :'Nothing to lose but their chains' : in decadence they certainly have nothing left to 'gain' unless an empty promise or a bouncing cheque is considered a gain ...

fraternally

AS

 

baboon
On the question of what is an

On the question of what is an (effective) class demand posed by Fred above: I think that Fred's idea is that it's anything that realises that capitalism is collapsing is uneccessarily restrictive and that, in my opinion,  any demand with a class content is one that tends to unify any elements of the working class and its struggle. This has the advantage of being useful at the level of the smallest protests or strikes to the widest and deepest of movements and it doesn't preclude the ideas put forward by Fred, most of which I agree with.

Lazarus
The trotskyists often put up

The trotskyists often put up a reasonable description of a situation then end with some tough sounding demands, often for public works or massive spending etc.

We have to say we demand an end to poverty, unemployment, oil wars, environmental degradation.....but that this cannot be done under capitalism which depends on the erosion of the conditions of the working and unemployed majority.

Our problems are multiple and all arise out of the capitalist crisis and can only worsen until the capitalist system is put down.

And the first step is for workers who understand this to come forward and organise to get this message through.

jk1921
I think there is a

I think there is a difference, and usually a gap, between demands that revolutionaries put forward--which represent the most radical and fundamental class position--and the demands that the movement itself can put forward in any given moment. The question for us is what influence we can have on how the movement frames its goals and demands and how we can advocate for demands that move in the direction of putting the entire system in question? Which demands contain the seeds of future development and which ones will only serve to derail the movement?

Right now, this movement is not really close to calling the entire system into question, people still have too many illusions. So what do we do in the meantime? This question is not all that much different than that faced by the entire communist movement in 1920-1923. How do we "stay relevant" to where the movement is, so as to influence it in some way, w/o compromising the ultimate goal? Do we want to be a sect constantly chanting about capitalism's irresolvable crisis (a crisis that it appears to "resolve" time and time again, at least on the time scale that matters to people who aren't revolutionaries) or do we want to maintain a hand in moving the class towards the ultimate revolutionary goal? Historically, there were two choices to resolving this antinomy: rejoin the Stalinists or Social Democracy, because for all their political flaws at least the working-class still listened to them, or opt for near total isolation in small groups with virtually no influence at all, but who at least had the virture of being right about the ultimate trajectory of capitalism. In the wake of the counter-revolution, this choice was somewhat inevitable. However, we are not in a era of retreat today, we are in a period of emerging struggles, but we are still in a very early stage of those struggles, one in which class demands are still not predominant. We have to learn how to intervene in these struggles as they are. I am not sure we have a firm grap of how to do so, yet. In some ways it was relatively easy to go on and on about the inevitable crisis of captialism in an era in which you would largely be ignored, but it seems another thing in a period where people are more open and will actually discuss with you and challenge you.

mikail firtinaci
is it the time to demand "all power to the general assemblies"

 We were trying to write down a leaflet for the next demo in my locality where a general assembly and occupation will soon take place. we were thinking about a leaflet with a friend here. He is not a left communist and hesitant about writing and distrubiting stuff mentioning "class" and even "capitalism" arguing that those might frusturate people because american workers are not ready for that language yet. I did not really agree much but it may as well be a semantic issue. Then I thought maybe writing something like "all power to the general assemblies" mey be helpful in two respects:

1-   this may be a way out from the "no concrete demands are developed" hypocracy of the media by pointing out to the basic question of class power rather than negotiation element implicit in the "demand" question.

2- Hence it may enable to clarify why only workers can solve the crisis, outside of capitalism without naming it socialism.

However then again I felt myself troubled since this slogan does not slove the central question here that this movement may not entirely be a working class movement but may also be including certain petty burgeoisie elements that may be present in the %99... 

As you may see I am very confused... What do you think?

mikail firtinaci
is it the time to demand "all power to the general assemblies"

 We were trying to write down a leaflet for the next demo in my locality where a general assembly and occupation will soon take place. we were thinking about a leaflet with a friend here. He is not a left communist and hesitant about writing and distrubiting stuff mentioning "class" and even "capitalism" arguing that those might frusturate people because american workers are not ready for that language yet. I did not really agree much but it may as well be a semantic issue. Then I thought maybe writing something like "all power to the general assemblies" mey be helpful in two respects:

1-   this may be a way out from the "no concrete demands are developed" hypocracy of the media by pointing out to the basic question of class power rather than negotiation element implicit in the "demand" question.

