Sunday, 25 December 2011

2010 we woke up. 2011 we stood up. 2012 we take over.

From Heather

Optimism is a political act. In fact, these days, cynicism is obedience. -
Alex Steffen

The world is long overdue for a completely new system of governance. The need for political representation or a paternalistic and opaque  authority
has been removed by technology. Governance by nation states is  now as
arbitrary and illogical as city states were earlier found to be. Corporations have the freedom to live in a world without borders or  social
responsibility, to own property no individual can claim and to  control a
one world government and legal system, with insupportable  consequences for
the world's resources and individual rights. To effect  the change we
require in 2012, to give individuals control and  responsibility, to bring
regional systems under regional governance and  protect the heritage of
future generations, we need a new political  model.

Individual Rights

In any system where groups have power, individual rights are always  at
risk. Both pure democracy and communism have brought human rights  horrors
every bit as reprehensible as fascist states; in order to guard  against
genocide, torture, and other persecution of individuals in the  name of the
greater good, a system must safeguard individual rights  above all other

Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies that individual rights are to be applied equally without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.  With
the addition of age, this would prevent discrimination against any  group.
Groups are not individuals and no group is entitled to special  and further
rights or protections under individual rights.

A recognition of individual rights will include life, liberty,  security of
person, access to the basic essentials of life including  knowledge,
privacy and personal autonomy in matters not affecting the  rest of
society, free development of personality and potential, and a  fair legal
system which does not promote wishes of the group over rights  of the

Autonomous peer to peer user groups for systems

Governments up till now have been run by hierarchical groups, which  act as
the final authority on all topics for an entire region for an  arbitrarily
specified length of time or until they are overthrown by  another group.
What these authorities govern is a series of systems,  controlled by the
state or corporations, and run as dictatorships where  workers' individual
rights are exchanged for the basic necessities of  life. These systems have
profit for the top of the hierarchy as their  objective; they are not set
up to provide an efficient or superior  service or product to the users.

If these systems were organized as autonomous, transparent, porous,  peer
to peer user groups, they would be far better governed by  themselves. The
current political structure does not recognize that  every system is not of
concern or interest to everyone in the region, or  that some users have far
greater knowledge and expertise in specific  areas than others. We need a
system where responsibility and control  rests with the entire user group
and expertise is acknowledged and put  to best use.

Autonomous: each user group should consist of all people affected by the
system and no people not affected by the system.

Transparent: all information related to the system must be fully
transparent in order for users to participate in tasks or auditing.

Porous: contribution at all levels of each user group must be open to all
users with acceptance by peer review.

Peer to peer: each user group should consist of users: audit and provide
feedback, contributors: interested users who periodically present work for
acceptance by the members, members: have acquired expertise and been
accepted as full contributing members by the user group, and a core group:
recognized by the group as having the necessary level of expertise to
provide direction for the system.

Meritocracy:  A side effect of these user groups is that they  provide
workers with the three motivators which provide the greatest job satisfaction, autonomy, mastery and purpose. People can work on  anything
they like, they are not required to submit resumes, acquire  accreditation,
seniority, or approval from an individual authority. If  their work is good
enough it will be accepted by the user group.  Everyone can work on the
system that interests them, doing the jobs at  the level they are capable
of, with as much or as little involvement as  they choose.

Systems should be organized by user groups, not by nations or  treaties.
International systems would include things such as the  internet,
telecommunications and knowledge, local systems would include  things such
as transit, food production and social services, and in any  situation
where only one family or an individual is affected, the  responsibility
would rely with only them. Each local user group or  individual would have
access to outside user groups for trade, shared  knowledge, disaster
relief, etc., autonomous but networked.

Global commons
Anything which is not only of global interest but also does not  belong to
any one generation cannot be destroyed and cannot be claimed  as the
property of any individual, group, corporation or government.  Global
commons would include space, the atmosphere and electromagnetic  field,
deep sea ocean, land and water masses of sufficient size to have  global
impact, areas of the biosphere which are rare or important enough  to be of
global concern, and knowledge. Knowledge includes discoveries,  history and
creative works, and excludes personal information regarding  individuals.
There should be no restriction on the use of ideas,  although creativity
needs to be compensated and credited.

Anything belonging to the global commons must be held under  stewardship of
a porous and transparent peer to peer organization set up  for the purpose,
and the mandate for all global commons must include  the protection and
preservation of the commons. All systems which affect  the commons must
work with the commons in their design and  implementation.

