Gso Day of Discussion: Some post-discussion reflections
I would like to thank everyone who came out and discussed together in such an open manner. As we discussed, too often these days working people like all of us are not given the opportunity to have discussions of such quality and subject matter. We hope that everyone enjoyed the presentation, as well as the rest of our input on the subjects. We surely enjoyed the time and would like to thank everyone for the diverse array of perspectives brought to the table. As always we would like to encourage further input on any of the subjects we touched upon. We encourage it and we hope to be able to meet in person to discuss again on a future date.
There were many things said which were of particular interest. On the subject of the Occupy movement, we briefly discussed its influences and predecessors worldwide. A few of us suggested that there were many elements which had agendas separate from the interests of the demonstrators involved with Occupy. But we also said that it was possible some of these elements may have had "genuine intentions." It was pointed out that the Occupy movement did not "come from out of nowhere." Some of us agreed we had been waiting for a very long time, often wondering "when is it going to happen."
We highlighted various obstacles we saw through our participation in the Occupy movement. We agreed that there were some differences in the movements in each particular country, but the demonstrations were there nonetheless. It was pointed out that many of the people attempting to "Occupy" had real life obligations, many times 2 or more jobs. One participant suggested the occupiers weren't prepared enough. She pointed out how in the beginning no one knew each other. The question was posed, "How can we have a part-time uprising?" What can we do to strive further? We mentioned that we had seen these social movements reach out to the working class explicitly many times, but questioned the deeper meaning of these events. Some examples of the more radical and focused actions of the US Occupy movement were given, such as the strikes events on the West Coast and examples of demonstrations made in solidarity with them.
It was of course also noted that part of Occupy was the defiance. It was the rejection of the state absorbing all aspects of civil life. It was about reclaiming the space. It was against fighting against our dehumanization.
In a broader scope, the discussion also touched upon various other issues. One friend said that "things are destined to get worse." And he then pointed to the fact that people are losing everything from their insurance to their houses. He pointed out how people were unfairly unemployed, and that we should never underestimate "the importance of community." Thats what our leaders are "most afraid" of happening. It was pointed out that democracy was really an "inverted totalitarianism", and that the Democrats are now merely the center right, and many elements of the GOP the far-right. We discussed how so much of the energy put into the Occupy movement is increasingly diverted into the electoral circus by politicians, non-profits, and so on. The mixed work and educational experience of people today was noted. One member of the discussion said she thought Americans were "not united enough", and that the consciousness was too uneven. We briefly discussed the changing nature of work, and also the mechanization of labor. The discussion touched on the subject of the loss of manufacturing in the US, outsourcing for cheap labor, low wages, and repression for worker action.
The discussion touched upon issues of surveillance and security by the state. Specifically violent manifestations of this, i.e. Drones used domestically, Heat-ray Dispersal Units used on protestors, etc. It was pointed out that the prison system in the US was disproportional compared to the rest of the world, and that there was much unfair detention and sentencing.
There was debate on the question of the role of the Unions. It was suggested they were "the only organization and tradition" of the American working class for the last 30 years. The question was posed, who else was fighting for the workers? However, others counterposed and suggested that Trade Unions had in fact become an obstacle to the revolutionary working class in the last 30 years. The role of unions in “Right to Work” states was put into question. What is the qualitative difference, if any, in the role of Unions in these States where laws discourage workers from uniting?
One participant shared her personal experience regarding three decades of being a union representative. She stated she genuinely and sincerely cared about the working class, and working people making social change--- yet she was penalized for it. She shared with us how she had been a member of quite a few unions, always motivated by real concern for her fellow workers. It was pointed out she had earned nothing to show after all these years and investment. She compared herself to associates in the field who put their personal interest before fellow workers. Why did they have a pension, and she not? Why were her “radical” ideas shunned and discouraged? Needless to say, the discussion was quite lively and passionate. There was much life experience to be shared from all sides of the fence on the issue.
Once again, it meant a lot for everyone to come out and contribute to what turned out to be a very productive discussion group. We of course highly encourage any more feedback from anyone who might have anything more to say on any of the issues highlighted in the above brief summary. And if there is interest, we would hope to get this think-tank together again.