Much of the content included here is taken with thanks from Occupy London..
Why should we be very concerned about the current US/EU Free Trade Agreement?
The US/EU Bi-Lateral Trade Agreement talk on the 28th October 2013 with Linda Kaucher and Tom Lines was a runaway success. Here is a loosely edited video of the talk. About 30 people turned up which was the perfect number for a full house at the London Action Resource Center in Whitechapel. About 40 people watched the livestream of the event. At the end of the evening an email list of 16 signatures was gathered from mostly new sign ups to Occupy to start a group to combat this legislation. This is a wonderful income and we hope to keep up the vibrant urgency and motivation we created on the night.
Much was learnt and it could not be more concisely summarised than through the latest contribution by a visitor at LARC yesterday who wishes to remain anonymous.
A response from one of the attendees who wishes to remain anonymous.
EU-US Trade Deal. Meeting in Whitechapel, 28/10/13
“Thank you” very much to you and to the other organisers at Occupy for arranging last night. It was great and very informative. I learnt a lot and have hope that we can do something about all this. Whether we have success is another matter though:
Overall, this was really a very depressing meeting, although it was also very informative and taught me an awful lot about what is actually going on with the EU-US Trade Deal.
1. The reason why the US is so keen to get involved in trade deals is because it feels it is losing its dominance in the global market. The biggest threat to the US dominance is China. The thinking behind such trade deals is that, by the time the Chinese economy reaches dominance, the US will have safely locked in so many other countries into trade deals with it, that China will have to play by America’s rules and not vice versa.
2. The way that trade deals come about is that representatives (not govts) do the negotiating. Obviously these are not democratically nominated representatives and they represent the concerns of Big Business, *not* the citizens of the individual countries involved. i.e. we are living in a time of Corporate Fascism (Fascism Lite). A film was recommended to watch which demonstrates how this works in the EU. The film is called “The Brussels Business” and is available on youtube.
3. Part of the Trade Deal with the US will involve the harmonising of regulations. This will impact on just about everything to do with how we live our lives and will include issues such as: the environment, fracking, food standards, health matters, GMOs. An example was given of the govt’s seeming U-Turn on plain tobacco packaging, but a case has already been fought (and lost) in Australia where tobacco companies were successfully able to argue that it infringed upon their ability to distinguish one brand from another.
4. The NHS and other public services. This is the worst bit of the lot, IMO Unless the NHS is exempted from this deal, there will be NO WAY BACK. Even if Labour repeals the NHS Privatisation Act, we will still be liable to be sued under competition laws if American Healthcare Companies, many of whom have been convicted of fraud, get a foothold in the market through the EU-US Trade Deal.
5. The time frame we are looking at is that they expect to complete negotiations by the end of next year. This particular trade deal is progressing at break-neck speed. The reason it is able to do so is because it is shrouded in secrecy. People do not know what is going on. We are looking at things like the Balcombe anti-fracking protests being completely and utterly useless because a firm like Cuadrilla can potentially sue us for not accepting their business. The only hope for our NHS is for it to be exempted. However, this govt would be clearly be more than happy for it to be sold off. If the NHS is tangled up in this, that’s it. Game over.
Documents “released in error” relating to the deal: http://corporateeurope.org/trade/2013/10/ttip-documents-released-european-commission
And leaked documents relating to the mandate to set up this Trade Deal which none of us voted for:
Stateless Power: http://freecriticalthinking.org/daily-pickings/719-stateless-power
The Poverty of Capitalism by John Hilary
Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World Book by Nicholas Shaxson
THE BRUSSELS BUSINESS DOCUMENTARY. The Lobby Industry. Published on 15 Jun 2013.
Documentary on the issue of lobbying around the European institutions in Brussels. Watch it here
Here are some other personal responses and a useful link sent in response to the event / topic:
A) Web of Power related info at
B) The proposed agreement being very similar in many aspects to the MAI Multilateral Agreement on Investments which was defeated by the alter-globalisation movement by way of mass mobilisation in Vancouver during the APEC Asia Pacific Economic Community trade meeting (held in part on a university campus, can you imagine them trying that today?!) in 1997.
The MAI would have allowed sovereign governments to be sued by corporations if they made laws to protect labour rights or the environment which impinged on corporate profits.
I was fortunate to be at that creative week of demonstrations which featured a Goddess of Democracy, Dictator-Free Zone, Grannies singing for Democracy, devils on stilts with little red placards saying ‘I heart the MAI’, a girl with a paper mache gun on her head dancing an Irish jig with a real police officer, fences near to the Lunch with Dictators being pulled down, rumours of snipers on the roof at the University of British Columbia but also an amazing tented village on the campus there too, and much more. People from all over the world including the Zapatistan and many other indigenous communities were present.
This was a pre-cursor to the Battle of Seattle, and it inspired and changed my life both in its creative and democratic content, global consciousness in solidarity and also of course the fact that it won!
The issues the MAI raised were profound and they need to be re-visited (along with all the other additional / different nasties it contains) in a big way and into the MSM if we are to stop it.
Are there any key dates or global meetings coming up when the negotiators are going to be in the public spotlight?
C) in response to A):
NB. – we have been advised that UK unions RMT and Unite are committed to fighting a the US-EU Free Trade Agreement.
28 October 2013
Backlash against Brand shows he got it right
Be worried. Be very worried. The “revolution” word got top billing on the BBC’s Newsnight. And, God forbid, the word “profit” was called “filthy” by a comedian, actor, radio host and author who has over seven million followers on Twitter. No wonder the media – right across the spectrum – is working overtime to give Russell Brand a thumping.
He challenges the notion that our present Tweedledee and Tweedledum parliamentary system is the only form that democracy can possibly take. He makes a strong claim that there is a revolutionary alternative.
From the Spectator’s James Bloodworth to the Daily Mail’s Janet Street-Porter to the Independent’s Joan Smith, Brand is being tarred and feathered. Accusations range from that of “being a narcissist”, “spurning a right that people died for” (Spectator) to indulging “adolescent waffle about ‘revolution’”.
It has also enraged Tom Watson, Labour’s former deputy chair, who for example, wrote in the Daily Mirror: “That vote which Mr Brand thinks is worthless is all the little guys have got left. In 2015, millions of us can send the bankers and hedge fund bosses that fund the greedy Tories packing.”
How? By voting for Ed – let’s have responsible capitalism – Miliband? Surely, you are not serious Mr Watson.
Defenders of the status quo all around are outraged that Brand dared to say what millions think: the parliamentary system is neither representative nor truly democratic.
His attack on the political system and call for a revolutionary change touched a raw nerve because he points to the fact that the democratic emperor really has only a few tatters for clothes.
“I have never voted,” Brand writes. “Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites.”
Yes, his and Jonathan Ross’s prank calls to actor Andrew Sachs back in 2008 were unpleasant. But that was some five years ago and Brand has come a long way since, politically speaking.
In 2009 he co-signed a letter from the Hoping Foundation to the Independent calling for an end to the Israeli attack on Gaza and attended the anti-G20 protests in London. Brandt remains a vocal supporter of the Occupy movement.
In June this year he took part in a video backing US whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Last month he was ejected from the GQ awards for hilariously but seriously accusing sponsors Hugo Boss of being “Nazi tailors”, thus biting the very hand that fed him.
Brand’s chief crime is that he calls for a revolutionary alternative. Not only that, but a socialist and inclusive one which is not dour and dogmatic but which links Britain’s legacy from Pagan times, to the English revolution, the Tolpuddle martyrs and the immediacy of the ecological crisis.
Jibes that Brand’s call to arms are just “banalities about revolution”, that “wild emotions are all very well” and “where’s your programme?” are just that – cheap and nasty jibes by defenders of the status quo. They emanate to use Brand’s eloquent words, from “people who have never struggled, who are a dusty oak-brown echo of a system dreamed up by Whigs and old Dutch racists”.
The Observer’s Nick Cohen makes the most insidious and hurtful accusation by comparing Brand to Mussolini, claiming that chiefly the far right would benefit from a revolution. But he also lets the cat out of the bag. “Now, as in the 1920s and 1930s,” he notes, “many inhabitants of most European countries agree with Brand’s slogans that all politicians are crooks and democracy is a sham. Today’s crisis has left Europe in a pre-revolutionary situation.”
