Dear Mr Huber,
The decision of your committee seems very short-sighted to me as a non-German. The Nazis did many depraved things but we would do well to learn from their monetary policy if we wanted to execute say, a green new deal or reduce our subservience to private banking interests. Of course communicating with the electorate requires care with language, but the cause of monetary reform will get nowhere without also educating the electorate.
By Mira Luna 03.11.13 Photo by Maurice from Zoetermeer, Netherlands
Learning how to make decisions together is a crucial element of getting along and getting things done with others. It’s wise for your group to learn how to steer your boat together with collective decision-making before you have a sinking ship on your hands. I’ve learned these skills through workshops, readings and from living and working in cooperatives and they have been incredibly valuable to the success of these projects.
Collective decision-making has innumerable rewards. If group members affected by the decision are involved, less conflict will result. If folks implementing the decision are involved, decisions are more likely to be implemented with hard work and enthusiasm, and empowered decision-makers are likely to stick around for the long haul. Team spirit is cultivated by collaborative problem-solving and listening to other's perspectives.
A strong example of collective decision-making is participatory budgeting which often leads to less contentious, more inclusive budgetary decisions – not an easy challenge. Residents, assisted by city administrators, create proposals through a collaborative process and present their projects. Everyone (including youth and immigrants) votes on their top choices using ballots or dotmocracy - a rank-choice voting system using dots as votes.
NYC participatory budgeting, courtesy of the Participatory Budgeting Project
Collective decision-making isn't as much about how we vote on decisions as it is about the process of hearing and incorporating all sides. This process often involves:
- A well-facilitated discussion of the issue or problem
- Open brainstorming of proposed solutions
- Developing refined proposals
- Identifying concerns about proposals and checking for initial agreement
- Modifying and making amendments to proposals through compromise
- Voting to assess unity, concerns or to make further modifications
- Implementing and evaluating the success of the proposal
There are 3 key ingredients to effective collective decision-making:
1) The ability to trust the wisdom and consider the well-being of the group while setting aside personal agendas.
2) Selection of an appropriate process that your group agrees on and get training in the facilitation of the process.
3) A comfortable and accepting group environment, so that individuals freely share their ideas, thoughts, emotions and experiences without retribution or oppression. Participants should feel their contributions are fairly and equally considered, even though they might not be part of the final solution. Troubleshooting guides listed in the Resources section below encourage full, fair and safe participation.
A group should have some common ground to hold it together during conflict, such as values, vision and goals. Common ground serves as a reference for whether or not a good decision is being made. Knowing whether you like warm or cold weather will help you figure out whether to sail your boat North or South. If you don’t know your common ground, it’s good to find it before you set sail so you don’t have folks steering you in different directions. Large groups that have factions can form subgroups that come back together for discussion, like spokescouncils, as activist groups like Occupy have done. Diverse stakeholder decisions are an exception, where common ground may be naturally lacking, and consensus can be challenging though still worthwhile.
Cooperative attitude can be learned through cooperative experience and requires developing a sense of group unity, caring and respect amongst members. Have positive experiences together like group projects and shared meals to help create unity – the glue that gets the group through stormy meetings without unraveling. To a certain degree, participants must surrender forcing their own personal agenda in order to make decisions as a group, while still being clear about where they are coming from. Developing communication and listening skills and to make compromises comes with maturity and practice, though there are tools to help accelerate learning, like the Connection Action Project's guide below.
Get trained in a process -- research guidebooks or hire a consultant to teach the process to your group. Every new person who comes into your group should be trained, as one unskilled decision-maker could steer you off course. The larger your group, the more structured process you will likely need. A consultant can also help you pick your process and tailor it to your group's needs and culture. Consensus is often thought of as the ideal collective decision-making process, but other models are helpful for large, diverse groups: Dynamic Facilitation, Spokescouncils, Crowd-wise and Consensus-Oriented Decision-making.
Consensus State of Mind flowchart by the Rhizome Coop
Your boat will need a crew trained in all the key roles so that your meetings stay on course. Training in facilitation can be basic, like learning meeting roles such as note-taker, facilitator, vibe watcher and time keeper. Or it can be more elaborate training in conflict resolution, creating group agreements, techniques to break up mental gridlock, or anti-oppression tools. Take turns with facilitating and other roles for power balancing and group skill-building. Create group agreements/rules for every meeting. Look out for hidden power dynamics, which can sabotage authentic collective process.
Listening and Communication
These are essential, yet often overlooked, elements of effective group process - participants must be able to voice themselves and be heard. There are many communication styles, some more emotional or nonverbal, and some people are able to speak their mind more than others due to conditioning or personality. Nonviolent communication is popular, but be careful about imposing one tool on unwilling participants; have varied tools available for different folks and contexts. Cues such as "step up" and "step back" direct members who are over- or under- participating. Take a break (use a "T" hand sign) to move through emotions in the middle of a heated discussion and calm the energy for clearer communication. "Safe space" is one of my favorites to incorporate into a meeting - it's where anyone can voice any concerns without response. Personal development practices like meditation or counseling may help members come to the table with a clearer mind that less is attached or triggered and more open to hearing others.
Read more and see resource links here.
The graphics below capture the essential nature of western civilization today–everything is for sale, the main source of revenue for businesses and governments is advertising, everyone is trying to colonize your mind.
Corporations say, “buy, buy, buy.”
