From:   Doug Singsen <>
Sent time:   Saturday, October 22, 2011 8:19:29 AM
Subject:   Re: [september17discuss] To Adbusters and others - The People Won't be Co-opted (even by "allies")

I agree with all of that, except for the bit about no one having "the right to define the movement." I don't really know what this means. No one person has the power to define a movement, so this isn't something that it's even possible for a person to do, much less have a right to.

On Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 10:09 AM, Richard Machado <> wrote:

Working groups can talk about demands if they so wish, and neither do they have to be all inclusive. But it is also true that working groups don't represent anyone but the people in those groups and sometimes not even that. The demands that would come out are completely in-line with our principles of autonomy, as long as we understand that such a working group does NOT represent us as a whole, because I sure as hell know that only I represent myself. So the real media push should be to let everyone understand that NO ONE person speaks for us all, NEITHER does ONE or MANY groups, NOR do they have the power to guide or direct anyone but THEMSELVES, and they especially DO NOT have the power, NOR the right (duh) to define the movement, other than THEIR OWN OPINIONS. Just like everyone and thing else, including the GA.

A piece I wrote in response to this similar issue:

The Culture of Democracy

In my very humble opinion,


Our general assemblies should have no, nor ever elect, ANY fucking "delegates," "chair people" or any other such forms concentrated power over the people. Sorry, but I block! In case you haven't noticed, the further you push the power away from the mass of the People for their discretion, for the ways of concentrated power and its discretion, the closer we tend towards corruption and misrepresentation. "For when you allow yourself to be represented, you allow yourself to be replaced." And I can tell you all right now: I will NOT be replaced! I have a very loud voice and I can and will use it to speak for myself and only myself, and if you, the People, shall relinquish your voices to another then you'll all deserve the disenfranchisement that we are sure to re-inherit from the politics that exist outside of our squares, and we will see along with it the destruction of our culture of popular participation in the community governance that has come to us because of our system of both horizontal organization & decision-making. The reason behind this is that the People will only ever feel a need to be involved if they also feel that they can personally make a difference in or inspire some form of impact on the world in which they live. For this fact, representatives make us, more heinously than anything else, complacent and then apathetic, because of the helplessness of expecting to be represented but then being ignored, unheard and disregarded by the very governmental system that we entrusted our entire civilization to. The crushing reality of our society's death-spiral is borne from that very system of "representative" democracy. Direct democracy, in response, with no singular authorities or leaders, would be the best way inspire the People to participate once again in their lives and in the activity making the future of our People, as a People, because they will have a direct role in shaping that future; but direct democracy will also serve to break the pervasive effects of corporate money which corrupts such "representative" governments, character assassinations which diverts the perceptions of the people by deriding its symbols of hope, assassinations which EXTINGUISH the peoples' hope by killing their such symbols, and apathetic society which is a byproduct of these things but which also horribly leads to the very reason why our people no longer feel the need to actively participate in creating the cultures & communities of our society.


This self-destroying cycle is refueled in this way because it is the inherit belief of "representative" democracy that someone else will do the job that needs doing for you or for us. The systemic failure of this such system is a Cancer on the heart of our society itself, and on the heart of the People themselves, because the heart of the People is community, and such a governmental system destroys the foundations of communities−which are people actively coming together in the common enjoyment of life and in the common defense thereof. And as with the heart, so does the life-blood of the People become sick and weak from this Cancer, and that which is sick and weak out there is the collective culture that the People should be creating within their active communities but are not. Therefore the stagnant momentum of humanity as a whole is to be blamed on that system, which encourages the People to allow themselves to be represented not only in government, but in life; the yielding progress of humanity is also to be blamed in this way on that system for leading the People into the assumption that they will always be represented; and, it is finally to be blamed on that sort of government, but also, and most disruptively & most disgustingly, on the People for NOT rising up to represent THEMSELVES when the decisions that are being made aren't, nor have they been, in the best interest of all the People, as the whole, but instead are very clearly only being made, and have only been made, for the good of those select few who are the most privileged among us, those few who hold the most power over us, and those few whose only purpose is to provide benefit to themselves at the EXPENSE of another being or the whole of the People, by them experiencing a traceable pain to such decisions, intentional or otherwise.


