GA Minutes – 7pm, Friday 18 November
Initial meeting venue changing. Meet at the top of the cathedral steps at 11am.
Two aspects: charter group discussing charter – do we want to constitute ourselves as something formal for legal proceedings? Also, looking at splitting off into separate groups for those who want to be involved directly in the proceedings – provide witness statements, what Occupy means to them etc. Also for those who want to be specifically named in the proceedings. Depending on numbers we might go to Ye Olde London Pub or the new building.
CoL made sure they’ve served every single tent. This is about tents not people – the tents are being evicted. We have accepted that we’re going into court proceedings with them. If anyone has any copies of the bigger document – might be helpful to have a couple onsite for people to look at whilst we’re producing statements etc.
I’m only OLSX person in the Welfare working group. We have support from psychotherapists and counsellors during the day, but I’m overwhelmed in general. We need help in the evenings, particularly the weekends. We’ve had an increase in agent provocateurs intent on creating chaos / negative spin on movement. There have been reports regarding vulnerable in press photograph the drunks, being awful about mental health of people. We want to be inclusive and help the most vulnerable in our society. If I don’t get your support some particularly nasty shit could hit the fan. Need people to man the welfare tent to be a calm influence to help these vulnerable members of the community. My number is in the Info Tent.
Bank of Ideas:
Well established. Working Groups can have a room each down there. National Occupy conference will take place at OLSX on Saturday and BoI on Saturday. Want books to start library, food, paint, tools, people, lamps / lighting equipment.
Most probably know building is owned by UBS. They were subject ot $60bn bail-out from Swiss government. Evidence of corruption. They gambled millions of pension money. It’s appropriate that we open this bank.
We had press release at 10am this morning and press conference announcing new site.
Finsbury Square need volunteers from 4-8pm to help with cooking and cleaning with National Occupy meeting.
Real democracy and assembly sovereignty
We’ve been looking at how to link London and UK assemblies with the idea of direct democracy / real democracy now – the idea that everyone can have a say, that everyone has power. It’s a different kind of sovereignty to the one we live in now.
The purpose of tonights assembly is not to dive into a statement – we want to have an open discussion. Speaking personally, I love the idea that we can build the next chapter of sovereignty at this time. The state and corporate world are too interlinked, so our sovereignty isn’t working right now.
The constitution has been controlled by a small number of people for a long time. The idea of people’s assemblies, where everyone an speak and have a say, is exciting. The press have covered a lot about the global nature of this movement. The whole movement started as for democracy, and it’s important we remember that in Britain. So in future, we want the press to report us as a new model of democracy.
The draft statement, that we are considering for insertion in the Occupy LSX general statement, after point 1, is:
What is needed is a democratic alternative to the political-state system. This alternative must be built by people’s assemblies across the country, to facilitate [a new constitution guaranteeing]:
a) full social and political participation
b) a new and popular democratic sovereignty
c) a common, structured political economy that delivers social equality and well being for all
Furthermore, the proposal reads “It is proposed this insertion be linked to a call for the formation of people’s assemblies in neighbourhoods, workplaces and education establishments across the country, and for a day of action in support.”
I’m looking forward to this debate. Long live the revolution!
[Activity: Introduce yourself to the person next to you, spend 1 minute telling the person next to you your thoughts on this statement, then swap for a minute.]
I’ve been campaigning for people’s assemblies for years now. We need strategy to try to achieve what this occupation is trying to do. It has to be a work in progress. People’s assemblies are a logical extension of point one of Occupation’s statement.
In the government in Italy not a single politician in government, Greece has officials appointed by Goldman Sachs. Democracy is in danger, what we do here is very important. Current system undemocratic, unrepresentative . We have to find ways of reaching out to more people who are not involved in occupations. We need to turn to trade unions, November 30th will be a big day for them, to young people, 1 million of whom are unemployed, and old people who are being sidelined and left to rot.
Everyone can bring their issues, problems and crises to assemblies to turn the movement for democracy into peoples movement.
Let’s discuss, in groups, people’s assemblies in the context of how they can help Occupy as a movement move forward. Let’s think about constructive ways of arranging an improved system to what we have now, and to shift away from the government / state top-down organisation into a radical transformation of society.
[Activity: Group discussions and feedback]
The word sovereignty is associated more with the Monarchy. Perhaps it could be changed to solidarity or autonomy?
Let’s try leaving it as it is, but expand on it differently: leaving out the word ‘common’.
Proposal to have it as one sentence, the first sentence.
People’s assemblies are good because the the government has centralised everything. Everything on a local level would not have need for centralised government – we can achieve everything locally, through face to face contact with people – you’ll know people, they’ll be easy to contact and talk to – that’s where I will be hopefully.
Tax avoidance is an issue.
We could put up candidates in local elections in areas with Occupy movements.
Someone from Tunisia is here – they talked about how they moved too quickly to elections – there might be ways of doing that differently.
We could bring back street theatre to bring people in who might not otherwise join a movement like this.
We could fix time every day where everyone can meet up – 20/30 people at cafe 5pm every day to get a sense of meeting up.
