Statement of horizontalism

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THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL OWS DOC.  It is being posted for discussion purposes only, and may or may not be brought to the GA following an extensive consensus-building process.

Statement of horizontalism

We, the NYCGA encourage autonomous actions.  We recognize that ours is a leaderless movement.  We encourage everyone to use their energy as completely as possible insofar as others are not marginalized by this use of energy.  We encourage the formation of processes that will dismantle systems of power both in NYCGA and beyond.  We will exercise caution when dismantling these systems so as not to allow the replacement of old systems of power with similarly oppressive new systems of power.

[please help me craft a better way to express "authority."  Everyone has "authority."  I'm looking for a way to express special, exclusive, hierarchical, patriarchal, or oppressive authority.]

-We do not recognize the authority of violence or the threat of violence.

-We do not recognize the authority of traditionally dominant voices.

-We do not recognize the authority of those involved in the movement longer than others.

-We do not recognize the authority of individuals who are financially empowered, educated, or famous inside or outside of the NYCGA.

-We do not recognize the authority of those more familiar with NYCGA process.

-We do not recognize the authority of those who have made sacrifices for the movement, are more involved, or are members of working groups.

-We do not recognize the authority of facilitators or proposers.

-We do not recognize the authority of those in editorial or curatorial positions.

-We do not recognize the authority of elected officials.

-We do not recognize the authority of police, federal agents, or courts, because in any case we are operating in the spirit of the Constitution of the United States.

We will constantly dismantle systems of power that develop within our movement.  When a system of power appears to intentionally or unintentionally take a position of power the process should be addressed appropriately.

The authority that the NYCGA may choose to recognize includes:

-the power of the consent of the General Assembly, and the power of our continually improved process for reaching consent.

-the authority expressly granted by the GA to advocates in single instances where the GA process will be an obstacle to our intentions (i.e. emergency legal wrangling, traveling delegations, etc.)

-the individual authority for all to act and speak autonomously so long as the actions or words are not meant to  represent the NYCGA or pose a threat to safety or security of any individuals or the movement at large

-the authority of ad hoc groups acting in the spirit of the movement to address single emergency concerns of safety or security when other methods prove inadequate (i.e. addressing theft and assault)

5 Responses to “Statement of horizontalism”

  1. Rick Gold

    Hi all and my comments,
    I like the opening, positive and constructive, “Statement of horizontalism’

    “We, the NYCGA encourage autonomous actions by any individuals, whether empowered or marginalized. We recognize that ours is a leaderless movement. We encourage everyone to use his or her energy as completely as possible as long as others are not marginalized by this use of (this) energy. We encourage the formation of processes that will [dismantle these] (replace and create new more human) systems not only in NYCGA functions but throughout the movement and throughout every aspect of human existence. We will exercise caution when [dismantling] (replacing and creating) these systems so as not to allow the replacement of old systems of power with similarly oppressive new systems of power.”

    I do not like these negative statements as they are oppressive to me (and probably many others):

    -We do not recognize the authority of traditionally dominant voices. ( A voice has NO authority unless one gives it authority. So …) We recognize that each individual holds a part of the truth and we will listen actively to ALL with equal consideration.

    -We do not recognize the authority of those involved in the movement longer than others. (Doesn’t work for me either) How about … We recognize the commitment, the sacrifice, the knowledge and the fortitude of each and every person who chooses to take part, regardless of how long they have participated.

    -We do not recognize the authority of individuals who are financially empowered, educated, or famous inside or outside of the NYCGA. (nope again) We acknowledge that ALL individuals in the 99% have come from differing backgrounds, including socially, politically, economically, and spiritually etc and we honor their contributions to our autonomy.

    -We do not recognize the authority of those more familiar with NYCGA process. (nope again) We acknowledge that we can all learn and grow from one another, even those who are more familiar with NYCGA process.

    -We do not recognize the authority of those who have made sacrifices for the movement, are more involved, or are members of working groups. (sorry again. I personally recognize and give thanks daily to the many brave and determined people who are an integral part of the Occupy movement. For instance Scott Olsen and an 84-year-old woman, a priest and a pregnant woman who were pepper sprayed in Seattle as well as many, many others. And I will not marginalize their contributions!)

    -We do not recognize the authority for anyone to speak on behalf of the movement. (How about this … Occupy is an autonomous movement and thus has no one who speaks on behalf of the movement.

    -We do not recognize the authority of facilitators or presenters. (We recognize that our model of facilitation and decision making requires facilitators and presenters, who utilize consensus as a model. These roles are rotated regularly.

    -We do not recognize the authority of those in an editorial or curatorial positions. (We recognize that many, many of the 99% have been trained and held various positions of knowledge and experience which could be useful in creating more meaningful dialogue and better all around communication.)

    -We do not recognize the authority of elected officials. (this one is ok)

    -We do not recognize the authority of police, federal agents, or courts to restrict the NYCGA, and should we choose to engage them we assert that the spirit of the first amendment protects our freedom of assembly (this one is ok, but problematic for emergency services)

    -We do not recognize the authority of violence or the threat of violence. (This one needs to be … We actively employ and encourage nonviolence is everything Occupy and recognize the authority of violence or the threat of violence is subhuman.)

    Obviously, this document needs a lot of revision to make it more positive overall.

    In solidarity, Rick

  2. rottkamp

    I really like this, Joe. I think Rick’s objections mostly refer to the negative logic of your statements, not their content. (Where this isn’t the case, I disagree with him.) This might be a valid concern in terms of persuading people of this perspective, but it has nothing to do with the meaning, and frankly the criticism reeks of PR/ad-speak. That said, I will admit it’s something to consider, though I personally would love to see a large group of people reach consensus on a ruthless document like this.

    Many occupations are making use of this: http://rnc08report.org/archive/224.shtml
    which I think is somewhat relevant to your thinking here.

    side note: I don’t think you need to burden yourself with reference to the Constitution.

    • rottkamp

      I should add, even though it’s obvious, that the Facilitation process probably aligns with your intent here. An alternative to composing something like this might be to help foster and improve that process. I think process is the stronger approach because we can enact it directly.

  3. Rick Gold

    Hi again,

    Thank you rottkamp for totally missing the points that I brought forth in this discussion. We are writing about inclusiveness in the movement through facilitation. Mary Jo Koch replied to this update with the following:
    “Your suggestions are infinitely better. The originals capture why everyday I left OWS for weeks, I resolved that I was never coming back, that the value of education, commitment, experience was being totally belittled. It is so pro foundly anti-intellectual. Education has nothing to do with privilege. All you need is a library card. There is no excuse for ignorance.”
    You both employ male voices and support negative logic to stress your points and unfortunately, what was spoken to, was the fact that you are excluding others. Mary Jo, above speaks to this clearly. You are excluding her and I don’t know how many others by BELITTLING her. This my friends is the violence we all seek to end in this movement.
    Now, please address the points I make, 1 by 1, do not marginalize them or me, so that we may facilitate a larger, more cohesive non-violent movement. Ruthlessness, is for the thugs, rottkamp and I would hope that you get this and that you will truly consider that we need the Mary Jo’s of this movement. We need all the 99%, not just you and your ruthless buddies!
    In solidarity, Rick

  4. rottkamp

    Rick,
    I don’t know who Mary Jo is and I think you missed my point. I think Joe’s statement is ruthlessly *inclusive*. He’s not excluding these authorities, but he’s asking for their participation as equals, something the process ensures.