2- Hence it may enable to clarify why only workers can solve the crisis, outside of capitalism without naming it socialism.

However then again I felt myself troubled since this slogan does not slove the central question here that this movement may not entirely be a working class movement but may also be including certain petty burgeoisie elements that may be present in the %99... 

As you may see I am very confused... What do you think?

Pierre
Hello cdes,I'm going to be

Hello cdes,

I'm going to be brief because I just typed out like 3 pages of updates and lost them all. Remember to do lengthy posts in a word processor my friends..

Anyways, the political divisions in the group are becoming more evident. There is a lot of idealism and reactionaryism, as well as a problem remaining with short sighted economism. The general distrust of capitalism is there. I'd say half of the regular GA attendees are themselves personally comfortable with the term "anti-capitalism" (you can see this in small group work). About two-thirds are concerned with "putting that kind of language out there" when the GA is in open discusison together.

This may sound paradoxical but when you break down into small groups you can really see it. And I mean people are organically on their own identifying capitalism and down talking it. Which is way more than we saw throughout the 90's and early 2000's is it not?

This is an activists movement without a doubt. Do not think these activists are outside of the class though, its a deep mistake. You can see how anti-communist paranoia has decimated any foundations of socialism here in the States. But these people are very deeply connected to each others struggles.

That being said, I've chosen to be pretty open about being a communist. At Monday's meeting I sat with the other socialists and we really attacked capitalism hard. This pissed off the lifestylists and those least driven by theory. But we really have asserted our presence within the group with positive results (as diehard anti-capitalists that is). Our numbers continue to grow as a larger group, and our output is becoming more and more focused in terms of recognizing class lines.

People who aren't too familiar with activism, those I would call more organic, are very receptive to most all ideas. The problem is the discussion over "not needing a message", which in itself is a message, is feeding this a-political tumorous growth on the GA. Largely generated by the almost irrelevant dialogue the lifestylists are perpetuating. It's a total fetishism of process. And they're calling some of my positions spontaeneous.

The community support has grown, and the police have announced they plan on helping us protect our civil rights (http://www.digtriad.com/news/article/194865/57/NC-AT-Homecoming-Occupy-G...) so they have given us some idea of what they're thinking on doing, and some accountability to the Greensboro community as a whole as well.

The battle over the demands issue wages on. And I would like to thank ALL the comrades, sincerely for their posts. They have really helped me link my reading together with what were doing in the streets.

Before I go there has been some question on the Working groups relationship to the GA. All working groups are functioning well in remaining loyal to the general votes within the GA meetings. However, in regards to "fundraising" and "community outreach", there are some what seem to be seriously innocent, but serious mistakes being made. For example, specific actions were taken without the consent of the larger group in regards to police interaction and fees. There is a split arising. Those down for "civil disobedience" and those not. This essentially boils down to those comfortable with anti-capitalist language and those not. Big meeting tomorrow 7pm. Will report back soon

Peter Pan
internationalism

Hi,

I quickly read through the big amount of posts. Wanted to find out more about this movement. Surely a confusing movement over there. I guess that is why the ICC didn't publish anything about it yet.

There is thing that still torments me and which is allready said by several comrades: don't forget internationalism! I still don't hear it often enough. As well in the meetings as in the leaflets this should be stressed. Whatever the confusions may look like, this is one of the most fundamental class borders.

Capitalism is in its international and historical crisis, because it is globalised (ascending capitalism conquered the world markets untill the national states had to fight for them). In that sense the fight against it must be global as well, but not in the sense of having guerilla fights everywhere (remember Che Gueverra, Vietcong etc.), because that was in the end as nationalistic as the actual Iraqi war or the propaganda by the greek governement towards Germany. The only class capable of uniting across the national and regional borders is the class without any control over his/her means of production.

