Occupy Wall Street Protests

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zimmerwald1915
Working Groups

I've put in a couple appearances at Occupy Baltimore's general assembly, and can confirm what Anna says about working groups.  Working groups are formed on a very voluntaristic basis, and set their own agendas.  They are under no obligation to report to the general assembly on a regular basis.  If a representative of the working group can't make it to the evening's general assembly, that working group is simply unheard from.  There is no system in place to make a working group's report available to the general assembly in any fashion other than showing up and delivering it out loud.  One person was roundly criticized for proposing that the reports be posted online regularly.  Furthermore, the working groups do not seem responsible to the general assembly at all.  There is no system in place for removing a member of a working group, or for giving a working group priority tasks, or any tasks at all.

ernie
Working groups

This trejectory of the working groups is what has been seen in Spain where the DRY and other have used their control of these groups to push forwards their agenda and to undermine the authority of the General Assembly. This article demonstrates some of the methods used and they will strike a cord with those experiencing the movement in the US

https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/2011/special-report-15M-spain/...

 

ernie
A text in defense of the addemblies

The text below has been put on our Spanish Website. It is about the need to defend the assemblies against the macinations by the DRY, Left, unions and others who are trying to undermine the movement. The text is by a comrade close to the ICC Unfortunately we do not have the resources to translate it at the moment. If a Spanish speaker coudl do it for us we would be very greatful. We will try to translate it as soon as we can

es.internationalism.org/node/3215

jk1921
Translation

ernie wrote:

The text below has been put on our Spanish Website. It is about the need to defend the assemblies against the macinations by the DRY, Left, unions and others who are trying to undermine the movement. The text is by a comrade close to the ICC Unfortunately we do not have the resources to translate it at the moment. If a Spanish speaker coudl do it for us we would be very greatful. We will try to translate it as soon as we can

es.internationalism.org/node/3215

 

I'll see what I can do about a translation.

KT
assemblies again

That would be great JK.

In light of recent reports from the ‘front line’, and vis-a-vis our previous posts on the dangers of a possible fetishisation of the form of the assemblies, perhaps the real danger posed is that to their content.

During discussions on Spain, I recall Ernie intervening to say that the assemblies there weren’t some neutral manifestation but a battleground between the two major classes. The necessity to argue for the sovereignty of the assemblies (in particular over workgroups, etc) as part of the push for workers’ autonomy, politicisation and self-organisation might be the order of the day where possible.  

jk1921
Ha, I looked at the read

Ha, I looked at the read count for this thread a minute ago and it was at "1917." Anyway, working on a translation of that document now.

Crisanto
On Assemblies

I think the formation of assemblies is one positive thing of the current movements. Though I must admit that even the concept of assemblies and its implementation still has many dangers of being controlled or manipulated by the unions and the left of capital in the process. But the mere fact that workers/poor are forming them on their own in the first place is a positve thing for me.

However, there is also the danger of being too enthusiastic and "obsessive" with assemblies.

Leftists and unions currently are trying to control these movements. They are competing with each other on how to control the movement. Here in the Philippines, different leftist factions, competing each other form different "Occupy Philippines movement", further dividing the workers and poor who are interested to show solidarity and participate in the protests against capitalism's attacks.

jk1921
Translation of Spanish text.

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}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }Here is a translation of the Spanish comrade's contribution. I am sorry if some errant formatting shows up.

 

Contribution in Defense of Open Assemblies   The [Spanish] May 15th Movement ("15M") has put forth one of the most important weapons in the struggle against capital: the general assembly. General assemblies serve as a forum where we can voice our grievances over the growing difficulties of life, and where we propose strategies to comfort them.   These assemblies are the concrete expression of a real democracy where diverse solutions are posited, but which are united under a single banner: the struggle against capitalism.   At this stage of the struggle, the movement needs to engage in an ongoing and patient defense of these assemblies. This is one of the most important tasks we assume, as these assemblies are, at the same time, our current ammunition and the social organization of the future. We must defend the assemblies from all external attempts to manipulate our agenda: in particular, labor unions, political parties and associations, the media, groups such as DRY (Democracy Real Ya! or "Real Democracy Now!"), the police, state agents, etc. At the same time, we need to protect these assemblies from our own mistakes.   During the first few weeks of, and following 15M, city-wide assemblies emerged in various places. The evolution of the movement brought these assemblies to neighborhoods, towns, universities, etc. Questions raised in them dealt with evictions, strikes, etc. Initially, these were genuine and open "general assemblies" that configured a generalized momentum, even if they suffered from confusion and a lack of experience that characterized its participants. The ebb of the movement changed these assemblies from genuine assemblies, to mere numerate "groups."   The initial momentum of these events led us to feel a necessity to keep the movement going, looking for lessons to be learned and preparing the foundation to go further "beyond" each time. In many neighborhoods and towns -- or with regard to more concrete issues such as evictions and strikes -- certain groups have remained active, which provide a forum for individuals most interested in, or affected by a given issue. These groups take on names such as "General Assembly for…" when in reality they are no longer veritable popular assemblies. Rather, they resemble working groups or discussion circles, which tackle the legitimate need to continue to be organized and remain united around issues that require our attention. As well, these groups foster conditions under which future massive assemblies can be possible.   Yet, a group of 25 or 50 people (generally, the usual suspects) do not equal an authentic general assembly of neighborhoods, of towns, or of affected individuals. While they may be assemblies of those who care to meet in them, they should not be confused for open, massive, and representative general assemblies. Confusing these two types of assemblies can lead us, perhaps unconsciously, to take one for the other, and thus to imagine a sense of representation that is truly absent. This is the type of mistake we want to avoid.   We risk falling prey to an activism that leads us further away from the struggle against capital and the attacks on our living conditions. Yet, the opposite is also true: Apathy, alleging a lack of representation, when organizing in "working groups" or "discussion circles" is not only legitimate, but also necessary.   The reemergence of the movement will occur on firmer grounds, guided by more daring perspectives. But this requires an ongoing defense of the general assemblies, avoiding on the one hand, external threats, and on the other its degeneration. The true general assemblies will reappear when the struggle on social questions are intensified -- which, despite arguments on the contrary, are a form of class struggle. Although the main threat comes from outside the movement, particularly from the state apparatus (labor unions, political parties, the news media, and the police), it is vital we recognize the existence of threats from within. We should be mindful of what we are: "active minority groups, be them working groups or discussion circles, which mimic assemblies." This is no small feat. This is the necessary base for the resurgence of massive and combative assemblies. Since we have war declared on us, we must respond united and organized.   CH