Religious organizations say, “believe, believe, believe.”
Governments say, “obey, obey, obey.”
Greg Palast is a well-respected investigative journalist, one of the few media people who for me retains some credibility. In his recent article, Hugo Chavez and the Global Poverty Conspiracy, he tells the story of why he was so reviled by the U. S. and why an attempt was made to assassinate him. If you want to understand current geopolitics, you must read this article.
A recent article by James Howard Kunstler begins: “History has a special purgatory where it sometimes stashes feckless nations punch drunk on their own tragic choices: the realm where anything goes, nothing matters, and nobody cares. We’ve surely crossed the frontier into that bad place in these days of dwindling winter, 2013.”
And concludes: “the rule of law extinct in this country, but so are public figures of principle and credible news organs.”
Read it, and other insightful pieces by Kunstler on his blog.
New economy projects are mostly unconnected, so each one struggles alone rather than supporting each other. One result of this is that awareness remains low. The US Solidarity Economy Network (USSEN) and its international counterpart, RIPESS, are working to change this by implementing a mapping and economic integration tool to connect groups with one another to build a cooperative, just and sustainable economy.
Mapping your community helps demonstrate that “Another World” is not only possible, it already exists. Mapping also can become a community organizing tool - uncovering a reservoir of social assets even in the poorest neighborhoods, which may seed mutual aid and cooperative business ideas - as it did for the Jersey Shore Neighborhood Cooperative. USSEN has a list of communities that have done independent mapping projects, each using its own methodology, criteria, platform and map name.
When developing a map, a challenging question comes up,“who's in?” Some generally agreed upon principles for solidarity economy (SE) are: solidarity, mutualism, cooperation, equity (race, ethnicity, nationality, class, gender, LGBTQ, ability), social and environmental prioritization, democracy, pluralism, and grassroots driven. Most groups will not meet all these criteria. The line can become fuzzy if you don't have lots of local entities to choose from to populate the map. These principles leave something to aspire and work towards. You may want to do the mapping with local organizations to get a broader perspective and to encourage participation.
Functions of mapping
- Make projects more visible to each other and the public -- free advertising!
- Movement and regional community-building by connecting SE entities, social movements, and activists through social networking for developing mutual support and common infrastructure.
- Facilitate the creation of viable solidarity economy supply chains that link SE producers, distributors, and finance.
- Foundation for research to make the case for allocating resources and policies to support the solidarity economy.
Brazil has an elaborate, government funded Solidarity Economy Map of over 20,000 collectively run enterprises throughout the country, which enables consumers to find SE goods and services and develops SE supply chains. The map's social networking function is supported by a separate platform called Cirandas where enterprises, organizations, networks and individuals can create their own information page. ZOES is a platform in Italy that links mapping and social networking and allows entities to self-map after being vouched for by someone already in the ZOES network.
Within the US, there are many examples of simple maps, some just beginning:
- W. Massachusetts Solidarity Economy Map
- Solidarity NYC Map
- Philadelphia Solidarity Economy Map
- Boston Area Solidarity Economy Map
- Jersey Shore Neighborhood Cooperative Map
- Ann Arbor Sharing Economy Map
- Detroit Solidarity Economy Map
- Chicago Solidarity Economy Map
- This is What Democracy in Ohio Looks Like: Ohio's Democratic/Self-Determination "Infrastructure" (a directory not yet in a map format)
How to Make a Map
Sometimes mapping starts with a curious individual. However, it's best if the map involve the broader community at some point. A community survey can collect information to populate the map in a balanced and diverse way. This may help you figure out what your geographic boundaries are, who to include in the map, as well as what to name it.
Read the rest on how to map here.
Dane County Time Bank has been run by Stephanie Rearick for several years and is now up to 2500 members. Madison Hours has been less successful, but Stephanie believes that together they offer a valuable combination. Stephanie plans to bring them together into a dual currency marketplace where businesses, nonprofits and ordinary folk can exchange without money - the new system will be greater than the sum of its parts.
Here are some astounding facts about inequality, clearly presented and easy to understand, but very disturbing.
Thanks to the New Economics Institute for sending it along.
Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne will promote the “Rethinking Money” book in these cities. Details will follow.
- March 7th, St. Louis: World Affairs Council at noon
- March 10th, Santa Barbara, CA
- March 12th, San Francisco, 10 am, KALW-FM (NPT/RRI) – “Your call”
- March 12th, San Francisco, 2 pm New Dimensions Radio
- March 12th, San Francisco, 6 pm – 8 pm, IONS in Petaluma public conference
- March 18th, Stanford CT: World Affairs Council covered live on C-Span TV
- March 20th, Seattle, Washington state: Town Hall meeting
- March 21st, Portland, OR: World Affairs Council
- March 23th, Los Angeles, Event cancelled!
- March 25th – March 28th, Tucson, AR: Various public events (including Town Hall)
- April 5th, Toronto, Business News Network, 11:15 am
- April 6th, Toronto, 7 pm – 9 pm, Oise Auditorium, 252 Bloor St. W.
“Auditing the Fed, replacing Fed monetary policy discretion with a mandatory price rule governing policy, even the gold standard, Nobel Laureate Friedreich Hayek pushed the envelope beyond all of these. He advocated running the world economy on competing private currencies.
A competitive private market for money, instead of an arbitrary government monopoly amounting to a license to steal for the ruling class? How could that ever work?
