GA Minutes – 7pm, Saturday 19 November 2011
Minutes Saturday 19 November 2011
Location: St Paul’s Steps
Event: Evening General Assembly of Occupy LSX
Date: Saturday 19 November
Welcome to everybody.
There are 17 occupies here, learning and sharing with us: lsle of Wight, Norwich, Leeds, Brighton, Glasgow, Peterborough, Cork, Bath, Bristol, and Portsmouth….
Facilitator: Working group information is in the Info Tent.
Reads out initial statement….
Welcome to new people…
Shoutout from Occupy Sheffield: Hello!
Shoutout from Economics group: We have produced initial statement, will be brought to GA next week.
Occupy Wall Street:
Hello, greeting and solidarity from Occupy Wall St. Celebrated 2 months. 30,000 people have occupied Wall St. Attacked by police in military style raid. They want Occupy Movement to be over. They are realising they are in a minority. The movement will continue. All across America, Europe, Africa, everybody. The 1% have ruled the world for far too long. Something has awoken in us, something that will go back to sleep. Closing schools, so going to go and occupy schools. Closing hospitals, so going to go and occupy hospitals. Inspired to be here. Solidarity from New York. Will bring message of solidarity back to Wall Street. Inspired by general strike on 30th November.
Facilitator: Update from working groups.
UBS Site: The Bank of Ideas, occupied former UBS building (four large buildings). Grand opening at 11.30 today. Speakers, occupy Portsmouth, Financial Times confetti. UBS building broke through on US social media. Big name speakers. Need help cleaning up. Tool, skills, furnishings. Volunteers welcome. Full programme of events, see http://bankofideas.org.uk for more information.
Outreach Working Group: National gathering of occupy network. Lots of groups, discussions, proposal for Winter Carnival. 11am Finsbury Sq.
Legal Working Group: Legal notice served on UBS building, proceedings will start soon.
Multifaith Working Group: Please don’t swear at anybody.
Volunteer Working Group: Volunteers are welcome to join in.
Facilitator: Jamie from Corporations Working Group will introduce his working group.
Jamie: Beyond the statements, there is lots of hard work going into running the camp. Kitchen, Tea Tent, Welfare, Health and Safety, etc. However, people are asking what are we saying. So we are also working on statements. Tonight the Corporations Working Group are proposing an initial statement on corporations.
Facilitator: We are seeking consensus. After we reach consensus we will break into discussions to come up with more proposals.
Jamie: Reads through statement in full….
[Insert full statement]
“Of the world’s largest economic entities, 51 are corporations and 49 are countries. Corporations and big business… … this has to change.”
Disagreement: Should be sources, so people can check it.
Response: Proposal to link statement to academic references.
Jamie: Looking for consensus… Consensus achieved.
[Insert paragraph 1]
Jamie: Paragraph 2. “Corporate lobbying subverts our democracy…”
Disagreement: Doesn’t go far enough. Please give examples. Should just ban lobbying.
Response: NGOs lobbying is okay.
Response: Suggest amendment to say: “At the bare minimum, legislation to ensure…” in place of “Legislation to ensure…”
Disagreement: Amendment sounds good.
Responder: Not going to get everything that everybody wants in every statement. Request for group to be open minded, please support statement that they agree with in general, even if they would have worded them slightly differently.
Facilitator: Any more disagreements? No. Consensus achieved.
[Insert paragraph 2]
Jamie: Paragraph 3. “Corporation deprive the public purse… Reform is required to ensure they pay tax that accurately reflects their real profits in each territory.”
Disagreement: Statement is not enough. We need a new system, not just changes to old system.
Disagreement: Statement is nice but too nice. Should be a new system.
Response: Occupy is trying to reflect general public. Looking for new system, but what can we do now to make things better?
Response: Considering how entrenched system is, statement is quite radical.
Response: Movement is a radical movement, not a reformist movement. Talking about taxing people who get loads of money. Shouldn’t let these people have loads of money in the first place.
Response: Temperature check for adding “tax havens”. Not strong feeling.
Response: Please come to working groups to make new statements.
Response: Good initial statement. If headway was made with the proposed reforms, then more radical things would be possible. So if you don’t disagree, then please let these go through.
Response: Probably lots of people who are more radical than this statement. But statement points out flaws in the system, which shows that the system does not do what it claims. Point out individual flaws, suggest changes, and then say, “that’s we oppose the system”.
Response: Wants to question to use of the word “system”. By using the word system, we are saying it has integrity. Calling it a system implies it works. We are inflating it and giving it more credit than it deserves. It’s just a hotchpotch or things and ideas.
Response: Raise tax to 60%.
Response: Economics working group is looking at taxation.
Jamie: Goes for consensus. Any disagreements…
Disagreement: Some people in camp want reform. Some people want to get rid of all capitalism. Put in some conditionality. Perhaps something like that?
Facilitator: Goes for consensus. Disagreement…
Disagreement: Corporations are like the bullies in the playgroup: how much do you appease them? This is revolution, so that’s the problem we are having in this dicussion.
