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12/12/11 Consensed V&G Group – Draft OWS Vision Statement

What follows is a living document that will be revised through the democratic process of the General Assembly.



We the people of Occupy Wall Street, building on the tradition of the United States Declaration of Independence and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, declare our rights to a just society, just governance, a just economy, and a healthy world for future generations.

Our current systems have become unsustainable.

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and we live in a world where wealth all too often is power. This corrodes Democracy.

Today, we must remember the lessons of history and begin anew to build the bonds of trust and goodwill among all.

From this General Assembly to the people of the world, we offer a Declaration of our Vision for the future.

We envision a truly free, democratic, and just society, built on the following principles:


Liberty: whereby we secure the full spectrum of human rights – political, civil, economic, social, and cultural – against violation or infringement, particularly by unchecked corporate power and unjust governments;


People Power: whereby government, in every form and at every level, exists by the will of those governed, and neither wealth nor history alone will justify power;


Solidarity: whereby all people come together to make decisions through consensus; a process by which everyone’s voice is heard, and no one is marginalized;


Accountability: whereby all who reap society’s benefits accept a fair share of society’s responsibilities;


Fairness: whereby social, political, and economic systems work to benefit all, not just a privileged few; these systems should be restructured or replaced when they fail to do so;


Peace: whereby we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of compassion, appreciation, and respect for diversity and the differing views of others;


Equality: whereby we reject all forms of institutionalized discrimination and oppression, on any basis, including race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, or nationality;


Nonviolence: whereby non-violence is embraced as a way of life, and we resolve to always carry a good message as we work out our differences;


People Before Profit: whereby we value human dignity and needs over monetary gain, because when people lack security or a standard of living adequate for their well-being, effective democracy is impossible;


Meeting Human Needs: whereby human needs are elevated to a place of primary importance; among these are the right to meaningful and fairly rewarded work, decent housing, comprehensive healthcare, and education;


Environmental Stewardship: whereby the wealth of our economy emerges from the health of our environment, and therefore all societal activities are conducted with respect, humane treatment, and foresight to ensure that all life is sustainable, that the natural world has room to flourish, and that future generations will have safe and clean air, water, and food supplies.


We cannot wait for anyone to create this society for us. We are a world filled with brilliant hearts and minds; we must build it ourselves starting right here, right now.

It is the responsibility of each member of our society to stand and assert their rights and aspirations, to the greatest of their capacity.

We must bring this vision of democracy into our institutions, and carry it with us in our daily lives.

We must live this new world in our hearts.


For more information, or to provide feedback on this draft statement, please visit us on the web at http://www.nycga.net/groups/vision-and-goals/forum/




  1. jack siler

    Is that timid preamble the fearless inspiration New York OWS offers “to the people of the world.”? Good thing I had a prior obligation to leave or you’d have watched a fit of apoplexy and a VERY reluctant block. Must eloquence by committee be inelegant? Such a masterful plea for true democracy would have left us in British hands with high priced tea. The French would never have made it out of Orleans. Zapatata couldn’t have rallied 50 men and Mao’s Little Red Book woulld have been lost in the Gobi dust.

    The people around the table were bright. Why did banality win? I rolled off an operating table and into the subway to get there and it seemed to be going fine when I had to go. Come on. PLEASE try again, unless the Process obligatorily filters out brilliance! And if that’s the case it probably makes no difference anyway.

    • Natasha

      I’m really sorry you feel so negatively about the preamble. I personally don’t think it’s banal at all. We really discussed the pros and cons of adding references to revolutions vs. documents that express sentiments with which we align. In the end, we agreed that since this is a vision statement, an idealistic vision of what the future could be, and that we are reaffirming rights we feel belong to us, that it would be better to stick with a broader statement which references documents whose sentiments, aspirations and ideals align with those of this vision statement.

      We wanted to use the preamble to look back in history, reference those documents that share those same inspirations and aspirations and ideals as we do, let the points speak for the future, and conclude with a strong call to action at the end.

      Personally, I love it, and I think it’s beautiful.

      Can you be more specific about what you don’t like?

  2. sumumba

    good work people…we have a bit more to do but this is going into right direction no doubt…

  3. Donald O. Carroll

    When is the deadline for substantive commentary?