I know this sounds a bit like a repetition of the marxist viewpoints and especially that of the ICC, but it is crucial.

Maybe bringing the debate on this point can help overcome the illusions in the so called 1% on Wall Street. UK, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Greece, Spain, Tunesia, India, China, Russia, Venezuela, Congo, Sout-Africa... all have their 1%, which relativises the 1% on this special street called Wall Street.

More important is off course that the link must be made with other recent social movements. There was not only Wisconsin, there was also Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, Greece, Italy, etc. The simultanity of the movements is no coincidence, but flows out of the capitalist crisis.

Don't know if this can help. Keep informing us!

 

Lazarus
I am in the UK so I am not

I am in the UK so I am not totally clued up on the US situation.

My first thought is that no matter how unfavourable the situation, we intervene as revolutionaries and do not hide our politics.

In Rome on 15 OCT the Battaglia Communista comrades are set to march under this banner,
TUTTI A PIAZZA ESEDRA SOTTO LO STRISCIONE:
CONTRO I PADRONI
SENZA IL SINDACATO
IL POTERE AL PROLETARIATO!
http://www.leftcom.org/en/node/7657
EVERYONE TO ESEDRA SQUARE UNDER THE BANNER:
AGAINST THE BOSSES
WITHOUT THE UNION
POWER TO THE PROLETARIAT!

ernie
Intervention: individual and organisational

Lazarus raises another aspect of this whole complex situation: the need for revolutionary organisations to interven in an open way. I think everyone would agree that it is essential that an organisation puts forwards a clear defence of the needs of the working class and struggle against the influence of bourgeois ideology. However, there is the question of what do individuals, who are not part of an organisation, do? Proper's posts are a graphic example of the day to day experience of trying to defend left communist politics in such a movement. As JK, says above, we are faced with unprecedented events and movements, which are posing extremely difficult and important questions to us. This underlines the need for these questions to be discussed by revolutionaries in order that we can learn the lessons of this situation. Mistakes will be made but the point is to learn from them.

The experience that the ICC has had in the movement in Spain is that it is essential that we systematically puts forwards and defend the efforts of the proletariam wing of the movement to asset its interests. At the same time, we have also made an intransigent denounciation of the role of the DRY. Thus in our direct intervention in the movemt we have actively work wtih the assemblies, collectives and individuals who have been trying to put forwards proletarian demands, to extend the movement into the industrial estates etc. Within this individuals comrades who have participated in the various assembles have been involved in the work of the assemblies, discussions over what way forwards etc. We (as an organisation) have also held meetings in the street with others involved in the movement to discuss the central questions facing the movement, which have attracted people who would not necessarily go to a formal public meeting but because of the atmosphere of discussing in the street have been willing to come to these street meetings/discussions.

The central point for revolutionaries, as many people have said on this forum, is to actively seek to take full advantage of this situation where there is the possibility of not only putting forwards revolutionarion positions but of showing how these positions have a direct importance to the carryig out of the struggle. We have to convince those seeking to put forwards a proletarian alternative, no matter how confused they are, that Left Communism a living dynamic proletarian political force which enables them to push forwards this alternative as effectively as possible, within the confines of the present situation. At the moment it is only a very small minority in these movements who are willing to look towards Left Communism, but 10 months ago who would have thought we would have been discussing how best to put forwards our political positions in movements involving tens if not hunreds of thousands of people!

Most of us were expecting the acceleration of the struggle against the worsening attacks to come about through waves of strikes, which it has in part, so the fact it has taken the form of a massive upsurge of social revolts has caught us on the hop a bit. As everyone on this thread has said this is a much more complex situation than we have faced before, however, this thread has shown that the Communist left has been trying to respond to this situation.

jk1921
So Bloomberg has now told the

So Bloomberg has now told the protestors they will need to leave by tomorrow morning so the park can be "cleaned." This is just two days after he said they could stay there indefinetly.

KT
Spread

 Just for info:

a) Last I heared, 176 cities in US now have various degrees of 'occupation'

b) The Bloomberg decree (see above) has been overturned

c) According to this article in the UK Guardian, the protest in 'internationalising' to GB

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/14/protesters-london-stock-exchange

Solidarity to all those 'on the ground' and thank you for your updates.