The furore that Brand’s remarks have caused shows the established commentariat in their true colours, dismissing the idea of a revolutionary change while clinging on to their own privileges and positions. They are the ones living in the past while Brand looks to the future. We’re with him all the way.
A World to Win secretary
28 October 2013
See more at: A World to Win
14 August 2013
Two years ago [.. ] Adbusters published the original OWS blog post, and the first operational OWS campaign site was set up on reddit.com. Two years ago we began a campaign to announce that the people of the world were directly entering the global political narrative and that we have no intention of ever leaving. We are still here – battered & scarred we may be, but ‘Occupy!’ is still a vibrant global call for an exploited humanity. The time is ripe for revolution.
Greetings world. We are anonymous. We are the people.
Governments of the world: take this message as your last will and testament. The game is officially over. Social media has given birth to something new. Now it’s time to set the record straight. This video is intended as that spark that gets delivered straight into the hearts and minds of the world. This video is an idea – a shared idea – so listen very carefully and make sure you are sitting down.
On the 5th of November 2013, Anonymous call for a day of global civil disobedience. This time we target all government facilities across the globe.Calling all free thinkers: the time for civil disobedience is now. This time it also seems unions from around the world are supporting this action. The lion sleeps no more. Ask yourself this: where will you be when we make history? November 5th, 2013. Worldwide. Now it’s a vendetta. Now it’s personal. Now it’s time to occupy everywhere. It’s time to throw everything we have at November 5th. It’s time to relight the flame of protest until our demands are met. Now it’s time for our brothers and sisters of the awakening to take to the streets. Austerity means war.
Here’s to the dreamers, the one’s that stand for human freedom, the Occupiers, the people that change things. It’s about solidarity, but more than that, it’s about the people, the people we meet, the people of the world standing together for a common goal. Concerned by numerous ecological and social problems, we stand united. As long as there are young and idealist people that share the views of ultimate human freedom, there will always be hope for the world.
We are anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. On November 5th, 2013: EXPECT US.
10 August 2013
by Mark Barrett
Democracy and Decision-making – fixing our broken political system
Interim Report from the Peoples Assembly against Austerity
On 22 June 4,000 people gathered at the ‘People’s Assembly Against Austerity’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Over five hundred activists attended this dynamic and participatory workshop. The session’s starting point was that if we want social, economic and environmental justice then we will need to build a functional democracy.
This is a topic which is often ignored by the traditional Left in Britain, however there is an increasing realization that we have a democratic crisis – millions of people no longer vote and our institutions often seem to represent the 1% and corporations, rather than people.
The session had two themes, firstly; what reforms are needed to fix our broken political system and secondly; how can grassroots people’s assemblies and participatory movements bring them about.
To answer these questions, eight speakers briefly presented on their area of interest before facilitating an interactive discussion on the crisis of democracy and how to tackle the democratic deficit.
Here is a list of the organisations and topics discussed, and you can find a full summary of the workshops they facilitated below.
(1) Corinna Lotz : Agreement of the People http://agreementofthepeople.
Mobilizing for a democratic constitution based on political, social, economic, human and ecological rights
(2) Natalie Bennett – Green Party : Localism, Voting and Electoral Reform
(3) David Bovill
Real time meetings, streamed, recorded and legally constituted as part of a globally distributed network
(4) Naomi Colvin : City Reform Group
The City Reform Group is a group of citizens who are coming together to help ensure that the City of London is governed to the highest standards
(5) Bill Greenshields : The People’s Charter
Representation and voice for working people in constructing the alternative
(6) James Holland :Community Organising where you live
(7) Richard Bagley , Morning Star : Media Reform
(8) Loz Kaye, Pirate Party : Transparency and Liquid Democracy
Whilst we could not possibly do justice to the topic in the time allotted, and a number of key issues were not addressed – in particular the England, Scotland and Wales question, reforming global finance and other institutions and questions around use of referenda and citizens initiative e.t.c. Nevertheless overall there was considerable support for a range of proposals. In particular many people at the workshop wanted to develop alternatives and to make demands for systemic change to the way our institutions are governed, and more radically to build a new politics based on participatory democracy and people’s assemblies.
We hope that participants will feel as we do (as facilitators and presenters) that it is important to take the ideas discussed at the workshop and support their inclusion (and crucially the new way of making decisions they herald) into the anti-austerity movement.
Below are set out a draft summary of each presentation and the short workshop that followed. Also the whole session was recorded on live-stream and key points were recorded and fed back to the whole room, this was also live-streamed at http://occupylondon.org.uk/
(1) Corinna Lotz : The Agreement of the People for the 21st century
Developed by the Campaign for a 20th Century Constitution, Real Democracy Working Group of Occupy and A World to Win. Supported by 14 organisations. Its name is inspired by the Leveller movement of the English revolution of 1640.
The system is broken – global capitalism is in a worsening crisis, as shown in Brazil, Turkey, Greece, Spain. All the main parties are facilitating the rule of the corporations and banks. Our votes hardly count.
That makes the state and political system democratic in name only.
This system cannot be fixed by reforms. Thus, we need to develop a grassroots constitution from below.
The Agreement is a draft framework for this, open to development. It can be discussed and implemented through a network of permanent People’s Assemblies. In this way Assemblies become the basis for an alternative to the existing state.
If we are to end austerity and build a truly democratic country, we have to do it ourselves. Please support the campaign for the Agreement.
Points made in working group:
Power: is it right to seize power? What do we need power for? People need power to get services, such as the Barnet Alliance.
Collective power is better than individual power. Corporations hold power over individuals. Capitalism imposes its will over the rest of the world.
It’s down to us to break the power of the capitalist system.
The UK has no constitution. It needs one in order to have democracy. A system of privilege wields power, such as through the privy council. You cannot democratize the current state. We need to build a new constitution.
A revolution is needed against the capitalist state.
A peoples’ uprising is needed through people’s assemblies which can form a Peoples Republic.
Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina show examples of building people’s assemblies.
It is not a true democracy when there is an unelected head of state. We should also get rid of the unelected second chamber (House of Lords).
How? Be positive. Use the anger of the people to mobilize them. Use local people’s assemblies to formulate a new constitution.
Need to separate financial power from political power. Peoples assemblies can assemble peoples resistance. They can be the nucleus of new structures.
Concluding points read out to meeting:
PAs can be a nucleus to formulate a new way of doing politics.
We agreed that there was need to break power of current regime.
PAs would be a way of discussing and drafting a new constitution.
No one has a single answer.
Local campaigns can be brought together and support each other.
Separate financial from political power.
Democracy is not possible without elected head of state. A republic is needed.
Take anger and mobilize people in assemblies.
Arguments were for and against revolution.
(2) Natalie Bennett, Leader Green Party: Localism, Voting and Electoral
a) Election of the House of Lords, to replace our appointed/hereditary system that really belongs in a previous century – or perhaps in Saudi Arabia, which despite our arms trading there is surely not a place we want to be able to compare ourselves with in terms of democracy.
b) Proportional representation in House of Commons and council elections. Millions live in “safe” seats where they can vote for decades and never see their chosen candidate elected.
c) An end to the “ownership” of political parties by their donors – the system that’s given us a government of the 1% for the 1%.
Points made in working group
Votes at 16 and decent political education in schools and for young people (and older people) out of schools.
Getting more younger people voting – one suggestion on “how” was that politics should actually address the issues they were concerned about, from tuition fees to drugs policy.
Tackling media ownership, so diverse views could get an airing (something I was writing about this week).
Local People’s Assemblies in which residents can participate in making decisions about their street, their neighbourhood.
Industrial democracy – making sure workers have a say about how their workplace has run. (That’s worked out remarkably well for Germany.)
State funding for political parties.
Abolition of the Corporation of the City of London and its privileges (an issue close to my heart.
Natalie Bennett commented: “The energy, the enthusiasm, the desire for change was almost a physical presence in the room today.” See her full write up here: http://thebackbencher.co.uk/
(3) David Bovill: Parliament of Things
on real time distributed meetings live-streaming and legally constituted to be updated..
”I’m working on .. on a series of follow up discussions and work groups – specifically as to how we can create some tech and legal infrastructure to support create freeform assemblies.
