OVERVIEW: I’m kind of sick of the dysfunctionality and egoism within Vision & Goals, and the reverential attitude we’re supposed to hold toward its (in)famous Blueprint. Ironically, I find that the most egotistical attitudes are those which cling so adamantly to the Blueprint, but who actually feel like the document is “theirs.” So I thought I’d just write up my honest feelings about the document, without pulling any punches. Just to go on record.
I’ll start with this overview of the document and its problems followed by my annotated guide to the full Blueprint itself.
Here’s a very funny excerpt from a public e-mail thread written October 23, 2011 regarding the Vision & Goals Liberty Plaza Blueprint, from the noted activist and commentator Doug Henwood to the labor activist Chris Maisano:
lbo-talk at lbo-talk.orgSubject: Re: [lbo-talk] The “Liberty Square Blueprint”
On Oct 21, 2011, at 10:49 AM, Chris Maisano wrote:
So the anarchist types who have been running the show behind the scenes and actively disrupting the meetings of the working group crafting the jobs for all demand (so much for leaderlessness and self-organization) have finally unveiled their Liberty Square Blueprint — and it is utter rubbish. Not a single word about the tens of millions of unemployed and underemployed, the tens of millions without health insurance, and the tens of millions in poverty. Instead, we read about bartering, urban farming, and charities. Amazing.
The only good thing about this is that its obvious limitations could create an opening for socialists to contend for a greater degree of political and ideological influence within the movement and raise demands that might actually resonate with a broadly-based constituency.
Holy shit, that’s awful. Among many things, they seem poisoned by the belief that open source software can save the world. (Apparently their open-source software doesn’t have a spell checker, unless they think there’s something revolutionary about spelling it “Correlary”).
The wish list — which they weirdly refer to as bullet-point visions — is incredibly vague. How do we “Empower marginalized people to express themselves, build community, and engage systemic/cultural discrimination”? Who are the “we” that grant “them” this power?
The economic planks:
• Create an economy in harmony with nature — by
• Researching, developing and implementing economic models that pursue thriving, abundant and prosperous outcomes for humanity and life — growing beyond the dichotomy of unsustainable and sustainable development. These economic models must be based on sound ethical assumptions and observed individual and market behavior through behavioral economics and econometrics
• Implementing and improving community currencies, barter, sharing, and trade systems
• Building the support and precedence for local and large scale production of renewable energy and food resources
• Eliminating financial/resource speculation that supports the current economy at the expense of future generations
• Learning from and empowering indigenous people in the transition to an economy in harmony with nature — as we
• Make NYC a pioneer of urban farming, renewable energy, grass roots urban/rural exchange, quantitative economic policy and indigenous leadership
are close to meaningless. Who are the “we” that would eliminate speculation, and how? Presumably not state bodies, so who then? What the fuck kind of econometrics do they have in mind? Vector autoregressions will set us free? Community currencies and barter are ludicrous — evidently they never consulted [renowned anarchist anthropologist David] Graeber on the nonexistence of barter societies.
Did “Ketchup” have anything to do with this?
Though I would probably not be as insulting as Doug Henwood, he is right about the economic “planks.” As someone who is thoroughly versed in economic theory (from classical liberal-bourgeois to Keynesian to Marxist), I can safely say that the vast majority of the proposals about urban agriculture and so on are half-baked to ludicrous.
All of this is external to the actual contents of the document, however. I almost feel that I can’t begin addressing its problems. I don’t mean to demean the contributions of anyone who has helped to compose it; there are doubtless some valuable points and ideas in there, though they are few and far between. But even these tend to get lost amidst the general gobbledygook and feel-good nonsense that constitutes most of the document (e.g. “Facilitate the peaceful harmony of humanity’s religious, spiritual and existential traditions” — I can almost guarantee whoever wrote that doesn’t know what “existential” means).
I don’t know how to characterize the document other than as a shapeless blob. It’s unwieldy and hopelessly confused. Even within the space of a single sentence the thoughts utterly lose their coherence. Contradictions, incompatible propositions, and baffling non sequiturs abound throughout the text. Reading through it is like a ticking cognitive dissonance time-bomb.
At any moment the text threatens to unravel of its own entropy.