KT
Demands

 

“... the mass assemblies provide a first indication of what lies ahead. This may not seem very much to those waiting for the proletariat to appear like a bolt from the blue and show that is clearly and unequivocally the revolutionary class of society. However, from a historical point of view, and taking into account the enormous difficulties that lie in its path, this is a good start ...”

This and other quotes to follow are from the article A Movement which heralds the Future – The movement of the Indignants in Spain and its Repercussions across the World from the ICC’s International Review 146 (link at the end of this post).

 The choice of this quote demonstrates two main lines of my thinking: 

·         That while I appreciate that Spain is not the US, that New York is not Madrid, I believe the OWS is instrinsically linked to the Spanish events, is a product of the same historical juncture and has elicited a response from non-exploiting strata in general and elements of the working class in particular which have far more in common than they have differences. Lessons from Spain (have ‘we’ had a chance to absorb them yet?) must be applied to the situation in the US, albeit not mechanically. I believe several posters and those on the ground have done this ‘in practice’;

·         That the OWS movement – for all its undeniable weaknesses that certain posters have correctly exposed – is an absolutely positive phenomenon of and for the working class. Moreover, the work of organised revolutionaries and their sympathisers – and especially this very thread which has both been informed by the actual movement and in turn attempted to be an active factor in it, an aspect of the centralisation of the struggle – also holds, in embryo, many lessons for the future. 

To take a position for now on just one aspect of the struggle:

 Demands:  “We’re not going slowly, we just have a long way to go” (chant raised in Madrid, ibid). The pressure from various bourgeois organs on the OWS to produce concrete demands; the tendency for the unions and long-standing ‘community groups’ to interest themselves in this struggle; the inevitable appearance of leftism trying to ‘control’ the assemblies and demos – all these are negative proofs of the movement’s importance. While it’s true that the assemblies shouldn’t be just talking shops, the most important demands that the movement can make at this stage, historically and globally speaking – and which posters have indeed pushed for – are the demands that the movement makes of itself. 

 The demand that the assemblies are sovereign, that working groups within and publications without are controlled by the collective. The demands for a fraternal, collective spirit – one for all and all for one.  The demands for real discussions, as well as action. The demand to demonstrate and to occupy ‘public’ spaces. “However, the mass assemblies in the public squares, with the slogan ‘Seize the Square’, expressed a challenge to the democratic rule of order. What determines the social relations and legitimises the laws is that the exploited majority “minds its own business” and, if it wants to, “participates” in civic matters by using the voting system and protests through the union which atomise it and individualise it even more. Uniting, building solidarity, discussing collectively, starting to act as an independent social force constitutes an overwhelming violence against bourgeois order.” (ibid)  

 Even the OWS ‘demand’ for ‘non-violence’ is, I believe, an unconscious reflection of the fact that the movement knows it is not yet strong enough for a head-on confrontation with the forces of repression (which doesn’t mean that it should ignore its self-defence).  And the now-famous ‘non-politiziation’ of the movement is, for all its weakness, a reflection, as others have said, of a partial rejection of bourgeois politics, of what has gone before, of a search for a new way forward (which for us, is not so ‘new’ but is in truth the continuity of the workers’ movement or the movement of the working class for itself).

 More concretely, I’m not happy with demands that deliberately raise what’ their proponents know to be impossible (ie the student debt moratorium – I think others have dealt with this) or even the slogan ‘All Power to the Assemblies’. While this was heard in Spain, in the current US context, until and unless it comes from large sections of the movement itself, I think it would be empty rhetoric. All power, right now? Think of the consequences (even if we must understand what lies behind such a demand, should it be widely raised).

 Like a patient re-learning to walk and talk after a severe stroke (the collapse of ‘communism’ and the subsequent retreat) I believe the proletariat is today flexing its muscles and re-using its collective brain, rediscovering through practice and struggle its class consciousness.

I don’t, in truth, believe the movement in the US has so far displayed these tendencies in quite as strong a manner, as it did in Spain. At least not yet.  If I’m right, this shouldn’t surprise us. It’s still part of the same process however and faces similar, if not identical, obstacles. We have lots to say, and eventually even to determine, how this unfolds.