For more info check for updates at: participativeassemblies.wordpress.com
(4) Naomi Colvin: City Reform Group – with support from Dave Dewhurst, Occupy Economics.
City of London’ Reform Sub-group at the Emmanuel Centre…….TO BE COMPLETED
Points made in working group
1. One worker or resident one vote – including residents or employees in outlying areas controlled (e.g. parks) (Democratize the City from the inside raise awareness among City workers of their NON vote.)
2. Massively more financial transparency – which would imply real G8, and wider, reforms. All countries able to access citizens’ holdings in tax havens & freedom of information access beyond sovereign tax authorities, as appropriate. (OK a bit of a fudge at the end, for further articulation????)
3. End City exclusion from Freedom of Information Act.
4. End the office of the Remembrancer or make all its lobbying activity open to public scrutiny.
5. Financial Transaction Tax (obviously for the whole finance sector not just the City.
6. Separate the City’s international financial function from its Local Authority function.
7. End the office of Alderman.
8. Its accounts in detail open to public scrutiny (At present it has given a summary and vaguely offered to provide more/full detail ????- here is your chance !)
(Also concomitantly address the issue of regulatory arbitrage ((Google search
Occupy London Economics Working Group - Little Book of Ideas Chap 17) specially relevant to points 2 and 5.
(5) Bill Greenshields: The People’s Charter
We began by endorsing the thought, “Down With Miserablism” . It’s just no good listing an increasing catalogue of misery that is being inflicted on working class people. We need to know what is being done, and how and by whom… but it’s not enough if we want to inspire people to take part in a real movement against “austerity” and for real change, a movement for real democracy. We need to present a coherent, integrated and radical alternative to unite, excite and ignite our people… and that’s the People’s Charter. It’s been developed collectively over the last few years, drawing on individual trade union policies and those of single-issue campaign groups, together with expert analysis and advice and real awareness of the needs and hopes of “ordinary people.” You’ll find it at :www.thepeoplescharter.org.uk
It is a program that would mean a massive shift in wealth and power away from the tiny class of monopolists, millionaires and bankers.. and to those “ordinary people” – who in being liberated to exercise real democracy will be far from ordinary!
Points made in the meeting
So – first question – the People’s Assembly needs to clearly adopt a positive program for change – not just opposition to “austerity” – and as the People’s Charter has been adopted by the TUC Congress on more than one occasion, by Women’s TUC, Wales TUC, Scottish TUC and the local Trades Unions Councils (representing union organisation in every town and city) – why not start there… adopting the Charter and helping develop and extend it?
We discussed how “austerity” had “hollowed out” democratic processes that had been established as a result of real struggle over the last hundred years and more. We considered how the consensus of the “main political parties” for cuts and privatization – the “austerity agenda” was produced by top down pressure and diktat from the “top 10%” of the population in terms of wealth and power.
We agreed that to build a movement we needed to start with the immediate issues facing people who currently may not even think of themselves as interested in politics, let alone “activists”. This has to be at local level.
So we would propose
- the People’s Assembly steering group should adopt the People’s Charter, put it on the website and encourage all local People’s Assemblies to do the same
- The national steering group should suggest that local People’s Assemblies take from the People’s Charter just one or two issues of great significance and importance locally as a focus for local work to begin to “unite and ignite” the people in a mass movement - and from that to build awareness of and activity around all the anti-austerity and pro-Charter issues facing us.
- That local People’s Assemblies involve all democratic organisations of the people working locally – trades unions and trades councils, campaign organisations, political groupings etc, and give each a representative on a local steering group that works as far as possible by open debate and resulting consensus… not by big organisations dominating small ones, or by individual groups “colonizing” a local Assembly and claiming it as “theirs”.
(6) James Holland: Community Organising where you live
(Read James’ blog at http://commdem.wordpress.com/ )
James spoke about his work in New Cross and gave a very quick introduction to his activity in New Cross, and made it clear that he thought we needed to really think about what we mean by local, not the scale of current so called local government, but much smaller – no more than a few thousand people, so we can work together face to face. He suggested that pre existing political forms and language were a barrier, that the way forward isn’t about big ‘P’ ‘Politics, but the simple work of people working together to get what they need. He explained that current main tactic is a community survey – where we go to people where they are and ask them what they want, and if they would get involved to make it happen.
The main points were:
- building slowly from the bottom
- conversations and listening, without an agenda
- organising social events and public meetings but most importantly going TO people and asking what they want.
Points made in the meeting
A number of people expressed frustration with how hard it is to get people to be active or believe that things can be different. One was particularly concerned that we not forget about politics as its needed when you come up against unpleasant views.
Experience of talking about particular issues shows people are engaged and do appreciate being asked for their opinions.
People seem very willing to complain but less easy to talk about positive, constructive alternatives.
It is difficult to move forward from conversations to action (e.g.. attending a meeting)
Important to have action, not just talk–this is more inspiring.
People can’t see that they can change things, especially where there is no tradition of activism.
We shouldn’t forget that this is already happening, particularly in the field of disability activism, thousands of people in every community are already working together
We need to find ways of getting engaged for people who are not natural “joiners-in”.
Try different structures to meetings- facilitation not chairs, being open rather than having committees.
Be creative- arts, film chalking pavements, etc.
Pass on positive rather than negative messages.
Help out your neighbours.
Get to know each other- through volunteering and neighbourliness- this will build up relationships. The first step in community organising is to build a community in the first place.
It is important to have our politics and be clear on what we stand for. But this should be in the form of principles rather than dogma.
Education is something we can do- myth-busting e.g.. about benefit fraud stories.
Important to keep the bigger picture in perspective as well.
Look at examples from other countries and from history.
One person shared that she decided to do stuff after the riots, and how you just have to get out there and do it, look after your neighbours etc
Participants said we need to show an alternative, food, housing more democratic, more inspiring way
At community council (parish council) in wales were experimenting with having much more direct involvement of the wider population
More about the idea of Community Democracy at http://commdem.wordpress.com/
(7) Richard Bagley, Editor Morning Star : Media Reform
Against a backdrop of the corporate stranglehold of our national media and
the withdrawal of the corporate media from our communities, and with
academic studies showing a clear link between the level of democratic
participation and the existence of a local press, what changes should the
People’s Assembly movement be demanding?
Points made in the meeting
- Change to the Localism Act to redefine local newspapers as a community
asset and prevent owners from unilaterally shutting them down without
giving the community a chance to have its say, and intervene if desired
- Right and assistance to workers and communities to exert local
co-operative ownership over titles where a corporate owner wants to wield
the axe and withdraw from an area
- Crowd-sourcing could be used to help fund such initiatives
- People’s Assemblies should seek to intervene locally through activism
and direct action if need be to keep media open and show solidarity with
journalists facing the axe.
- There should be a specific newspaper etc of the People’s Assembly
- Rules on ownership of national media not confined to the number of
outlets belonging to a single individual/business, but amended to
encourage a broad range of ideas, aided by state subsidy, as in other
countries, where required
- A cap on advertising per title could help to redistribute the balance
away from a few large titles and encourage more smaller ones
- There should be laws governing fair access to retail outlets to prevent
a handful of retailers i.e. supermarkets, which now have a sizable market
share replacing news-agents, dictating what publications can and can’t be
displayed on their shelves
- A national distribution network should be established so that all titles
have equal access to potential readers, on the day of publication, and
this facility is not restricted to the big corporate players
(8) Loz Kaye, Leader Pirate Party UK : Transparency and Liquid Democracy
The UK is facing a crisis of democratic participation. It’s most obvious in the terrible turnout of recent elections. Look at the Police Commissioner vote where the average turnout was under 15%. November 2012′s Manchester Central by-election saw the worst level of participation since the second world war. Does this matter or is just an incidental problem in the wave of crises brought about by economic collapse and austerity?
It matters profoundly.
Lack of democratic participation is closely bound up with the communities who are most affected by austerity. Manchester Central also has the highest incidence of premature deaths, and is the constituency with the highest rate of child poverty in the UK.
