From:   Snafu <snafu@thething.it>
Sent time:   Saturday, October 29, 2011 11:12:43 AM
To:   september17@googlegroups.com
Subject:   Re: [september17discuss] Structure Proposal GA Tonight
 

Rob, my objection was specific to your point that only organizations within a social movement would be able to advance demands. Occupy Albany brings together several organizations and groups that have agreed upon demanding the extension of the millionaire tax. I don't see why this cannot happen in NYC and why this could not happen on a national level. For instance, the student campaign for tuition zero and canceling the student debt could be taken up as a national and possibly global demand of the Occupy Movement.

If you don't make an active effort to articulate demands the movement will die out of boredom--there is a limit to how long you can go on by listening to individual grievances. When you come to a collective agreement on a demand, the next step is how to undertake concrete actions to build up pressure. Read the article posted by Doug on Lessons from the General Assemblies in Spain and Greece. Here is the final part:


"After a time, many asked, why should I stay and listen to boring talks? Why should I be hugely uncomfortable and cut off from family and work, if I have nothing to do that is constructive, nothing that is empowering, nothing that furthers worthy aims? And so people started to attend less, and then to leave.

Another factor that was initially exciting but later became tedious, was seeking consensus. At first it was novel. It implied trust, which felt good. It implied shared intentions, which felt inspiring. But after awhile, seeking consensus became tortured, a time waster, and its reason for being the only decision making approach became steadily less compelling. 

Why can’t we arrive at decisions which some people do not like and don’t even want to participate in? Why can’t we arrive at decisions, and have a strong minority that dissents, and then respect that minority, and even have it pursue other possibilities to see their worth? Why do we allow some small group to cause discussions to continue without end, turning off many from relating when the small group has no legitimate claim to greater influence than anyone else - save that our mode of decision making gives them a veto? 

Folks recounted all these dynamics very graphically and movingly. No one said that people stopped participating in assemblies because of fear or the cops or depression over the newspapers. No one said people left because they had developed doubts about protest or resistance, much less about the condition of society. Instead, everyone I spoke with, and it was a lot of very committed people, told me participants left due to lacking good reasons to stay. The bottom line was that the assemblies got tedious and, ironically, even disempowering. Folks wondered, why must I be here every day and every night? The thought nagged. It led to legions moving on.






On 10/28/11 5:07 PM, rob hollander wrote:
Snafu -- that's not a demand of a social movement. That's a local group's demand that perhaps other groups can support as well. A social movement isn't capable of making such specific demands. Only groups within it are capable of it.

Liberty Plaza groups can also issue demands. The problem for OWS is that the GA is at the fulcrum of the entire Occupy movement, so it is identified with the entire movement. I think it should remain at the fulcrum as its spirit. If there's a need for specific demands, I hope they will come through interest groups with perhaps some more or less closely defined relationship with the OWSGA. And I'd hope that those groups would move forward quickly and effectively.

A social movement can only make the broadest of demands, like abolitionism demanding the end of slavery. OWS already has that: oust corporate control of gov't.



On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 4:34 PM, Snafu <snafu@thething.it> wrote:
I disagree, a movement can totally issue demands as a whole and reach a very broad consensus on numerous issues. Yesterday, Occupy Albany has demanded that Cuomo (aptly nicknamed "Governor 1%") extends the millionaire tax into next year:

http://online.wsj.com/article/APc1d4eb5a0e5443f2b58d43ca029952da.html

It is only the NYCGA that lives under the powerful hallucinatory drug that issuing demands would be divisive and therefore to avoid at any cost. The only activists that can possibly disagree with the request of extending a tax on the wealthy are Ron Paul-ites (perhaps not even). But am I going to miss anyone who decides to leave the movement because of such request? Hell no!
 

On 10/28/11 3:09 PM, rob hollander wrote:
I'm agreeing with that, Doug. That is consistent with what I'm suggesting.

The question I'm raising is whether the movement can issue demands, or an organization within it can. I think it's self-evident that movements can't do that, only organizations or groups within it can.

So I'm just trying to distinguish between the social movement and any organizations within it. And I'm suggesting that it would be destructive to conflate the two. It will lead to division and possibly polarization (as we see in the Left, for example).

As for demands, I'd qualify something I said before: demands are not always limiting, they can be inspiring too. So I think some organizations or groups within the OWS movement should issue demands.



