VISIONS & GOALS WORKING GROUP
October 26, 2011
Members Present: Zocera, Andy, Ryan, Mike, Patrick, Frank, Ed, Abe, Riley, David L., David G., Sharon, Amanda, Rich, Leia, Uma, Jim, Rachel, Isaac, Dorje, Eual, Dustin, Jason & Melanie
Meeting convened at 5:45p.m.
The meeting begins with 1 minute of respectful silence.
Jim and Zocera volunteer to co-facilitate. They will make clear when they wish to speak for themselves as individuals, as opposed to as facilitators.
There is a brief discussion of our working agenda. Consensus is achieved around the following order: 1) Breakout group feedback review, 2) Internet Site, 3) Our Raison D’Etre
Jim distributes copies of the breakout feedback summaries he has created. Abe notes that Jim’s summaries may represent his viewpoint, and he calls for review of the original documents afterwards. Amanda reads the original document aloud, and then members of the group read the feedback summary points aloud. Discussion ensues.
Amanda & Leia both feel that audience focus is important. Dorje inquires whether it’s our job to make up our own document, and if so, what process should we use? Isaac thinks that our audience should be the whole world – this is OWS’ statement to them. David L. opines that we should function like a mirrored ball; we have to create a document that reflects us and also provides a framework for everyone everywhere to identify with and reinterpret.
Jason notes that we should focus heavily on the universal ideas herein: education, happiness, truth, justice… getting into specific details can be endless and should be avoided. Mike thinks that the first message is good; he recognizes that the critique of centralizing these goals has merit. On points 9 & 10, he thinks that they can be consolidated into a single economic strategy. Rich reads his suggested preamble language into the record.
Rich: “Our Declaration Of Independence states that ‘all [persons] are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights – in order to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’ Our government no longer works this way. Since we became a country, we have tolerated the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, leading to the growth of corporate power. According to philosopher John Rawls, inequalities are justifiable only when, among other things, they benefit those who have least. If our economy ever worked this way, it certainly does not work this way today. Elizabeth Warren reminded the 1% of American who control the lion’s share of our wealth of the debt they owe to society under the (unwritten) social contract which binds us together as a nation. In order to make our government work as the founders intended, and to make our economy work to the benefit of all, with all the parties fulfilling their roles in our society, we propose the following:”
Dorje notes that a statement of human emancipation of some kind is a good idea, and idea that’s been heard in the movement before. Leia opines that OWS is a closed system. We can’t be hamstrung by the idea that we will represent everyone. Abe speaks to Dorje’s point about process from the last meeting, and he suggests that we consider “supra-rational dialog” for integration of ideas. We can likely all agree on greed and corruption as central themes here, and we can allow ourselves to stand in solidarity with other ideas in which we cannot find total agreement.
Jim adds that, speaking for his group, there was considerable disappointment with the document, but that folks were pleased with the ideas. He suggests a scientific survey of everyone would be useful. Finally, there are too many points here, but fortunately there is relatively little ground that they do not cover. Isaac reiterates that the whole world would work as the audience, and the idea of a survey is excellent. Human emancipation could be the central theme – we should look at historical documents like the Declaration Of Independence and baldly plagiarize if needed.
Ryan suggests that the purpose of the document is important to decide. He thinks we should start with understanding the local rallying cries. Also, some of the existing language is exclusionary. Certain groups are not ready to get behind everything being said. One sentence about OWS’ purpose is needed. Zocera thinks that now is the time to define; polling isn’t useful. Weren’t we thinking about a November 11th release date? We should keep the language abstract so that others can latch onto it. We already have the benefit of NYC’s many diverse viewpoints.
Dorje thinks that addressing the world is not absolutely necessary. Online forums and moderation are absolutely critical ideas – they have huge potential to create universal buy-in. Jason notes that, sometimes, societal advances are scary and many who would benefit choose to oppose them. He gives the example of his own African-American ancestors in the old south, who were opposed to the idea of the end of slavery. Point is, sometimes a few people have to make some assumptions and give reform a kick in the rear, even when it’s scary to do so.
Ed states that the language must be made simpler. Language is our human connection to each other, and these bookish phrases are alienating. Thinking about thought vs. action is a mistake; they are one. He thinks that the celebratory comments are good, but the modality is key – “fustumlich of the people.” If we are right, but we are perceived not to eat, sleep & dance with the people, then they will shun our ideas, simply because they have not reached them where they live.
Abe thinks that a survey is an OK idea, but it must be more defined. Reasserts that we should read the actual feedback statements to get the vibe of each individual group. This is a leaderless movement, so we aren’t going to speak for everyone. Also our website will have a section available for comments on improving the site. Mike brings up the notion of equality vs. egalitarianism, and he suggest that the latter may be the better approach. Egalitarianism is respecting of everyone’s needs, but it is not constrained by objectivity or truth – this is a liberating angle of approach. Proceeding with a call for strict equality is wrongheaded.
David L. requests that someone bring some historical documents to the next meeting for our review; this can be a very good place for us to start. Jim asks the group to consider that there may be too many points, and he thinks that we could get from 10 down to 7. How to do this?
Isaac wonders if there is any way to plan our agendas further out than just next meeting; he finds that his job is interfering with attendance here, but he still wants to participate. (Consensus is against this.) Ken points out that when we examine the points of view of the 99% vs the 1%, we’re looking at a perceived lack of trust on the one hand and a perceived lack of integrity on the other. Also, we want to listen to each other with consideration. On egalitarianism, he thinks that this is the center of the movement. Rich concurs, adding that corporations and government have breached this trust.
Jim observes that if we solve one major problem, it may in turn lead to multiple solutions in other areas. Being patient and taking the longer view on some of these things can be a good idea. David G. suggests that we need to encourage greater participation in this group. Patrick agrees, but points out that everyone we need to hear from probably wouldn’t fit in even the largest room. How do we expand online?
Amanda states that this is really dry. “Bringing up Existentialism?? Fucking hell!!!” There’s a huge tree of ideas growing here; what are the threads holding it all together? But we don’t want to be passionless. Beauty must enter the document, or we risk losing everyone’s attention completely.
Setting next meeting’s agenda: After 30 minutes of sometimes-heated discussion, consensus is reached around 1) Reading through the original feedback documents, and 2) Opening stack afterwards to hear our thoughts and reactions.
Meeting ends at 7:45p.m.