proposal for GA: Dec. 18th, 2011
One month ago, we were kicked out of Zuccotti. Today, we had a major action at Canal St. Regardless of whether you support an eventual occupation at that location, it feels like this chapter of Occupy Wall Street is coming to a close. Regardless of the success our movement has in the future, the forceful and criminal eviction of November 15th still hurts. It hurts to be holding GA’s here in an empty park. It hurts to stand here in the cold, fighting for nothing. I do not mean that we don’t stand for principles.
I mean that we don’t have a physical home.
There is nothing here. There are no structures. There is no sign of our community. There is no life. Yes, we are here. But we have become tourists. We visit the park, we do not occupy it. I don’t care how hard core you are, you eventually leave to seek shelter somewhere else. You have to. The park has been, to use Bloomberg’s term, sanitized. The germs, the occupiers, the us, have been scrubbed clean.
One month ago I proposed that we take all of the funds in the general fund and divide them among the occupiers. A lot of people thought this was a crazy idea. A lot of people aren’t thinking it’s such a crazy idea anymore.
Immediate questions come up: How would you split up the money? Who would get it? How would you give everyone access to the tools to spend it wisely? How would current projects continue to be funded? Why would you do this?
I can’t answer all of these questions. But I can answer the last one. Why should we make an effort to give the money that Zuccotti was donated to the people who occupied the park? Because the park is dead. Look around you.
Whether it can be reborn, here or in another location, is entirely up to us. But we have to acknowledge that the first phase of our occupation ended a month ago. And the only ethical thing to do is to empower people to make their own decision as to where they want to go from here.
The money can go to individuals. It can go to working groups. It can go to working groups that were established before the raid. It can go to all working groups created as of today. It can go to all of us here at GA right now. We don’t have to decide this right now. All I’m asking you to decide tonight is whether we SHOULD make an effort to split up the general fund and empower people to make their own decision as to where this movement is heading.
The fact is, currently people are meeting in secret to decide just that. They say things like, the GA is broken, while they empower Spokes Council. They say things like, we’re bleeding money, while they help shovel it out the door. They are not asking for your feedback. They are not here tonight.
The fact is, the working group formally known as finance has been incompetent from the beginning. God bless them, they have not successfully executed their mission, through purposeful or malicious negligence.
-how can you have a manpower issue in a populist revolution?
-how can you not begin electronic tracking of receipts and expenses from day one?
-how can you resent demands for greater transparency in a movement that attacks corruption?
-how can you allow yourself to become a bottleneck to efficiency?
A lot of people here have a lot of personal reform ideas. They would like to see more subway cards. They would like to see better housing options. They would like to see a more efficient kitchen. They would like to reform all of our resources, including SIS and the occupied office. They would like to strengthen this GA and perhaps even abolish Spokes. They would like to audit and reform finance. They would like, in summary, to be empowered to do what they came here to do: create a better America.
The only wisdom I have to offer is that reform, change, revolution, works best from the bottom up. We criticise a society of hierarchy while we recreate it here in our movement. We defend the victims of power concentration out there while we allow ourselves to be victimized right here, marginalized as a bunch of shivering idealists standing in the cold while the center of gravity of this movement openly shifts away from this park.
Now I’m speaking to every one of you here in attendance, not the movement. I’m not talking to Occupy Wall Street anymore. What’s your name? What’s your name? And yours? You have the purse strings of the movement right now. But you do not have the power. People who are good at managing social networks are grabbing up the power. They are organizing, so that they can “guide” the movement. They are starving the GA, allowing it to die on the vine. They are watching the money in the bank disappear. They have openly said that they don’t want to see our funds increase. Why would they promote that, they say. The GA is fucking nuts.
Well show them how fucking nuts you are. If you pass this proposal tonight, you will agree to divide up all of the money in the general fund among the occupiers. At the next GA, we will ask for representatives from each working group, as well as representatives of the occupiers who do not participate in working groups. We will empower them to decide the best way to divide up the money, in a transparent and legal way.
Occupy Wall Street faces a lot of problems. There are current internal power grabs. There is a geographical relocation. There is a fucking cold ass winter coming up. But the biggest problem that Occupy Wall Street has is that it is technically dead. There ain’t nobody occupying Wall Street, unless you count the part timers who make up the majority of 60 Wall Street or the privileged who make up a majority of the office on Broadway.
What I am trying to do, the only thing I’m trying to do, is to hold up a mirror. And then give you the tools to be reborn, in the image of your own creation, with the reforms you want implemented from the start. Want to rent a building? Take your share of the fund, get together with other people, and do it. Want to do your own thing? Go ahead and execute. Some people say that there are those who will just take the money and run. To them I say, if you don’t trust that we are all here out of sincerity, we have a lot more at risk than just going broke. I don’t know about you, but Occupy Wall Street is not my retirement plan.
A new world is my retirement plan.
But in order for that world to be born, we have to acknowledge that the old one has died. Buy yourselves out so you can buy back in, and bypass those who seek to control the movement. The only way the few has ever won against the many has been through maneuvering. Right now the control of money is in the hands of the few. With a little creativity we can put it in the hands of the many. You can outmaneuver the people who currently hold power in this movement. Because, let’s not be naive. This movement has created a power structure.
You can dissolve that power structure in one decisive action. And we can get on with this revolution.
One more thing: do the right thing and watch our donations soar. Right is right, people will respect us for trusting in each other. And when they see what we do when we put that money to good use, they won’t be able to ignore us.
I’d like to do a temperature check on this and then move on for the sake of time if there isn’t enough interest to warrant a discussion.