That Cancer of complacent democracy must be stopped. And what we are building out here on our streets and squares, together, is the start of that amazing journey that we are all about to take. Because, even with the state of affairs outside of our squares being what it is, something very interesting is happening. It's happening because we are beginning to realize ourselves as The People−as a force−as THE force. The Peoples' perception of their power and of their potential when they know that they are Humanity, that Humanity is a species, that Humanity is OUR species. We begin to realize that the thing that defines us better than any other thing, this thing called humanity−the thing that is us−can ultimately be defined by US. We awaken to the fact that by changing ourselves into what we want to be, we change the whole of Humanity. We realize that we can occupy OURSELVES, and guide ourselves, and change ourselves! We realize that our future is determined by the collective decisions made by individuals just like us, and the way in which we define ourselves has everything to do with the choices the People have made and are making now. Reality dawns on the phrase WE are the People, we ARE Humanity. And if we can change ourselves, then we can also change that definition of humanity as it exists−the culmination of all the ills that befall us−to instead, something more beautiful, and something more like the thing we WISH we could be.


We are starting to realize that we CAN wish, but that we can also just as easily DO. We are understanding now that none of us are cattle to be towed and hauled to the slaughter at the whim of the ones wielding the red, hot branding sticks. We are the beings with the power of consciousness. We are the lucky assortments of dust from all the stars and galaxies our Universe has created in passed eons. We are the sons and daughters of the great God of existence. We are the People that rose from the dirt of worlds−WE are Humans. I couldn't be more proud of such a title, but it is known that I must change my ways so that I may be ordained a deserving being in my actions for the privilege into which I was born. This thing that is humanity, means everything to me. It means that species that embraces the principles by which it wishes to live, in order to be closer to that divinity it is forever in reverence of. And if those principles of Humanity are to be such things as the blessings of righteousness, equality & fairness, then these would hold the largest roles and define the largest chunks of what it is to be Human. Yes, WE are the Humans of Earth, but that could mean anything. Let it, within you, define what kind of infinitely diverse beings we can be, with our principles influencing our cultures and communities, so that they aren't just wishes for what could be, but so that they are actions that define what is. For it is true that if we don't grasp our destinies by the reins & steer for ourselves, we will continue to be the hopeless and helpless that defines us today. But if we all become the leaders that Humanity is destined to be made of, by traveling this path together, we'll instead provide for the wholeness and oneness for ourselves that life is forever seeking to obtain. All that we all have to do, all that we ever had to do to realize these greater truths is look inside, and change what it is that we see in there. And by result, what would be changed is in there, and then, what it is inside of us will be we see being done out here. Humanity! You know what you can be! Lead yourselves out of the darkness, using nothing but the goodness in your heart, and you'll find the answers to many of things that have been the hardest of mysteries. When it is that individuals believe that they could change themselves in a principled way, and then do so, the individuals will believe in changing Humanity, and so too that will change. And the People would never need hopelessness or helplessness again, because all that would ever be needed to change the world, would be right where The People could, would and always should have been able to get at... directly within themselves.


In my very humble opinion.

by Richard William Machado

On Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 9:44 AM, Doug Singsen <> wrote:
This is not a "distraction," it's a central question for the movement. If the GA doesn't want to pass demands, that's one thing, but it's ridiculous to denounce everyone who tries to raise demands in other forums for supposedly "speaking for the movement." What about the people who do want demands? Do they not have a right to speak for themselves? No one has railroaded the GA into anything. No one within OWS that I know of has claimed that any demands have been passed by the GA (what the media reports is another story). It's the anti-demands people who seem to feel that no one else has any right to raise demands.

On Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 9:34 AM, <> wrote:
Doug its even worse then this, because the people who wanted demands (i know this because i was once in the group) want to railroad over the people who are there Occupyings wishes. Which would be the worse possible thing that could happen. I thought they should all work together to find common ground so i tried to reach out to people down in the park so that they could know there was this tiny group who wanted demands and maybe then the demands people would change what they where saying. Instead every one didn’t get along and i got an article came out about demands with a picture of me (yesh) i don't even give a high wholly fuck about demands only the democratic process but mabye moving forward something will be came to. i donno I'm gonna go to talk to the filiations committee i think there needs to be a way to just change the subject and quick because this is an annoying distraction.  We should think about more important things then “demands”

-----Original Message-----
From: Doug Singsen <>
To: september17 <>
Sent: Sat, Oct 22, 2011 7:36 am
Subject: Re: [september17discuss] To Adbusters and others - The People Won't be Co-opted (even by "allies")

The NYCGA's decision not to have demands does not represent the views of everyone in the movement. The Occupy movement is being fueled by people's anger at how Wall Street destroyed the economy, costing people their jobs, their homes, and much more, and people want to fight for those things right now. There appears to me to be a divide between the hard core of the occupiers, who generally don't want demands and/or reforms, and the thousands (or millions) of people who support OWS without sleeping out, who generally do want demands and/or reforms. Both these groups are vital to the movement. Without the occupiers, there is no occupation, but without the outside supporters, the occupation is just a small, isolated island. The GA basically belongs to the occupiers - they're the only ones who can afford to attend it regularly. So the GA has no demands because it represents their viewpoint. But it's unfair for them to use the GA to impose their opposition to demands on everyone who identifies with the Occupy movement. It's also going to be impossible for them to do that, and if they insist on attacking everyone who tries to raise demands for trying to "co-opt" the movement or speak in its name, they are going to create a schism.