mikail firtinaci
 thanks for translatıon JK.

 thanks for translatıon JK. This is a great article. I will try to translate it to Turkish as soon as I can find time.

soyonstout
observations in my town

I apologize these are somewhat late, but they are my observations from last monday (oct 10) in my town.  Sunday night I spent the night at the occupation--walked around, saw an interesting mix of home-made signs, including at least 10-20% which identified capitalism as the enemy ("breathe if you hate capitalism," "marx was right," "are you aware of your working class interests?," "got class consciousness?," "where are massive strikes when you need them," "general strike," "commons not capitalism," "all power to the working class,") as well as many signs describing dire economic straits that many of the participants find themselves in (my mother is sick and dying and just got her medicare cut / i've been unemployed for x months) followed by a phrase like "where's my bailout?!"  Others said things like "new world order: on our terms"  This would be, I suppose the positive side of what I saw which perhaps made up at least a third, if not half of the signage.  Another third / half were signs about corruption / greed, many of which identified finance capital specifically as a problem "end the fed," "tax the rich & legalize & tax marijuana" and a number of other middle-class policy proposals for the friendly father-state, and one encampment called "krugman's army."  Later in the day, I came back for the noon-time GA, which mostly discussed procedures and logistical things, whereas the night-time GA discussed direction / took major decisions / etc.  During the daytime was when I saw the plethora of non-profit groups, voter advocacy groups, Workers' World front groups (signing people up for a fight against racism & war, but not a word about the economy), LaRoucheites, and libertarians / Ron Paul supporters. 

My friend had organized a discussion around a paper by an autonomist/operaist collective here in the US analyzing the crisis which had many weaknesses but did talk about revolution and marxism, and even about the recuperation of struggles into the established order.

I came back yet again for the night time GA at which a decision was being taken to disband a working group in liason with the police, which had not been formed by volunteers to give reports to the GA, but was actually formed on the initiative of the police themselves--despite no one uttering it, the main issue here was the sovereignty of the GA and the decision taken (after two hours and a lot of off-topic statements, which were not all bad, but certainly exhausted everyone quicker) was to disband it and allow those who had been on it to join the legal committee which would be subject to the GA in regard to how much, if any, information was given to the police. 

Before the GA there was an open mic time, during which many people got up to speak their minds, usually with an emphasis on "taking back our country" which was a common theme--even the People-Of-Color caucus that got up to remind everyone about Columbus (this was on Columbus Day) and slavery and colonialism kept to this rhetoric about making democracy real using the constitution and its promises.  One person got up and talked about a "two-party monster" and received enormous applause, only to be followed by a 'votes for the homeless' advocate who got wild applause for informing all of their voting rights.  During this time, a caucus of "radicals"/anarchists distributed a leaflet they'd made that night called "[the Mayor] and the Police Are Not Our Friends" which talked about all the cuts the current mayor rammed through and the various recent brutality cases, however, it mostly vilified these people because they refused to talk with the liberal/reformist non-profits and unions and had held back campaigns of reformists / nationalists, etc.  Basically a radical-anarcho--reformist-leftist critique, in my opinion.

To me, the biggest problem in there was the dominance of long-time non-profit reformist activists, and the fact that the whole thing is funded through "Jobs With Justice" (a union cheerleader group that somehow hundreds of "anarchists" are involved with).   This, to me, is the principle danger which could extinguish all possibility of even meeting some people who are open to the idea of workers' revolution as the solution to these problems. 