Rather than establish solid, universal, and overarching first principles from which they could rigorously derive a coherent argument, they just hastily stitched together a bunch of single-issue positions disconnected from one another or any broader vision of social emancipation. This mindless process of aggregation ends up just producing a haphazard, convoluted hodgepodge of random ideas with no apparent relation to one another. Undiluted duncery and numbskullery, all of it.
It truly is a miserable text. Eidetic diarrhea, nothing more.
In my mind, the whole document is so fundamentally misconceived, poorly written, and riddled with politically-correct clichés that I dare say it is unsalvageable (if not unforgivable). To even try to “process,” to attempt to make any sort of sense out of the accumulated nonsense that constitutes this Blueprint, is an exercise in mind-numbing futility.
I’ve read Nijinsky’s diary — the mad scribblings of a schizophrenic — and even that possessed more logic and coherence.
I almost lost count of how many times I read the words “paradigm-shift” and “empowering” (popular postmodern tropes long since rendered banal and meaningless, like “sustainability”).
In truth — and these are just my own suspicions — I doubt that this text was “worked on by over 200 people,” despite repeated reassurances that is was. If it truly was, I would like to know who these people are, because they are very confused. My guess, however, is that the document was mostly written up by Ted, Abe, Luke, Ketchup, and that guy Tim who compose part of the unofficial anarchist hierarchy at OWS. Of course, they will insist that the document was assembled according to their dogmatic program of “horizontality.” Just from having engaged in (more like “endured”) conversation with them, it reads like all the general pseudo-radical nonsense that they tend to subscribe to. I’d characterize its position (which is, incidentally, identical to their own position) as the old ideology of “anti-ideology,” the oldest ideology in the books. “We’re neither Right nor Left, anarchist nor Marxist, etc. nor etc.” It’s all too predictable.
Seeing as they unveiled this document as soon as they officially announced the group’s existence, with decision already made that this was going to be the only document they would work with, it seems highly fishy. So far every attempt to offer (better) alternative documents for consideration has been ignored or shoved aside in order to keep the Blueprint monstrosity front-and-center. They stress the fact that it alone has received the feedback of the GA, or that by sheer dint of its priority (and hence its “venerable” status) it deserves honor above all others.
The most they (the anarchoid vanguard) will ever entertain is to include new contributions according to their usual logic: just indiscriminately tacking them onto the ever-growing mass of the Blueprint. Only “fusion,” “melding,” or “integration” is possible. Even if objectively better texts emerge (better written, better argued, better etc.), they will never be taken as a real alternative to the almighty Blueprint.
In conversation with Zocera, a member of the People of Color caucus and Vision & Goals, she revealed to me that they repeatedly emphasized that the Blueprint represented “a draft of a document that has been worked on for almost a month, contributed to by over 200 people.” She said that from what she could gather, that was their way of pre-ratifying the basic form and muddled content of the document before anyone could vote on it. Zocera continued to explain that they only seemed interested in gathering the additional input of marginalized persons (women and people of color) as a way of adding “multicultural cred” to the document, in what struck her (as a person of color) as rather shameless tokenism and toadying to political correctness.
So without further ado, here it is:
[My own notes will appear in brackets and in gold, aside from the headings]
Full version on an editable (wiki) website. Please note that this is a starting point document and this is a living breathing document!: http://freenetworkmovement.org/commons/index.php?title=Liberty_Square_Blueprint
BRIEF VERSION OF VISION AND GOALS DOCUMENT PRESENTED TO THE NYCGA ON SUNDAY OCTOBER 23, 2011 [SEE BREAKOUT SESSION NOTES]
Visions and Goals
Purpose of Blueprint
Through this document we explain our visions, goals to manifest those visions, and leave room for the corresponding concrete action to achieve those goals for ourselves and humanity. We hope other regional people’s assemblies can create their own blueprints, centered on the future they envision, and structured around the most effective actions to achieve these visions.
Vision Blueprint — note (this is a work in progress that excludes certain details such as goals and actions, so you can focus on the basic visions we have amassed thus far)
Issues — nothing about governance Algonquin principles of peace [what??] — Basis of American Constitution
Adbusters idea — “McSmoothy” “McSmoothy made of McFlurry, McPepperming Mocha and McRib” mmmmm delicious [this is the requisite pithy commentary on consumer culture]
Dialogue and Collection Process
Spend 5 minutes discussion to invent an ideal forums for input on the Visions and Goals Blueprint. This presentation at the GA is one (with Facilitation). Another is to create an online forum with a reddit-like set up (with the Open Source Working Group) [here begins the Vision & Goals group’s weird fetishization of open-source technology]. Another is to speak directly to the Occupiers themselves that are often too busy running day to day kitchen, medical, security, and sanitation duties to have their voices heard in the very movement they are building (with the Think Tank working group).