    I have been negligent in following the evolution of this document in full. However, I do have what I feel is an important point to make. My time is painfully scarce, owing to other commitments. I will need to schedule and dedicate at least a solid hour to articulating my point in a way that means anything at all to any of you, as it may prove controversial to some, although I believe most will breathe a huge sigh of relief.

    I only have two cents to add, but they are the only coins I have and they are of fundamental relevance to me and many others I know. No worries. I just need to know when I need to get to you, so that I can plan accordingly.

    Please message me if you can, as I can never find the tail end of the thread I am looking for, without having to search the haystack.

    • Michael Korn

      Hi Donald,

      The last day for substantive additions to the present document will be midnight Saturday, Dec 17th (Midnight). You have only 5 more days to “place your order” before this sale is finished. So Hurry!

      Peace, ‘bro!

  4. Donald O. Carroll

    I meant to write, “…this beautiful document.”

    Thank you all :-)—and twinkle twinkle.

  5. Dan Chilton

    I don’t know if you meant to completely refute our current government in its entirety in the Solidarity statement.
    The USA is a republic, a representitive form of democracy. As such it is intended to allow input from people, but not require it.
    Since GAs are by more of a direct democracy not a representitive democracy, there is a confusion in my mind about the vision for OWS as a direct democracy v. the vision OWS has for our representitive government.

    I don’t expect that a movement like this to be and embody in every way all aspirations it has for change.
    I do expect some clarity about the vision it has for itself and
    the vision it has for the important institutions in our lives.
    I dont think this vision statement makes it perfectly clear.
    My $.02

  6. Dan Chilton

    “We must live this new world in our hearts and actions.”

    • Natasha

      Thanks for your comments, Dan.
      We just created an online feedback form to help organize feedback online.
      Could you leave your comments there, too?


      Thanks a lot!

  7. Daryl Atamanyk

    There is a new forum opened up for a new group called: Million Occupiers March Committee. The topic of the forum is “Become a Corruptible Third National Political Party or Remain as an Autonomous Force of National Conscience.”

    I bring the above to the attention of participants in the VISIONS AND GOALS GROUP VISION STATEMENT forum because of my concern that this “statement business” of VISIONS AND GOALS is “putting the horse before the cart.” It seems to me that there are far more important decisions to be made before concluding in any way whatsoever that we have come up with a statement worthy of being connoted as “a vision.”

    For example, how does the movement envisage democracy going forward? Is it better to influence the system that is? Or is it better to supersede that system with some other? And if the latter, what “other?” Is it better to become direct holders of office? Or is it better to exercise influence from an autonomous position?

    The above “statement” of VISIONS AND GOALS, as it stands, is entirely non-prescriptive in regards to this “vision of democracy” to which it makes reference in the second last line of its concluding remarks. No where in the statement do I see any vision of democracy outlined. I see throughout the document that which people have expressed as desired outcomes of “democracy”: but no where do I see a vision of this “society” mentioned in the third to last sentence, that, “We cannot wait for anyone to create.”

    Don’t get me wrong: I fully understand the sentiments being expressed, and those sentiments are that to which we must give attention as we go forward. However, as a statement of forward looking vision the document as is borders on being almost ludicrous.

    For example, the “statement” above asserts: “It is the responsibility of each member of our society to stand and assert their rights and aspirations, to the greatest of their capacity.”

    It always has been: are you saying that we did not know that?

    The VISION we need is the vision of how to move forward from here. Early in the statement it is stated: “We envision a truly free, democratic, and just society, built on the following principles”: after which is listed everything that everybody already knows that we want, without providing any vision at all in regards to this “truly free, democratic, and just society” that drafters of the statement “envision.” Well, if you “envision” it: share the vision. Don’t just tell us in effect, “this is what we’ll get in our new society; but we’re not actually going to tell you how to achieve this.” What sense is there in that. Why kind of a statement is that?