On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 2:48 PM, Doug Singsen <dougsingsen@gmail.com> wrote:
In basically every social movement that has ever happened, organizations have issued demands or statements, which some or all of the movement supports. No movement ever agrees on everything across the board, but that doesn't stop movements as a whole from moving forward. Discussing and formulating demands has always been one of the most politically important activities that movements do and one of the key parts of their evolution and development.

Doug


On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 2:35 PM, rob hollander <lesrrd@gmail.com> wrote:
Jackie --
I fully agree 100% that certain practical matters, like financing, should be dealt with by a structure. The GA should identify those practical needs -- like financing, the one you mention -- and limit the structure to those. Anything like goals, demands, character of the group, should be left out of a structure of that type.

JAM--
You are quite right that there is now an organizational element in OWS and a social movement element. What I'm suggesting is that a movement shouldn't, and probably can't, be led by the organizational element. The two, at some point, should be distinguished and recognized as distinct. Then the organization -- and there could be more than one, even many -- should move forward with means that are more efficient. But the GA ought to remain as it is to continue as the spirit of the social movement (imo).

In part I'm expressing my worry that a too decision-structured OWS will end up issuing a program. I think that will invite division -- splinters, internal criticism -- and external condemnation, and compel participants to waste effort defending the program, creating even more division.


On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 12:50 PM, Jackie DiSalvo <jdisalvo@nyc.rr.com> wrote:

Rob.

I love the GA, but I don’t know how many you have attended. I brought my women’s group last Friday, and after sitting through a 40 + minute discussion on what to pay to rent a truck, they were turned off and left saying they, very active women, could never afford to function that way. Not many of our hard working Labor Group members attend GAs as they are now. The analysis by the Spanish occupiers of why their GA, which was great in the early stages, eventually failed points to the same problems we have tried to address. They said boredom, disempowerment and dilemmas rising from the consensus method caused people to leave (see Doug Singsen’s post Thursday 9:40).  I think the new structure will make the GAs more participatory when it comes to important decisions.

 


From: september17@googlegroups.com [mailto:september17@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of rob hollander
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2011 12:24 PM
To: september17@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [september17discuss] Structure Proposal GA Tonight

 

The beauty of a GA is that anyone can speak. It affords an admittedly limited but yet fully equal enfranchisement and empowerment. So far, OWS, using a GA, has been successful, I venture to say, way beyond anyone's imagination. You are about to fix something that has empirically worked. If it is dysfunctional, do not assume that's a problem. Study OWS's success first before assuming it needs repair.

The purpose of a structure is to make decisions. That's assuming that OWS is an organization. Well, in August, it was: an organization designed to create a social movement.

It succeeded: OWS is now a social movement, not an organization. Social movements don't make decisions.

Organizations within a social movement make decisions for themselves. That's what OWS should allow to flourish. But to imagine that some structure should call itself OWS and make decisions for OWS is, well, to coopt the movement. This structure is a coopting of a social movement.

I find great wisdom in the GA. I find this spokes structure at best counterproductive, at worst, divisive, disempowering and a threat to the local effort.

Once a structure makes decisions easy, there will be too many decisions and many will be mistakes. Where OWS needs such quick practical decisions like financing, OWS ought to set up structure for those, but only for those.


On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 11:17 AM, Jon Good <therealjongood@gmail.com> wrote:

This is SUCH a better proposal than the one initially brought to the GA last week!

 

On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 11:06 AM, Marisa Holmes <marisaholmes@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi everyone!

I'm in the structure working group. 

For the last 3-4 weeks we've been meeting to discuss

the coordination and communication problems in OWS. 

The result is the following proposal:

http://www.nycga.net/spokes-council/

Tonight, we will be presenting at the GA. 

Please come.

We need this.

 

In solidarity, 

Marisa

 




--
Rob Hollander
Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development
http://savethelowereastside.blogspot.com/
622 E 11, #10
NYC, 10009
212-228-6152




--
Rob Hollander
Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development
http://savethelowereastside.blogspot.com/
622 E 11, #10
NYC, 10009
212-228-6152





--
Rob Hollander
Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development
http://savethelowereastside.blogspot.com/
622 E 11, #10
NYC, 10009
212-228-6152





--
Rob Hollander
Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development
http://savethelowereastside.blogspot.com/
622 E 11, #10
NYC, 10009
212-228-6152


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