Jamie: Reads paragraph 3 again. Goes for consensus. Disagreement…
Response: Suggest amendment to indicate that we all dream of world where there are no corporations.
Disagreement with suggestion: Suggestion sounds very ideological. Original is strong enough for general public. Everything else can follow on.
Jamie: Goes for consensus. Block…
Blocker: Disagrees with having an initial statement, because that might imply some kind incorporation.
Response: Statement does not form a legal charter. Beginning of a desensitising from a corrupt system. Initial movement away from corrupt system. It’s just a first step.
Facilitator: Let’s try again for consensus. Otherwise people can discuss it in break out groups? Consensus
Jamie: Reads paragraph 3 again. Goes for consensus. Any blocks? No. Consensus reached.
[Insert amended paragraph 3]
Jamie: Reads paragraph 4. “Corporate fines encourage a system where those directly involved in the decision making process avoid full responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Executives & Board members should be personally liable for the misdeeds of their corporation.” Checks for temperature. Disagreements….
Disagreement: Statement isn’t clear. Corporate fines as opposed to what? Opposed to individual culpability? So perhaps it could say that?
Disagreement: Perhaps say the individuals should be imprisoned, not just fined.
Disagreement: Should also be putting responsibility on shareholders.
Disagreement: Should focus on joint and severable liability for company executives.
Response: Shareholders don’t have responsibility for day-to-day actions. Perhaps call for shareholders to play their role.
Response: Issue with making shareholders liable is that lots of pension funds hold shares e.g. nurses pension fund holds shares in BP. Executives decide on company policy, company strategy, so why not focus on them.
Response: Happy to go with amendment to call on shareholders.
Facilitator: Goes for consensus. [Facilitator checks for understanding of consensus.] We understand that one block blocks the proposal. If you block you have to go to the working group.
Jamie: Reads amended statement…. “Corporate sanctions encourage a system where those directly involved in the decision making process avoid full responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Corporations and their executives & board members should be personally liable for the misdeeds of their corporation, and charges duly for their criminal behaviour, and [something about shareholder].”
Disagreement: Regarding confusing phrasing. Hard to know where sentence is going. Suggest to start with “Executives and board members…”
Jamie: Reads amended statement: Goes for consensus.
Disagreement: If you can trim words. Word “encourage” is ambiguous…. Other modification.
Disagreement: Blanket statement about shareholders might put normal people off.
Disagreement: Objection to line about shareholders: muddies clear statement that appeals to all.
Disagreement: Would prefer qualification: major shareholders.
Response: Shareholding is a complicated thing, that’s why original statement did not mention shareholders.
Jamie: Reads version without mention of shareholders. Goes for consensus….
Block: Want radical change. Let’s revolutionise.
Facilitator: That paragraph will go back to working group.
Jamie: Reads paragraph 5. “An unexpected…to create a responsible corporate system.”
Temperature check. Any points?
Response: Will it be hotchpotch without the whole thing?
Response: Would be good to say something about whistle blowers.
Disagreement: Whatever you are writing, we would be happy. But also say some people are not happy to reform the system.
Disagreement: Change “unexpected and welcome” to just “welcome”.
Response: Don’t say something indecisive.
Response: We have had debate about total change vs. incremental change. All Occupy camps are at this crux.
Response: Just add that some people are not happy for reforming system, because it isn’t worth it. That’s all.
Response: That would be embarrassing. Would reflect badly. This is just a desensitisation. We are seeking basic reforms, basic justice to start with. Any blocks to that approach? Propose change to indicate desensitisation. Further statements will be more radical.
Facilitator: Accept responsibility for doing it in parts. Some people want to block whole thing. Let’s move to consensus on whole thing? Blocked…
Working group will be meeting in Ye Olde London pub at 1pm tomorrow.
Blocker will go to working group. Very valuable discussion. Blocker has profound philosophical disagreement. This is what democracy is all about.
Did plan to have further discussion about corporations, but will postpone that with consensus. Goes for consensus on postponing further discussion. Consensus reached.
Statement will have further work, and will go to working group for further discussion.
On to shoutouts….
Shoutout: Poem “Shelly’s Vision”
Shoutout: How sweet and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters work together. [applause] Thank you all for supporting. Mother used to say, “Fool supports himself. When you believe in yourself, you support one another.”
Shoutout: Real prince of peace is Jesus Christ.
Shoutout: Please don’t give up on the movement. Bit of poetry from Percy Shelly. “Ye are many. They are few.”
Shoutout: Last story telling workshop went well. Another story telling night will happen next weekend at some point.
Shoutout: Action in support of cleaners. Over next few days information about action to show solidarity for Transport For London cleaners.
Shoutout: Smokers please pick up butts.
Facilitator: Not only is this our home, but this is an important spiritual place. So please pick up rubbish and put it in recycling bin. Special thanks to facilitation team, Andy on PA. Let’s keep talking and learning and growing the movement.
Shoutout: Night watch and tranquillity need volunteers.