On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 10:00 PM, Guy Steward &lt;; wrote:
I think for any group or groups to take credit for planning this is  ludacris. At the first meeting at bowling green we made it very clear that we were the nycga for the people made up of the people. An that we were completely autonomous from any other group. No matter what group people came with we all left part of the nycga an that is who is responsible for OWS 

Sent from my iPhone

On Oct 21, 2011, at 6:19 PM, "Lucas Vazquez" &lt;; wrote:

+1 shaista

On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 5:51 PM, shaista husain &lt;; wrote:
sorry adbusters, the Bloombergville folks, the CUNY students against Budget Cuts and the El Barrio folks were some of the main groups that have long roots in this city (and i apologize if i am not mentioning others here) that organized this occupation through long history, before Sept 17... you send one dumb ballerina image from canada --which is not even representative image of our diversity--and your fantasies are out of control now....

On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 5:46 PM, Liliana Gomez &lt;; wrote:
What you say is true and I agree, however just because this occupation exists, that came into being on Sept 17, does not mean that there have not been people organizing and mobilizing around various issues and demands prior to OWS, and those people are not obligated to either drop their demands or not join OWS.  They or we simply cannot private or publicly imply or state that our demands are the demands of OWS, they are simply our own...


On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 5:27 PM,  &lt;; wrote:
Hey this is David Haack for the record I'm not for demands I just happend to be at a demands working group. I haven't written any documents and I really think Demands would be a mistake at this point. Please let every one know I really am not even for demands

- Dave

-----Original Message-----
From: Alexandre Machado De Sant'Anna Carvalho &lt;;
To: september17 &lt;;
Sent: Fri, Oct 21, 2011 5:24 pm
Subject: [september17discuss] To Adbusters and others - The People Won't be Co-opted (even by "allies")

Fellow occupiers:
I am reading everywhere a move towards demands being pushed virtually and in the larger media. What was disturbing for me was a piece claiming a RobinHood Tax part of OWS.
Even though i appreciate the role Adbusters and others have played in launching the meme of #occupywallst out there, i would like to remind them that this movement does not belong to them, does not belong to the NYCGA : this movement belongs to the people. And this means that ANY attempt to speak for the people is pernicious - no matter if you threw the meme out there or just joined. It is a matter of legitimacy. Each occupation, through its collective voice, speak (in theory) for its members. In parenthesis because we don't even have yet the capacity to make sure this happens in the first place. We are vulnerable as a political body and to use that vulnerability to push for your agenda is a fatal flaw that goes against everything we are doing.   
We are still building capacity to make sure all voices are heard and participate, and disturbs me to see some groups either infiltrating the NYCGA or virtually producing a list of rushed demands without any critical thinking about what this entails, saying "fuck you" to the people who are holding ground on this cold weather. Unacceptable.  
What destroys a leaderless movement is ego, either individual or organizational egos; so far a lot of ego's out there, either virtually or on the ground. Trying to mass maneuver people is NOT ok. If you insist on this, you are no better than the forces we are fighting against.
The people won't be mass maneuvered to push your demands before we build a space where we can legitimately, discuss, deliberate, zero-in, build solidarity, and then march together at specific tactical positions to clog the machine and make power bend. We are building a broad-based movement here. In case you haven't noticed. Demands, as everything else in this movement, comes from the bottom-up, from the occupations up, where voices can be heard virtually and geographically, if you care to participate in the process.  
If other occupations have demands, good for them. But i sincerely doubt that we are ready as of yet to have a global demand such as a RobinHoodTax, for the mere fact we aren't even in full connection with all other sites, and for sure are not having a global conversation on this proposal.  
Co-option can come from the outside and from within, but the worst ones come from "allies" - from within. Speak WITH the people, and not FOR the people.


Alexandre M.S. Carvalho, M.D., MPH
2009 Reynolds Fellow   
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