11 October 2011

#OccupyDameStreet - The Divil and Day Four

Newstalk interview being Livestreamed by #OccupyDameStreet
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Tuesday 11th October
Day Four of #OccupyDameStreet saw a very tired Unkie Dave attend his first Media Workgroup meeting. While it cannot be denied that I have loved every backbreaking minute of work on the Construction group, given that I write a blog and post pretty picture online I thought I should take a break from the world of tarp and cable ties and sit in to see how the group worked.

After the General Assembly approved the four principle demands yesterday, the Media workgroup were tasked with taking those approved demands and wordsmithing them into a new Press Release. This Press Release was then to be brought to this afternoons General Assembly for approval before being released into the wild. As with all Workgroups the media team is open to anyone who wants to volunteer their time and skills, and so a core group came together and worked throughout the evening to put a document together. When I sat in this morning it was clear that a substantial amount of time had been spent and the document was near completion, but it was fascinating to see the back and forth of the final lock-down.

If the Invisible Committee are actually a committee, and not just Žižek and a case of wine, then my respect for The Coming Insurrection has increased ten-fold; how any document gets written by multiple people and comes out a coherent whole, spoken with a single voice, is a testament to the writers' ability to put aside their egos and not descend into slaps at dawn. The folks around the table at this morning's altogether more visible committee were a ridiculously talented group of writers, suggested sentences dropped like nuggets of the purest linguistic mystery meat, but their originators were happy to see someone else's alternative used instead. My own inputs were politely deflected as being too 'poetic' (at least I think that's the word they used), my phrase (stolen from Barry Finnegan) 'The Divils of Capitalism' (say it in an Oirish accent) sadly did not make it into the final draft.

Harry Browne gives a workshop on the Shannon Peace Camp
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Tuesday 11th October
Of course writing a press release is only half the process, it then needed to go back to the General Assembly for approval, and if writing by a committee of ten is hard, try writing by committee of fifty. While the majority of the Press Release was met with immediate approval, some discussion arose over reference to Political Parties. The stated approach by the #OccupyDameStreet movement to Political Parties, unions and other organized groups (as approved by General Assembly) is that it is very early days now and the movement needs to be given time to find its own voice and cement its own agenda, the fear being that if it identifies too closely with older, more established groups who have spent years establishing their voices, its own voice might be drowned out before it has had the chance to be heard. However #OccupyDameStreet is an open and inclusive movement that welcome all participants, and recognises the valuable experience that individuals affiliated with or participating in other groups and movements could bring with them to #OccupyDameStreet, so it invites them with open arms to participate but asks that they do so as individuals, rather than on behalf of the group they work with. The Divil in the Detail of the press release was expressing this sentiment in such a way that no-one feels excluded, and at the General Assembly everyone had an opinion.

Luckily for all concerned, consensus decision making works, if a little slowly at times, and with the tiniest of tweaks and a round of enthusiastic Jazz Hands the press release was approved.

Hooray for Democracy!

The other thing that is worth mentioning from Day Four of #OccupyDameStreet is that Camp life has definitely settled into an ordered routine. Shifts of Coordinators have been introduced (and approved by Assembly), where for each four-hour period there is a single person on site who knows what is going on and is the first point of contact for anything, they're not a leader, they're not a decision maker, they're just the person who knows what has been approved by Assembly and Workgroups, where everyone is supposed to be at a given time and what they all should be doing. Workshops have also started to appear, facilitated by volunteers and open to all to attend. Suggestions for workshops are brought to Assembly for approval, and then announced on site and online, today's schedule included workshops on Social Credit, Rebellious Media, The History of the IFSC as a Tax Haven and author and journalist Harry Browne talking about the Shannon Peace Camp (which I sat in on and was really rather good).

Democracy and education in action. An Taoiseach please take note!

Oh, and RTE's Prime Time were down this afternoon, so we all might just be on the telly this evening.

My mum will be so proud.

Here is the full text of the latest press release as approved by today's General Assembly:
#OccupyDameStreet is a people’s movement, which stands in solidarity with and is inspired by nearly 1000 sister occupations in the evolving global movement initiated by the people of Iceland, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia. We use tactics of non-violence akin to the scenes of peaceful resistance in Tahrir Square and Wall Street. This is a diverse people’s initiative, unaffiliated with any political parties. We are the 99%. We stand together against political and economic corruption. We stand for equality and social justice. This is a "leaderless resistance movement" with people of many nationalities, backgrounds, genders and political persuasions.

We say to the people of Ireland: if you have ever looked for an opportunity to engage in realistic change, this is the platform. Now is the time when the spirit of the revolt is spreading to other major cities and financial districts around the world. It is the duty of everyone to stand together against the endless greed and corruption on which our financial system is based.

We reject the complete control of the European Central Bank (ECB) in dictating our economic policy. Our demand is that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stay out of our affairs. We do not want their influence or control. Our demand is that the private bank debt that has been socialised and burdened upon the population of the country who had nothing to do with it be lifted. We will not pay and let our children and their children pay for this crisis that private banks and bondholders have caused. It is their problem, not ours. Our demand is that the oil and gas reserves off our coast that were criminally handed away to private corporations be returned to sovereign control. Our demand is for real, participatory democracy - where the people's interests come first, where the people decide what happens.

We do not claim to have a complete list of solutions. We believe, however, that the process is just beginning. The more participation we can build, the more power our decisions will carry. We invite any person to join us, but we ask that they leave their political party at the door.

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