FLO means Free Libre Open-Source, as one term that describes the non-proprietary practice for developing various technologies and methods as broad as computer operating systems to tractor design.
ORIGINAL: (please note that this version of the document does not have ideal formatting. The corrected original document and a link will be added ASAP)
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1.) Hello World!
Hello world! — We of Liberty Plaza would like to thank the global population for the amazing outpouring of support and inspiration. Our original demand [wait…what demand?] has been already met beyond our greatest hopes. We occupied Wall Street with the intent of bringing attention to an economic system that is detached from real human needs. In less than one month global solidarity and a global dialog has emerged — never in the history of the world [wait, what about 1917? 1968?] have all of the worlds [sic, world’s] citizations [sic, civilizations?] and cultures come together in an unidealogial [sic, non-ideological — you know a movement can’t be ideological if it can’t even spell the word; pre-ideological is more accurate] movement like this.
We present the following living vision of our movement. It is one document among many that work together in focusing our occupation for the public and ourselves. The vision has ten focii with practical goals for New York City. Our goals are aimed to effectively dissolve the shadow government [this is where #OWS converges with popular conspiracy theories, from the New World Order to the Illuminati to International Jewry; what’s more interesting is the “shadow government” within #OWS, i.e. the invisible anarchoid hierarchy] of corporations and banks, literally surrounding Liberty Plaza, that are destroying the American dream, and our planet Earth. We will not fight the shadow government [again]. We will invent new ways of living — that will overcome our constructed dependence upon the shadow government [again]. We will invent the new economy, culture, and technology fitting of the Information Age. We will make New York City a metropolis built for the future.
A few things must be said. Corporations do not make jobs — people make jobs [what does this even mean? have you ever studied economics of any kind, or are you just sloganeering?]. Money does not support livelihood — our Earth supports livelihood [Marx’s basic value/wealth distinction; this is schoolboy shit, really]. The proprietary technology used to hijack and manipulate the human spirit into thinking otherwise no longer belongs to the shadow government — the technology belongs to us. Thus the following ten visions are more than feasible. Only one question remains: When will each goal be achieved? The answer to that depends depends [sic] on YOU [cue Smoky the Bear].
2.) Purpose of Blueprint
Through this document we will explain our vision and corresponding concrete action for ourselves and for humanity. We hope other regional people’s assemblies can create their own blueprints, centered around the future they envision, and structured around the most effective actions to achieve these visions.
3.) Vision Blueprint
Coordinate our occupation with the global movement — by
Facilitating the growth of local movements for direct, organic, participatory consensus-based democracy through transparent, iterative design.
Studying ourselves [γνῶθι σεαυτόν] and other local occupations to find more ideal models of consensus building, decision making and coordinating
Coordinating across local and regional people’s assemblies for deeper impact [in the same sense that the Chicxulub asteroid made a “deep impact”].
Encouraging each occupation to focus on their local economic, cultural and political assets — as we
Make NYC a functioning focal point for other people’s assemblies to dissolve and overcome the shadow government*** rooted in Manhattan
Implement FLO (free libre open-source) solutions for everything [yes, boys and girls, the road to paradise and the solution of all humanity’s problems comes by way of open-source technology] — by
Every bullet point vision described herein shall be supported and implemented through non proprietary technology and methods
Expand people’s knowledge of open-source beyond computers to all technology from tractors to currencies — as we
Make NYC the Open Source Silicon Alley [sic, valley? unless they are trying to be clever]
Create an economy in harmony with nature [again meaningless] — by
Researching, developing and implementing economic models that pursue thriving, abundant and prosperous outcomes for humanity and life — growing beyond the dichotomy of unsustainable and sustainable development [I can guarantee that Ted wrote this little bit; it’s one of his favorite talking-points]. These economic models must be based on sound ethical assumptions and observed individual and market behavior [isn’t rational choice theory what led to the 2008-2011 economic collapse in the first place?] through behavioral economics and econometrics
Implementing and improving community currencies, barter, sharing, and trade systems [I defer to Doug Henwood’s appropriately scathing remarks: “What the fuck kind of econometrics do they have in mind? Vector autoregressions will set us free? Community currencies and barter are ludicrous — evidently they never consulted [renowned anarchist anthropologist David] Graeber on the nonexistence of barter societies. Did “Ketchup” have anything to do with this?]