Why is this the case? If you spend any amount of time campaigning in Manchester or indeed any marginalised area, the same responses come up time and again. “No one is interested in what I think”. “They’re all the same”. “Nothing ever changes”. People feel they are lacking a voice. It’s not about apathy, it’s outright antipathy. It’s not a lazy response as it’s too often characterized, it’s a reasonable reaction to generations of neglect. Democratic reform has to go deeper than putting a cross in a box. It has to be about getting everyone involved in the process and allowing people their voice. Voices to air what is happening in our marginalised communities and to find solutions.
In the Pirate Party we have been pushing for ways to get more people in to the decision making process. In Germany we have been developing the ‘liquid democracy’ approach where groups can give feedback and guide using the wisdom of the crowd. In the UK our manifesto was crowd sourced on line, voting up and down suggestions and ideas, in a process that involved over 3000 people. We know it’s not the answer to everything. But it is a challenge to the idea that policy is to be left to a select elite. Policy is just a good idea, a way to make it up and evidence that it will work. The UK is full of those ideas, that’s what democratic reform has to do, to restore that voice.
Points made in the meeting
In our group we identified two areas of concern:
Four points to help engagement:
Taking action in every forum: the workplace, unions, community groups.
Being creative with demonstrations: for example taking a vote on a concrete measure after.
Using technology in campaigning and sharing its use educating one another.
More referendums, better participatory democracy.
Four points to help access:
Make companies subject to freedom of information where they are providing public services.
Better rural broadband access.
Making sure the digital divide is bridged across generations.
Acting to make our elected representatives better reflect the diversity and experience of the people.
If the current framework can’t provide it’s up to us to change it.
We don’t need to wait to put this in to action, let’s hack democracy.
Following this session a national working group to take forward the ideas presented and discussed is now being proposed and taken forward. More info to follow ..
10 August 2013
by Mark Barrett
Ø The Zapatista School to implement a language justice system -students will know how is it to live in the language of a conqueror through their simultaneous translation from a Mayan language into Spanish.
Ø Their government system to be against dogmatism: “What you will see here works for us now. New generations will build their own paths, in their own ways and their own times. A concept of freedom does not enslave its future inheritors” their collective speaker says.
Ø The “Freedom According to Zapatistas” School is coming up this Monday August 12! Occupy Wall Street people are invited to watch it online in two different schedules for people who work at night!
Ø Still don’t know how to access online next Monday? Want to go to Chiapas for the next cycle of workshops in December? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
More info also at http://roarmag.org/2013/08/escuelita-zapatista-10-year-autonomy/
Below please find the complete English translation on the last Zapatista communiques about the upcoming “Little School”
July of 2013.
Now we want to explain to you how the little school will work (the list of school items you’ll need, the methodology, the teachers, the course subjects, the schedules, etc.), so the first thing is…
What you will need.
The only thing that you need, objectively, to attend the Zapatistas’ little school (in addition to being invited, of course, and your one hundred pesos for the book-DVD packet), is the willingness to listen.
So there’s no reason to heed the advice or recommendations of those people, however well-intentioned, who say that you need to bring this or that equipment, based on the fact that “they have been in community.”
Those who really have been in community don’t go around bragging about it, and they also know well that what one truly needs is to know how to look and listen. Those who have come to community to talk (and to try to tell us what to do, or to offer us charity in the form of money or “wisdom”) have been and will be many, too many. And those who have come to listen are very few. But I’ll tell you about that on another occasion.
So you don’t need to buy anything special (I read that someone only had some old tennis shoes to bring, that’s cool). Bring a notebook and a pen or pencil. It is not mandatory that you bring your computer, smartphone, tablet, or whatever you use now, but you can if you like. There won’t, however, be a cellular signal where you will be. There is Internet in some “caracoles” (Zapatista autonomous communities, meaning snails-conchs which is the symbol of Mayan time and the spiral of History), but its speed is, how shall I put it, a little like “pegassus,” Durito’s mount [a turtle]. Yes, you can bring your whatever-you-call-it that you use to listen to music. Yes, you can bring a camera and a recorder. Yes, you can record audio and take photos and video, but only according to the rules, which Sub-Commander Insurgent Moisés will tell you about. Yes, you can bring your teddy bear or equivalent.
Other things that might be useful: a flashlight; your toothbrush and a towel (if you want to bathe and it is possible to do so); at least one change of clothes, in case you get covered in mud; your medicines, if they are necessary and a trained capable person has prescribed them; a plastic bag for your identification and money (always keep these things with you—we will only ask you for your identification at registration, to see if you are really you); another plastic bag for the study materials you will receive here; you should also put your (under—if you use it—and outer) wear in plastic bags.
Remember: you can bring as much stuff as you want, but everything you bring you will have to carry yourself. So none of this “I’m going to take the piano just in case I have time to practice my do-re-mi-fa-so-la.” And no, you can’t bring your Xbox, ps3 wii, or that old Atari console.
What is in fact essential to have, you cannot buy. It is what you bring already incorporated within your person and can be found, if you start at your neck, below and to the left.
Okay, having clarified that, I will here list what you do need to attend the little school in community. Without the following requirements, YOU WILL NOT BE ADMITTED:
-Disinclination to talk or to judge.
-Willingness to listen and watch.
-A well-disposed heart.
Your race, age, gender, sexual preference, place of origin, religion, scholarliness, stature, weight, physical appearance, equipment, “long experience” on Zapatismo, or what you wear or don’t wear on your feet, none of that matters.
The Scholarly Space and Schedule.
According to the Zapatistas, the place of teaching and learning—school—is the collective. That is, the community. And the teachers and students are those who make up the collective. All of them. So there is no teacher, but rather a collective that teaches, that demonstrates, that trains, and in it and with it—a person who learns and, at the same time, teaches.
So when you attend your first day of class in community (this will be different if one is taking the course another way), do not expect to find yourself in a traditional school. The classroom that we have prepared for you is not a closed space with a blackboard and a professor at the front of the room imparting knowledge to the students who he or she will then evaluate and sanction (that is, classify into good and bad students), but rather, the open space of the community. And this community is not a “sect” (here Zapatistas, non-Zapatistas, and, in some cases, anti-Zapatistas live together), nor is it hegemonic, homogeneous, closed (here people from different calendars and geographies visit all year around), or dogmatic (here we also learn from Others).
So you are not coming to a school that operates on the traditional schedule. You will be in school every hour of every day during your stay here. The most important part of your time in the little Zapatistaschool is your living experience with the family with whom you will stay. You will go with them to get firewood, to the cornfield, to the river/stream/spring, you will cook and eat with them (of course, you will only eat what doesn’t harm you or go against your convictions—for example, if you are vegetarian or vegan, they won’t give you meat, but please let us know beforehand because the compas, when they are happy with a visit, often cook chicken or pork, or the community or autonomous municipality or Good Government Council might take one of its collective cows and make a stew for everybody), you will rest with them, and, above all, you will get tired with them.
All in all, during these days you will be part of an indigenous Zapatista family.
And that is the reason why we can’t accept people coming with their camping tent or RV. That is why there is a limit on the number of people who can come. Because many people do indeed fit on these lands, but under the little Zapatista roofs only a few fit. If you want to camp, to live close to nature or its bucolic equivalents, fine, but not here on these dates.
So you won’t be living with your gang, group, or collective. Nor with other “citizens” [like city-dwellers]. If you come with your family, partner, or your not-so-much-a-partner, you can be together if you like, but no one else. None of this “all of us who came from such-and-such place are going to get together to hang out or talk or sing around the campfire or whatever.” This you can do in your geographies and calendars. You (or you and your family, or partner, or not-so-much-a-partner) are coming here to participate in the daily life and knowledge of the indigenous Zapatista people, and, of course, the daily life of non-Zapatista indigenous people.
The Zapatistas are a people that have the particularity of not only having challenged the powerful, nor only of having maintained their rebellion and resistance for 20 years. They also, and above all, have managed to build (in conditions which you will become personally acquainted with) the indigenous Zapatista definition of freedom: to govern and govern ourselves in accord with our ways, in our geography and our calendar. Yes, this part about “our geography and our calendar” defines a considerable distance between ours and other projects. We warn you that this is not only not a model to follow (some things have worked for us and some things haven’t), a new evangelism, or a new fashion for export; it is also not a “construction manual for freedom.” It is not that for the other native peoples of Mexico, much less for all of the peoples who struggle in all of the corners of the world.
