Exploring OWS’s collective thinking process – and Michael Moore’s

Below are four documents that provide interesting insight into the kinds of energies and proposals that get born through Occupy Wall Street’s collective thinking process of working groups and General Assembly deliberations.

The first document is a “Statement of Autonomy” passed by consensus at the OWS General Assembly (GA) November 10th. It clearly states the non-partisan nature of the movement and their resistance to being co-opted or manipulated – and it names the standard by which a statement can be considered to speak for Occupy Wall Street. Beyond that, the encourage people to “Speak with us, not for us.”

The second document is an unusual OWS statement of position on a political issue – electoral reform. Most efforts to get OWS to take a stand on a specific issue don’t make it to or through the General Assembly process. But this issue did: It was passed by consensus on December 10th. Interestingly, it is not a lobbying document, but an invitation for citizens to educate themselves, dialogue about, experiment with and take action on a broad range of approaches to electoral reform.

The third document is a 9-point vision statement crafted by the OWS vision and goals working group. They submitted it to the OWS General Assembly in late November, but it was not approved. It is apparently in that limbo between the work of a focused group – the vision and goals working group had 40 people in it – and the broader feelings of the General Assembly. The fact that it hasn’t been authorized by OWS-as-a-whole intrigues me, and makes me wonder what were the concerns that came up during the GA deliberations that impeded consensus…

Progressive filmmaker and author Michael Moore participated in the working group that created that vision statement. After it, he crafted his own 10-point set of goals and demands that he felt were consistent with the vision statement and offered an agenda that OWS could rally around. I’ve found no signs that it was approved by either the working group or the General Assembly. Again, this seems another sign of OWS’s reluctance to restrict their impact to a set of focused demands.

For information on all the proposals that have been placed before the OWS GA – whether they were passed (either through consensus or modified consensus), not passed, tabled, discussed, or withdrawn – see

Looking over the list on that page, it seems that, in general, proposals having to do with logistics, on-the-ground actions, or support for other Occupy-related efforts have a greater chance of approval than proposals for policy positions. Although the whole OWS population tends not to readily agree on policy proposals, most such proposals were developed by working groups who, themselves, came to consensus about those proposals. I suspect the working groups’ deliberations have considerable impact on their members and others, even when their recommendations don’t make it through their General Assembly, and so it is not in vain. I suspect action often develops out of these working groups, especially when they connect up with comparable working groups in other Occupy sites or with groups already working on the issue in question.

To explore current and future proposals to the OWS GA, look over http://www.nycga.net/category/assemblies/proposals-future.

All these proposals are easy to scan and make for interesting reading, revealing much about the thinking of OWS activists. I think we’re seeing a rich and complex fabric of change activity being woven for 2012 on a loom of deeply serious conversations.

Blessing on their journeys, and ours…




Passed by Consensus 11/10/2011 by the NYGA
see http://www.nycga.net/category/assemblies/proposals-past/


Occupy Wall Street is a people’s movement. It is party-less, leaderless, by the people and for the people. It is not a business, a political party, an advertising campaign or a brand. It is not for sale. We welcome all, who, in good faith, act to end corruption and corporate influence in government, and who petition for a redress of grievances through non-violence. We provide a forum for peaceful assembly of individuals to engage in participatory as opposed to partisan debate and democracy. We welcome dissent.

Any statement or declaration not released through the General Assembly and made public online at www.nycga.net should be considered independent of Occupy Wall Street.

We wish to clarify that Occupy Wall Street is not and never has been affiliated with any established political party, candidate or organization. Our only affiliation is with the people who want to end the entanglement of big business and government.

The people who are working together to create this movement are its sole and mutual caretakers. If you have chosen to devote resources to building this movement, especially your time and labor, then it is yours.

Any organization is welcome to support us with the knowledge that doing so will mean questioning your own institutional frameworks of work and hierarchy and integrating our principles into your modes of action.


Occupy Wall Street values collective resources, dignity, integrity and autonomy above money. We do not make endorsements. All donations are accepted anonymously and are transparently allocated via consensus by the General Assembly or the Operational Spokes Council.