Just like any other competitive private market for any other good or service, Hayek would answer, which is a lot better than a government monopoly. But doesn’t the government have to determine the standard for any society’s money, just like it determines the standards for the society’s weights and measures?”
Compiled by Thomas H. Greco, Jr.
There are two fundamentally different but related aspects of the “money problem” that urgently need to be addressed. One is exchange problem, the other is the finance problem. Recent history has made it clear that in both realms, existing structures and institutions are serious flawed.
The exchange problem stems from the monopolization and misallocation of credit by the banking cartel and the perverse and improper issuance of political currencies (dollars, euros, pounds, yen, etc.). Solutions to the exchange problem are intended to provide liquidity, i.e., a means of payment, wherever it is needed so that markets can continue to function, so that producers can continue to sell and consumers can continue to buy despite the shortage or abusive issuance of conventional money.
The finance problem is the shortage of investment capital to small and medium sized and locally-owned business. That shortage stems from bank investment policies and preferences and government regulations that favor the channeling of everyone’s savings into corporate and government securities. Solutions to the finance problem seek to enable savers to directly allocate their savings to enterprises and projects that enhance the resilience and sustainability of their communities, provide real security, and contribute to the common good.
Decentralization, relocalization, and disintermediation are the emerging trends leading to a new economic paradigm. “Crowdfunding” is raising investment capital from large numbers of small investors. This may be in the form of donations, loans, or equity shares.
This is needed today because,
1. People (justifiably) do not trust banks and Wall Street,
2. People are looking for better returns than can be had from banks and the stock market,
3. People are looking for ways to protect their savings from inflation,
4. People are looking for ways to assure their access to basic necessities through direct ownership of enterprises that produce them.
5. People are seeking security by making their local community economies more resilient and sustainable.
Unfortunately, there are legal obstacles that currently limit those possibilities. The Jobs Act that was passed into law in April of 2012 is intended to remove some of those obstacles, but the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has yet to act on its mandate to come up with new regulations that relax those restrictions.
Among the leading organizations in the field, and one of the best sources of information about funding options, is Cutting Edge Capital. Their mission is “to develop tools that will make it easier and more affordable for businesses and nonprofits to do legally-compliant community capital raising.” Their website is http://www.cuttingedgecapital.com. /
A very useful article from their website, authored by Nathan Hyun, is titled, The Direct Public Offering – The Original Securities-Based Crowdfunding Model. Here is the concluding paragraph.
Ultimately, the new crowdfunding exemption (when it becomes legal) will provide companies with another option for accessing securities-based capital from the crowd and it could prove even more exciting for those wishing to build platforms and tools to offer issuers. In the meantime, the original crowdfunding model, the DPO, continues to provide companies with an effective way to conduct a self-underwritten and self-administered public securities offering. If you are a small or medium sized business, startup or nonprofit and are looking to immediately raise capital from the crowd through a public securities offering, a DPO is presently your only option and may be the best option even when the new crowdfunding law goes into effect.
Several informational resources related to crowdfunding are listed below.
What is Crowdfunding and JOB’s Act?
This site provides a thorough overview of the present regulatory situation. It specifically states that, “Crowdfunding, or to be more specific, ‘equity-based crowdfunding’ is not yet legal.”
Crowdfunding Predictions for 2013
2012 was quite a year for the crowdfunding industry. In April, President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law, which will open up equity-based crowdfunding for unaccredited investors. In May, the Pebble E-Paper Watch set a crowdfunding record and gained national media headlines, raising over $10 million on donation-based crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Research firm Massolution estimates the crowdfunding industry (equity + donation + lending +reward crowdfunding) will grow from $1.5 billion in 2011 to $2.8 billion in 2012.
Complete article at:
4 Signs A Company Is NOT A Good Candidate For Equity Crowdfunding
1. The company is a tech company.
2. The company will need multiple rounds of financing.
3. The company is built on Intellectual Property, not brand.
4. The company is difficult to understand.
Read the entire article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryancaldbeck/2012/10/16/4-signs-a-company-is-not-a-good-candidate-for-equity-crowdfunding/
Why 84% of Kickstarter’s top projects shipped late
More About Legal Issues
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
with a specific reminder
“On April 5, 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act was signed into law. The Act requires the Commission to adopt rules to implement a new exemption that will allow crowdfunding. Until then, we are reminding issuers that any offers or sales of securities purporting to rely on the crowdfunding exemption would be unlawful under the federal securities laws.”
Propel Arizona is on the front page of the Arizona Republic business section on February 14, 2013. They did a good job of explaining what crowdfunding is, too.
Other related articles
SEC uses JOBS Act to set up new roadblocks to crowdfunding
‘Rich Man’s Crowd Funding’
Rethinking Money on Yahoo! Finance: “Don’t Want to Fight the Fed? Euro Architect Offers Alternative”
Click the picture to the video interview.
It’s not every day you hear a former central banker and an architect of the euro advocating for complementary currencies that have nothing to do with the national ones we call money. But that’s exactly what Bernard Lietaer does in his book Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity Into Prosperity.
He argues new monetary tools are needed to avoid repeated financial meltdowns and fiscal crises like we’ve seen in the U.S. and Europe.
