1/8/2012: Buy-Out Buy-In

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

Buy-Out Buy-In

proposal for GA: JAN 8th, 2012

One month ago, we were kicked out of Zuccotti. On New Years, we retook the park, only to give it back up. 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 regarding Buy Out Buy In: 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. Spokes is passing budget items. Finance is planning on bleeding all the money out of OWS. Either that or proposing that we don’t spend any money at all.

The occupation.

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 2 months 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 just acting.

Now it’s time for occupiers to act.

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 society.

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 tell me. 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.

13 Responses to “1/8/2012: Buy-Out Buy-In”

  1. Siobhan Ogilvie

    Do you really think that is what contributors had in mind? I don’t. I know I would be furious if I thought my contributions where to be distributed. I contributed to the movement – the collective we. Not individuals.

    How did we even get to this point where all we worry about in individuals and not the movement anymore?

  2. Patrick Conway

    Since you think the occupation, as you understand it, is dead — which many of us here will find more than a bit offensive — why not just go elsewhere and do whatever? Why should those of us who desire to stay, to re-tool, to fight differently, continuously, to lay plans to retake the park or do something else entirely pay you so that you can leave? No one paid you to come, right? If you think that you’re done here, and this was primarily about a public park, then maybe we could take up a collection at GA to help you get where you’re personally going, but the rest of us — part-timers, full-timers, occupiers all — the 99% united — would prefer to stay and fight on — against the 1% AND against those within our ranks who would poison or destroy us.

    If you can’t stay and help us, we’ll understand, but I personally don’t see any reason to vote for dissolving the movement just because you’re bummed out right now. Did you really think that this would be easy??

  3. Michael Korn

    The guy that came up with this idea not only has especially large stones for coming to the overripe conclusion that this movement is dead but in addition has the sheer audacity to expect to get paid for his contribution. I suppose he has misinterpreted the meaning of the word ‘occupation.’ If you have any good intentions left within your meat sack you should withdraw this totally wrongheaded proposal, roll up your sleeves and help to turn around any imperfections that you may see within the movement. If you choose otherwise, I suggest Patrick’s above suggestion(although said in a nicer way), that we chip in, and put you on a one way bus Palookaville

  4. Lopi

    This proposal is not friendly to the people who continue to work hard, day in and day out for this occupation. This proposal is ignorant of the reality of what the word occupation means. Occupation is not limited to a physical space.
    This proposal is written in a hostile and divisive tone. I do not support this proposal and will be there at the GA to block it with no friendly amendments.. How can someone have a friendly amendment to an unfriendly proposal?

  5. Frances MA

    Wow…I just…wow. Is this a real proposal? Let me see if I have this straight. You want to take the money that people donated to us in good faith to further our protests against socioeconomic inequality and corporate corruption, and you want to use that money to make yourself and whoever you consider an “occupier” wealthier? Did I get that right? I will grant you this. You have huge cajones for even thinking to write such a blatantly offensive and ill-conceived proposal.

  6. Christine

    For some of us New York City is our home .. and we are fighting to do what we can to make this city and this country a better place. What was born Sept 17th began with people who have been involved in the city’s underground movements for years.. if you think this movement is dead then feel free to pack your bags and leave.. there are other camps all over the country. Sounds like you are disgruntled because there is question as to your motives. Sounds like you are venting anger because funding for your projects have been blocked and you are now trying to find ways to cash in for yourself.

  7. Jo Robin

    Good luck, I just counted 54 blocks on this proposal through conversation with folks at 60 Wall, Liberty Plaza and the office.

  8. Chris

    I am in meetings all the time doing a lot of work with various people & groups. But here’s the deal – if you are someone who is still confused about what OWS is, or can’t understand it, then maybe you might want to talk to more people. There are a LOT of confused people who only think Occupy Wall Street was about people literally being in the park. To those people I would say this: IT WAS NEVER JUST ABOUT THE PARK. It is about ideas and action. Too much complaining and too many needy people are wasting everybody’s time.
    If this is your first protest experience then it’s important to remember to respect others and their ideas. None of us have all the answers but don’t kindness for weakness – or stupidity.

    • Sally Marks

      I wholeheartedly agree Chris.
      However if you talk to people in the park, some there will tell you it is ONLY about Occupying the Park. Therein lay a lot of the trouble in moving forward. In my opinion, every block of every town needs to be Occupied. There is a list of demands that require more than just being on a list.