the other thing is that amongst my union is a group which is protests agains the leadership weekly, but I don't have any of their contact info--if I can contact them, I could ask them about coming down to let people there know that all these "friends" of the occupy movement are not exactly its friends after all.  This is something that might be possible, and is worth pursuing.  But the problem with this is that when I ask around as to how to organize the occupy people coming over to them, I'm told to talk to a committee and propose it to a committee, rather than in any kind of public place.  The second possible action that is worth going for, in my opinion, would be rewritinga  leaflet from RevLeft with a couple practical examples from the unemployed councils and the Seattle General Strike of 1919 in terms of what this movement can do to contribute to the preparation of the world revolution, which is after all the only thing that can solve its many grievances and then leaving copies of this in the library tent and on the book exchange tables (there is library tent with all kinds of leaflets, literature, etc.)  The last thing I could see being worthwhile would be the proposal at a GA of some kind of committee that worked like a Solidarity Network (which the IWW started doing in the Northwest) or unemployed council--a group of people who would help unevict folks, prevent utility shutoffs, etc.  Unfortunately, all these proposals would have to go through the Coordinating Committee and are discouraged from being brought up in the GA, which usually has a set agenda already.  this is another major weakness--proposals are made almost privately to the facilitators and then discussed openly by the GA but amongst the GA proposals that come up are off-topic from the predetermined discussion.

Anyway, that's what I saw, hopefully I will be able to see more this week.  I  should add that I agree with much of the analysis above, especially on the lack of accountability of the working groups.  I do think logistically, direct democracy is something people are not used to at all, really, and so people have complained that it would take too long to have the GA discuss everything, but if the consensus facilitation was dropped in favor of voting and proposals, that might be speedier too.

Red Hughs
Well, Lots of stuff since I

Well,

Lots of stuff since I last looked at the thread.

I have to figure out to balance my "positiveness" and "negativeness". I don't think what wrote before was merely consigning the events to oblivion - to say that they'll eventually fade is not to say that they aren't significant. Indeed, now it seems these could easily be the most powerful political upsurge since the 1960s. But even being very significant, they are still very ambiguous, uncertain and needs to further transform. Even, if or when they fade, they'll probably set the context for any further action.

And certainly, you have all these crazy American political ideologies mixed in. Just as much, you have the hope that with enough pressure, the "American Dream" of an earlier America can be restored. But with that, you have the sicken collective realization that the "American Dream" is gone - and that "American Dream" was the possibility for the higher sectors of the working class to move into the position of small property owners. To own a house in the suburbs and one's own business after driving a cab for twenty years.

But with so many illusions breaking apart, most of the "middle class" workers have no language and ideas to express a rejection of the entire system.

We can hope that this is going to allow an opening of political dialog and a process of self-education among its participants. And obviously, we should involve ourselve in a process of both learning and teaching. "What is capitalism" is something that it would be useful to have an open discussion on in those occupations which have enough space for discussion. 

ernie
Thanks KK

Thanks for doing the translation JK, greatly appreciated, our Spanish to English translations resources are very limited. Do you read our Spanish site?

ernie
Assemblies areas of the class struggle

The idea of the assemblies as a crucial area of the class struggle is important, because if we see them a some form of neutral body we will disarm ourselves and the class. As many of the first hand posts have illustrated the ruling class and its poltical expressions understand that they have to work to dominate or at least undermine the assemblies. In this US this is includes a whole complex zoo of bourgeoisie political beasts. In Spain it is the same, though without some of the more pictureque political fractions. Also as some posts have pointed out, even without the organised political expressions of bourgeois ideology this ideology will still be present, just as it will be in the the workers' councils before and after the revolution. It is one of the important aspects of this movement that faced with this array of bourgeois groups and ideologies the most consciouss minorities involved in these movements are gaining experience in learning how to confront thes ideologies. It has been noticable around the movement in Spain that there has been an increase in the number of critical voices against the DRY and defending the assemblies (examplified by the above contribution). In the US however, this whole process is a lot more difficult because of the historical particularities of the situation of the working class there.

This however puts a lot of weigth on the intervention of those seeking to defend a proletarian perspective. The best soldiarity the rest of us can give is to continue the discussion of the questions that they are confronted with.

One last point, some comrades may not have heard that 500.000 people demonstrated in Madrid on Saturday as part of the international day of struggle. Tens of thousands turned out in other cities as well. This movement has been going on for 6 months and has gone through many struggles but it still clearly expersses the growing discontent and combatitivity of the working class

Beltov
OWS article now online...

Well, we finally got there...

https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/2011/october/ows

Any thoughts?

:)

B.

zimmerwald1915
A Quick Clarification

<cite>However, despite their importance in this movement, it is clear that the GAs in OWS have not been able to function without considerable distortion and manipulation from the professional activists and leftists who have largely controlled the various working-groups and committees that are supposed to be nominally responsible to the GAs.</cite> A quick clarification. Does the above quote refer to the New York manifestation alone? Because I don’t think that all working groups are “nominally responsible” to all GAs.

jk1921
Responsible

zimmerwald1915 wrote:

A quick clarification. Does the above quote refer to the New York manifestation alone? Because I don’t think that all working groups are “nominally responsible” to all GAs.

