Sunday, November 6, 2011

Six Unelected Leaders of "Leaderless" OWS Movement Meet to Plan Strategy

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I have often said that liberals are irony impaired. This just validates it. Blogger Fritz Tucker walked among the OWS mobs and gives some of his observations

On Sunday, October 23, a meeting was held at 60 Wall Street. Six leaders discussed what to do with the half-million dollars that had been donated to their organization, since, in their estimation, the organization was incapable of making sound financial decisions. The proposed solution was not to spend the money educating their co-workers or stimulating more active participation by improving the organization’s structures and tactics. Instead, those present discussed how they could commandeer the $500,000 for their new, more exclusive organization. No, this was not the meeting of any traditional influence on Wall Street. These were six of the leaders of Occupy Wall Street (OWS). Occupy Wall Street’s Structure Working Group (WG) has created a new organization called the Spokes Council

Spokes council. I like it! You always find the spokes where the wheels are, and there are six big wheels in Occupy Wall Street.

According to Marisa Holmes, one of the most outspoken and influential leaders of OWS, the NYC-GA started receiving donations from around the world when OWS began on September 17. Because the NYC-GA was not an official organization, and therefore could not legally receive thousands of dollars in donations, the nonprofit Alliance for Global Justice helped OWS create Friends of Liberty Plaza, which receives tax-free donations for OWS. Since then, Friends of Liberty Plaza has received over $500,000. Until October 28, anybody who wanted to receive more than $100 from Friends of Liberty Plaza had to go through the often arduous modified consensus process (90% majority) of the NYC-GA—which, despite its well-documented inefficiencies, granted $25,740 to the Media WG for live-stream equipment on October 12, and $1,400 to the Food and Medical WGs for herbal tonics on October 18.

At the teach-in, Ms. Holmes maintained that while the NYC-GA is the “de facto” mechanism for distributing funds, it has no right to do so, even though she acknowledged that most donors were likely under the impression that the NYC-GA was the only organization with access to these funds. Two other leaders of the teach-in, Daniel and Adash, concurred with Holmes.

Ms. Holmes also stated at the teach-in that five people in the Finance WG have access to the $500,000 raised by Friends of Liberty Plaza. When Suresh Fernando, the man taking notes, asked who these people are, the leaders of the Structure WG nervously laughed and said that it was hard to keep track of the “constantly fluctuating” heads of the Finance WG. Mr. Fernando made at least four increasingly explicit requests for the names. Each request was turned down by the giggling, equivocating leaders.

Ah! Six big wheel muckety mucks with their fingers on a cool half million in cash and not enough accountability to let the rest of the rabble know even what their names are. Sweet!

Daniel, a tall, red-bearded, white twenty-something—one of the six leaders of the teach-in—said that the NYC-GA needed to be completely defunded because those with “no stake” in the Occupy Wall Street movement shouldn’t have a say in how the money was spent. When I asked him whether everybody in the 99% had a stake in the movement, he said that only those occupying or working in Zuccotti Park did. I pointed out that since the General Assembly took place in Zuccotti Park, everybody who participated was an occupier. He responded with a long rant about how Zuccotti Park is filled with “tourists,” “free-loaders” and “crackheads” and suggested a solution that the even NYPD has not yet attempted: Daniel said that he’d like to take a fire-hose and clear out the entire encampment, adding hopefully that only the “real” activists would come back.

Ah, yes! The "We are the 99% argument, but 98% of you bums don't get any say in what we're going to do, or how we're going to do it, and we certainly won't let you get your grubby little mitts on any of our, er, the council's money! In other words, you may not be part of the 1% with all the cash, but you ain't part of our 1% either, so back off!

And in this passage, the impression I got was that of a herd being driven, a flock of sheep being guided and poked and if necessary, a sheep dog sent to nip the heels of any errant sheep who strays.

The newly formed Spokes Council claims to adhere to the “statement of principles” adopted by the New York City General Assembly, including “direct-democracy, non-hierarchy, participation, and inclusion.” The Spokes Council differs from the NYC-GA, however, in three main respects: the Spokes Council has the power to exclude new groups that don’t receive a 90% majority vote for admission; in the NYC-GA, everybody technically has the right to speak, whereas in the Spokes Council each Working Group has a spokesperson, who can be recalled only by a 90% majority; and the NYC-GA allows one vote per person, whereas the Spokes Council operates more indirectly, granting each Working Group one vote.

When I pointed out the contradictions these differences present to the Council’s stated principles, the leaders of Sunday’s teach-in insisted that the Spokes Council was the most participatory, democratic organization possible—the same slogan they repeated last month about the General Assembly. I felt like I was watching a local production of Animal Farm.

I’ve attended two mock Spokes Councils in the past month. At the Spokes Council in Washington Square Park on October 15, the unelected facilitators set the agenda: Occupy Washington Square Park. Then they set the terms of debate, breaking the group into three circles: those who wanted to occupy and possibly get arrested, those who wanted there to be an occupation and would assist those being arrested, and those who wanted to build the movement in other ways. I went with the third group.

The facilitators told each group to elect a facilitator, a note-taker, and a spokesperson who would read the notes from each group’s meeting. Almost immediately, one of the members of the OWS inner-circle asked my group if anybody had a problem if she facilitated. Nobody objected, so she was “elected.” Although she was in the one group that opposed occupying Washington Square Park, she lectured us about the need to occupy public parks.

And on the folly of starting your own constitution from scratch, consider the following:

At the teach-in on Sunday the 23rd, one of the leaders’ main gripes—rightfully so—was that the NYC-GA was inefficient and dominated by society’s vocal minorities, particularly middle-class white men. The underlying cause is not eliminated by the Spokes Council, but is in fact exacerbated by it. The major flaw of the General Assembly is the need for a 90% majority to pass proposals. This “modified consensus” ensures the continuation of the dominant culture through the passage of only the most conservative measures. In the Spokes Council, proposals can be blocked by 11% of the members of 11% of the Working Groups, meaning that a minority of 1.2% can stymie the will of 98.8% majority.

Oh, yeah! That's going to carry out the will of the people. The Animal Farm analogy is spot on. These people are using the vocabulary of democracy, but this is strictly a top down organization. The leaders will manipulate you if they can and shun you and ban you if you don't toe their line. Or maybe just not "spread any wealth" your way?

There's more here. Because, as Orwell said, Some animals are more equal than others.

H/T Memeorandum


  1. There is some danger from spokescouncil becoming it's own thing and running things, and this is sort of representative of Daniel's and Marisa's view points... I do think this is a little over blown.. but not unwarranted.

    Food budget is 2000 per day.

    There are Finance people on the account who adminstrate the GA's will, and supposedly that only. There have to be names on an account. They do not report often enough.

    I know you didn't use the word leader, because Marisa would have taken exception to that as would Adash.

    OWS insider

  2. It was noted that "occupy Oakland", was it, that deposited $20,000 in a Wells Fargo bank branch, after spray painting their signs , possibly breaking their windows and defecating in their front entrance?

    The "movement" as it is now constituted, is schizophrenic. Look for disenchantment as well as winter, to disburse much of its support.


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