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Semiformalishmaybe

Between Cloud and Ground

(This is extracted and elaborated on portions of a post I decided not to share)

Last night, I attended a post-occupy occupy meeting of OccupyPHL's Coordination Committee, held in 30th Street Station's food court. It was one of the larger CoCo meetings that OccupyPHL has held; most post-park meetings have been held so far in a Quaker center near where Dillworth Plaza/City Hall was occupied (apparently they are very happy to take part because it's putting their community in touch with a number of youth and it fits their social causes). I have not been to any of these meetings; this is my first meeting of any kind since Dillworth was cleared. The mood was fairly mixed, the intro was as irritatingly immersed in multiculturalist-flavour-of-liberal BS as I remembered (what that non-shared post was a long grumble about), but the meeting was pretty productive; Occupy is organising a number of marches and other events. I'm glad to see that the traditions of radical-democracy (in particular, how discussions/votes/proposals happen) are being carried forward; some form of this will help grassroots movements have robust public discussions in a structured-and-open way. I'm coming to think that Boston's variant is better than PHL's, but PHL's will certainly work.

Apart from some marches, there's some talk at a national form of Occupy; finally we're going to try to take the smattering of ideas and see if they can scale up and solidify on solutions. One form of this is The 99% Declaration and the convention it calls for. Some parts of it are wishful thinking or ill-conceived, and some I simply disagree with, but my readers who are interested in politics or philosophy of jurisprudence will probably find it an interesting read. Some (not terribly long) commentary:

  • 3: I am unsure if a new political party is actually doable; it would be an interesting gamble but also potentially a sobering experience. I think Occupy, like most protest movements, works best on the outside of power; I don't believe there's enough respect for expertise nor appropriate structures for independent deliberation and polish for it to work well given the reigns of power. Political parties normally exist with some tensions between a technocratic wing (devoted to expert, smooth governance) and various popular and philosophical wings (devoted to values). Occupy is, I think, much stronger at the latter than the former. Radical democracy in general is much stronger at the latter.
  • 4: A focus on grievances is the wrong approach. In government, you take power and to the best of your ability you do stuff, fixing things you see as problems/grievances yourself. I feel a focus on preferred policies is much more productive.
  • 6: I don't believe that it's worthwhile to make demands and wait; demands won't be met, either because the few people who agree with them will lack the power, or because the declaration will not be big enough news. If entering politics is desirable, one should do so. Or one could use an existing political party, like the Greens, and benefit from their experience
On their suggested content for a list of grievances:
  • 1: Well drafted, entirely agreed, but there's a lot of nuance to be worked out on how public financing of elections should be done. It's worth pressing forward on publicising it as a cause even before that's worked out though
  • 2: Agreed.
  • 3: Mostly agreed, needs more specifics and strengthening. I would specifically bar any elected official from ever being engaged in any kind of lobbying during or after their time in office, for their entire lives. Likewise, congressional aides and campaign workers also have a lifetime ban from being engaged in any kind of lobbying. The same would apply to close relatives of politicians and their staff
  • 4: I entirely and strongly disagree with the proposal for term limits for US Congress. This is undemocratic, and would eliminate many of our better congresspeople. I hope occupy does not carry this forward into future proposals
  • 5: Agreed. I have a lot of specifics on this, and would suggest people look at the standard activities and lives of their executives for a list of tax-exemptions (benefits, meetings-over-meals, car programmes, etc) that should probably be taxed
  • 6: Agreed, specifically the single-payer idea
  • 7: Agreed
  • 8: I agree with the spirit but wonder if this is specific enough.
  • 9: Acceptable
  • 10: Agree with the spirit, disagree with the implementation. I believe we should transition to publicly funding university-level education
  • 11: Agreed
  • 12: I agree with some of this, and disagree with other parts. Abandoning military bases is too complex a topic to be addressed so bluntly; it should be handled with prudence, not principle. I also think the historical premise is shaky
  • 13: I agree with the spirit, am uncertain about the specifics.
  • 14: Agreed. I am unsure how to evaluate the effects of this though.
  • 15: Unsure. Trade policy is something I'd want to consider further and consult expertise on
  • 16: Agreed, but I am not sure this goes far enough. I'd like to remove a lot of the high-finance field (e.g. quants firms), ideally bringing the stock market and the surrounding financial market closer to things justifiable in terms of the public good (that is, a distributed personal-stake system of judgement on economic activities).
  • 17: Probably agreed, but I wonder how this will affect the availability of mortgages in the future.
  • 18: Fuck no. Ending the Fed is a terrible idea. Reforming it to end conflicts of interest is sensible.
  • 19: I am open to the comprehensive campaign finance idea and election reform. I am not sure what the proposal to end the electoral college means; is the per-state chunking of votes preserved or not? If so, why do we care about the electoral college? If not, I am open to the change but would note that people (unlike me) who care about states rights will probably be very unhappy with this
  • 20: Strongly disagree.
  • 21: Agreed. Repealing DOMA would be a good thing. Also, ideally we'd have a federal law requiring nationwide legal recognition of gay marriage.
  • 22: Agreed. This is probably not the place for me to suggest such a personal view, but ending the intellectual property regime (withdrawl from WIPO, abolishing copyright, abolishing patents) would be great too, at least paired with a system of public funding of the arts and literature

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