Building the support and precedence for local and large scale production [industrialized agriculture isn’t going away anytime soon, nor should it] of renewable energy and food resources
Eliminating financial/resource speculation that supports the current economy at the expense of future generations [again, vague sentiments back by virtually no understanding of finance capital; let Hilferding enlighten them: “The specific activity of the stock exchange is really speculation. At first sight, speculation looks like any other purchase and sale. What is purchased, however, is not commodities but titles to interest. A productive capitalist must convert his commodity capital into money — that is, sell it — before he can realize a profit. If another capitalist assumes the task of selling, the industrialist must assign him part of the profit.”]
Learning from and empowering [ugh] indigenous people [I respect Native American and other “indigenous” cultures well enough, but the obsequious obsession of modern white culture with their “ancient, homespun wisdom” is frankly insulting, almost neo-colonialist in its perverse fascination] in the transition to an economy in harmony with nature — as we
Make NYC a pioneer of urban farming [one of the most elitist, inefficient agricultural practices to date], renewable energy, grass roots urban/rural exchange [grassroots populist horseshit], quantitative economic policy [for a pseudo-Keynesian administrative society] and indigenous leadership [with all due respect, why should indigenous people be the leaders? why should any particular people, outside of qualification?]
Create paradigm-shifting [again, poor Kuhn] education (emancipating global citizens from exploitative, community-destroying consumer culture) — by
Empowering [refusal to reflect on their own impotence] community values, engagement, and critical autonomous thought [all this means is being able to recite all the “counterintuitive” anti-consumerist observations, rather than develop a critical and dialectical understanding of the world]
Empowering [whoever wrote this should really be ashamed of him/herself] our local people’s assemblies working groups with free educational materials for apprenticeship and skill-sharing — as we
Make NYC a top supporter of public space for community action.
Re-appropriate our business structures and culture, putting people and our Earth before profit [“people before profit,” blah blah] — by
Supporting and organizing with entities [assorted cosmic entia working for the public good, i.e. Nyarlathotep, Cthulhu; some unexpected OWS metaphysics] that serve community
Coordinating demands of local, national and global people’s asseblies to eliminate outdated corporate systems that are out of line with people and nature — the most egregious exploiters of human and natural capitol [most people these days don’t understand what “capital” really is, but at least they can spell it correctly] — as we
Make NYC the mecca [require that every citizen pray five times a day in its direction] for innovative community based organizational entities like L3C, not-for profit, NGO, charities etc. [charities? really?]
Re-appropriate our media culture, putting truth over advertizing [sic, advertising] and sensation — by
Ensure diversity of perspectives and entertainment through promoting diverse community media [celebrate diversity, kids! facile multiculturalism] as an alternative to conglomerate-corporate media — as we
Make NYC a thriving ecosystem of community news [NYC a “thriving ecosystem”?] and entertainment supported by the people [das Volk]
Define and defend humanity’s inalienable rights from the bottom up
Defending the commonly discussed rights to clean water, healthy food, safe shelter, health care
Pioneering the emerging right to free network communication technology (the People’s Internets) [Народный комиссариат интернета: the People’s Commissariat of the Internet]
Make NYC the most progressive city for the chronically homeless.
Make NYC a leader of the People’s Internets** [again]
End all war — by
Stopping the false War on Terror at home and abroad, used to support the military industrial complex [this old rag] and citizen surveillance/control
Stopping the false War on Drugs, used to support the prison/pharmaceutical industrial complex
Stopping the age of oil, which is really a disguised War on Life [wow, I had no idea…I wonder what they made of the Age of Coal and Whale Oil] that toxifies our land, water and bodies — as we
Make NYC a stronghold of peace [yes, a “stronghold”… a veritable Fortress of Pacifism]
Eliminate all discrimination and prejudice — by
Empowering [god damn it all] marginalized people to express themselves, build community, and engage systemic/cultural discrimination
Educating people with privilege about how they can overcome overt and unconscious discrimination/prejudice.