By John Keane, University of Sydney
Everybody warned this would be no ordinary invitation, and they were right. Three hundred metres from Knightsbridge underground station, just a stone’s throw from fashion-conscious Harrods, I suddenly encounter a wall of police. I try to remember my instructions. Look straight ahead. Avoid eye contact. If asked my name, reply with a question. Ask who authorised them to ask. Climb the stone steps. Act purposefully. Appear to know exactly where you’re heading. I don’t.
Through a set of double doors, I’m confronted by more police officers, this time armed, with meaner faces. “Good afternoon”, I say politely, as I edge towards the receptionist. “I’ve an appointment at the Ecuador embassy. Am I at the correct address?” “Ring the brass bell”, grunts the bored-looking man squatting at his desk. A few minutes later, after some confusion about whether or not my name’s on the appointments list, I’m ushered inside. I’m greeted by the personal assistant of the most wanted man in the world. “Julian is taking a call,” says the well-spoken and debonair young man in black-rimmed glasses. “I’m terribly sorry. Please do have a seat. Would you like some tea, or coffee, or polonium, perhaps?” There’s a smile, but it’s pretty faint. I know I’ve reached my destination: a prison with wit and purpose.
The deadpan irony sets the tone of the lunch and dinner to come. The silver-haired “high-tech terrorist” (Joe Biden’s description) appears quietly, dressed in crumpled slacks, a V-necked pullover, socks. He’s relaxed, and welcoming. The quarters are cramped. We shuffle down a corridor into his office, where we occupy a desk covered in laptops and cables and scraps of paper. It’s black coffee for him and tea for me. I offer gifts that I’m told he’ll like. Popular delicacies from down under: a couple of honeycomb Violet Crumbles, chocolate biscuit Tim Tams, a bottle of Dead Arm shiraz from my native South Australia. I know he likes to read. Lying on his desk is a biography of Martin Luther, the man who harnessed the printing press to split the Church. To add to his collection, I hand my pale-skinned host a small book I’ve mockingly wrapped in black tissue paper with red ribbon, tied in a bow. The noir et rouge and dead arm pranks aren’t lost on him. Nor is the significance of the book: José Saramago’s The Tale of the Unknown Island. Inside its front cover, I’ve scribbled a few words: ‘For Julian Assange, who knows about journeys because there aren’t alternatives.’
I’d been told he might be heavy weather. Fame is a terrible burden, and understandably the famous must find ways of dealing with sycophants, detractors and intruders. People said he’d circle at first, avoid questions, proffer shyness, or perhaps even radiate bored arrogance. It isn’t at all like that. Calm, witty, clear-headed throughout, he’s in a talkative mood. But there’s no small talk.
I tackle the obvious by asking him about life inside his embassy prison. “The issue is not airlessness and lack of sunshine. If anything gets to me it’s the visual monotony of it all.” He explains how we human beings have need of motion, and that our sensory apparatus, when properly “calibrated”, imparts mental and bodily feelings of being in our own self-filmed movie. Physical confinement is sensory deprivation. Sameness drags prisoners down. I tell how the Czech champion of living the truth Václav Havel, when serving a 40-month prison spell, used to find respite from monotony by doing such things as smoking a cigarette in front of a mirror. “Bradley Manning did something similar,” says Assange. “The prison authorities claimed his repeated staring in the mirror was the mark of a disturbed and dangerous character. Despite his protestations that there was nothing else to do, he was put into solitary confinement, caged, naked and stripped of his glasses.”
US serviceman Bradley Manning faces decades in prison after allegedly leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. EPA/BradleyManning.Org
Life in the Ecuador embassy is nothing like this. It’s a civilised cell. After eight months, Assange tells me, the embassy staff remain unswervingly supportive, friendly and professionally helpful. They get what’s at stake. When delivering messages, they knock politely on his office door, as they did more than a few times during our time together. Yet despite feeling safe, Assange feels the pinch of confinement. He says the “de-calibration” (he uses a term borrowed from physics) that comes with “spatial confinement” is a curse. That’s why he listens to classical music, especially Rachmaninov. He has boxing lessons (gloves are on his study shelf) and works out several times a week (“just to get the room moving around”) with a wiry ex-SAS whistleblower. The need for variety is why he welcomes visitors and why, judging from the long and animated conversation to come, he’s desperately passionate about ideas.
Assange begins to enjoy the moment. Nibbling a chocolate biscuit and sipping coffee, he springs a surprise. “Truth is I love a good fight. Many people are counting on me to be strong. I want my freedom, of course, but confinement gives me time to think. I’m focussed and purposeful.” It sounds implausible. Entrapment wounds; it’s painful. Psychic defences are needed to ward off the unbearable. But striking is his utter defiance. “Never, ever become someone’s victim is a golden rule,” he says. In graphic detail, he then sketches his ten days in solitary confinement, in the basement of Wandsworth Prison, in south-west London, in late 2010. “I had expected to be completely out of my depth. But I felt no fear. I was tremendously enthusiastic about the challenge to come. I learned to adapt on my feet.” He means what he says.
I’m keen to talk about courage and its political significance. We do so for well over an hour. Lunch arrives: soup and a vegetable wrap from the local Marks and Spencer. His boxing mate appears. Assange says “it will be a while” and politely asks him to wait in the adjoining room. I remind Assange that he’s holed up in the right-wing Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, home to one of the safest Tory seats in Britain. So, just for fun, I play devil’s advocate by repeating the well-known remark of Winston Churchill that success is never final, failure is never fatal, and that what really counts in life is courage, the ability of people to carry on, despite everything. Assange lights up. “That’s undoubtedly true.” He’s never written or spoken at length about courage, but our time together convinces me he’s thought deeply and in sophisticated ways about the subject. He’s been forced to.