    It’s like saying to a group of children: “You’ll have SUGAR PLUMS and CANDY when we get there…” With you leaving the kids asking, “Get where? How? How do we get there?” And you replying to the children, “Oooohh…well… we’ve got a vision. It’s definitely something we envision. Don’t you worry. You’ll figure it out…”


    For comparison, go to the vision statement in the following forum: The New Common Sense Really Makes Sense! in the Million Occupiers March Committee group. This morning as I read it for the first time, I was so humbled it brought tears to my eyes. It certainly puts to shame all efforts that I have ever made in my life attempting to articulate any kind of vision whatsoever… and it really opened my eyes with respect to what exactly is a vision statement.

    Just please don’t kill the messenger…

  8. Donald O. Carroll

    It is against my better judgment in most instances to soapbox. However, as I have received no response from anyone in this group as to my query about when comments on this proposed Vision & Goals statement are due, I am taking the liberty of making an exception here. To do otherwise, for me, at this juncture is unconscionable. I don’t have much time, so this below is hastily constructed; it is nonetheless honest and from my heart:

    While I see that this has been a highly effective messaging concept from the get-go; I have noticed more and more people of late use it in identification with the 1%, presumably as a result of feeling alienated from the movement. But it’s more than just this inherent flaw of the construct that concerns me. I am gravely concerned about bias implicit in the Occupation’s 99% vs. 1% rhetoric.

    It is easy for every American to externalize, assigning others the role of causing all our problems. It is harder to realize that in many cases the cause is us collectively as a nation, each contributing to a larger (unconscious) consensus process of consent by silence.

    We are They. Them is Us. And this isn’t just theory: I’m talking about a level of self-awareness.

    Not that there “are not” malefactors aplenty, who deserve justice (i.e. to go to jail and repay what they have taken); but I suspect that the so-called 1% may in fact be an imaginary elite who do not in fact exist—or rather that there are far fewer than those .0001% who would identify with being one of the evil emperor’s guard. The construct may feel very empowering to the disempowered and poor (like myself), but to many of sound mind in the middle of America who have worked and lived complacently within the system (not so much like myself), it feels like a nut-job conspiracy theory. It starts to feel like a scape-goating ritual or a witch hunt.

    The 1% construct is now used in a variety of ways—and more and more to identify individuals that the people don’t like for one reason or another—but its principle referent, as generally used by OWS, appears to be those with access to capital and other forms of power, who have abused these privileges. However, in more general circulation it aims at all people of extreme means.

    I am probably the poorest person I know, although you’d never know it on meeting me (appearances can be deceiving). That said, as an active member of the art community in good standing, I know personally many very very wealthy people. Many of them are in (unstated, as yet) affinity with the Occupation, as they are in general with causes on the left. Conversely, I also know many as poor as I am, or close, who resent the Occupation as shattering their chances to be a millionaire. Being good, generous, compassionate, kind or just has nothing to do with ho much money one has. To suggest otherwise, as many do now regularly, is just another unfortunate symptom of ignorance.

    I invite you to add to this list of isms and their like:
    Racism Judging someone by the color of their skin
    Sexism Judging someone by their gender

    Homophobia Fearing (and judging) someone based their sexual orientation

    Ageism Judging someone by how old they are, or how young

    Wealthism Judging someone by how much money they have or have access to
    Elitism Believing that those who are “enlightened” through awareness should have a stronghold on the discourse, over those who have been enlightened merely by life experience
    Bad Populism Believing that people just like us (i.e. the common folk) are the real people—as opposed to those above or below us in education and intellectual inclination. Anti-intellectualism has been rampant in America for years

    Bad Regionalism Believing that people from one region or another are inherently better than those from another
    Technocracy Believing that only experts in one discipline (lawyers, doctors, politicians, and software developers, to name a few) really know anything about what is really going on
    Bureaucracy Believing that only those sanctioned by the powers that be should have any power to make decisions
    Economic Determinists Those who believe that money is the true and only source of power

    All of us need to be on guard against these tendencies in ourselves, which for some of us may indeed be natural or scripted into the fabric of our institutions and thoughts, and invisible to us (or immediately closeted as they emerge).

    It is my hope, as a member of the Vision & Goals working group, that we can issue a statement, less in direct contravention of the 99% rhetoric of identification than in direct support of the principle of judging someone by the aesthetic merit and ethical character of their actions, words, images, relationships—as well as the relative value of these things to themselves, their families, and friends; to the places where they work, their local communities, their cities, their churches, their universities, to their States, to their Nations, and to the world and all its citizens, species and resources.
    (…After we do that, then we can worry about what is happening out in outer space.)

