End of meeting Minutes:
Ross reads his document aloud:
As if anticipating our own historical moment, Guy Debord once offered the following advice to anyone seeking to change the world: “Be realistic,” he insisted. “Demand the impossible!”
It is perhaps no coincidence that the only politics befitting the dignity of human freedom today seems to us an impossibility. We stand at the end of a long line of revolutionary defeats — some tragic, others farcical. The world lies strewn with the detritus of dead epochs. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.
And yet the past feels unbearably remote and out of reach, uncomprehended; it confronts us as an alien entity. Yesterday’s grand visions of emancipation appear to us as so many distant, delicate daydreams — untenable, unthinkable. Still in the background one can hear the faint echoes of La Marseillaise and L’Internationale, the notes all run together.
But these notes have largely been drowned out by the white noise of postmodernity. The memory of such past struggles has faded, humanity’s deepest wish-fulfillments forgotten. Instead we remain spellbound and transfixed by the current state of affairs. We have lost the ability to imagine a society built on principles fundamentally different from our own.
Without an adequate understanding of the past, we have chained ourselves to the dumb reality of the present, abandoning all hope for a better future. What little political imagination still survives is kept alive only by scavenging the desiccated remains of what once was possible. We have thus set sail into the open seas of ahistory, and landed promptly in oblivion. Only now are we beginning to glimpse the first rose-fingered rays of the dawn of a new era.
Despite all the emphasis that has been placed upon “letting one’s voice be heard” and “hearing voices” (one almost begins to feel schizophrenic), we have as yet been unable to voice a single demand. Every attempt to articulate a unified vision of the world to come has been lost amidst the general cacophony and confusion.
Feelings of futility notwithstanding, we are nonetheless compelled to go back to the old drawing-board — to “give it another go.” To launch a manifesto one has to want: A, B, & C; and fulminate against: 1, 2, & 3. One must sign, shout, swear, and organize prose into a form that is absolutely and irrefutably obvious, in order to prove its ne plus ultra.
But rather than just air a laundry-list of social grievances, a kitchen-sink of disconnected single issues divorced from any broader vision of global emancipation, we prefer to rally under the banner of one overarching principle that encompasses them all. This is at once the most abstract, metaphysical, but for that very reason the most radical of all demands:
Humanity can accept nothing less than the promise of limitless human freedom.
This universal ideal has in recent years been rendered increasingly banal and diluted, robbed of the radicalism it once held. Yet it is incumbent upon us to rescue this once noble notion from the clutches of its supposed spokesmen, to defend its honor against those who presently claim to act in its name. For the false “freedom” that has so far been offered up to us under our present system is akin to the cheap sense of freedom one gets from selecting among various brands of the same basic product at the supermarket. It is the illusory freedom of the slave who merely gets to freely choose his master.
The question of freedom must be posed afresh — in its most profound sense — so that it might be retrieved. For in the answer to this question alone resides the secret of the Revolution. The cry of “Liberté, egalité, fraternité!” still rings through the ages, but it has thus far fallen on deaf ears. Humanity must be awakened from its comatose state, its long ahistorical torpor, so that freedom can at last be realized.
By “freedom” is understood at least the following:
1. Freedom from oppression.
2. Freedom from want.
3. Freedom from fear.
4. Freedom from disease.
5. Freedom from ignorance.
6. Freedom from superstition.
7. Freedom from apathy.
8. Freedom from boredom (ennui).
9. Freedom from necessity.
10. Freedom without borders (liberté sans frontières).
From nature we have built up our own “second nature” — society — which still presently compels us and presses us into its service. To this day we treat its every blind caprice and passing fancy if it were the outcome of some natural law, eternal and unchanging. Its periodic crises appear to us as accidental, a result of human error. In reality, however, the entire rotten system is founded upon a perpetual crisis occurring continuously at the core of production. International capital is as the insatiable god Baal, into whose bloody maw millions upon millions of steaming human sacrifices are thrown.
Until we gain mastery over this social world we have created, humanity will remain unfree. To date, men have made their own history, but have not made it as they please; they have not made it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. Once we are able to self-consciously take command of the vast forces of production we have released into the world, humanity’s own social organization — hitherto confronting it as a necessity imposed by history — will now become the result of its own free action. The extraneous objective forces that have up to this point governed history now pass under the control of humanity itself.
Only from that time will humanity henceforth make its own history, rather than be made by history. It will signal humanity’s ascent from the realm ofnecessity to the realm of freedom.
So it is with this vision that we claim our rightful inheritance to the legacy handed down to us by the great radical thinkers of the past. And thus do we also take up the mantle of democracy once again in opposition to those who would deny it to us. With Jefferson, we swear “eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” And with the firebrand Paine, we unflinchingly proclaim that
Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generation which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave, is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.