Protect the human rights of anyone living or working in America, independent of their legal status — as we
Make NYC a more celebrated place of diversity [in practice, this amounts to little more than tokenism] that lives up to its Melting Pot reputation [tepid, condescending inclusionism]
Harmonize humanity’s religious, spiritual and existential traditions [whatever that means] — by
Creating the space for all people to respectfully and collaboratively worship, discuss, and explore religious and nonreligious topics [what happened to “freedom from religion”?] — as we
Make NYC a hub for harmonious religious, spiritual and non-religious practice [ok we get it]
Emancipate the world’s communities from centralized banking systems
Transitioning the IMF and World Bank into transparent, publically [sic, publicly] owned and operated entities [yes, this will solve the problem of capitalism *crickets*]
Ending the Federal Reserve Bank and replacing it with an accountable, decentralized, transparent and publically [sic, again it’s “publicly”] owned financial system
Freezing all home forclosures until new financial systems are established and operating
Cop brutality, women’s issues, accountability [three separate issues without any apparent unifying theme]
5.) List of Goals and Correlary Actions
Make NYC a functioning focal point for other people’s assemblies to dissolve and overcome the shadow government [conspiracy theory bullshit] of big banks and corporations that is embedded here
Develop an open source DIY Occupation kit [be sure to include nitroglycerine] for other occupations to reference and build upon.
Build the independent communications technology to coordinate occupations throughout the US and globe
Make NYC the Open Source Silicon Alley
Host an open source developers hackathon in a secret location to find the most intelligent and driven technologists most capable of dissolving the shadow govt and building the new community development structures. [wow, I had no idea just how delusional this document really was until reading this line]
Make NYC a pioneer of urban farming, renewable energy, grass roots urban/rural exchange, ethical and evidenced-based economics and indigenous leadership
Develop strong resource flows between upstate farms and the occupation [the age-old nostalgia for the good, honest local farming family, replete with a bucolic setting and all their quaint rural idiosyncrasies/idiocies]
Use Occupy Wall Street as a platform to launch community-based green economy solutions [ah yes, the ideology of “green”] that lift people out of poverty and restore our Earth
Pilot community currencies, barter, sharing, and local trade systems [again, this is total nonsense to anyone who knows economics]
Make Liberty Square carbon neutral [fashionable eco-friendliness]
Make NYC a thriving ecosystem of community news, entertainment, and information-sharing supported by the people [das Volk]
Broadcast the first Occupy Wall Street TV channel with news, live stream, shows, Q&A and entertainment [I motion that the first livestreaming entertainment piece be footage of the ongoing guillotining that has been going on at Zuccotti park]
Make NYC a leader of the People’s Internets
Make NYC a top supporter of public space for community action
Support the independent occupations of every borough in NYC.
Expand the occupation beyond outdoor spaces to indoor ones.
Make NYC the mecca for innovative community based organizational entities like L3C, not-for profit, NGO, charities etc
Make NYC the most progressive city for the chronically homeless
Make NYC a stronghold of pacifism
Support neighborhood peace and safe community initiatives
Make NYC a place that celebrates and respects diversity and lives up to its Melting Pot reputation
Make NYC a hub for harmonious religious, spiritual and non-religious practice [ok so all this is literally copied word-for-word from before]
6.) Amendment Process
We will create a reddit-based forum online to elicit ideas for amendments and to vote on those ideas for adoption. In order to propose an amendment, a forum user must first vote on at least one popular and two random ideas from the forum. Users may post and vote with a public identity, masked identity, or anonymously. A small fraction of the most popular posts, based on votes, will be presented to the General Assembly, where they will be officially considered as amendments or edits to the current version [my own friendly edit or amendment would be to throw this garbage onto the trash-heap of history, where it belongs, and start anew].
7. Archiving Process
The Blueprint will live [??] in two online version [sic, versions]. The first is the Official Non-Editable Wiki, which will have previous versions archived for the public. The second is an Unofficial Sandbox Wiki for the public to freely engage, edit, and experiment with. We predict that the Unofficial Sandbox version will yield very interesting [missing noun] and possibly sourced for amendments.
Origins of the Blueprint for Liberty Square