2010 we woke up. 2011 we stood up. 2012 we take over.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Needed now: A News Commons

Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation - TED Talk

Bettermeans: How does an open enterprise work?

P2P Foundation


There are many activities that are carried out now which are not considered work because they are not paid employment, eg child rearing, cooking cleaning, mainly women's work you'll notice. So to start we have to think of all the activities that go to providing the necessities of life for us, as work. This starts in the home with children being nagged to help with the washing up etc. and goes on to growing food, building bridges, setting up alternative energy, driving trains, etc. et

So the question how do you make [or what would make] EVERY job, or work, a path of, and to, fulfillment????  ( is very relevant. We don't need to go back into history to see the importance of work not becoming drudgery. I have experienced washing up in a summer camp as being a delightful experience because it went along with having the opportunity to meet and chat with new people and because it was part of a collective project which was itself worthwhile to me. So it is not as far away as George (above) would seem to think. What applies domestically to taking out the garbage, can apply to social necessities, ie waste disposal. That is both can be performed with joy when they are experienced as part of a project in which I am creatively involved.

What makes work 'alienating' is when it is imposed. So I agree with Jones (idem above) no group, even a People's Assembly, should have the right to impose work on an individual.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Global Strike May 2012

Global Strike May 2012 is not a strike in the way it is usually meant of withdrawing labour in order to pressure bosses for increase in wages or better working conditions. What we are proposing is a continuous strike, a permanent withdrawal from the current system and switching to an alternative one. In order to make this feasible, the alternative system needs to be up and running by May next year. Outrageous! Impossible! Yes. I agree with you. Nevertheless it has to happen if we are serious about moving from this morally bankrupt and physically damaging path we are on, to a sustainable system that puts people before profit.
We need to become aware of our part in maintaining the system. Everytime we use money to make a transaction, but more than that, actually our whole culture is predicated on the system continuing. We are trapped in it and though we know it is leading to our self-destruction, we cannot get out of it, EXCEPT by creating the alternative. We are putting our energy into demos, protests, sit-ins, temporary strikes of 1 day or 3 days, which are supposed to gather momentum, spread the word, show our power to the 1%, and at the same time we are totally comitted to maintaining the system in our daily lives, a system which separates us and disempowers us. If our energies were concentrating on developing a system that serves the people, not in theory, but in actuality we would overcome our isolation and empower ourselves. Very much as Transition Towns have been doing.
GlobalStrike 2012 is not a call to get masses out on the streets, it is a clarion call to stop colluding with the system, while at the same time trying to fight it. That schizophrenia has to be replaced by the singular intention of withdrawing from the present morally bankrupt and physically damaging system, and together building a new one.
Maybe you want to know what it is going to be like – this new system- before you commit yourself. Sorry, the commitment comes first. That’s asking a lot. Yes, it is asking for everything you got. Remember what is at stake here is the continuation of human existence.

Transition/Occupy event in Hebden bridge

People from Occupy Hebden and HebdenTransition will be meeting at the Trades Club to explore whether and how we can work together to achieve our common aims. Having been part of both movements I can see many similarities, but there are also differences which need to be respected. Both groups are aware that the path we are on globally is endangering our very existence as a human society, but whereas Transitioners are not given to delving into the reasons, for they want to concentrate on the solutions, Occupiers often criticise the system as a whole and tend to feel that nothing less than total refurbishment will do. Transitioners are in the main happy to work with what we have, and see that much can be done by empowering local communities to develop alternative systems side by side with what is already existing. They have done much to open people's eyes to the loss of community and what can be achieved by re- investing in it.
Occupiers challenge the status quo with protest marches, camping out in city centres, supporting workers' strikes, even challenging the law in the courts, and focus attention particularly on financial institutions which bend the law to suit themselves. The vast division between those who benefit from the influence that corporations have on government policy, and those who suffer from it, is expressed in the slogan of 'we are the 99%'. The advantage of the Occupy movement is in combining this array of different interests under one umbrella. Both movements see the possibility of a society where joy in working together and sharing resources replaces the competitive system of industrial growth which is destroying the planet. While Occupy is envisaging the possibility of at some point changing the system, Transition is building an alternative system run by local people for the people. Together we can work to make this happen. Come to the Trades Club on Tuesday 20th. If you want to add your voice to those being heard around the world or just want to find out more you will be most welcome. There will be delicious food available between 6 and 8pm, and the presentation starts at 7pm