We like it. We would like to have an alternative system as stated on that sheet. We all want an alternative. [Warmth]
How can we do it? We should expand the idea in the community to which we belong? – if you’re a student, university, if your in a prison, inmates.
Wherever you are, you must have some friends who agree with you and the idea here.
Getting consensus is strategic. That is the objective to achieve within a short time.
This falls to the GA, and the people leading and pushing our ideas. Not everyone here had time to push these things on a daily basis.
Consensus through a network of proposals. Bring ideas and proposals to GA, and GA can choose or select how we’re going to go about it.
The fear. That feeling – we have to discard that and be forthright.
Sovereignty, people working in a new way. This is a new chance and a new opportunity to move beyond a new parliamentary democracy. Where people have a voice form the ground level up. People are encouraged to hold many positions, working together in an organic way as can be seen successfully in this camp. How to meet people in tolerance of different viewpoints.
Move away from technocrats in South America and Italy.
We came up with a new expression: ‘bottoms up democracy’.
We discussed ideas within the statement about peoples assemblies, and how to make them constructive.
How educated do people need to be to make informed decisions for themselves?
Some people might prefer to delegate these things – how can they be involved in the decision making process?
We need some people with more knowledge, but some kind of equality in human worth, where the authority is shared out amongst a group of people.
What are local councils doing today – do they already form a shell of what these people’s assemblies can become? How can we develop something new out of something old? Do they have the right jurisdiction?
Fundamentally, they are built vertically – decisions are made up through the ranks of authority. In public assemblies decision making is horizontal, all are included.
But the question of education still remains.
To empathise with human value, we should listen to everyone to solve problems together.
These statements talk about things like equality and wellbeing – nice in principle, but to send this out in a statement, does it make us seem like realists, or does it alienate a lot of people?
People might look and see a bunch of dreamers, and not a realistic proposition.
There’s a danger it might be sent out in the assumption that everyone knows what a general assembly is, how it functions, and the principles behind consensus.
Thinking about GAs taking place across the world – at the moment we must remember that there are some cultures where when people come together, women wouldn’t be allowed to speak. GAs will work differently in practice depending on where they’re held.
Parliamentary democracy is simply not working – people don’t vote because it doesn’t make a difference.
People don’t have the time, impetus or structure to come together and talk.
The main quality of GA is its the first time that people get together and realise they share the same opinions and have the same values, energising things.
How can the coming together at a GA, and sharing ideas, be ingrained into the very fabric of our lives?
Assemblies are supplemental, they best function in situations where people have a direct stake: workplaces, schools, neighbourhoods, the local park etc.
While the state can be a source of oppression, there are other forms that take place in society.
GAs are a way to identify and address negative traditions – spot which are positive and negative and sort out which to keep.
Do people have the capacity to participate in these groups? Logistically, can they get there?
What about people in a group who are more persuasive, outspoken or powerful – it’s important to have mechanisms to ensure that everyone is heard.
Shout out to the RMT young member activist group!
How to do it – what’s the next step to direct democracy?
We should ask people about what they actually want – we need a system that allows them to get an answer to their questions, and allows them to participate in the system.
An online voting system – how would this work? There’s a risk if there’s only one central point and few servers, a danger that someone can switch it off or compromise it.
Perhaps a peer-to-peer system would work – the information would be everywhere and nowhere, and it can’t be switched off, and if difficult to attack and change.
There could be a communications channel for discussion about any questions, where we can produce consensus of the majority. This system could also help people to join us.
There are thousands of groups like this all around the world. There are 20-30 internet groups in Slovakia about direct democracy. This is a force everywhere – it cannot be used for one thing. We should start cooperating as a team.
We should take a video of the best bits of information from this discussion, and upload and share it on the internet.
We found there was a need for clarification of some of the concepts mentioned – definitions.
There’s a need and desire to use consensus as a model for making decisions.
Government should be returned to the secular parishes, to a more local level.
The current structure is a kleptocracy – worse than a plutocracy.
There are some concerns that the form of democracy is being confused with the outcome – the process vs what the different way of doing things will mean for people – more clarity is needed.
How are we distinctly trying to make a different system? What is the current system? How is what we’re doing different?
There’s a need for education about how different systems and processes of decision making work – more simplification and clarification is needed for transparency of process.
Bringing that to a more local level will facilitate simplification and clarification.
We need to communicate that there’s no reason to be frightened – we shouldn’t worry about the complexity because we have the opportunity for a blank slate.
There’s a major issue of politicians making decisions that renege on promises, and are not accountable.
The current 3 party system is really a 1 party system – supporting only money. For an economic democracy we need to look at the relationship between politics and money.
It might be interesting to look at the German model and get inspiration – they have propoer representation with a consensus, open invitation to the top chamber of parliament.
Having smaller groups have a voice, working together using consensus decision making, inviting input from non-politicians to the decision making process.
Some points were left out of the statement as it was way too long.
We should make it clear that this parliamentary democracy is not working – we should make it clear in all statements. After that, say that real democracy is direct democracy in politics, economics and social – rule by the people for the people.
Spread assemblies and direct democracy everywhere, wherever people live and work, local areas.