In addition, take careful note, we are defining a time. What you will see here works for us now. New generations will build their own paths, with their own ways and their own times. A concept of freedom does not enslave its future inheritors.
For us, this is freedom: to exercise the right to construct our own destiny, with no one that rules over us and tells us what to do or not do. In other words: it is our right to fall and pick ourselves back up. We know well that this is built with rebellion and dignity, knowing that there are other worlds and other ways, and that, just like we are building ours here, others are going about building their identity, their dignity.
During the week that you live with the Zapatista communities, you will only twice go to a meeting in the Caracol with all of the students of the zone that you are assigned to. In this meeting, where many different colors and ways from many different calendars and geographies will meet, there will be a teacher dedicated to trying to respond to any questions or doubts that have come up during your stay. This is because we think that it will be good for you to hear the doubts that arose for someone from another country or another continent, another city, another reality…
But the most fundamental part of the little school you will learn with your…
Over the course of a few months, tens of thousands of Zapatistafamilies have been preparing to receive those who come to the little school in community. Along with them, thousands of women and men, indigenous Zapatistas, have become a Votán, simultaneously individual and collective.
So you should know what role the Votán will play, because the Votán is, as they say, the backbone of the little school. It is the method, the study plan, the teacher, the school, the classroom, the blackboard, the notebook, the pen, the desk with an apple, the recess, the exam, the graduation, and the cap and gown.
A lot has been written and said about what Votán (or “Uotán”, or “Wotán”, or “Botán”) means. For example, that the word doesn’t exist in the Mayan language and is just a misunderstood or badly translated version of “Ool Tá aan,” which would be something like “The Heart that Speaks.” Or that it refers to an earthquake; or the growl of the jaguar, or the beating of the heart of the earth, or the heart of the sky, or the heart of the water, or the heart of the mountain, or all this and more. But, as in everything that refers to originary peoples, these are versions upon versions from those who have tried to dominate (sometimes with knowledge) these lands and their inhabitants. So, unless you have interest in contemplating interpretations of interpretations (that end up ignoring their creators), here we refer to the meaning that the Zapatistas give to the Votán. And it will be something like “guardian of the heart of the people,” or “guardian and heart of the earth,” or “guardian and heart of the world.”
Each of the little school students, regardless of their age, gender, or race, will have their Votán, a guardian (or guardiana) [feminine].
That is, in addition to the family with whom you will live for those days, you will have a tutor who will help you understand what, according to the Zapatistas, freedom is.
The Guardians [masculine and feminine] are people like all common people. Only these are people that rebelled against the powerful who exploited, dispossessed, disrespected, and repressed them, and they are people who have given their life to that rebellion. Despite this, the Votán that we are does not preach the cult of death, glory, or Power, but rather walks through life in a daily struggle for freedom.
Your personal Votán, your female or male guardian “Votán”, will tell you our history, explain who we are, where we are, why we fight, how we struggle, and alongside who we want to struggle. They will talk to you about our achievements and our errors, study the textbooks with you, resolve any doubts they are able to (and for when they are not able, we have the larger meeting). They are the ones who will speak to you in Spanish (the family with whom you live will always speak to you in their mother tongue), they will translate for you what the family says, and will translate to the family what you want to say or know. They will walk with you, go to the cornfield or to bring firewood or water with you, they will cook and eat with you, sing and dance with you, sleep near you, accompany you when you go to the bathroom, tell you which bugs to avoid, make sure you take your medicine; in sum, they will teach and take care of you.
You can ask your Votán anything: if we are really the offspring of Salinas, if SupMarcos is dead or just tanning himself on a European beach, if SubMoy is going to show up at some point, if the world is round, if he or she believes in elections, if he or she is for the Jaguares [Chiapas’ Mexican professional league soccer team], etc. etc. In contrast to other teachers, if your female or male guardian “Votán” doesn’t know the answer, they’ll say “I don’t know.
Your guardian “Votán” will also be your simultaneous translator that doesn’t need batteries. Because here, as far as it is possible, you will be spoken to in our native languages. Only your female or male guardian “Votán” will speak to you in Spanish. This way you will experience what happens when an indigenous person tries to speak in a dominant language. The fundamental difference is that here you will not be treated with disdain or mockery for not understanding what is said to you or for mispronouncing words.
There might be laughter, yes, but out of sympathy for your effort to understand and make yourself understood. And note, your Votán will not only translate words, but also colors, flavors, sounds, entire worlds, that is, a culture.
In the meeting that you will attend with your classmates in the zone, you will not be able to ask questions directly of the teacher; rather, you will ask your female or male guardian “Votán” and they will translate the question for the teacher, who will respond in their mother tongue and your guardian will translate back to you. You will of course be left with the doubt as to whether your question was adequately translated and if the answer you got is the same as that which the teacher gave. But, isn’t that exactly what an indigenous person is subject to with a translator in the government courts of justice? This way you will understand that what they call “juridical equality” is just one more monstrosity of justice in our world. Where is juridical equality if the translation of things like “freedom,” “democracy,” and “justice” are made with the same words of those who want to enslave, dispossess, and disappear us? Where is equality if accusation, trial, and sentencing is made by a juridical system that, in addition to corrupt, is imposed in the language of the Ruler? Where is justice in a system whose judgment is based on the premise of cultural dispossession? That is why the school will be like this. That is why the Votán will have this purpose. Because…
They are us.
Your Votán is a great collective concentrated in a person. He or she will not speak as an individual. Each Votán is all of us Zapatistas.
A few weeks ago, Subcomandantes Moisés and Marcos gave the responsibility of spokesperson to thousands of indigenous Zapatistamen and women to hold for the days of the little school. During those days in August (and later next December and January), the EZLN will speak through their voice; through their ears the EZLN will listen; and in their heart will beat the great “we” that we are.
So during the days of the Little School, you will have a teacher who is nothing more and nothing less than the maximum Zapatistaauthority, the supreme head of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation: Votán. And the Votán will also be in charge of…
One guardiana for each child/student who is a minor (12 years old or younger) will accompany the mother and/or father all of the time, helping to take care of the child, making sure they don’t get sick, that they take their medicine, that they play, learn, and are happy. If the child knows how to read, the guardiana will study our textbook with the child, and tell stories of how the indigenous children lived before the uprising and how they live now. They will tell terrible and marvelous stories, and jokes, and maybe even sing the children the song about “the moño colorado.” And if the children misbehave, they will tell them not to act like that, because if they do SupMarcos will come with his great big bag of cookies and won’t give them even one, even if they are animal crackers, and that the great Don Durito of the Lacandón will not tell them the story of how he fought, all by himself, against 3.141592 toothless dragons, nor the marvelous story of Lucezita and the Cat-Dog that, they tell me, leaves Ironman, Batman, The Avengers, Spiderman, X-Man, Wolverine, and anything else that comes out, in the dust.
All of the children, with the family members that accompany them, will be assigned to the zones closest to San Cristóbal de Las Casas, under the best conditions we can offer. They will have specially prepared lodging with their mother or father so that they do not get cold or wet if it rains. There will also be compas present who know about health and first aid. And in the case of an emergency, two ambulances and two other vehicles will be available 24 hours a day to take the child to the city if a doctor is needed, or to get medicine if needed. If it is necessary for a family to return to their own particular geography before the school is over, we have a small economic fund to help them with their tickets or gasoline.
In short, the children will have very special treatment. But neither they nor the adults will escape the…
It is the most difficult test you can imagine. It does not consist of a written exam, a thesis, or multiple choice questions; and there won’t be a jury or a council of judges with university titles to grade you.
Your reality will be your test, on your own calendar, in your own geography, and your council of judges will be… the mirror.
There you will see if you can respond to the only question on the final exam: what is freedom according to you and yours?
Vale. Cheers and believe me, I say out of my own experience, what one certainly learns best here is to ask questions. And it’s worth it.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
SupMarcos.Mexico, July of 2013.
Mexico, July of 2013.
More English versions and summaries on the history of Zapatismo coming up this week! If you don’t want to receive our OWS Zapatistanewsletter, please write to us at email@example.com with the message “unsubscribe” on the subject.
+ another recommended link
21 July 2013
Declaration of the 3rd International Youth Assembly of the Via Campesina
8th and 9th June 2013 – Jakarta, Indonesia
Watch the pictures of the Youth Assembly!