If that's true, its an even bigger distortion. Has this been your experience in Baltimore?

zimmerwald1915
@ jk re: Baltimore

As I said above, my experience in Baltimore is that the working groups are formed on a voluntarist basis (I can state from experience that you can enter a working group simply by walking into a meeting and sitting down), are expressly not responsible to the GA, and take no direction from the GA.  If the working groups in New York are nominally responsible to the GA in New York, then the movement in New York, even in retreat, is far and away more advanced in the movement in Baltimore.

jk1921
I think in New York, the

I think in New York, the working groups, committees, etc. were nominally accountable to the GAs in the early phases of the movement in that their agenda was supposed to be set by the GAs and they were supposed to "return their mandate" by reporting back to the GAs on their activities, etc. Of course, I don't think it ever functioned exactly in that way, but the anecdote given in the article about the removal of the offending press commission member would seem to indicate that in the initial phases of the movement the GAs had some authority over the groups and committees, etc. The point is that this authority has been progressively eroded through time due in part to the GAs failing to defend their soveriegnty. Perhaps in Baltimore and elsewhere the movement started where it will end in New York?

soyonstout
working groups

I can confirm that yes, basically the working groups in Philadelphia function semi-autonomously--anyone can join and proposals go to the working groups, rather than to the GA, but the GA can take issue with what the working groups do and even once disbanded a working group whilst allowing its members to enter another one on the condition that the remaining group was, at least in terms of communication to the authorities, subject to the GA.  My feeling was that if it had been any other issue, the working group would not have been subjected to as much GA scrutiny.  Also, there, proposals go the working groups, rather than to the GA.

kollwitz
here's something interesting

which reminds me of the importance of having a method for understanding what is going on.  the movemnt is still in a moment of 'shifting' to find its own position.  it is not over.  of course it does not mean that it will not be over, but most importantly, as other cdes have said, the anger, the reflection about the impasse and no future of capitalism, the very important fact tha we are in a period in which it is clear, the masses of the exploited, including the working class, are not silent, are not just 'taking it', and are actually giving voice to the reflections that have been going on in their heads for a long time, the fact that this is an international context... all of this places this movement in a really interesting position. as another cde pointed out to me, it is significant that this is happening here, in the belly of the beast, and what repercussions this may have on the other, 'less democratic' countries, and on the american working class itself.  not a question of exaggerating, but neither a question of calling it quits.  even with a possible important setback with the recuperation of electoralist activists, tomorrow it will no longer be 'business as usual'.  let's see if i can paste what i have

kollwitz
from the huffington post

it is very long, so i'll paste in batches....

 

kollwitz
sorry

ok, i have tried a number of times., and can't do it....so, i will simply tell you. the nyt and the huffington post were given permission by a working group called either direct action or 99 declaration to publish a decison in th ename og OWS about their 'demnads', which the group claimed the movement came up with.  these demands are completely in the bourgeosi terrain, including stopping campaign financing, one-payer health care, tax the rich.......and posing july 4th as the date for their national conference at which they want to send two delgates for each US district and launch the possibility of a third party.   the article was very detailed about these demands etc.  Then i dug out the minutes af the GA prior to the publication of these article, in which it becomes clear that this decision was NEVER mandated by the GA and where the GA took pains at making it absolutely clear that they totally distanced themselves from this working group, and again denounced the group for violating the GA and the way in which it works.  one person was very articulate at expressing the idea of how the formulation of such demands places the movement directly in the hands of political organizations that they do not want to be a part of.  so, there is resistance against these manipulators, and as long as these incidents persist, the life of the GA is still breathing.  i think it is of the greatest importance that revolutionaries intervene.  an idea would be to even print the translation made by JK1921, or in any case speak up at teh GA, it is possible to talk, and intervene in the sense of the defense of the GA, even by giving the examples of what you know of the manipulations and attempts to co-opt the movemnt, and the importance to maintain the integrity and autonomy of the GA.  i want to speak to the effect og reaching out, radiating out of zuccotti park.  we need to keep watching what is going on.  it dependes on what echo this is going to have world-wide too, the momentumn, and how the class struggles develops in the US, and also the very importance experience the movement is going through.  could it be that it can radicalize itself?  could it be that we can even animate the work in some working groups?  or in discussion groups to follow? i have tried to reach out to other people in my area (NYC)...it's very very difficult to intervene solo.  if anyone wants to come with me to the GA or other events here, there is the personal message feature here, you can email there, if you do not feel you can do it here.....thank you all for all you are doing already.  even these discussions, they ar egreat!

Pierre
Wassup cdes,I'd like to

Wassup cdes,

I'd like to start this post off by saying I love the "OWS: Capitalism is the enemy" article that the cdes have done so well. It really provides lots of clarification over the nature/possible direction of this movement.

That being said, here in Greensboro, the GA still exerts power over the working groups. This is largely due to the socialist/communist/"internationalist" anarchist presence in my group. Decentralized action and discussion does take place, however all major actions/decisions have come up at the GA first, and many have been shot down. On Tuesday we just voted in favor of installing two facilitators for each working group, which have to report back to the GA every meeting, as well as contact the other groups regularly. They are completely recallable and can remain in this position for up to two weeks.

From what I can tell, there is an element of this in New York. I have also read the "99 declaration", and I think it amounts to that working groups over stepping its bounds when it went public with the website/other documents. I can already tell that there is a strong opposition to many of the ideas expressed in the declaration being that they are largely on the "bourgeois rhetorical terrain". We'll have to wait and see how the GA addresses this. However, if strong working class demands could replace the declaration, then I think that the idea of a National assembly of delegates would be amazing. We would also need an international one as well. Just some thoughts..