And if this vision of human emancipation seems too unimaginable, too wildly utopian, I have merely to reply that the only more utopian idea is the naïve belief that things will ever change under the present system, that the prevailing social order could somehow be reformed through piecemeal legislation within the framework of the existing state.
Ross: We have to go to the drawing board and come up with a unified vision.
To recapitulate where we are in history
group agrees on 5 min. for discussion:
Jim; I want to say two things about freedom
- What are we going to be free from?
- As a scientist I say we will never be free from the natural laws
Bill: We have found a poet, As a vision statement it is wordy, but the poetry of this has value
Bob: I truly appreciate your effort but this reveals an immense task. Although I like the idea of progress leading to freedom but we haven’t even begun to address the visions from Africa or the history of psychic discourse in Asia. We need to go to the diverse imagery and this shows us the limits of New York and New Yorkers because we have been apart from the people of color. We need dialogue with the people of color for a visions and goals document to be inclusive of the 99%
Frank: Limitless freedom is horrifying, but I like that you contradict yourself when you say there are limits to freedom. I think your whole document can be boiled down to preserving the basic freedoms and rights we all have
Ross’ response to Bob: I am on board in integrating Native American, African & Asian views, The thinkers I draw inspiration from drew their inspiration from tribes like the Iroquois both Marx and Rousseau often spoke of the great beauty they saw in the native American traditions.
Both Bob and ross agree the Cyclical and Linear models of history must be dialogued
Bob: the piece as a whole is wordy and needs edits it would be great if you mentioned somewhere in the document how these thinkers were influenced by other cultures.
Our vision is that of a free democratic and just society, where we, the people, come together and solve our problems; where people are encouraged to take personal responsibility and play an active role in decision making; where power and wealth are not controlled by a privileged few but rather are shared by all; where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for the differing views of others; where we secure the civil and human rights of all from infringement by tyrannical forces and unjust governments; where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings; where we value human needs over monetary gain; where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water, and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.
This proposal is a distillation from the GA this is not me going off on my own. What I am trying to propose is something the GA can consent upon:
Ross- in terms of the audience, are you addressing the American Government or all governments? Is this global.?
Frank: It is addressed to the people of the world. It is global.
Ross: Wont the tyrannies you mention then be gone already
Frank: The struggle to get to that place will most likely be a long one and once it is reached whose to say there wont be breakouts of tyranny in different regions.
Richard: I’ve been here since August, where we have been pushing for 1 issue but I’ve been convinced it is not the issue thats important but instead to trust the process which is democracy, the number 1 absolute goal is democracy…. (almost aside)but maybe it has to get institutionalized somewhere along the line
Bob: The value is that all is condensed into 1 paragraph. Thats reductionism and it is valuable but the value of poetry is to spread the words and ideas out in such a way that will resonate and one of the benefits of looking at other cultures like the the Iroquois is that they can show us how something like democracy or consensus can be real. This paragraph or the Iroquois example are one map and the ways they can be misunderstood could be valuable.
. unknown speaker: whatever we come up with there has to be a connection, from NYC to billings Montana. As a person of color I don’t feel left out. I’m homeless and stay in a shelter and try to get people of color to participate in the movement and involved. Because the idea is definitely out there that it is just abunch of white people. And people of color are not represented. We need a statement and we need to get it moving, I’m not saying we rush it but we need a statement soon
Bill: Frank this is succinct and is clearer than the blueprint breakout- GA doc. An overriding principle could be the peace principle (presented earlier in the meeting) it could be something like an underlying philosophy.
Dorje: I think we have something with the similar proposals of the democracy/consensus & Freedom issues. They can be seen to overlap and be facets of the same idea. This might be the way to go for our unifying statement. I think we have something here.
This was the end of the body of the meeting;
4 agenda points were proposed;
- Ross: Let’s consider Bill, Frank and Ross’ proposals as alternatives to the 10 point GA breakout document have a discussion only. I am not saying we scrap the 10 points.
- Frank: Discussion and Adding of Frank’s draft and how we will deal with it as part of a document by Visions & Goals
- Bob: Combine the 3 elements Franks Bill and Bob brought up with the perspectives of people of color throughout history( my notes are poor here so please lets get this one clear at the beginning of the next meeting.)
- unknown man: The document does not have to be scrapped, we should Discuss how these ideas should be included with what we’ve been going over the last few meetings. Nothing needs to be scrapped everything we have so far we should decide how to include somehow.
Bill leads us in a peace ceremony of the Iroquois to end the meeting