We are young peasants, members of the Via Campesina, people with different cultures and languages from over seventy countries in five continents, who are in Jakarta, Indonesia, to celebrate the 3rd International Youth Assembly and the 20th anniversary of the Via Campesina.
As young peasants, we are the present and the future of sustainable agriculture, which can sustain the world and cool Mother Earth. Having analysed and reflected generally on the global political and economic situation, we would like to express our deep concern about the current development crisis, which is causing many impoverished and marginalised communities to be expropriated of the territory, land, water and forest goods on which they depend for their livelihood. There has been an increase in the number of forced displacements and evictions of young peasants, and an increase in hunger and poverty.
For this reason, to restore the dignity of peasants and agriculture itself, and to encourage a holistic concept of food sovereignty through agro-ecology, we, as young peasants, will continue to fight against:
- Neoliberalism, capitalism and imperialism, which divide peoples and prevent them from uniting to rebel, while their sovereignty as peoples and nations is being destroyed. A patriarchy that oppresses women and the independence of young people.
- Industrial agriculture and land grabbing directed by multinational corporations and local and national government, which destroys ways of life and the cultural heritage of peasants, also causing the forced displacement of young peasants in rural areas.
- All types of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) including Transnational Partnership Agreements (TPAs), Economic Association Agreements and agricultural policies imposed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB). These agreements destroy the agricultural base that provides local communities with secure, healthy and culturally appropriate food, and they violate peoples’ right to plan and control their food systems.
- Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and patents on seeds, species and biological diversity.
- Privatisation of natural goods such as territory, land, woods and water, which causes forced displacement of peasants and original peoples, endangering their livelihoods.
We demand that states and governments recognise, comply with and regulate food sovereignty in the constitutions of all countries as a basic human right. We also demand that the organisations and authorities that are involved and have responsibility take the following action:
- Put food sovereignty into practice by implementing holistic agrarian reform, and broad-based agroecological reform in the area of fishing and silviculture, to ensure equal access to natural goods for young people, particularly young women.
- End land grabbing and conversion in the name of development following the â€œGreen Economy” model of agricultural food production, and production of bio fuels and monocultures that are structural causes of climate change and the energy crisis.
- Protect and promote traditional seeds and the knowledge and wisdom of our peasant communities.
- Promote a model that favours people, led by peasants and in accordance with the agroecological and indigenous model.
- Ensure market access for poor and marginalised people and a fair price for their products, keeping the WTO out of agriculture.
- Ensure that young people have access to a secure future, both in rural and urban areas, also promoting sustainable job opportunities for young people to reduce migration to urban areas.
- Stop criminalisation of protest, repression of social movements, murder and extermination of young peasants, while respecting human rights and those who defend them. They must also condemn militarisation, which is worsening living conditions for the poor in our regions, and establish an education system that supports young people who want to be peasants.
- Dedicate a greater proportion of the budget to agricultural sectors to support young people in production, and education and access to technology in rural areas.
- Provide a space for representation of young people in leadership and create a suitable environment to empower and support them, so they can show that young people can bring about change in agriculture.
In addition to these demands, we also make the following commitments:
- We will create solidarity between regions that put alternative models into practice in opposition to the neoliberal model, in accordance with the principles of complementarity and cooperation to overcome social inequality.
- We will set up an accessible political group for young people and practical peopleâ€™s education on peasant and ecological agriculture.
- We will promote communication between young people from different organisations and creation and strengthening of peopleâ€™s alternative communication networks that will be political, creative and transformative.
- We will strengthen the coordination of young peopleâ€™s activities at a regional and global level.
- Political participation and training for young people in organisations and genuine prominence.
- We will coordinate political, social and cultural alliances and relations between young people from rural and urban areas around the world for social change and transformation.
- We will create and strengthen spaces for political and technical training in the area of agroecological production and local markets with social justice.
- We will show solidarity with all peoples who are involved in resistance and struggles for their right to life and their freedom anywhere in the world.
The Youth of the Via Campesina will fight for Food Sovereignty!
21 July 2013
19 July 2013
14 July 2013
9 July 2013
8 July 2013
Minutes here http://titanpad.com/ypeDU0e8Rf (thanks vica!)
It was agreed to write a common text to call for the agora, to be published on 99agora.net.
We wrote a first draft, based on the old FAQs for the Madrid meeting:
Here the pad: http://agora99roma.titanpad.
The dates proposed for the 2013 meeting in Rome are October 4-6(first weekend of october) or November 1-3 (first weekend of november).
8 July 2013
After Protests, Forums Sprout in Turkey’s Parks
Crowds gathered at Abbasaga Park in Istanbul in late June. Anti-government protests have dimmed after an intense crackdown, but Turks continue to gather each night in dozens of parks across the country to brainstorm about ways to get politically organized.
By SEBNEM ARSU
Published: July 7, 2013
ISTANBUL — More than a thousand people sat quietly in a stone amphitheater at a park here on a recent mild summer evening, keenly listening to dozens of Turks who took the floor, one by one, to speak their minds.
“I have never done this before, talking to so many people,” Muge Cevik, a computer engineer, said timidly as she stood on a stage barely lighted by street lamps at Abbasaga Park, trees casting a shadow over the audience.
The recent antigovernment riots, which began with a sit-in at an Istanbul park scheduled for demolition and grew to encompass the grievances of millions of Turks disillusioned with their government, have largely faded after an intense crackdown about three weeks ago. Now, Turkey’s parks have become safe places to gather and speak freely, with people arriving each evening in dozens of parks nationwide to discuss what happens next.
Their movement is driven by concern about what critics of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan call his autocratic tendencies, the growing influence of religion in state institutions, and government intrusions into private life, like legislation to regulate alcohol use.
Turkey’s opposition parties are widely viewed as ineffectual, and in the absence of credible institutional opposition, the largely youthful demonstrators have taken to what they call “people’s forums” to create a different platform for dissent.
The forums, an unprecedented exercise in grass-roots democracy in a country with no tradition of public assembly, are not affiliated with any political party. Organically evolving, and with no leadership, they aim not to form a new political party but to structure a new political system. At the very least, participants say, they are a way to keep up the pressure on Mr. Erdogan’s administration.
Those attending them say a heavy-handed police response to the protests — tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets were used to disperse crowds, and four people died — has united them despite political, sectarian, ethnic and social differences.
“Those with or without head scarf, Marxist or communist, believer or not — we walked all together, and should continue to stand for each other,” said a man wearing a black T-shirt, speaking on another recent evening to a crowd of nearly 100 men and women in Ortanca Park in Ferikoy, an Istanbul neighborhood. “I am here on behalf of revolutionary Muslims, and we are determined to ruin the government’s game, end their exploitation of pious people.”
Those in the crowd did not applaud, but instead fervently waved their hands in the air, following a sign language now common in these forums. Crossed arms mean “no” or disapproval; arms moved in a rotating motion mean “wrap it up” for those who speak too long. The gestures, adopted from those used at matches by a fan club for a local soccer team, are used to avoid disturbing the public during the late-night forums.
Ms. Cevik, in Abbasaga Park, is one of thousands who show up each evening to brainstorm about ways to get politically organized around basic principles like democracy, equality and human rights before local elections in nine months. “Istanbul is the heart of Turkey,” she said. “We should be able to send at least one independent candidate of ours from this city to Parliament in upcoming elections.”
A large crowd waved hands to applaud as she turned the stage over to an older man who wanted to share his experience in Turkey’s long struggle for democracy after at least three military interventions. “We do not have time to lose,” said the man, who identified himself only as a 58-year-old “democracy veteran.” “Young people should get engaged in politics and try to win over government supporters.”
Many of the speakers in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, have withheld their names as the police continue to track down protesters. More than 75 people have been formally charged with violating the law on public protests during the riots, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, based in Istanbul, said in a report late last month.
Also last month, the Turkish Ministry of Communication contacted Twitter and Facebook, seeking copies of messages that users in Turkey exchanged during protests — a request that both companies declined, news reports said. And the transportation ministry planned to form a special unit to monitor social media for crimes committed online, a pro-government newspaper, Yeni Safak, reported Tuesday.
