Tom Atlee: Occupy’s Thinking — and Michael Moore’s

Tom Atlee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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OWS GA – whether they were passed (either through consensus or modified consensus), not passed, tabled, discussed, or withdrawn – see

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

To explore current and future proposals to the OWS GA, look over

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

Blessing on their journeys, and ours…



People Before Parties: Recommendations for Electoral Reform

Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here?  by Michael Moore


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