We discuss the detention without trial and torture of Bradley Manning. Assange mentions how the authorities are “picking off people all around me” (he’s referring to the ongoing FBI investigation and arrests of WikiLeaks activists). There’s no maudlin wobble. He understands the traps of “obsessive self-preoccupation” and speaks of the vital importance of cultivating a strong personal sense of “higher duty” to carry on. Courage is for him something that’s more important than fear because it involves putting fear in its place. I quote Aristotle at him: courage is the primary virtue because it makes all other virtues possible. “Yes, and that’s what’s worrying about present-day trends. We’re losing our civic courage.”
So where does courage come from, I ask? What are its taproots? Some people evidently draw breath from spiritual or religious sources, I say. He frowns. “My case is quite different. It’s hardship that makes or breaks us. True courage is when you manage to hold things together, even though most people expect you to fall to pieces.” The words ooze resilience. They could easily be his personal anthem, the proverb engraved on his Knightsbridge prison walls. He goes on to explain that although courage may or may not be a quality within human genes, a good measure of it is always learned. Courage is cultivated. It’s infectious. “Women on average have more of it than men,” he says. We discuss examples: on our list are Raging Grannies, Pussy Riot and the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. “These women show men what courage is. Treated as outsiders, women have learned the hard way how to deal with structural power. They’re consequently much more adaptable than men. The world of men is structured force.”
The phrase catches me by surprise, but it captures in the most concise way exactly what the prisoner sitting across the table has done, in style, with great courage: he’s confronted structured force head-on. Julian Assange could be described as the Tom Paine of the early 21st century. Drawing strength from distress, disgusted by the hypocrisy of governments, willing to take on the mighty, he’s reminded the world of a universal political truth: arbitrary power thrives on secrets. We run through how WikiLeaks perfected the art of publicly challenging secretive state power. This “intelligence agency of the people” (as Assange calls his organisation) did more than harness to the full the defining features of the unfinished communications revolution of our time: the easy-access multi-media integration and low-cost copying of information that is then instantly whizzed around the world through digital networks. WikiLeaks did something much gutsier. It took on the mightiest power on earth. It managed to master the clever arts of “cryptographic anonymity”, military-grade encryption designed to protect both its sources and itself as a global publisher. For the first time, on a global scale, WikiLeaks created a custom-made mailbox that enabled disgruntled muckrakers within any organisation to deposit and store classified data in a camouflaged cloud of servers. Assange and his supporters then pushed that bullet-proofed information (video footage of an American helicopter gunship crew cursing and firing on unarmed civilians and journalists, for instance) into public circulation, as an act of radical transparency and “truth”.
We’re at the several hours mark, but everybody around me remains gracious. Nobody looks at watches; in fact, there’s not a clock to be seen. The debonair assistant pops in and out of the office, sometimes squatting at our table, tapping out messages on his laptop, fielding phone calls, several times handing his mobile to Assange. “It’s the latest crisis,” he whispers during the first of them. “We handle on average at least four or five a day.” He looks undaunted. This one’s just to do with the FBI investigation.
Julian Assange says “visual monotony” is the most troubling part of his confinement in the Ecuador embassy in London. EPA/Karel Prinsloo
When Assange comes off the phone, I change topics. I ask him about his pre-Christmas speech from the embassy balcony, when he predicted that in the next Australian federal parliament an “elected senator” would replace an “unelected senator” (he was referring to Foreign Minister Bob Carr, appointed through the casual vacancy rule). Now that the federal election date (September 14th) has been announced, is he still seriously intending to stand as a candidate?
Our conversation grows intense. For several years, Assange has been serious about entering formal politics. A new WikiLeaks Party is soon to be launched. He’s sure it will easily attract the minimum of 500 paid-up members required by law. The composition of its 10-member national council is decided. There’s already a draft election manifesto. The party will field candidates for the Senate, probably in several states. And, yes, Assange is certain to be among them, probably as a candidate in Victoria, where (conveniently) three Labor senators face re-election.
Assange bounces through the probable scenarios. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa will be re-elected, for another four years. He’ll stand firm in his personal and political support for Assange. This will ramp up pressure on the Swedish authorities, whose case against him is “falling apart”, with the two women plaintiffs looking for a way to extricate themselves from the protracted messy drama. “The Swedish government should drop the case. But that requires them to make their own thorough investigation of how and why their system failed.” The man’s not for turning. He’s certainly no intention of apologising for things he hasn’t said, or done. If he wins a seat in the Senate, he says, the US Department of Justice won’t want to spark an international diplomatic row. The planet’s biggest military empire will back down. It will drop its grand jury espionage investigation. The Cameron government will follow suit, says Assange, otherwise “the political costs of the current standoff will be higher still”. So the obvious question: what are the chances of that happening? Can bytes and ballots trump bullets? Can dare claim victory in his personal battle for political freedom?
What he has in mind has never before been attempted in Australian federal politics. Eugene Debs ran for the US presidency from prison (in 1920). Sinn Fein MP Bobby Sands was elected to Westminster while on hunger strike (in 1981). Under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi won a general election (in 1990). In defiance of Israeli occupation and prison confinement, Wael Husseini was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council (in 2006). There are plenty of similar examples, so why shouldn’t Julian Assange attempt to do the same, and in style?
