Thursday, October 20, 2011

A look Inside the General Assembly Discussion: A Report by the Occupy Wall Street "We Will not be Co-Opted" Working Group

On October 19, 2011, the New York City General Assembly (NYCGA) discussed wording on a draft statement that it would not be co-opted by any political party--democratic or republican. (Not sure why they didn't mention that other well known movement/party, but whatever).

Here are the meeting minutes by the group. Note that "temperature check" is a way to determine the sense of the group.


We Will Not Be Co-Opted representative: Hi folks, brothers and sisters, peace and love! We have a proposal. The mainstream corporate media is trying to dismiss this movement. They are constructing a narrative that we are the puppets of the Democratic Party. The Tea Party was co-opted by the Republican Party; we will not be co-opted by the Democratic Party.


The statement we’ve written hopes to ensure that the Democratic Party or the Republican Party cannot use our movement to drive votes and money to the 2012 campaigns on behalf of the same people who are already committing crimes against us.

This is the statement we are asking you to consent upon:

“The Democratic and Republican parties do not represent the people because they’ve been bought and corrupted by Wall Street, and the occupation does not support their candidates. In collusion with both parties, the top 1% has profited at the expense of everyone else. We have moved beyond false hopes and submission to eloquent speeches and populist manipulation. We rely on cooperation and solidarity to imagine and create the changes needed for a sustainable world. From diverse multicultural, racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual backgrounds, and from different walks of life, we have begun to unite on common ground to oust the global financial powers that have bought our government and who hold us hostage to their greed.” 

That’s it.

F: Temperature check! Negatives? Yes.

F: Clarifying questions?

Q: My question is about voting. Does this mean we are encouraged to not vote? Because if we are, I have a problem with that.

A: We are in no way discouraging people from voting and we didn’t enter that into the statement.

Q: What is this statement going to be used for? Who do you plan to give it to and are you going to claim it represents consensus by the GA?

A: The point of this item is for the GA of people occupying Wall Street to come to a consensus about whether this statement represents us. If we have consensus on this statement, then it becomes a representation of the beliefs of this GA. I think. The question of to whom this statement will be given is everyone—the media, the Internet, my grandma, and President Obama.

Q: Would the group consider an amendment to target lawmakers instead of parties in government in its language?

A: How do you define lawmakers?

Q: Congress and people in government.

F: Point of Process: This is a friendly amendment, not in order. Just questions right now.

Q: Does only mentioning the Democratic and Republican parties mean that this General Assembly might support other parties?

A: Currently there are two dominant political parties that are on the payroll of Wall Street. They want to dismiss us and we won’t let that happen. That’s why we’re focusing on them. There are more involved questions that can be dealt with at a later date.

F: Any more questions?

Q: In what way is your statement materially different from the Principles of Solidarity and the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City? It seems to me that your statement is quite similar aside from being addressed to those two parties.

A: What we propose, from the input from many people involved in those principles, is that this is in solidarity with those, with the exception of pointing out that we will not be co-opted from the two Wall Street political parties. I hope that answers your question.

F: We’ll now open for concerns. When asking for concerns, I’d like to keep the workshopping to a minimum. If we want to change a lot, we should take it off the table, rework it, and bring it back to the group.

C: To be clear, we are in a very good position. Never in my life has a political party been trying to co-opt my agenda! We’re doing very well. We’re reframing the discussion, like certain groups on the other side have been doing for 40 years. If we want 99% to be with us, that includes a lot of people who, for their own reasons, have determined it’s important to engage the political parties that exist. This includes a lot of effective communities. I don’t think now is the time to put up barriers to potential allies. I think now’s the time to kick Wall Street’s ass, to do it a lot, and to co-opt them. Because right now we ARE co-opting them. But I don’t think we should officially endorse any party.

C: My concern is we only have one government, one system, so if we reject parties, we cannot participate.

C: I love this statement; however, I am concerned about the language, which seems kind of negative and aggressive, and so I feel that this statement would benefit from further workshopping with more people.

C: My understanding is that movements can be co-opted or lost in three ways. The first is to die out. That’s not gonna happen. The second is for a party to take over a movement. The third is what happened in May 1968, when the entire system recoiled and found ways to invigorate itself. My concern is this does not address May 1968 and what happened to that movement.

C: My concern is that we have left out language regarding voting and therefore some people may see this as a call to prevent people from voting, to ask people not to vote. And that could backfire rather badly.

F: It seems as if many people have major reservations with this statement. Temperature check? *mostly negative or on the fence* In light of that it seems appropriate to table the statement for the moment. I would ask that this working group workshop this statement further and bring it back to the GA at later date. There will be an announcement in the announcement section about how you can participate in this process.

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