- []D[]D* 

zimmerwald1915
@ PP re: national/international assembly

I would be very cautious about trying to launch the demand for a national or an international assembly at this time.  The assemblies we've got now are, as this thread has demonstrated, a highly mixed bag, and even the most advanced ones still have quite a long way to go in terms of the question of power and even in terms of connecting organically with the working class.  Convening a national or international assembly seems like a great way to erode the progress that has been made in various centers.  It would also provide a great inroad for leftist co-option or derailment, by providing a center in which they could work, and because who else would realistically end up being chosen as delegates to this hypthetical construction?

KT
Railworkers

Brifefly:

Agree with PP: Excellent article - it situates the OWS in its global and historic context, explaining its importance and its very real weaknesses.

Agree with K: while there is resistance in the NY GA, there's still some life in it.

PP's latest post also shows the heterogeneity of the movement in the US - as well as the importance of revolutionary intervention into it, where possible. However, also agree with Z about the proposed national assembly: in addition to the points made above, it's like it wants to freeze the situation 'as is' until next year.

Finally, saw this link on Libcom about Obama scuttling railroad strikes: might be useful info to a) have a possible focus for extension of the movement to the wc and b) combat those tendencies who want to make the OWS an adjunct of the Democrat's machinery.

http://www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/12079/obama_blocks_railroad_strike_as_occupy_wall_street_protest_rage/ 

Beltov
What is a General Assembly?

The ICC republished an answer to this question by the CNT/AIT in France summer 2010, when the GAs were in full flow. Here it is. Maybe it could be distributed and discussed throughout the GAs in the US? While it stresses that the GA is sovereign, it doesn't deal with the threat of working-groups and committees being unaccountable to the GA, but this was a common problem in France too.

Introduction (ICC)

General Assemblies (GA) are the lifeblood of the struggle. This is where workers (from the private and public sectors, the unemployed, pensioners, students, children of working families etc.) can really take ownership of their struggles, decide collectively. This is the true place of workers' democracy. By being open to all, not limited by corporatism, the GA unites the various sectors of our class. It’s the place where the life of the struggle can be built and the struggles extended.

This is why unions concentrate all their efforts to sabotage them! The text below, produced by the CNT-AIT Gers ( http://sia32.lautre.net ) explains succinctly what a truly autonomous GA in the hands of strikers must be, and details the various pitfalls to guard against.

What is a general assembly? (Text of the CNT AIT, Gers)

Definition

We call a general assembly the regular meeting, democratic and sovereign, of workers, regrouped as and when, without criteria, which can be varied (those belonging to a union, a confederation of unions, a social movement). At no point should these workers be prevented from being delegates: the principle of the GA is the vote by head count.

Typology

There are several types of GA:
•    The GA of a single union
•    The combined GA of several unions
•    The GA of workers on strike

Moreover, it can be limited to a single profession or be ‘inter-professional’. [Regrouping those from many professions – trans.]

Functioning of the GA

•    The GA is democratic, and therefore guarantees each a turn to speak, shared equally in terms of duration and discussion topics. This is guaranteed by a mandate given to the moderator.
•     Speeches must also be consistent with an agenda, agreed at the beginning of the meeting, which does not include various decision points.
•    The GA is sovereign, and decisions are made by a show of hands, without any overturning of decisions, according to the agenda.
•     The GA meets regularly and keeps a record of its debates and decisions. The record is kept by a secretary appointed early in the meeting, who ensures the debates and decisions of the GA are made public. The GA gives the date and place of the next GA.

Threats to the GA

•    Monopolisation of debate: The GA becomes un-democratic. The classic case is the shop-steward who takes the role of moderator, participates in discussions or responds systematically giving their opinions. A variation on this is a participant in the room who monopolises the floor or speaks too often.
•    The handling of the debate: The agenda is not respected. When the debate is moving precisely towards direct action, or a motion to renew the strike, the agenda is changed in order to blur the clarity of discussion, and to confuse the whole point of a GA, which is to answer the question "What and how?"
•    Lack of democracy within the GA: the vote is not respected. Violating the agenda, votes are taken several times on decisions already made. Often, manipulation occurs at the end of the meeting, to destroy its coherence and audacity.
•    Neutralisation of the GA: there is no alternative to a GA, however rich. Often, a GA of striking workers is treated as a safety-valve for their anger, neutralising their revolt, transforming their militancy into a sterile talking-shop. Be on guard! In a GA, we have all the tools at hand to see if they are being monopolised, manipulated, and neutralised. In all cases, failure to denounce the above threats will undermine our activity, our words, and our decisions: in short, our very reason to go on strike!

"The emancipation of the workers will be the task of the workers themselves"

SIA 32 (Member of the CNT-AIT).
 

Beltov
Lessons of the struggles in France and Spain

While I'm at it, here are the collections of articles we wrote on the struggles in France (2006, 2009), Greece (2009) and Spain (2010/11). Lots of lessons in there too!