A sympathiser in GB. 

See  http://en.internationalism.org/ir/146/editorial-protests-in-spain

 

  

jk1921
I don't know. The media has

I don't know. The media has really picked up on the terminology of the movement: "general assemblies," "indignados", etc. Also, there has been no attempt at a media blackout here. There have been non stop reports about this movement in all the major media outlets, emphasizing the movement's lack of, or refusal to formulate, concrete demands (even if many have been puzzled by this). I just worry that there is an attempt here to trap the movement in a fetishization of the form--general assemblies--that avoids the danger of a radicalization of demands that could bring the movement into a more direct confrontation with the state.  If the movement won't develop its own content, mistaking form itself for the goal, then this leaves it open to manipulation and cooptation by the left of capital. In the end, no demands means the left of capital will determine the demands. I am not sure how the movement should go about formulating demands at this moment or which demands are best, but I don't think we should celebrate the abscence of demands as an unqualified positive. Moreover, its not just that these movements have no concrete demands, its that there has been an underlying assumption from the start that very premise of raising demands is flawed. This would seem to work against the movement raising the issue of power.

On the question of the student debt moratorium, the media has actually taken this issue up over the last several days, exploring the boost that it would have for the economy: supposedly the average student debtor would have almost $300 more disposable cash each month--not an insignificant amount. I am not at all convinced this is "impossible" (at the very least the return of bankruptcy protections to student loans actually seems like sensible bourgeois policy). If it doesn't happen, it probably has more to do with the political crisis of the U.S. ruling class, than any underlying impossibility. But what does this mean for the movement? Is raising this demand a diversion or is it a step on the road to contemplating the absurdity of the continued existence of the captialist system itself? I don't know. Was "peace, bread and land" a diversion?

At any rate, the forms that the movement are developing are necessary and positive, but in and of themselves they do not pose the end of capitalism. Wasn't this the difference between the Russian and German revolutions? Didn't the German workers' councils remain trapped in a reformist consciousness handing power back over to the state and Social Demoncray time and again, while in Russia the councils formulated demands that the state could not meet? What was the process that led to the differing outcomes? Right now, the movements we are seeing look much closer to the German experience than the Russian one (replete with heavy illusions in bourgeois democracy)-- although of course we are not even talking about workers' councils today, but more of this generalized social revolt phenomenon. In any regard, it is still very early in the process.

KT
very brief response to JK

Much to agree with in what you write. However, for me, the fundamental issue is this: within what framework do we see all the real weaknesses and problems of this movement? I think you answer this when you write:

"At any rate, the forms that the movement are developing are necessary and positive..."

It's true, as you go on to qualify, that:  "in and of themselves they do not pose the end of capitalism." However, is that really what we expect from any movement at this precise moment? For me, not really. And, in embryo, I think this social revolt, with all its limitations and confusions, does actually, at root, contain a certain challenge to capitalism, is "sewing the seeds of consciousness for the future" (ibid) even if this is not the movement that will realise that future "in and of itself." We're still a long way from that, as many might agree.

I also welcome your historical dimension - the comparison of Russia 1917 and Germany 1918. But again, these were revolutionary situations: we're not there yet today, as you recognise. We shouldn't condemn the infant for not being a man.

Similarly, you write: "I just worry that there is an attempt here to trap the movement in a fetishization of the form--general assemblies--that avoids the danger of a radicalization of demands that could bring the movement into a more direct confrontation with the state." 

I agree with you about the danger of the fetishization of the form and the trap it implies. I'm not sorry that, at this particular juncture, there isn't a more direct confrontation with the state - in my opinion the movement's not ready for that (although, on a local and minor level, the pepper spraying by police of protestors radicalised the movement to a degree - just as repression in Spain did). This, however, may be conservatism on my part. But if we're making historical comparisons, weren't the Bolsheviks concerned to avoid 'premature confrontations' in the July days?

As for the student debt issue,well I'm not yet convinced but I for one will think further on what you've written. With fraternal greetings to all the comrades in struggle.