    Please, let’s start with an initiative to achieve a consensus on a mindful and balanced neutrality, which is the essence of non-violence. Only then, can we create initiatives to address past wrongs, perhaps on a case-by-case basis. We want just and opportunity for all. We do not want open Civil War in America.

    Thank you. That’s just my 2 cents ☺

    • Natasha

      Donald, Michael replied to you informing you that Saturday, December 17th at 11:59 PM is the deadline for feedback (see below).

      “Michael Korn said on December 13, 2011

      Hi Donald,

      The last day for substantive additions to the present document will be midnight Saturday, Dec 17th (Midnight). You have only 5 more days to “place your order” before this sale is finished. So Hurry!

      Peace, ‘bro!”

  9. Donald O. Carroll

    Sorry, formatting on the list got mished up in the copy and paste from Word so it reads all ajumble. I’d fix it here but I can find no edit button of my post.

    Don :-)

  10. Jordan Soreff

    All; thank you for incorporating so many beautiful thoughts into this document, and from me, personally, thank you for removing the confrontational tones which bothered me so. If it is consensed upon now, it is within a comfortable range of acceptability for me now. But, I would like to see the document grow brighter yet as to attain a brilliance so illuminating as to become an irresistable force in our humble universe.

    What continues to bother me now is not so much the content, but the style, Is it too much to expect brilliance? Admittedly, I don’t have a perfect rewrite to offer yet, and may not be able to make a worthy contribution before the deadline; but in my opinion, craftsmanship is needed to shine this and make it gleam like the sun; mere tin will not cut through centuries of intolerance and abuse, we need to guild this lilly with gold (or something even better that has no financial connotations).

    “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and we live in a world where wealth all too often is power. This corrodes Democracy”

    This is such an important logical syllogism which is being stated in a cliche and ineffective manner. If we want to talk about corrosion, use metallic words; if we want to talk about corruption, go another way. It should be consistent and brilliant.

    “Democracy has suffered at the cruel hands of capitalism. The tyrannical synchronization of power and wealth has become so intolerable as to no longer endure our passive agreement. We must rise up now together so as to reconcile that great capitalist machine to our greater social needs.”

    Don’t quote me here, I’m just playing with words, but maybe you see what I’m getting at.

  11. Jordan Soreff

    “We envision a truly free, democratic, and just society, built on the following principles:”

    Again, such an important thought needs to have more style and weight… It needs an inner power to set it in its proper place in the great collective unconscious of our minds;

    “We set forth now an ineluctable framework upon which to secure for ourselves and our posterity a society rich in the enjoyment of individual freedoms, balanced by a pure an incorruptible sense of justice, and caring for all through an equal and democratic social organization defined by the following irrefutable principles;”

    Again, I am trying because I’m impassioned, but I’m no true artisan; just another OWS’er trying to help out. Maybe you’ll like some of these phrases, maybe not.

  12. Jordan Soreff

    The Phrase, “We cannot wait for anyone to create this society for us”

    This phrase bothers me logically. The only “anyone” we could be referring to with that kind of omnipotence would be “God” himself. And anything we create, implicitly comes from “God” anyway, so it doesn’t really make sense. I mean, who might we have been waiting for, Obama? GWB? Don’t make me laugh.

    We are expressing the urgency of the need and imploring that the time for all to act is now. That is the crux of the thought and it is restated in the next sentence. You could almost drop the phrase completely and the document might sound more eloquent without losing any content.

    Or express the need for urgency in a more sophisticated way… or express strong confidence in a call to action…

    For example,
    “With this vision we are now empowered. With our emboldened hearts now beating strongly, we unite to achieve the necessary task. We will build a more perfect union. We will build it here. We will build it now.”

    Just some more suggestions, take them for what you will. Just trying to shine it up a bit. It’s a beautiful piece already, but I guess sometimes I just can’t shut up.