Currently we have a democracy, but don’t talk democracy – that’s why we need someone on top. A horizontal democracy has no-one on top, no-one on the bottom.
We agree with the last point – creating a social structure to deliver equality for everybody.
[End of group reports]
I’ve heard enthusiasm for localism and horizontal democracy. Emphasis that the parliamentary system does not work. Curiosity around phrases we use and techniques to learn to make this work.
Do you agree that peoples assemblies are a good start to take forward into movement? [Warmth] Almost everybody. Good.
There’s a national conference of world occupations tomorrow. Let’s think about the people coming to that, how we can bring ideas into that.
I would like to invite 4 people from the floor to come up and share concrete ideas about how we can move this forward, outward and inward:
One way to spread the occupy movement is to bring in the trade unions, to appeal to as many as possible. On 20th November, 3 million public sector workers are on strike in support of their pensions. It’s an important day, you can really appeal to them. People should occupy workspaces so they can decide for themselves their conditions, working hours, benefits, and pay – instead of mangers forcing it upon them as they government are doing so. Trade unions and occupy working together can spread the movement out – to billions of people around the world.
I really enjoyed groups today. What we discussed – the need to create horizontal structures, to have concrete proposals – we should talk about having small groups to outsource resources collected locally. Different areas covered within a local area, so that locally we can create assemblies to deal with different needs we have. Once we know our needs, we know what our responsibilities are. In order for horizontal government, decentralisation of power moving away form multinationals, creating local assemblies to care of themselves with their own decisions, rather than letting those appointed make decisions for us – as they will be eventually be dictated to by the hand that feeds them. Centralised government doesn’t work in an era of mass communications and transport – the needs of these people is only to get rich, and this is their holy prerequisite.
We need to guard against hierarchical structures, and not fit ourselves into that. We need to break down the egos of hierarchy of unions so they can be coerced into becoming a bit more like us.
There’s currently a Google moderator site where people suggest things for GAs. They have a debate about the most popular one on that day, using and building on structure. The ideas we debate here in our own GA – we put them through to the wider public for them to consider it also. Make this a 2-way process, things from the public they think are a good idea. Some sort of representative system or forum. Currently there’s a spokespersons meeting – if various members of various occupations use a similar system, then all members can talk on a regular basis, and look at going forward together.
How can we take this forward? People like the idea, but it has its challenges. I enjoyed listening to peoples positions on this. Some people would like to stay in touch and move forward. [Warmth]. Email me at CRDlondon@gmail.com to get on the list for information about where to meet again. There will be a working group in camp later this week. There might be another GA on this subject in the coming weeks.
Do you agree this is generally going in a good direction, but needs some work? [Warmth] Please bring your ideas to the open space at tomorrows national convention.
The GA has endorsed a day of action for human rights and refugees. I have an idea for a day of action for a new model of democracy. The Putney debates took part at St Mary’s Church in Putney. We could march from here to Putney – to the church where Giles Fraser used to be vicar, and where constitutional debates took part in 1647. [Warmth]
Have a look at peoplesassemblies.org for a network of supporters of this sort of thing.
> There will be a meeting at 2.15pm at the Salvation Army Cafe on Monday to help us plan GAs, and think in the longer term about what GAs will be – to give us more chance to advertise topics and share statements so people can get involved.
> International Outreach meeting tomorrow at 4pm Info Tent. Come along and get involved to reach out to other international assemblies, days of action etc.
> Daniel is doing most of the First Aid alone. We need some more please.
> The economics working group has produced a statement, which will be presented to the GA on Monday to decide whether we approve or disapprove.
> I’ve lived here for 3 weeks and have been thoroughly inspired by living hear. It warms my heart being around so many lovely people with great intentions. I feel like I now have a personal call to do some peaceful civil disobedience in the Westminster region. I’ll probably go down to pavement on Parliament Square, pitch a tent and join others and engage in peaceful civil disobedience. If you feel inclined, calling for peace, bringing the noise down to parliament, come and speak to me.
> There are 3,500 Occupy locations in 82 different countries around the world. I’m from changedaworldproduction.org – we’re getting proposals from all these group, and want to process, synthesise, conceptualise and classify them, and then put them in front of academics, scholars, corporates, experts and political people who we’ve dealt with and who’ve given thought to these issues – people who agree with us and have thought about it for themselves. We want your ideas to put in front of them. Please contact us through the website to get involved.
> Let’s make a new Occupy London banner for the new triangle structure? [Warmth] After the GA, lets have a rock and roll banner session to get this thing made.
> Corporations working group: we’re having a discussion about corporate greed at tomorrows GA. We’re presenting a statement about what we want to say, and want your feedback on it. The statement is available in the Into Tent. Have a look, and come to tomorrows 7pm GA with ideas.
> Solidarity with Brazilian students who are strike and are fighting against a militarised police presence in Sau Paulo. They’re fighting against paying 10% of their GDP for education, and the commercialisation of universities.
This weekend there is a national conference of different occupations from throughout the UK, here. No afternoon GA because of this tomorrow. The evenings GA is about corporations and corporate greed.