French Students Movement

Greece, Spain: The Rise of Workers' Assemblies

Special Report on the 15M movement in Spain

Beltov
ICC Public Meeting in NYC - Sat 29th October

Just a reminder that the ICC will be holding a public meeting in NYC this coming Saturday 29th October. Details here. I think the plan is to go down to Zuccotti Park afterwards to take part in the assembly. Comrades from out of town will be there too. It would be great if as many as possible could make it there too!

radicalchains
London

Might be able to get down to the London 'assemblies' in a week or so if they are still going. They obviously are not on the scale of the US or of the same level (yet). But worth a look as I might be in London at that time. They might also coincide with some strike action and other protest which will be taking place at that time, perhaps that could help develop them?

Red Hughs
Lots of stuff happening

Lots of stuff happening within the Occupations Movements nation-wide.

The various Occupations have had considerable divergence in their politics. Most would probably be some version of bourgeois democratic but the debate continuous

Occupy Oakland, here on the West Coast, has been essentially the most radical Occupation in the country. It was two week camp-out with politics that were primarily explicitly anti-capitalist, refusing any dealings with politicians what-so-ever - telling moveon.org to ... move on, etc.

The camp was violently expelled by the Oakland Police yesterday evenning (Monday) and an intense effort to retake the park is continuing as I write this.

However limited such things are compared to what's necessary, they are inspiring compared to the usual nothing that happens even the San Francisco Bay Area.

Just thought I'd mention this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jk1921
It seems like the state has

It seems like the state has had enough of this. There appears to be a coordinated move towards repression, at least outside of New York. Oakland, Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinatti have all come under some form of police attack in the last several days.

Zimmerwarld, do you have any details on what is happening in B-more?

zimmerwald1915
Some details

Here's the story as far as I know it.  At first, the occupiers had moved in without permit or permission, and only within the last couple of weeks had they asked for a permit.  This was actually the subject of a rather stormy debate in the GA over multiple meetings.  The gist of the debate was that some people believed the city would use the application process to deny the permit request, and use that denial as a pretext for kicking the occupiers out, while other people believed that the occupation was precarious anyway without a permit.  The decision to ask for a permit was made in the context of the city's shearing away about half of McKeldin Square for the use of the Baltimore Marathon and the threats in NYC, Baltimore, and other cities that occupiers would be evicted on the grounds of "uncleanliness".  The permit request was just recently denied by the city, and it is using this denial, and coordinating with the other cities you listed, jk, to justify police repression.

kollwitz
icc will talk at the ows in nyc

hello everybody

after talking with a number of 'organizers' we were finally able to get the trust needed to have a talk advertised in the ows's website.  funny how they get all sorts of speakers to talk at the open forums--some of whom actually pretty good, but also stuff like credit unions, and even the very guys that behind the GA's back went ahead and gave the NYT and huffington post a list of reformist demands claiming it represented the movement-- but it was quite laborious to get a time and place for us.  i think this is a measure of the inexperience of this movement, which makes it very easy for academicians, intellectuals, activists to take root in it and monopolize the how-to and know-how.  quite frankly, it is also the result of a very weak presence of left communist forces here.  it is also the result of this obsession with the occupation and the organization of the occupation, which is leaving the most sincere and dedicated completely exhausted without having a chance to really discuss and deepen on any issue.  this only reinforces the practice of isolation and weakens the potential for opening up and, obviously, expansion.  after all, if the aims of an action are not clear to you, someone else eventually will fill that vacuum.  

i am also thinking in terms of our intervention here, what we could have done, if we could have done better, collectively, as a small group of people who sympathize with icc positions, what could we have done, and what could we still do, to really contribute to this extremely difficult process of clarification?  what is anybody's take?

anyway, here's the ad.  who knows if someone is in the area and could come?  as beltov reminded us, we are also holding an icc public forum this saturday.  take care, everyone

Oct 28
20115:00pm - 6:30pm

60 Wall Street

"The Atrium"
Education and Empowerment

How the Occupying movement in the US contributes to the movement in other countries and vice-cersa

 

kollwitz
icc talk at ows in nyc

we will hold an open forum on friday, october 28th from 5:00pm to 6:30pm at the 'atrium' at 60 wall street in manhattan.  this event is sponsored by the empowerment and education working group at OWS, with whom we talked and who, after listening to our proposal for a forum on how the international context of the moevement can help to strengthen it, decided that they liked the topic and helped us find the place and time to present it.  this seems to point to the continued existence within the movement of a desire to listen and open up, to strengthen ties of solidarity and establish channels that favor the exchange of ideas and communication.  the movement does have such potential, but it is also at risk of being overwhelmed by the straight jacket imposed by organizers and activists, who rather lean toward academicians, intellectuals, activists to be invited to speak.  where does this 'preference' come from?  how is it that the healthy reluctance against top-down political parties and organizations pushes the movement toward other kinds of dead-ends, rather than toward revolutionary and left-communist ideas?  would the situation be different if left communists and revolutionaries were more present with interventions toward this movement?  i have often thought about how the very little forces we have here could come together to form a centralized way to intervene in the movement with one voice that can have an echo in it because it is able to speak to the universal concerns of the movement.  i think that it is always necessary to make   a balance sheet of a movement as it develops, in order to understand it more deeeply and thus be able to have an echo in it.  how do cdes feel about trying to make a collective assessment?  how do cdes feel about discussing what kinds of interventions we can individually make (individually unfortunately because we are so spread apart geographically) that nonetheless speak with one voice?  like a proposal for a specific topic of discussion at a forum?  a proposal for the formation of a discussion group (as opposed to a working group)/?  would anyone be interested? 