By now the boxing mate, kept waiting several hours, has gone home. The young assistant has left for another appointment outside the embassy. Dinner is nowhere in sight. We reach for chocolate biscuits and spend the last hour drilling down into the barriers Assange might well face. We start with nagging questions about his eligibility to stand. He’s characteristically upbeat. The technical objections (raised by Graeme Orr and others) aren’t real, he says. He’s no traitor to his country, and most definitely not under the “acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power” (section 44 of the Australian constitution). Truth is he was let down by a gutless Gillard government and forced into political asylum, under threat of extradition. “I’m safe here inside the embassy walls,” he mocks, “protected by more than a dozen police, including one stationed night and day right outside my bathroom window.”
From the Ecuador embassy to the staid chambers of the Australian Senate – Julian Assange’s journey will be packed with surprises. Australian Senate/Wikimedia
The man of courage clearly relishes the thought of being the first Australian senator catapulted from prison into a debating chamber. I crack a bad joke, telling him that he’d better hurry up, reminding him that the Commonwealth Electoral Act stipulates that people who’ve been sentenced for more than 3 years in prison don’t have the right to vote in federal elections while they’re serving their sentence. His eyes twinkle, before laying into those who insist that the federal electoral laws are against him, that he’s ineligible because candidates must already be registered to vote. “That’s untrue,” he notes. “The Act specifies only that candidates must in principle be qualified to become a voter.” Assange is right, but since he’s not currently on the electoral roll much turns on whether his preferred strategy of registering as an overseas voter will work. Courtesy of legislation pushed through by John Howard, I know from bitter experience, having once lived abroad for more than three years, what it means to lose the right to vote. Assange says his case is different. He’s been overseas for less than three years (he was last in Australia in June 2010) and intends to return home within six years – that’s why he’s just applied to be on the electoral roll in Victoria.
That leaves two final snags. If victorious, some advisors speculate, Assange might need to take oath before the Governor-General. For this to happen he’d have to be set free, naturally, but it could also be done, “for the first time ever, by video link”. Whatever the situation, continued confinement, he says, would breach the rule that he must take up his Senate seat within two months. “In that case, the Senate could vote to evict me. But that would trigger a big political row. Australians probably wouldn’t swallow it. They’ve learned a lesson from the controversial dismissal of Gough Whitlam.”
I’m curious about the kind of political party WikiLeaks will launch. “The party will combine a small, centralised leadership with maximum grass roots involvement and support. By relying on decentralised Wikipedia-style, user-generated structures, it will do without apparatchiks. The party will be incorruptible and ideologically united.” I flinch at his mention of ideological unity. He explains that the party will display iron self-discipline in its support for maximum “inclusiveness”. It will be bound together by unswerving commitment to the core principles of civic courage nourished by “understanding” and “truthfulness” and the “free flow of information”. It will practise in politics what WikiLeaks has done in the field of information. It will be digital, and stay digital. Those who don’t accept its transparency principles will be told to “rack off”. That’s the ideological unity bit.
Assange agrees the WikiLeaks Party must address and respond creatively to the creeping local disaffection with mainstream politicians, parties and parliaments. “I loathe the reactiveness of the Left,” and that’s why, he says, much can be learned from clever new initiatives in other countries. We discuss Beppe Grillo’s 5 Star movement (it could well win up to 15% of the popular vote in Italy’s forthcoming general election). On our list is the Pirate Party in Germany (it practises “liquid democracy” and has representatives in four state parliaments). So is Iceland’s Best Party. It won enough votes to co-run the Reykjavik City Council, partly on the promise that it would not honour any of its promises, that since all other political parties are secretly corrupt it would be openly corrupt. Assange lets out a laugh. “Parties should be fun. They should put the word party back into politics.” The WikiLeaks Party will try to do this, and to learn from initiatives in other democracies. Supported by networks of “friends of WikiLeaks”, it will be seen as “work in progress” designed “to outflank its opponents”.
He and his party supporters are bound to attract hordes of detractors. Tom Paine was cursed by foes; he even suffered the dishonour of being called a “filthy little atheist” by Theodore Roosevelt. Assange is similarly facing an army of spiteful enemies. In Britain and the United States, there are signs they’re now closing in on him with new arguments. He used to be denounced as a “cat torturer”, a “terrorist” and “enemy combatant” and accused of committing “an illegal act” (Julia Gillard). He was attacked as both an “anti-Semite” and a “Mossad agent”. There were murderous calls to “illegally shoot the son of a bitch” (Bob Beckel). These days the language is milder but no less vicious. He’s said to be ‘paranoid’, all ‘alone’ in his gilded prison, abandoned by his supporters, at the British taxpayers’ expense. He and WikiLeaks are guilty of the same “obfuscation and misinformation” (Jemima Khan) they claim to expose. Swedish media and politics are meanwhile crammed with crass epithets: “rapist”, “repugnant swine”, low-life “coward”, “Australian pig” and “pitiful wretch” hooked on sex-without-a-condom.