Twitter and Facebook are still the main tools of information exchange among protesters, who have accused Turkey’s mainstream news media of censorship and failing to adequately cover the uprising. So around 200 people who converged on a green slope in Kugulu, or Swan, Park in Ankara waved their hands for Unver Coskun, an electronics engineer, when he suggested reaching out to the elderly to inform them about political conversations on social media sites.
“We need to safeguard ballot boxes, link with other forums, create lists of volunteers who would contact elderly people or others that do not use the Internet,” Mr. Coskun said.
Close to midnight on a recent Thursday, couples, parents and children filled benches in the bowl-shaped Kugulu Park — which protesters had used as a base until the police pushed them out of their tents and removed their banners and posters.
Two young women sat close to a small artificial lake that a large family of swans had inhabited before they were moved to a safer location, along with a couple of ducks, out of fear that they would die of exposure to tear gas fired by the police.
“I hope that these forums will serve some purpose,” said one woman, a public worker with dark hair and a beaded short-sleeve top. She chose to watch the forum from a distance.
“At work, it is a different world — they have the power and treat us as a minority. They run the office like a religious institution, with prayer breaks and Koran readings.”
Mr. Erdogan is still popular among conservative Muslims, who see him as a savior from the rule of the elitist secularists, and officials of his pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party have dismissed criticisms of autocratic or religiously oriented government policies. They have labeled the protesters internationally driven conspirators, or even terrorists.
“We stood together, listened to each other,” said Fatma Ozdogan, 24, an architect who joined the Abbasaga Park forum. “From now on, the Parliament, political actors, will be obliged to listen to the voice of their people.
“The protests, and now the forums, will be the game changer in Turkey’s political life.”
Re posted from NY Times
1 July 2013
Where we stand
The women who are bringing this case, and Occupy London, believe that:
There are no circumstances in which it would be acceptable for an undercover police officer to engage in intimate relationships with either targets or members of the public under the guise of their undercover identity.
The fact that this has taken place repeatedly, despite being morally wrong and unjustifiable, shows that within the police forces in the UK there exists:
- institutional sexism – women have been used to shore up undercover identities, without regard for those women’s right to a private life (whilst men have been affected, evidence so far shows that it is primarily women’s lives that have been abused in this way).
- institutional prejudice against members of the public who engage in social justice and environmental campaigning, including a disregard for their human rights.
Both these forms of institutional prejudice must be challenged and stopped; each has reinforced the other.
We call for:
- a clear and unambiguous statement that the abuse has ceased, and will never, in any circumstances, be permitted.
- the past to be thoroughly and openly investigated, so that the damage may be acknowledged, those responsible may be held to account, and that as a society we may come to terms with what has happened, heal the wounds that have been inflicted and be confident that the practice has ceased.
- action and change to prevent these human rights abuses from ever happening again, including stronger support for whistle-blowers and greater protection for rights of association and expression.
Until these things happen, we have no reason to believe that these abhorrent abuses have stopped, or that the police acknowledge their actions are wrong, and that they must change.
We come from different backgrounds and have a range of political beliefs and interests, and we are united in believing that every woman, and every person, has a right to participate in the struggle for social and environmental justice, without fear of persecution, objectification, or interference in their lives. We welcome allies who wish to engage with the above issues in this spirit of democratic empowerment.
The eight women bringing this legal action are doing so to highlight and prevent the continuation of psychological, emotional and sexual abuse of campaigners and others by undercover police officers.
We stand in solidarity.
You can take a stand with them by signing up to the above statement – using the contact form below.
25 June 2013
by Robbie Griffiths
By Jerome Roos On June 19, 2013
First published on ROARMAG.org
The protesters are starting to counter-pose their own direct democracy to the sham of a democracy proposed by Erdogan’s authoritarian neoliberal state.
Something quite amazing is happening in Istanbul. In addition to the silent “standing man” actions around the country, people’s assemblies are slowly starting to emerge in different neighborhoods across the city. As in Spain, Greece and the Occupy encampments before, the protesters in Turkey are starting to counter-pose their own form of direct democracy to the sham of a democracy proposed by Erdogan’s authoritarian neoliberal state. If there was ever any doubt, this shows how deeply intertwined the global struggles truly are.
As the state launches its merciless witch hunt on protesters, activists and Tweeters, thousands of people are starting to gather in dignity in various public spaces. As Oscar ten Houten reports from on the ground in Istanbul, the Beşiktaş Assembly in Abbasaga park, which has been going on for days, tripled its number of participants on Tuesday night, with a total of ten popular assemblies taking place in Istanbul alone and at least one more in Izmir. As Oscar writes on his great blog (which he started at the occupation of Puerta del Sol in Madrid in 2011):
These meetings have nothing to do with Taksim Solidarity any more. They are spontaneous initiatives by local people who are fed up with Erdogan’s disregard for the Turkish citizens, their rights and freedoms, their history, beliefs and traditions. … We arrive in Kadıköy, and truly, I couldn’t believe this was happening. Well over two thousand people were gathered on the green, to express their anger with the government’s eviction of Gezi, and to share their hope for a better Turkey. Like anywhere else, it was a cross section of the population, which included all races and creeds.
Interestingly, the members of the popular assemblies in Turkey use the same hand-signs as the indignados, indicating that some of the methods were directly inspired by the real democracy protests in Spain. This, in turn, seems to confirm the idea we raised very early on in the Turkish uprising, and a claim that many Turkish activists have been making from the very start: namely that this movement is not just a local or national protest, but part of a global struggle against the subverted nature of representative capitalist democracy and for realdemocracy and total liberation.
What, then, is real democracy? Obviously it’s difficult to have a straightforward answer to such a complex question, seeing that different people will interpret the idea (and the ideal) differently. It is quite easy, however, to identify what it is not. Democracy stands for the rule of the people. As a result, when corporate interests and religious delusions begin to dominate government, that is not democracy. In fact, when a small elite of elected politicians is delegated to speak on behalf of the rest, that is not the rule of the people but their representation.
Illustration: map showing 35 active popular assemblies in Istanbul
The worldwide experiments with direct democracy — in the form of horizontal self-organization through popular assemblies, decentralized mutual aid networks, thematic working groups, and so on — provide a glimpse of what another world could look like. Of course, none of this is to say that the protesters have a blueprint in hand for the ideal revolutionary society; but they are actively testing and trying out different models to see how large groups of people can effectively organize themselves without hierarchical and centralized leadership.
Last year, when shooting our first ROAR documentary – Utopia on the Horizon – in Athens, we interviewed Manolis Glezos, the 90-year-old Greek WWII resistance hero who is currently an MP for the coalition of the radical left. Glezos experimented with direct democracy when he was the mayor of a village on the island of Naxos. Even though Glezos still believes that a parliament controlled by popular forces can help activists on the ground, he insists that the citizens’ revolution as such cannot proceed if the people do not organize themselves from below.
So what about the popular assemblies in Syntagma Square, Puerta del Sol and Zuccotti Park? Was that real democracy? When we asked Glezos, he looked at us with an amused smile on his face, and — to our great surprise — just said: “No. This is not democracy. How can a few thousand people assembled in a square claim to speak on behalf of the millions that live in the region? This is not democracy — it’s a lesson in democracy. If this movement wants to survive, its direct democratic models will need to spread to the neighborhoods and to the working places. Only then will we start seeing the emergence of a genuinely democratic society.”
What Glezos is saying, in other words, is that for direct democracy to work, the assemblies need to be radicalized and extended into the working places in the form of workers’ self-management, as in the inspiring case of the Vio.Me factoryin Greece. Obviously, none of this will be enough to overthrow the capitalist state as such; but it is a starting point to help engage people in different forms of decision-making, different forms of production, and different ways of being, thinking and interacting. In a word, it is about building the social foundations of self-organization that will allow us to replace the oppressive institutions of the capitalist state when the time comes.
But there is something more. The direct democracy of the squares is also about saying that we cannot wait for some distant revolution to overthrow the capitalist system. We are currently facing a global humanitarian tragedy, an ecological disaster and a profound social and political crisis. We have to act now. We cannot rely on corporate elites to do this for us. We cannot trust in political representatives to take the process ahead. The only ones we can trust are ourselves. We, the people, will have to carry this revolution forward. Starting now.