Crisanto
How to make workers get actively involve?

I'm closely reading discussions here in our forum as well as in Facebook about occupation. What I observe is in the assemblies there are no discussions about going to the workplaces where workers are working to convince them to participate in the struggle in whatever way but in a very effective way to show solidarity at the minimum and to "lead" the struggle at the maximum. Yes there are workers visiting/participating the occupation initiated by the unions as "show of solidarity" but mainly as an atomized individual, as "citizen", not as a class.

The detailed reports of some comrades in the ground did not also mention that there are discussions in the assemblies about HOW TO MAKE THE WORKERS AS A CLASS GET ACTIVELY INVOLVE IN THE STRUGGLE OR COORDINATE THE OCCUPY MOVEMENTS TO THE WORKERS STRUGGLES IN THEIR WORKPLACES. This is only my observation.

If my observation is correct then why there are no discussions in the assemblies like that: HOW WORKERS ACTIVELY INVOLVE IN THE STRUGGLE?

Crisanto
Oakland General Strike?

Could comrades in the USA give more information on this? As I monitored in other forums the decision for a 'General Strike' comes from the General Assembly. Is this just a leftist propaganda? Is there a possibility that this could materialize? What are the opinions of the comrades on this?

KT
Solidarity

 The news (from Kollwitz, Oct 27) of the ICC Open Forum later today (on Wall Street, no less!) is exciting and challenging. It’s a reflection, as she writes, of the movement’s still-existing openness to broaden its horizons, to affirm in however small a way, its international dimension. It’s also testimony to the work of revolutionary minorities – despite their small numbers and geographical dispersion (not to mention the weaknesses of centralization, more of which perhaps later). This revolutionary influence can also be seen in PP’s post (October 20) in which the cmrd writes: “That being said, here in Greensboro, the GA still exerts power over the working groups. This is largely due to the socialist/communist/"internationalist" anarchist presence in my group.”

We know the movement is heterogeneous, which makes it difficult (for me, at any rate, writing thousands of miles away) to answer Kollowitz’s call to contribute to an interim balance sheet of the movement and its fundamental concerns in order to find a further echo within it with precise interventions.

It seems to me that the original concerns of the movement remain:  the abysmal state of the vast majority of the population faced with a rapidly deteriorating economic situation and absence of any perspective, coupled with a will to protest this state of affairs and, somehow, to change it. Through the creation of its GA’s, the movement has given itself the means to begin both to understand and to act. It is evidently experiencing immense difficulties to accomplish either effectively.   Perhaps Marx’s words: “...we shall simply show the world why it is struggling, and consciousness of this is a thing it must acquire whether it wishes or not” are pertinent to this situation. In general, our interventions must surely address the realities of the economic crisis and dispel the myths and false solutions (greed; tax the rich, small state v big state, ‘fair’ distribution, etc etc). They must address the importance of what’s already been achieved (the GAs and occupations) as well as the distance yet to be travelled (the movement, or a significant minority within it, must ‘acquire a consciousness’ of what has brought it into being). In short, the seeds of growing class solidarity and politicization must be sown. How concretely to accomplish these generalities (apart from stressing the sovereignty of the assemblies and the need for extension) may well depend on the concrete evolution of particular centres.<p>   From a distance (and in response to Internasyonalista, above), it appears that the movement in Oakland has been radicalised by the state repression of Tuesday (the clearing/retaking of the camp; the violence meted out to the 24-year old ex-serviceman, etc) and the call to extend the movement via a General Strike in the area is a genuine class response to this. No doubt the leftists are deeply embedded in there with their visions of how to and who should ‘organise’ this strike, its extent, duration and aims, etc. We should expect nothing less. Nonetheless, here is a push to widen out the movement to the class as a whole and I think it is significant and should be welcomed.<p>  An apology if this is all ‘teaching the comrades to suck eggs’, just general waffle. Hopefully others will contribute through various channels. In all events, salutations to the comrades on the ground and good luck tonight and tomorrow in NY and elsewhere.     A sympathiser in GB

kollwitz
general strike

hello there.  we will soon come out with something in writing about the overall balance sheet of the occupation movement in the US as it draws to an end ---meaning, when the life of it will be mostly or all taken out, as the shell of the occupation may continue for a while still--.  the issue of police repression in oakland, i think should be looked at in terms of a comparison with what happened in nyc when pepper spray was first used and the video of this was all over u-tube, with great public outcry, showing the police and city administartion they had made a mistake and needed to be more cautious.  if the cops become so bold now is because they assess the movement has not been able to draw the masses not even to the point where there is a risk of people coming out in support of the demonstartors.  i believe they  have correctly assessed that this movement is not strong enough to do so.  hence, the repression, and its use as warning for the rest of the occupations.  i think that the announcement for a general strike should be understood in a similar light:  this is  a weak movement not by the wroking class, it's a protest movement, which has from the beginnig showed a lot of weaknesses and difficulties, even though it is a movement with which we sympathize because of the well founded grievances and the aspirations it has had, and the fact that they are the result of the deepening of the crisis and the international response that these non-exploiting strata have been given so far (in the US, though much weaker than elsewhere, less politicized, more open to activism and reformism, not per se, but because of a refusal to polarize, a lack of experience, a 'fortress' mentality obsessed with 'occupyin' etc etc).  its weaknesses also expose it to the unions.  if a general strike is being announced, you can be sure the unions are already behind it.  it is not a sign of a positive develoepment or politicization of the movement.  my two-pence....

may
occupy london

Last Sat I went to Occupy in London. After checking the events calendar online I chose to go to ‘Partizan system and direct democracy - May 15 Movement’ at 5pm and the 7 pm general assembly. On the way I visited Finsbury Square where I spoke to 2 young women, one unemployed and one working. One of them described their reasons for being there as being at some level unhappy with the current state of things. We talked a little on the crisis and attacks.