 

 

 

jk1921
Thanks KT, I agree that

Thanks KT,

I agree that there may be a certain tendency for us to want to see something in these movements that just isn't there or--more accurately--isn't there yet. I think we encountered this problem also in our reaction to the Arab Spring. These are not mass strikes. They are what they are for now: spontaneous eruptions of popular anger animated by a hodge podge of reformist ideas. However, I wonder if these movements require us to reevaluate how we conceptualize the development of proletarian struggles in decomposition? These all seem to be animated by a generation of workers who have been virutally exiled from the production process, or at the very least reduced to precarity, insecurity and uncertainty. Workers who still have a steady job still seem very scared to fight back, despite a number of strike movements. How does this change how we understand the conditions of the class struggle today, if at all?

Fred
jk1921 draws four important

jk1921 draws four important points from the practice of the "occupy" type assemblies. These are: (1) are we required to re-evaluate the nature of proletarian struggles in decomposition? (2) workers who have been more or less "exiled" from the production process, or brought to a precarious existence in it, are behind a lot of these protests. (3) workers in a steady job may be scared to fight back, and finally (4) what do these factors mean for our understandings of the class struggle today?

It would be interesting to know what the ICC response is to point (1), given the ICC's emphasis on the effects of decomposition. Point (2), which suggests that the un- or under-employed may be finding their feet, a modicum of organization and a will to fight back, is encouraging. Point (3), while it is understandably true at the moment, despite strikes like Verizon, and the sparks in the UK, will presumably be overcome by the inexorable march forward of the crisis itself and mounting savage cutbacks internationally (although there may be no automatic link between the economy's attacks and developing class consciousness). And of course there's (4), which for me suggests that the previous three points, especially point (1) about the nature of all struggles including proletarian struggles - or citizen struggles led by, and informed by the proletariat - in fast decaying and decomposing capitalism, may require a re-consideration by the revolutionary organization. But maybe not! Interestingly, a similar sort of discussion (mainly taking the form of a debate about "fronts") is taking place on left com. Similar but not the same.

mikail firtinaci
 Me and one of my friends

 Me and one of my friends today distributed a leaflet in a small US city with a heading "all power to the general assemblies of workers, students and unemployed".

Well even at the time of writing it, I was aware that this was rhetorical, but as I tried to say in my previous post we just wanted to emphasize that the question of crisis can not be solved without questioning capitalism in a radical way. And to do that questioning we need general assemblies to be stronger. So the title was a kind of "catch phrase" plus our over optimism.

Anyway maybe it was stupid and I am carried away by my isolation from the real situation.

After the demo the thing that most troubled me was the composition of the demo. There were a lot of crazy small groups or individuals defending free market or something like that, disconnected hippies, trotskyists, some a-political anarchists, a black liberation group etc. However from the brighter side, there were workers from every age group looking not very political but very enthusiastic. 

So I was really confused and about what to do in the end. My general assesment is that, there is definitely something positive in terms of attitude, non-secterianism, eagerness to listen and talk. However it is still small, with heavy involvement of isolated and crazy sects of the american political spectrum. It seems to me that this movement can be very supportive and helpful in the case of a strike movement by mobilizing the sectors of the class that is most isolated by decomposition such as the unemployed to support, but by itself I don't know where it can go further than politisation of a small minority of the working class - which is itself positive of course.

 

Pierre
Hello cdes, Reporting on day

Hello cdes,

Reporting on day two of the occupation. We had a large march of around 1500 yesterday. Around 300 stayed until 11 pm or so. I'd say close to half that spent the night.

So far, what we've done is broken down into small group discussion. The topics so far (as decided by the larger group) are; job creation, universal healthcare, what is the 99%, what is the crisis, what are the inqeualities amongst the 99%, a radical historians group, women/queer issues, engaged buddhism (lol), promoting civic engagement and poltical activism, creating a tenants union, and our democratizing the city budget.

In terms of the "more power to the GA" question. Without a doubt we need to figure out ways to strengthen the GAs. Then we can call for them to have more power.