Auguste Millière’s portrait (1880) of the great English champion of liberty of the press Tom Paine. Auguste Millière/Wikimedia
I can’t tell from our time together whether any of this stuff hurts. It’s clear he’s aware that going into parliamentary politics will involve permanent fire-fighting, but unflappable he sounds. “I’ve had to deal with the FBI, the British press and more than a few rank functionaries. The Australian press are decent by comparison. No doubt the Australian Tax Office will show an interest in our campaign. Old enemies may make an appearance.”
Assange knows that in the age of surveillance and media saturation little remains of the private sphere. I put to him a prediction: the way he dodged questions about the Swedish allegations during a recent video-link appearance before the Oxford Union (“I have answered these questions extensively in the past”) isn’t sustainable, that avoiding the subject when running for the Senate will be blood to the hounds of the press pack. He asks what he should do. I put to him a positive alternative, which is to come clean on his alleged misogyny. “I’m not interested in softening my image by planting attractive women around me, as for instance George W. Bush did. I like women. They’re on balance braver than men, and I’ve worked with many in exposing projects that damage women’s lives. An example is the scandalous practice of UN peacekeepers trading food for sex that we exposed. Our WikiLeaks Party will attract the support of many women.” But what about the charge of misogyny, I ask? Isn’t Julia Gillard’s use of the word to attack the Leader of the Opposition worth widening? The reply is very Julian Assange: “Let’s just say I prefer miso to misogyny.”
There are moments when Assange seems much too serious, nerdish even, yet one thing’s very clear: prison hasn’t ruined his deadpan humour. He’s smart, and he’s shrewd; he’s a fox, not a hedgehog. That’s why he’s counting on lots of public support down under. “When people speak up and stand together it frightens corrupt and undemocratic power”, he says. “True democracy is the resistance of people armed with truth against lies.” I wonder whether he’s right. Australians can be a politically lazy bunch, but we’re also known for our cheeky cheerfulness, our taste for the matter-of-fact, plus our strong dislike of bullshit. We respect hard work and admire courageous achievement. We’re mawkish in the company of Ned Kelly underdogs. And so, if a political fight over his election to the Senate were to break out, strong public support for Assange might suddenly surface.
Time’s up. Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I slip on my coat, prepare to say goodbye, to pass back through the wall of mean-faced police. Assange shakes my hand, twice in fact. Both of us are pretty tired and stuck for words, so I let myself loose by asking him to ponder a wild southern hemisphere fantasy, a hero’s welcome later this year, a rapscallion’s reunion with spring sunshine, fresh ocean air, flowers, banners, tweets, whistles, haunting sounds of didgeridoos. For a few seconds, he smiles, then draws back, looks down, and glances sideways. It’s the reaction of a man who knows in his guts there are no easy solutions in sight. The cards are stacked, piled high against success. He’s trapped. He knows his fate will be decided not by legal niceties, or diplomatic rulebooks, but by politics. That’s why he’s aware that in the great dramas to come, nothing should be ruled out.
The Irish bookmaker Paddy Power lists his odds of winning a Senate seat as seven-to-two. The cautious fortune telling may be significant. Down under, nationwide polls conducted by UMR Research, the company used by the Labor Party, show (during 2012) that a clear majority of Australians think he wouldn’t receive a fair trial if extradited to the United States, and that in any case he and WikiLeaks shouldn’t be prosecuted for releasing leaked diplomatic cables. Green voters (66%) and Labor supporters (45%) are sympathetic to Assange. Significant numbers of Coalition supporters (40%) think the same way. In the most recent UMR poll, Assange tells me, around 27% of voters say they’ll vote for him.
That should be enough to slingshot him from Knightsbridge to Canberra. Set aside the cheap diatribes and what you think of Julian Assange as a person, or whether he’s done this or not achieved that. The fact is that electoral victory for him later this year would be one of those rare political miracles that make life as a citizen worth living. In a country weighed down by sub-standard politicians, sub-standard journalists and sub-standard freedom of information laws, the political triumph would be great. It would breathe badly-needed life into Australian democracy. And, yes, if the miracle happened, from that very moment the fun party down under would begin.
John Keane does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
The Evolving + Emerging Economies Jam
Join us in transforming our economy to enable a just and regenerative world!
From social entrepreneurship to impact investing, from time banking to new metrics, from community currency to gift economy, visionaries and innovators are rethinking ‘business’, ‘transaction’, and ‘trade’ in powerful ways. They are practically generating new systems of exchange, rooting themselves to place, and expanding their impact — together co-creating an economy where the most valuable commodity is the well-being of the community landscape.
We are calling together a group of 30 diverse visionaries, entrepreneurs, movement builders, organizers, exchange professionals, impact investors, time bankers, community leaders, and other builders fo the new economy. Rarely has there been an opportunity to bring such diversity together to co-learn and unlearn, and potentially synergize new and dynamic solutions to the crises of our times. And, yet, in light of the recent elections, the Occupy movement, the global financial meltdown, and more, it is clear that the time is right to bring these threads together and co-create a collective vision.
Different capital, behavioral change, cultural readiness, social justice, individual bandwidth, scale, balance, sufficiency, self-reliance, community resiliency, inequities, timeliness, transition, exclusion, localization, are among the many themes and conversations we will explore together.
If you’re committed to right livelihood, just exchange, community regeneration, meaningful investing, or doing good through business, and are interested in connecting these diverse dots and furthering the movement, we’d love for you to JAM with us!