Monday, 12 December 2011

From Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging

The Distinctions for the Possibility Conversation
The challenge with possibility is it gets confused with goals, prediction,
and optimism. Possibility is not about what we plan to happen, or what we
think will happen, or whether things will get better. Goals, prediction, and
optimism don’t create anything; they just might make things a little better
and cheer us up in the process. Nor is possibility simply a dream. Dreaming
leaves us bystanders or observers of our lives. Possibility creates something
new. It is a declaration of a future that has the quality of being and aliveness
that we choose to live into. It is framed as a declaration of the world that I
want to inhabit. It is a statement of who I am that transcends our history,
our story, our usual demographics. The power is in the act of declaring.
The distinction between possibility and problem solving is worth dwelling
on for a moment. As I have said, surely too many times, we traditionally
start with problem solving and talk about goals, targets, resources, and how
to persuade others. Even the creation of a vision is part of the problem solving
mentality. A vision is something we must wait for to realize and is
most often followed by an effort to make it concrete and practical. Even a
vision, which is a more imaginative form of problem solving, needs to be
postponed and replaced with possibility. The future is created through a
declaration of what is the possibility we stand for. Out of this declaration,
each time we enter a room, the possibility enters with us.
The communal possibility comes into being through individual public
declarations of possibility. Much the same as witnessing in religious gatherings.
Though every possibility begins as an individual declaration, it gains
power and impacts community when made public. The community possibility
is not the aggregation of individual possibilities. Nor is it a negotiation or
agreement on common possibility. The communal possibility is that space
or porous container where a collective exists for the realization of all the possibilities
of its members. This is the real meaning of a restorative community.
It is that place where all possibilities can come alive, and they come alive at
the moment they are announced.
• • •
The possibility conversation gives form to one way the gifts of those in the
margin get brought into the center. Each person’s possibility counts, especially
those whose voices are quieted or marginalized by the drumbeat of
retribution. In fact, what distinguishes those on the margin in communities
is they tragically live without real possibility. For many youth on the
margin, the future is narrow, perhaps death or prison. They have trouble
imagining a future distinct from the past or present. This is the real tragedy:
not only that life is difficult, but that it is a life that holds no possibility for
a different future. (pp.125-6)
Ben Roberts: Occupy cafe
There is, I believe, a purity and simplicity in this kind of a declaration.  It is not a detailed prescription.  It is more like a meme.  The original call to occupy Wall Street had this quality, I believe.  It inspired people all around the world into action around a very basic idea of possibility.  What might we call people into next that would have that universal, meme-like quality?  Something that is tangible and compelling, avoids being prescriptive and powerfully invites people into a place of creativity?  Something that will call them to live into the New Economy?

Friday, 9 December 2011

'Why NOT European Coordination?'

When we make use of our 'common cultural features' we are by definition excluding others. We are picking out those that serve our purposes, that tend to serve the interests of the group identified with those common cultural features, and we will at some point ignore or minimise the interests of those outside this group.

These identifications which seem so 'natural' to us now are part of the divisive processes of the culture we have grown up with..... ie are you male or female? married or unmarried? employed or unemployed? black/white/asian/etc? European is just another division that we have to overcome. If we want face to face meetings we could define the group by those who have time/money to travel, which matters as much as location. If I define myself as European then I begin to think like a European.

This is not a frivolous issue, this is fundamental to seeing the world as one family and all as my brothers and sisters. It may be more convenient organisationally to divide ourselves up into locations, but this is not about convenience. This is about stretching ourselves beyond the borders which have divided us, to see our commonalities as human beings.

Thoughts on a Global General Strike

What does this general strike mean to me? Not just for the collectivity, but for me personally? How do I support my wife and family? What alternatives are there for me?
These are the questions that people will be asking of themselves. For some of us in the movement we have already worked out our answers. We are doing what we want to be doing. For other people this represents a huge jump, to be doing what I really want to do in my life, instead of having to go to some boring, soul destroying work in order to survive. The risks - of self-indulgance, selfishness, of letting myself follw my heart, my passionate impulse to enjoy my every moment, isn't this childish? We have been taught such a cynical view of life that for most people these are unattainable ideals. We can see that it is wrong the way the system serves the few, and we can see the need for a fairer share-out of wealth. But for me, personally, what does it mean to 'live to my full potential'? What is required of me to be able to support this global transformation?
For each person this question will have a different meaning. For me it means being able to welcome change, rather than resisting it, while nevertheless going at my own pace, knowing I am a sensitive human being who needs care and tenderness. It means trusting that what is happening is OK even though I cannot see where it is going. It means being able to see this whole global process of crisis, messy and unpredictable as it is, as the birth pangs of a new creativity, like the birth of a baby.  It means being able to see my identity as universal, rathr than tied to one particular location or role.
These personal aspects of the new world we are building also need attention. They tend to be seen as your own private business not something to be discussed openly. But they are basic to understanding how much we cling to familiar ways, however outdated, in order to stay within our comfort zone, and it is helpful to acknowledge the courage that is needed to break out of them.

Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri: What to expect in 2012

Some of the most inspiring social struggles of 2011 have placed democracy at the top of the agenda.
Although they emerge from very different conditions, these movements – from the insurrections of the Arab Spring to the union battles in Wisconsin, from the student protests in Chile to those in the US and Europe, from the UK riots to the occupations of the Spanish indignados and the Greeks in Syntagma Square, and from Occupy Wall Street to the innumerable local forms of refusal across the world – share, first of all, a negative demand: Enough with the structures of neoliberalism! This common cry is not only an economic protest but also immediately a political one, against the false claims of representation. Neither Mubarak and Ben Ali nor Wall Street bankers, neither media elites nor even presidents, governors, members of parliament, and other elected officials – none of them represent us. The extraordinary force of refusal is very important, of course, but we should be careful not to lose track in the din of the demonstrations and conflicts of a central element that goes beyond protest and resistance. These movements also share the aspiration for a new kind of democracy, expressed in tentative and uncertain voices in some cases but explicitly and forcefully in others. The development of this aspiration is one of the threads we are most anxious to follow in 2012.
One source of antagonism that all of these movements will have to confront, even those that have just toppled dictators, is the insufficiency of modern democratic constitutions, particularly their regimes of labor, property, and representation. In these constitutions, first of all, waged labor is key to having access to income and the basic rights of citizenship, a relationship that has long functioned poorly for those outside the regular labor market, including the poor, the unemployed, unwaged female workers, immigrants, and others, but today all forms of labor are ever more precarious and insecure. Labor continues to be the source of wealth in capitalist society, of course, but increasingly outside the relationship with capital and often outside the stable wage relation. As a result, our social constitution continues to require waged labor for full rights and access in a society where such labor is less and less available.
Private property is a second fundamental pillar of the democratic constitutions, and social movements today contest not only national and global regimes of neoliberal governance but also the rule of property more generally. Property not only maintains social divisions and hierarchies but also generates some of the most powerful bonds (often perverse connections) that we share with each other and our societies. And yet contemporary social and economic production has an increasingly common character, which defies and exceeds the bounds of property. Capital’s ability to generate profit is declining since it is losing its entrepreneurial capacity and its power to administer social discipline and cooperation. Instead capital increasingly accumulates wealth primarily via forms of rent, most often organized through financial instruments, through which it captures value that is produced socially and relatively independent of its power. But every instance of private accumulation reduces the power and productivity of the common. Private property is thus becoming ever more not only a parasite but also an obstacle to social production and social welfare.
Finally, a third pillar of democratic constitutions, and object of increasing antagonism, as we said earlier, rests on the systems of representation and their false claims to establish democratic governance. Putting an end to the power of professional political representatives is one of the few slogans from the socialist tradition that we can affirm wholeheartedly in our contemporary condition. Professional politicians, along with corporate leaders and the media elite, operate only the weakest sort of representative function. The problem is not so much that politicians are corrupt (although in many cases this is also true) but rather that the constitutional structure isolates the mechanisms of political decision-making from the powers and desires of the multitude. Any real process of democratization in our societies has to attack the lack of representation and the false pretenses of representation at the core of the constitution.
Recognizing the rationality and necessity of revolt along these three axes and many others, which animate many struggles today, is, however, really only the first step, the point of departure. The heat of indignation and the spontaneity of revolt have to be organized in order to last over time and to construct new forms of life, alternative social formations.
The secrets to this next step are as rare as they are precious.
On the economic terrain we need to discover new social technologies for freely producing in common and for equitably distributing shared wealth. How can our productive energies and desires be engaged and increased in an economy not founded on private property? How can welfare and basic social resources be provided to all in a social structure not regulated and dominated by state property? We must construct the relations of production and exchange as well as the structures of social welfare that are composed of and adequate to the common.
The challenges on the political terrain are equally thorny. Some of the most inspiring and innovative events and revolts in the last decade have radicalized democratic thinking and practice by occupying and organizing a space, such as a public square, with open, participatory structures or assemblies, maintaining these new democratic forms for weeks or months. Indeed the internal organization of the movements themselves has been constantly subjected to processes of democratization, striving to create horizontal participatory network structures. The revolts against the dominant political system, its professional politicians, and its illegitimate structures of representation are thus not aimed at restoring some imagined legitimate representational system of the past but rather at experimenting with new democratic forms of expression: democracia real ya. How can we transform indignation and rebellion into a lasting constituent process? How can experiments in democracy become a constituent power, not only democratizing a public square or a neighborhood but also inventing an alternative society that is really democratic?
To confront these issues, we, along with many others, have proposed possible initial steps, such as establishing a guaranteed income, the right to global citizenship, and a process of the democratic reappropriation of the common. But we are under no illusion that we have all the answers. Instead we are encouraged by the fact that we are not alone asking the questions. We are confident, in fact, that those who are dissatisfied with the life offered by our contemporary neoliberal society, indignant about its injustices, rebellious against its powers of command and exploitation, and yearning for an alternative democratic form of life based on the common wealth we share – they, by posing these questions and pursuing their desires, will invent new solutions we cannot yet even imagine. Those are some of our best wishes for 2012.
Michael Hardt is an American political philosopher and literary theorist. Antonio Negri is an Italian Marxist philosopher. In the late 1970s Negri was accused of being the mastermind behind the left-wing terrorist group the Red Brigades. Negri emigrated to France where he taught in Paris along with Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. Hardt and Negri have published four important critiques of late capitalism and globalization: Labor of Dionysus: A Critique of the State-Form (1994), Empire(2000), Multitude (2004) and Commonwealth (2009). These four works have been highly praised by contemporary activists. Empire, for example, has been hailed as “nothing less than a rewriting of The Communist Manifesto for our time” by the Lacanian philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