Still, on a more humble level — yet perhaps the most important of all — we should be careful not to fetishize direct democracy. At the end of the day, the assembly is a very simple phenomenon: it is about ordinary people craving to be heard and to have a say in their lives. Assemblies are a way to allow those who have been shut up for years to finally stand up in dignity and to speak their voice — and be heard. It is about recovering our collective sense of humanity from the rapacious claws and unrepresentive institutions of the capitalist state.
As such, the assemblies are a beautiful and crucial form of social engagement and political participation. In the future, they may well be expanded to cover more and more segments of the population. But even in these moments of elation, when we see the people taking matters into their own hands and enactingreal democracy in the places where they live and work, we should stay realistic: this is only just the beginning. The capitalist state survives, and creating our own parallel society is not enough. We must self-organize, and then push our quest for autonomy outwards to eventually encapsulate all of society.
Luckily, there is hope that such radical aspirations may not just be a pipe dream. In a sign that this leaderless movement is already deregulating the violent flow of authority unleashed by the Turkish state, the increasingly desperate government is doubling down on the repression, arresting random people who were sighted at the protests or who sent out “provocative” Tweets, and even threatening to send in the army. As Oscar puts it, “the authorities still don’t understand what’s happening. They look for leaders, people to corrupt or to eliminate. But there are none. We are not an organisation, we are a world wide web. We are the people on the threshold of changing times.”
25 June 2013
1. #Desmuntatge 4F: We Dont Forgive, We Dont Forget.
2. Journalists fight for freedom of speech and their rights.
3. Welcome to the Disperse squat in Barcelona!
1. #Desmuntatge 4F: WE DON’T FORGIVE, WE DON’T FORGET
On Saturday June 8th 2013 almost 1000 people were inside a cinema which had been abandoned for over ten years. The iaioflautas concentrated at the door guarding the place. Why?
During the night of February 4th 2006, in the downtown neighbourhood of Barcelona known as La Ribera, a local policeman collapsed, badly injured, and went into a coma. It seems he was hit by a plant pot which had been thrown or fallen from the squat where a wild party was going on at that moment, which had become a fight between squatters and local police.
Immediatly after the misfortune, four people were arrested on the street next to the squat, dragged into a police van and taken to the nearest police station.There they were badly beaten and insulted, having no idea why all of this was happening. They had such injuries from the beating they needed medical care and were taken to a hospital to be treated. In the same hospital a girl and a boy, who had fallen off a bycicle, were waiting to get stitches. They were also randomly arrested because of their appearance. Five of these people were condemned to prison: three guys of South American origin who had happened to be in the street during the confrontation with the squatters and the two youngsters who had fallen off their bike. One of them, Patricia Heras, commited suicide after 2 years in prison.
Those are the facts on which the documentary “4F, ni oblit ni perdó” (F4, no oblivion, no forgiveness) focuses on, in an effort to dismantle the official police version, which changed from the initial falling plant pot into a stone which was supposed to have been thrown from the street. Several irregularities which members of the social movements have been arguing during years are finally shown in the documentary: the version involving a stone was not supported by forensic experts, the cleaning services of the Town Hall had destroyed all the evidence before the scientific police could arrive to inspect the area, the two policemen who were the main witnesses in this case would finally be accused of torture and false testimony in another case, and the person responsable for writing the accident reports was accused of false testimony, as well in a separate case. The judge didn’t want to investigate the allegations of torture, even when the youngsters presented signs of being beaten up. Finally, a person has appeared recently claiming to know who threw the plant pot.
A key to why all this setup was created is that, if nobody was blamed for the death of the agent, the Town Hall would have been considered subsidiary responsible, as the squat was located in a building belonging to Barcelona’s Town Hall.
On June 8th the audio visual collective 15mbcn TV (who made the documentary) showed the premiere of “4F, ni oblit ni perdó” in a very special way: for 2 weeks the projection had been announced in Barcelona’s cultural space RAIART .Once people arrived for the show, it was announced that due to the number of spectators a new place had been chosen to tell the truth about the #4f story: the Antic Teatre, a bar and alternative theatre nearby. But when the crowd arrived there, they were told to continue a bit further on, and they realized where the Premiere would be: the former Palau del Cinema, renamed as Cinema Patricia Heras, an old cinema which has been abandoned for 12 years.It was a great action of disobeyence to attract attention towards the 4F facts and to reclaim this empty space so that it can be used by the people. After the broadcast, the building was left in perfect conditions.
As the 4F case is going to be taken to Strasbourg, at the European Courts, a concentration of support happened the next day in front of the Town Hall, which is the true responsible of all this political set up.
Several screenings have happened since then in different spaces around Barcelona, and next month the documentary will be shown in Madrid. At the same time, it will become available and subtitled to be watched on the Internet. Its licence is CC (Creative Commons ), as all 15mBcn Tv’s productions, and it has to be seen by as many people as possible, because the #veritat4f (truth about the 4f events) has to become well-known by everyone.
- Documental 4f website
- Hundreds of people occupied the Palace of Cinema to broadcast the documentary about the “case 4f” [SP]
Video & Pictures
- Video by latele.cat
- Video by @15mbcn_tv: Temporary Cinema Patricia Heras to screen “4F, ni oblit ni perdó” [SP]
- “Cinema Patricia Heras” Photogallery by @fotomovimiento
- Streaming by @Manufestacion02 of the cinema occupation and screening of the documentary
- Streaming by @okokitsme of the concentration asking for justice.
Twitter accounts @documental4F @desmontaje4F – HT #veritat4F #Justicia4F #SabremlaVeritat #DesMontaje4F
FB Page: Documental 4F
2. JOURNALISTS FIGHT FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND THEIR RIGHTS.
On Saturday June 15th the second assembly of Mitjans en Lluita (Media on struggle) took place. This is a newly formed group of journalists fighting for freedom of information and the labor rights of Catalan media professionals.
One of the focuses of the discussion during this second meeting was the awareness of the media’s discredit and denouncing the censorship journalists often suffer: “We have to be brave and self-criticizing to regain the trust of the people” “nowadays all media are mortgaged”. One of the main mottos for this meetign was chosen as their twitter hashtag: #VolemExplicar, We want to explain. The other focus, closely linked to the first: the precariousness and vulnerability of journalists: “the worse the working conditions are for a journalist, the less free their work will be”. In fact, two big Catalan media, TV-3 and Catalunya Ràdio, are suffering a hard Redundancy Dismissal Procedure.
Mitjans en Lluita invited citizen journalism collectives to the meeting, with members of Fotomovimiento or Peoplewitness attending. “This is a transverse movement of solidarity open to everyone, from the streamer who doesn’t have any university title to the profesional who has a degree, is collegiated and has studied 40 masters” said one journalist.
The meeting had a a very touching moment when the assembly connected by phone with the greek journalist Dora Makri, from the recently closed ERT Greek channel. She stressed that “Nobody in our profession is free. Private channels make us defend their private interests, while public channels use us for their propaganda”. She added that since ERT’s sudden closure, they have been emitting online with the help of alternative media, and their journalism had never been so free “We, the journalists, have the power to fight for the democratic rights that we still have”
By a strange coincidence, while the Assembly was taking place the assistants knew that the Catalan police had arbitrarily arrested journalist Bertran Cazorla, who is specialized in uncovering cases of police abuse. At the end of the assembly some people of Mitjans en Lluita went to Les Corts police station in their orange t-shirts against censorship to give their support to the journalist. “As the crisis worsens, more journalists will be arrested, because #WeWantToExplain“.
- Mitjanes en Lluita blog [CAT]
- Chronicle of the assembly [CAT]
- Article of Bertran Cazorla [CAT]
Videos and Streamings
- Streaming of the meeting by @peoplewitness
- Interview with journalist Beltran Cazorla [SP]
- Twitter Account: @MitjansEnLluita HT #VolemExplicar #mitjans15j
3. WELCOME TO THE DISPERSE SQUAT IN BARCELONA!
- La Dispersa blog
- Open Day photogallery by @fotomovimiento
- Twitter account @ladispersabcn
- FB page
Filed under: English, International Newsletter, newsletter Tagged: Barcelona, catalonia, Desmuntatge 4F, journalism, la dispersa, mitjans en lluita, newsletter, Patricia Heras, Spain