Back with more soon

- []D[]D*

kollwitz
more notes from nyc

hello everybody

sorry i have not been able to keep you posted until now, but it's only today that i have had a chance to step back and look at th ebig picture.

mikail firtinaci
an interesting development
kollwitz
continued

i agree largely with what cdes jk1921 and soyonstout, among others who spoke along similar lines, have said.  this movement, starting with a little potential to at least become a little politicized, has done its very best to isolate itself and leave itself open to the influences of post-modernist ideology and the possibility by the ruling class to suck its energy out and divert it into an item for the electoral campaign in favor of obama, at least for a moment.  what happened?  what congenital weaknesses?  i am about to paste some notes i wrote for everybody, but would also like to say i agree that the discussion about the future form of the struggles under decomposition is one that will greatly position us in the future to better interven in these movements.  i would also like to express a word of caution about what seems to be a very enthusiastic support of this movement, as it was especially expressed in some posts by cded pp.  this movement has very serious weaknesses.  among them, the belief that the american constituion is a tool for the emancipation of the masses, which is presently not working simply because it is in the wrong hands.  sounds like the criticism made of the union leadership.  this idea leaves the movement open to all sorts of reformist ideologists, including right wing, and can seriouslyrisk to drown the most sincere elemnets in an ocean of senseless activism.  i would very fraternally caution you against this danger, and urge you to step back, take a deep breath, and look again.  there has been a development of this movement, which started already a while back....now, let me try to post the notes (i tried three times already!)

kollwitz
   notes

 

NOTES ON OWS

Saturday, September 31 I participated for the first time in an OWS General Assembly.  I got there late, so, they had already gone over the reports from the working groups, and were addressing the one topic for discussion: the publication of their press, which they called  Occupy Wall Street Journal.  I was given a copy of it upon getting to Zuccotti Park.  When I asked who put out the paper, the person distributing it could not tell me.  Neither had he read its content.  When I asked why he was distributing something the origin and content of which he did not know, he simply said it was the result of the efforst of the community at Zuccotti Park.  The discussion at the assembly was heated and the participants angry because a small group of people who were on the media/press working group took it upon themselves to use donated money (unknown from which source) to publish a newspaper with articles that an overwhelming number of people in the assembly said did not reflect the sentiments and opinions of the people gathered there.  They insisted that this was unacceptable, that the working group involved was solely responsible to the decisions reached upon consensus, and that by going to press without a mandate they had violated the spirit of the decision making process.  One person in particular was so angry that he started to call the man who published the newspaper ‘fascist’.  It was then decided that this person who was called ‘fascist’ would be removed from the working group, but there was no discussion about the next issue, what to write, how to make sure it would be in the hands of the assembly.  All was ended when a numerous group of people started chanting from another part of Zuccotti Park that the march on Brooklyn Bridge was about to start, and that everybody should gather for the march.  That day, the Brooklyn Bridge march ended in 700 arrests thanks to the police setting up the marchers when they arrived at the foot of the bridge and began to spill over onto the paved road in addition to staying on the walkway, with the police looking over without warning the marchers that they would be arrested if they did not stay on the walkway.  The images of the cops with the bullhorn shouting  “Stay on the walkway” were taken much later, when too many marchers had already taken to the paved road unaware of doing anything ‘illegal’.  While this part of the march was walking on the paved road toward Brooklyn, police vans started to cross the bridge in their direction, and the marchers ended up entrapped on both sides by the cops, and were arrested. 

This event took place only three days after the major unions in the city (and country) had given their official support to OWS.  The day of the march, the cops sequestered Metro Transit Buses, ordered the people riding them off, and ordered the drivers to drive to the Brooklyn Bridge to pick up the people arrested there and drive them to the precinct.  This was an obvious defiant and bullish stance by the police department, in conjunction with the city’s administration, which aimed at teaching the transport workers a lesson in ruling class hegemony.  The message was clear:  you have no power in showing the occupiers real solidarity.  By singling out a few drivers and isolating a few marchers, the ruling class made sure its action of repression was contained, and therefore that no sign of anger would arise from the general population in support of either.  It also made sure that this militant sector of the NYC working class would be demoralized in case it did imagine that they could give real support to the occupiers, as their union, the TWU, had led them to believe.