We acknowledge the existence of professional activists who work to make our world a better place. If you are representing, or being compensated by an independent source while participating in our process, please disclose your affiliation at the outset. Those seeking to capitalize on this movement or undermine it by appropriating its message or symbols are not a part of Occupy Wall Street.

We stand in solidarity. We are Occupy Wall Street.



Passed by consensus at the 12/10/2012 NYGA
see http://www.nycga.net/category/assemblies/proposals-past/

People Before Parties: Recommendations for Electoral Reform

A proposal of the Politics and Electoral Reform group at Occupy Wall Street

Government of the people, by the people and for the people has been transformed into government of the people, by the parties, for entrenched interests. The centralization of political power in the hands of two narrow political factions at all levels of government is neither democratic nor republican. No party system whatsoever is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The two-party system is incapable of providing adequate representation for the many diverse interests constitutive of the American electorate. Lawmakers representing these entrenched factions have rigged our electoral system to ensure their continued monopoly on public office in the United States. Our government does not represent the interests or will of the people. It is time to institute free and fair elections in the United States.

In the federal system, the states are the laboratories of democracy. We urge the people of states, localities, and General Assemblies nationwide to begin a series of bold new experiments in democratic se
-government. We urge assemblies across the country to deliberate on radical reforms that can help break the ruling political monopoly in government through free and fair elections, and put people before parties. We urge the people of states, localities and general assemblies nationwide to demand the implementation of electoral reform and begin a series of bold new experiments in democratic self-government, from the bottom up.

We recommend experimentation with (in no particular order):

• Alternative voting methods. Our voting systems should promote honest participatory democracy. There are alternatives to plurality voting, such as ranked choice voting, approval voting and range voting, liquid democracy and so on.

• Independent, nonpartisan redistricting. Voters should choose their representatives, lawmakers should not choose their own voters. A bipartisan commission is not a non-partisan commission. Independent council and computer drawn districts can remove partisan bias from the redistricting process.

• Smaller and more localized districts. It is time to expand the number of representatives in local and state government and in the House of Representatives. This will ensure a closer relationship between the people and their elected officials, putting the latter on a shorter leash.

• Proportional representation. Winner-take-all, single member district plurality voting has allowed narrow political factions to wield disproportionate influence within our system of government. Proportional representation has been used in the United States in the past to break up party monopolies. It can be implemented again.

• Expansion of franchise. Laws that restrict the right to vote should be repealed. Those who are denied the right to vote because they have, for example, served time in prison, should be re-enfranchised. Participation can be encouraged through simple reforms such as election day voter registration.

• Term limits. Election to public office is not a lifetime appointment. Fortunately, the people need not wait for officials to implement laws limiting their own terms. The people can impose term limits at any election by voting for alternatives to the representatives of the entrenched factions.

• Ballot access reform. Ballot access laws that favor the major parties and discriminate against independent and third party candidates, which are common in all fifty states, should be repealed and replaced with fair and reasonable alternatives. The default state of the ballot should be open.

• Primary election reform. A public election should be open to the public. If parties desire to hold closed primary elections, they can provide for their own caucuses or conventions.

• Initiatives and referenda.
The people retain the right to originate ballot initiatives and referenda and to recall any elected official.

• Vote counting. Electronic voting machines are produced, operated and serviced by a small number of corporations with significant ties to powerful political factions. Unless there are significant controls to protect against the rigging of such machines, hand-counted paper ballots should be re-introduced into our voting systems.

• Holiday voting. Voting should be encouraged not discouraged. Election day should be ruled a holiday to encourage voter turnout.

• Fusion voting. Parties should be able to nominate the candidates of their choice across party lines.

• Combination and synthesis. A liquid democratic primary with an instant runoff between the top four candidates from the primary in the general election. Countless other possibilities.

This list is not exhaustive.

We urge assemblies across the country to deliberate on reforms that can help break the ruling political monopoly in government through free and fair elections, and put people before parties. We urge the people of states, localities and general assemblies nationwide to demand the implementation of electoral reforms and begin a series of bold new experiments in democratic self-government, from the bottom up.

This proposal was developed by the Politics and Electoral Reform group at Occupy Wall Street between September and November 2011. It contains input from nearly 200 individuals who attended group meetings at Occupy Wall Street as well as others from across the country and around the world who influenced the proposal through online discussions. The document was produced through a collaborative writing process. It was approved by the Politics and Electoral Reform group with full consensus support on November 6, 2011. It was further edited, by consensus decision of the group on December 4th, before being presented to the NYCGA. 



Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here?
by Michael Moore
November 22, 2011

This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and goals of the movement. It was attended by 40+ people and the discussion was both inspiring and invigorating. Here is what we ended up proposing as the movement’s “vision statement” to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

We Envision:

[1] a truly free, democratic, and just society;

[2] where we, the people, come together and solve our problems by consensus;

[3] where people are encouraged to take personal and collective responsibility and participate in decision making;

[4] where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for diversity and the differing views of others;

[5] where we secure the civil and human rights of all from violation by tyrannical forces and unjust governments;

[6] where political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just the privileged few;

[7] where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings;

[8] where we value human needs over monetary gain, to ensure decent standards of living without which effective democracy is impossible;

[9] where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.

The next step will be to develop a specific list of goals and demands. As one of the millions of people who are participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement, I would like to respectfully offer my suggestions of what we can all get behind now to wrestle the control of our country out of the hands of the 1% and place it squarely with the 99% majority.

Here is what I will propose to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

10 Things We Want
A Proposal for Occupy Wall Street
Submitted by Michael Moore

1. Eradicate the Bush tax cuts for the rich and institute new taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporations, including a tax on all trading on Wall Street (where they currently pay 0%).

2. Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries when that company is already making profits in America. Our jobs are the
most important national treasure and they cannot be removed from the country simply because someone wants to make more money.

3. Require that all Americans pay the same Social Security tax on all of their earnings (normally, the middle class pays about 6% of their income to Social Security; someone making $1 million a year pays about 0.6% (or 90% less than the average person). This law would simply make the rich pay what everyone else pays.

4. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, placing serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and the banks.

5. Investigate the Crash of 2008, and bring to justice those who committed any crimes.

6. Reorder our nation’s spending priorities (including the ending of all foreign wars and their cost of over $2 billion a week). This will re-open libraries, reinstate band and art and civics classes in our schools, fix our roads and bridges and infrastructure, wire the entire country for 21st century internet, and support scientific research that improves our lives.

7. Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans all of the time.

8. Immediately reduce carbon emissions that are destroying the planet and discover ways to live without the oil that will be depleted and gone by the end of this century.

9. Require corporations with more than 10,000 employees to restructure their board of directors so that 50% of its members are elected by the company’s workers. We can never have a real democracy as long as most people have no say in what happens at the place they spend most of their time: their job. (For any U.S. businesspeople freaking out at this idea because you think workers can’t run a successful company: Germany has a law like this and it has helped to make Germany the world’s leading manufacturing exporter.)

10. We, the people, must pass three constitutional amendments that will go a long way toward fixing the core problems we now have. These include:

(a) A constitutional amendment that fixes our broken electoral system by 1) completely removing campaign contributions from the political process; 2) requiring all elections to be publicly financed; 3) moving election day to the weekend to increase voter turnout; 4) making all Americans registered voters at the moment of their birth; 5) banning computerized voting and requiring that all elections take place on paper ballots.
(b) A constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and do not have the constitutional rights of citizens. This amendment should also state that the interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.
(c) A constitutional amendment that will act as a “second bill of rights” as proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt: that every American has a human right to employment, to health care, to a free and full education, to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food, and to be cared for with dignity and respect in their old age.

Let me know what you think. Occupy Wall Street enjoys the support of millions. It is a movement that cannot be stopped. Become part of it by sharing your thoughts with me or online (at OccupyWallSt.org). Get involved in (or start!) your own local Occupy movement. Make some noise. You don’t have to pitch a tent in lower Manhattan to be an Occupier. You are one just by saying you are. This movement has no singular leader or spokesperson; every participant is a leader in their neighborhood, their school, their place of work. Each of you is a spokesperson to those whom you encounter. There are no dues to pay, no permission to seek in order to create an action.

We are but ten weeks old, yet we have already changed the national conversation. This is our moment, the one we’ve been hoping for, waiting for. If it’s going to happen it has to happen now. Don’t sit this one out. This is the real deal. This is it.

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