The meeting was at St Pauls, but before I found it I went to the Cathedral steps where there was someone going on about Paul Robeson visiting it 50 years ago and singing. There had apparently been religious speakers all afternoon. On the TV news later I heard that this had been some kind of ‘multi-faith service’.

I eventually found the meeting, rather late, in the University Tent where there was a discussion on democracy where people were saying that they don’t really have democracy in Spain as it is all party lists in proportional representation with no voting for an individual MP, and the parties are paid for by the state, which some of them felt was all a hangover from the dictatorship under Franco. In this meeting the politicians were pretty much to blame for everything. There were some dissenting voices which tried to raise the question of the economy, to point out that democracy in the UK isn’t any better. One thought that tinkering with the system of voting for parliaments was the way to try and take the assembly experience to a wider level.

I was able to speak a couple of time saying that the way politicians behave is not caused by the Spanish, UK or any other voting system but the fact they are defending capitalism; supporting points on the role of the crisis – which is not just down to the bankers. I had hoped to hear more about the assemblies, and gave a list of historical experiences including workers’ councils. Although there was some handwaving of approval to some of what I said, the overall discussion went back to looking for ways to perfect bourgeois democracy.

At 7 they have an assembly at each occupation site. I decided to go to Finsbury Square where the assembly started late as everyone was eating and milling around. Several of the people I spoke to had arrived very recently – that day or only a few days ago – and some come from various parts of the country. Others just came for a few hours a day, including the GA. There were about 30-40 people. It began with reports back from the working groups: the ‘process’ group would welcome suggestions for meetings or event; the direct action group announced the zombie bankers event on Monday; they asked for volunteers for various tasks. A homeless participant has been asked what the occupation can do for the homeless – so a working group was set up with a volunteer with knowledge of housing law, with someone muttering that local authorities never fulfil their legal obligations on this.

The main discussion was on what they would do when St Pauls is evicted. A few points were made and then the GA broke up into 4 groups to discuss and report back. They were very concerned about how this would be reported in the media and looking at passive resistance as well as finding alternative occupation sites. I suggested they would be better talking to electricians who have protest meetings about the proposed pay cut only a short walk away at Blackfriars, and later someone else suggested the aim was not to keep the occupation but change the system. However, the conflict with the Church and the likelihood of eviction is undermining whatever tendency there is for reflection as well as encouraging the tendency to make the occupations a point of fixation.

may
sorry

Sorry about the formatting rubbish at the start - I don't know how to get rid of it.

zimmerwald1915
rubbish formatting

I tried quoting your post and the rubbish formatting isn't actually part of the text.  Not really sure what that implies.  However, it's not as though it's breaking up words or paragraphs, and can easily be ignored.

ernie
Oakland general strike

Do any comrades have any information on how the Oakland general strike went?

Alf
today's Guardian

 

Today's Guardian has a short piece, but it would be very good to hear from comrades on the west coast

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/02/occupy-oakland-rallies-march-protest?newsfeed=true

ernie
20.000 march on Port

 The Occupy Oakland website www.occupyoakland.org/ has a brief report on events:

"Huge, enthusiastic, crowds swarmed through downtown Oakland with half a dozen major marches on banks and corporations that shut down Wells Fargo, Chase, Citibank, Bank of America and many others.  Police stayed clear of the strikers who ranged freely, from Broadway to Grand Avenue and around the Lake.  By late afternoon the crowds had swelled to over 10,000.  Waves of feeder marches continued to pour into the Oscar Grant Plaza, including 800 children, parents, and teachers  who had gathered at the Oakland Main Library.

The evening march to the Port stretched from downtown to the freeway overcrossing in West Oakland and thousands more protestors kept arriving as the third convergence of the day reached its peak.  Over 20,000 people joined the march which made its way to the main entrance of the port and shut it down completely.  Port officials confirmed that the workforce was sent home.

 

 

 

 

 

soyonstout
On Oakland

From reading the various posts on libcom, it seems to me that a rather inspiring burst of working class energy was thrown into the mix in the general strike, despite the movement even in oakland trapped in moralism, leftism, and premature confrontation.  There were reports of at least one flying picket, but there is still a heavy weight of wanting to express outrage symbolicaly.  For workers who weren't in any of the businesses that got smashed, I would assume this may have a confidence-boosting effect, but it's still so hard to say at this point.  It seems that these kinds of confused actions are going to happen especially at this early stage of the revival of class struggle--it will be interesting to see how trends in strike action move this winter and spring here in the states.  What are other comrades impressions of the Oakland events?

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