Occupy London Working Groups

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Economics working group

"The overriding focus of the Economics Working Group has been to consider and propose the changes that need to be made within our current economic system to better the lives of the majority. This is the common denominator of all discussions within the group. It is both about the reform of existing structures and the adoption of new economic paradigms. It is not about ‘isms’, it is about ideas.

The beauty of the Occupy movement is that it has brought together people from all walks of life and backgrounds, where a shared motive is to better the lives of people beyond ourselves. We have considered views and ideas from across the ideological and political spectrum. Without changes in banking, the majority will be one day at the mercy of a financial meltdown the likes of which has not been seen. We have looked at changes to taxation, regressive taxes, Land Value Tax. And of course we are looking at the ecosystem of money; how it is created, distributed and what is the true ‘cost’ of money. Without changes in these and other areas we will see a widening of the chasm of economic inequality, which will destroy the society of which we are all a part. - Tom Moriarty

City of London Corporation working group

This group was hurriedly put together, in the very early days of the camp at St Paul’s. The process of working groups was still being shaped at that time but the group had to form as a reaction to a statement from the camp regarding the COLC which had been released without consensus from the assembly. That statement and ensuing coverage had definitely kicked us off with some excellent coverage but people were devastated that it had seemed to come in the name of the camp even though the camp hadn’t been able to engage with and endorse the statement first through assembly.

In that fact alone, something else was being shaped: the importance of the assembly being responsible for whatever the camp says as a whole.

The group met around five times, with around ten people on average meeting each time. The variety of expertise was intoxicating; from a young man who had just left a local COLC secondary school, to a man who had lost his house in the crash of 2008 and had connections with COLC, as well as the author of the first ‘unofficial’ statement and an Imam. That was back in the days when Ye Olde London was packed with working groups downstairs. We eventually drafted the first statement of the COLC working group that could go to assembly for consensus. By then, it had grown in importance as COLC had made their demands on the camp – so our statement became Occupy LSX’s counter demands. The statement passed in one hearing at assembly, after the 75 people had the time to scrutinise and amend. – Jamie Kelsey-Fry

The corporations working group

This was one of the first groups set up with the specific focus on creating an initial statement to voice the camp’s position on a given issue. The first meeting was in Ye Olde London Pub with only five people present. The group rapidly grew to being a regular fifteen at a time. Again, the mixture of voices was intoxicating; from a Norwegian student to a London care worker, an ex-fireman to an expert on Deleuze.

From then, the process for working groups was more set. Regular shout outs for the meetings were made at assemblies, continually underlining that this was not a call out for middle class people with degrees but to all people who want to have their voice heard about corporate behaviour. Minutes were taken regularly and, as with all groups, meetings were facilitated tightly to ensure all voices heard equally. We met around eight times until we drafted an initial statement. We had the proposal put up online thanks to John Bywater, four days before the assembly, and printed 200 copies of the proposed statement, leaving a stack in the Info tent, distributing on the days leading up to it and having fifty kept back for the assembly itself.

When we went to the assembly for the first reading, there were around 200 people on the steps – as this was the weekend when the first national conference was being held at London. We were very excited indeed. Only days before, the legendary Bear had brought through a new process that meant that if there was a continual block on a proposal brought to assembly, then the blockers had to go with the working group to see if they could rewrite in a way that the blocker feels represented too. This had been brought in to ensure that people who were blocking for the hell of it would have to be responsible for their choice and follow it up with the group. It was a brilliant idea of Bear’s, in my opinion.

So- we ended up being the guinea pig for this new aspect process. The meeting was at least an hour. To begin with, people were really happy about the proposal – but were coming up to the mic to make minor amendments, while there were two people who were persistently blocking. This was the first time that ‘revolutionaries’ rather than ‘reformists’ were clashing. Eventually, one blocker stood aside but the other remained firm and the statement didn’t go through.

At first this was depressing as we had put so much work into the document. However, the next day, the group met with the blockers. We had an eight hour meeting but still hadn’t found consensus in the group. Two days later, we met again and had a four and a half hour meeting and this time, came up with a statement that made the reformists and the revolutionaries happy. In my opinion, this was a massive improvement on the original document (it starts with stating that corporations can be defined as being psychopathic!) and profound testament to the real democracy that the peoples’ assembly represents." (http://theoccupiedtimes.co.uk/?p=2336)