On October 13 I was present at another General Assembly.  What will be recounted will show the extent to which the movement’s initial potential toward self-organization, already weak since the beginning, as embodied in the General Assemblies, and the lifeblood of such potential, that is, the widest possible and open discussions and debates, had dwindled to the point of insignificance.  What will be recounted happened the day before the threatened ‘eviction’ by the ‘forces of order’.  You would expect this issue would be the most important item on the agenda to discuss, particularly in terms of the future of the movement, what lessons to draw from it, how to organize better for future mobilizations.  Instead, this discussion was completely hijacked in several ways.   The General Assembly took place in the now familiar way:  the various working groups (media, legal, medical, outreach, internet, sustainability) simply reported back on what they had done.  There was no discussion of this, and no setting of future tasks.  It was therefore completely clear that the General Assembly had no power in mandating the working groups with specific tasks, and that the decisions about which tasks to carry out are not taken in the General Assembly.  It appears that the working groups either act independently of each other and of the General Assembly, or only respond to a few ‘leaders’, most likely activists who have been networking and organizing this for a long time and are prominent ‘gurus’ in the movement, or both.  When this reporting back was over, the topic for discussion was introduced, and it was not the future of the movement.  It was about how the drummers committee had met with the city administration, both mayor Bloomberg and the Borough of Manhattan President, to flesh out a ‘compromise’ whereby the drummers were to be asked to perform during only two hours of the day, instead of not drumming at all, in exchange for an agreement to let the sanitation department clean up the park without involving the police department, agreeing to reducing the number of drumming hours to two as long as the clean up would be done without the presence of the cops.  The city authorities committed to be present in the park early in the morning to make sure the police would not be involved in this ‘clean-up’ operation.  The city authorities also said that upon returning after the clean-up the occupiers would not be allowed to have and lay mattresses or sleeping bags or chairs.  People present at the GA were rallied to ‘resist the eviction’ by forming a human chain by linking arms and standing around the park.  Several calls to the effect of  ‘standing for our rights’, ‘in defense of the first amendment’, ‘this is our home and they cannot evict us’ were made.  Meanwhile, several interruptions were made by the working group “sanitation”, urging people to start the clean-up themselves in order to have as little intrusion as possible from the city’s sanitation department, and lock their belonging away in storage rooms and trucks.  It has to be wondered, all this level of organization just hours before the clean-up!  Trucks? Storage? It looks like from the beginning, this movement never seriously looked at the future, never posed  itself the question of the extension of the movement, and always committed to its ephemeral passing .  Legal, the working group, said they had a letter signed by Bloomberg that stated that the administration stood  in defense of the first amendment, and that the police will not intervene.  When the ‘stack’ was opened (that is, the request by the assembly to have the floor to speak), it was insisted that the interventions be limited to one minute, and that they addressed only the issue regarding whether two hours of drumming were ok/enough.  An intervention by the ICC went in the direction of pointing out the contradiction between on the one hand wanting a different world, pointing out the inequality in capitalism, the denunciation of corruption, and, on the other, the development of trust in the very forces that are part of what is being denounced.  We said that real, sincere support could be found among the working class if this movement reached out to it. We continued by saying that what was crucial to debate at this point was the future of the movement, which direction to give it, to gather the forces to think about how to better organize for the future, to draw lessons from the experiences.  It was not very well received, and we were urged that we were talking beyond the one minute allotted.  The person that was addressing the task responded to this intervention by saying that the agreement with the city authorities was based on the necessity to compromise and on the good faith based on the promise made by Mayor Bloomberg and the Borough of Manhattan President.  There was no further discussion. 

The General Assemblies are followed by ‘soap box’, where anybody can raise any question as they please, without any specific focus or discussion.  One young woman said that she was in contact with several city university and would like four-five volunteers from among the occupiers to go with her to these universities and have presentations for the students and faculty there about the movement.  She was followed by one occupier and asked whether she had any ‘contingent’ help to offer in the face of the threatened eviction.  Short of that, her offer was of no interest whatsoever.  She was told that there was no need for the occupiers to go out into the universities or anywhere else, because it should be the other way around: o

 

 

 

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