  13. Shoshannah Benmosché

    Thanks Jordan, here’s my feeble effort to tie it up with a crescendo:

    We are a world filled with brilliant hearts and minds. We cannot wait for others to create a just society. We who are here today must build it ourselves. Starting right here, right now: We reclaim our freedom and the responsibility of each member of society to assert their rights and aspirations to the fullness of their capacity and the obligation of our public institutions to facilitate fair and open participation of perceived minorities, including a minority of one. We must cultivate this new world in our hearts and manifest it in our actions. We must work together, creatively and in solidarity, to change the culture and character of our public institutions to reflect these democratic values, and revoke their mandate if they cannot.

  14. Donald O. Carroll

    I broke with my own tradition and my better self to speak aloud with my own personal concerns. I am a committed Friend. I rushed to judgment, and I feel stupid. Thank you @Michael Korn, I missed your kind response in the profusion of debris.

    I have, against my better (worldly) judgment, given myself over to the Occupation. My skill set, from 25 years in the field, I can only imagine, must be frightening to anyone who hides behind rhetoric or expertise, as I am the nut-head mercenary who financed my own opposition independently by going mercenary to the Fortune-100s, like Sony Records, whom I have assiduously consulted on how to wing their hollow victories through “smart” and targeted and personalized messaging and reward structures (sell shit through building engagement and customer loyalty, i.e. recruitment).

    I am against divisiveness in all its many guises, especially those that credit themselves as enlightened. I have no desire to be the thorn; but, I WILL, if I must. Please know, you always have the power to expel me from your academy, should you consense upon that. I am only here to act by the anxious dictates of my conscience, which has been seasoned through struggle and poverty and many many seasons of it.

    Please don’t take it personally. Personally, I am kind, patient, and generous. I have know doubt you would like my smile. To explain: I have for far too long lingered casually in the luxury of knowing that to do nothing at all is better than doing anything wrong. But the world has changed: The time for luxury and privilege has come and gone. I see the whites of their eyes, now. My bullets are nothing more than shares of what i have learned about learning how to trust.

    I say, trust in trust. I say, PLEASE, don’t ever put your trust in principled mistrust, which will only eventuate in outright Civil War or failure and defeat of everything WE believe in, and embarrassments about our dignified responses and recants. Please, let’s open out hearts to each other. And please, let’s do it according to simple protocols that everyone understands. Please, let’s create a firm and gentle foundation of trust that others can pick up when we are asleep or exhausted or gone. Please, let’s remove the ego. Please, let’s share the burden. Please, let’s do it together. Please let’s humbly PROCLAIM our unity in believing that we can do it. Please, let’s not “own” it. Please, let’s allow our selves to be forgotten, in the hope that others may some day settle down and smell the roses, which are so beautiful, I seem to remember.

    According to my mandate, being an active participant in Accountability & Transparency, I have to tell you, I will not hesitate to block, not for an instant, on behalf of a larger consensus. I am not at all comfortable with this role, as it is in direct antagonism of everything I only several weeks ago believed, like cordiality, and collegial bonds of trust and meritocracy and seniority and trust built over time; but given the opportunties and challenges of the Occupation.

    I am sorry that my mouth is too big for my stomach, as they say, with my eyes on the prize of justice and love. I, and those like me, am the very core of the problem in the Occupation, which is too much enthusiasm for the opportunity at hand. I defer to the greater judgment of consensus at every level at will never block unless I foresee the imminence of destruction, which I will NEVER abide. If I have to stand down on every issue, I will; still, I will maintain that position of antagonism as a placeholder, because it is the proven miracle of the Occupation’s momentum that we can realize the incorporation of valid dissent.

    I am like a three-year-old or an 80-year-old skeptic, or somewhere confused btw the two. But it is not about me, not at all. It is about all of us. What many forget now in the enthusiasm of the moment is that is not about me or you, or any of us individually—nor even our personal networks of trust that our service has built: We need to overtly accommodate worst-case scenario to test the thesis, like the fat policeman cliche, who may or may not exist, who likes donuts and enjoys pepper-spraying kids on weekends, because he not so secretly hates us.