December 10 Human Rights Day

The 11th of January 2012 is the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay black hole, a place that has incarcerated 22 children, the centrepiece for the Bush regime's reinstatement of torture, and an anti-judicial experiment that has culminated this month in a bill before the US senate which proposes that US citizens should be subjected to trial by army and indefinite preventive detainment; in other words, a bill which proposes that the US military be permitted to treat US citizens as it treats the rest of the world.
Thanks to Wikileaks' release of the US state cables, we have seen the complicity of almost every country in the world in the human rights abuses of which Guantanamo has become a symbol. We have seen Canada refuse its obligation to demand the release of a Canadian child from Bagram and Guantanamo, refuse to demand that his torture and ill treatment end, and even participate in violating his human rights. We have seen Australia refuse to make an inquiry on behalf of an Australian citizen and torture victim. We have seen Ireland allowing secret rendition flights to use its airport, and we have seen Poland, Lithuania and Romania host "black site" CIA prisons. We have seen Yemen imprison truthful journalists on order from Obama, Armenian officials enable sex trafficers, and Bulgarian PM Borisov linked to oil-siphoning scandals, illegal deals involving LUKoil and major traffic in methamphetamines. We have seen known thugs as ruling politicians and citizens imprisoned for political speech. We have seen humanitarian organizations conceal human rights abuses and corporations that kill their workers.
Throughout this momentous year we have seen almost every country in the world expose themselves as military industrial regimes in which freedom of speech and assembly are met with armed violence by security forces employed to provide protection from the people, not to the people. We have seen court systems which assist banks and other corporations to violate our rights and freedoms and do not work to defend individuals. We have seen a global industry of prisons which work on a system of profit and expansion, not justice. We have seen governments which create laws in response to the needs of corporations, not individuals. This week, we have seen the vast industry of spying on individuals by corporations, in violation of our right to privacy. Throughout this year of mass arrests, we have yet to see the arrest of any of the individuals responsible for these attacks on our human rights.
On January 7, 2012, we demand the return of our justice systems to the people. We demand the release of all untried or unjustly tried prisoners and an end to the abuses of our prison systems. We join London Guantánamo Campaign, Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, and CND in calling for an immediate end to the illegal detention of people in Guantánamo. And we demand the arrest and trial of all those responsible for violating our human rights.