    (sorry for the impacted challenge that follows…) Why don’t we have the courage to step individually, as independents (just as we someday will surely, each of us die alone, and thus will be ajudged, probably according to our own fears and—speaking now in my truest state, as a secular humanist—by our own condemnations, but also by history), into a rigorous self-scrutiny, whereby it is perfectly obvious are the “Very Them”—we the children of privileged-enlightenment AND alienated-poverty alike, even the passive observers among us, who are afraid of the dangers of direct democracy—who ourselves dis-empower and subvert all of us reflexively and collectively, by grim virtue of our ego-driven urge to “help” those less fortunate, as we speak on behalf of them again, prematurely to even asking what they even think—why don’t have the courage to speak to the limit of what we know and feel??????????????

    What I have observed in the inner workings of the Occupation both inspires and alarms me. This is no joke. Please drop everything. We see the whites of our own eyes (in Technicolor, even). Never in history, to my knowledge, which to some of you may falsely appear extensive has their been the opportunity of such an easy victory in the name of enlightened and progressive and realistic causes to make this happen.

    I pray as I write, as a spiritual man, that I have no more sentences in me. Please respond. I have no desire to subjugate you, only to learn. Please call me wrong. I will listen. I will learn. You have me 24/7, if you care, as I and so many of us do. I ive at 487 Driggs Ave. in Wburg. I am not the only one there. But it is I who am privileged to offer you a drink.

    That’s all I have to say on behalf of myself. On behalf of all of the several or may religions with which I am involved, lovingly and in perfect sincerity, all I can tell you is, we care and too, just like the rest of everybody, are eager to learn.

    As a painfully active member of A&T, I care about nothing more than getting everyone in the world to jump on Noah’s ship. Please never presume to think to know what is going on. Please never even presume to know who you are. Open and your ears. Pay attention. It may surprise you :-)

    D.O.C. —hi

    • Jordan Soreff

      There is a link posted by Natasha in a previous post on Dec 13 which brings you to a survey where you can comment directly on each phrase of the document as it reads now.

  15. Donald O. Carroll

    Does anyone out there even read anymore—or is it, like Facebook, just another silly ‘sponsored’ opportunity to vent, and enjoy the delusion that we are being ‘herd’?

  16. Jordan Soreff

    @pelican I have read your posts. You have a lot to say. It’s a bit hard to focus on your major points. Are you asking to delay this initiative and instead refocus on a vision statement based more around principled non-violence of the individual and less around any form of economic engagement?

  17. Daryl Atamanyk

    Following extract imported from V&G OUR MORAL CONDITION:

    The V&G VISION STATEMENT as reads at present suffers innumerable difficiencies.

    However, I happened upon another party’s vision statement yesterday…that is a very REAL vision statement. Please let me encourage you and everyone to check out the document posted at the beginning of the thread entitled THE NEW COMMON SENSE REALLY MAKES SENSE! started by a new group called MILLION OCCUPIERS MARCH. That “vision statement” is so obviously superior in content and quality of expression compared to ours, that it leaves me wondering why we have not adopted it as our own on behalf of the movement? [I wouldn’t be surprised if it was written by a Supreme Court Judge (hint!). It is worthy of an American forefather; unlike our statement. ]

    Already the “wheel has been invented” in that statement I read yesterday. Why are we insisting that the wheel that we put on display be of our own invention despite that other being by leaps and bounds a infinitely superior product? Could it be our egos do you think?.

    I’m just sayin’

    There’s greed like Brendan says re: money, and use of that money to wield power. That greed has always been there: always will be there. That’s why “checks and balances” exist. But there are also different kinds of greed: the greed for recognition and the need to be “right”; and the greed for being seen to be right in others eyes, even when we are so wrong. This latter greed interferes with progress: it interferes with our discerning Truth.

    Please read that other vision statement and pass the word along. In contrast to that statement, ours is an embarrassment of naivety. [Sorry for what some might regard as bad news, and undiplomatic bluntness: but the GOOD NEWS is the existence of that statement!]

    Please don’t kill the messenger.

  18. Shoshannah Benmosché

    While any are left to us, I am for legal, non-violent, democratic means of reestablishing the Constitution at the core of our government and society.

    This document is both a vision and a practical goal that we have the privilege to bring to the world; our own healing.

  19. Daryl Atamanyk


    That’s the link to the vision statement to which I am referring.

    If you Google search that link: it’s first on the list the results of that search.