Evolving & Emerging Economies Jam
April 3-7, 2013Philo, CA, USA
Greetings friend!It is our honor to invite you to apply to participate in the first annual Evolving + Emerging Economies Jam! This Jam will connect 30 diverse, engaged and committed new economy movers and shakers for a week of deep listening, self-discovery, systemic inquiry and community building. It will take place from Wednesday, April 3 to Sunday, April 7, 2013, at the River's Bend Retreat Center in Philo, California.
What is the intention of the Jam?The Jam is not a conference, seminar or a typical meeting. Instead, it is a gathering for three different levels of change: the internal (self), the interpersonal (relationships) and the systemic (the whole). On the internal level, it is a place for participants to share and reflect on our life journeys and what makes us who we are today. It is an opportunity to grow in self-knowledge, to ask meaningful questions, to unlearn our fears and blocks, access our hearts, and open our minds to move more boldly in the world. It is a time to recharge and renew and to experience self- and community-care and personal sustainability.
On the interpersonal level, we come together to share our cultures, our stories and our struggles, to deepen in our understanding of each other and of ourselves. The Jam values diversity and seeks to bring together as diverse a group of people as possible. During the week, we hope to discover our commonalities and celebrate our differences. We take an honest, courageous and loving look at the identities that define and often separate us – race, class, gender, sexuality, age, religion, etc., – and seek to have authentic conversations to heal these divides. We know such conversations are rare in our societies, but we believe that the way to move forward with them is to shine a light, slow down, and take time for vulnerability, truth-telling, risk-taking, and deep listening. The Jam provides a unique container, where continuous inquiry and intimacy create the alchemy to have these conversations in a focused, safe and loving way — on levels we don't 'normally' engage in.
On the systemic level, through the Jam, we become clearer about our vision and work in the world. We get a chance to link issues that aren’t commonly linked, to notice crucial intersection points, and get a clearer picture of the whole. We come together to learn from each other: about what is working, about what mistakes we have made, about where we need help. We have a chance to share tools and ideas to support one another. In turn, we hope this helps us to generate a body of collective wisdom for activism in the region and a collective vision for the world we want. We also hope it will enable each participant to feel deepened in their capacity to affect meaningful positive change and carry their dreams forward.
Who is being invited to the Evolving and Emerging New Economies Jam?As mentioned above, we seek to bring together as diverse a group of people as possible. This means we are looking for a range in:
- leadership (from ‘person on the ground’ to ‘director and founder’);
- years of experience (from ‘just starting out’ to ‘been at it for a while’);
- scope and scale (from ‘local’/micro to ‘global’/macro)
- economy work-focus (for example, time banking, impact investing, community currency, worker-ownership, social entrepreneurship, B corps, triple bottom line, gross national happiness, gift economy, sacred economics, etc.);
- identity and world-view (class, ethnicity, race, religion, sexuality, age, etc.)
Who is putting on the Evolving and Emerging New Economies Jam?The Jam is being organized and facilitated by a dynamic team:
Holly Roberson has spent the last decade starting, managing, and supporting social enterprises. In her home state of Missouri, Holly established and grew three social enterprises: Terra Bella Farm, a 160-acre organic demonstration farm; Ragtag Cinema, an independent film house and bar/café; and Uprise Bakery, an organic bakery/gallery. In 2004, Holly left Missouri and moved to New York City to co-convene two multi-year projects involving young leaders and social change. Since joining Ashoka in 2007, Holly has focused on bringing the work of Ashoka, its fellows and the field of social entrepreneurship, to the Bay Area business, tech, philanthropic and venture capital communities.
Dan MacCombie is the co-CEO and co-Founder of Runa, an organic, fair trade tea company that supports 2,000 farming families, employs more than 40 people, and is proving that sustainable, high-impact businesses in the Amazon can support producers and connect consumers to ancient traditions. He has diverse experiences in conservation, public policy, and organizational development/management. He graduated from Brown University in 2008 where he participated actively in local community movements, including leading a state-level legislative initiative and being on the board of two national non-profits. Through his research, studies, and work, Dan has developed a deep and abiding passion for integrative market-based solutions to challenges that cross cultural, ecological, and political boundaries. When he’s not guzzling guayusa and jiving on sustainable livelihoods, Dan enjoys photography, traveling, scuba diving, hiking, and playing guitar.
Shilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years working as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist with Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India. Shilpa has researched, written numerous books and articles, facilitated workshops and hosted gatherings on topics ranging from globalization, creative expressions, ecology, democratic living, innovative learning and unlearning. She has grown and supported many experiments with the gift economy and co-edited a book entitled, “Reclaiming the Gift Culture”. Shilpa also works extensively on building up the currency of relationships and community. She is passionate about dance and music, organic and natural farming, upcycling and zero waste living, asking appreciative questions and being in community. All of her work seeks to uncover ways for people to free themselves from dominating, soul-crushing institutions and to live in greater alignment with their hearts and deepest values, their local communities, and with nature.
Maya Corinne is a homebirthing mom of three, urban homesteading, unschooled Legacy Architect and stylist. She's raised tens of millions and designed values-inspired giving plans for those with a combined net worth over $14 Billion, with an eye towards evolution + resources for social justice, cultural preservation and environmental initiatives. Her passion is breaking, claiming and feminizing strategies used by those with multi-generational financial stability for multi-generational personal and communal sustainability, where the geography is our communities, the currency is our individual self-expression, & and the most important commodity is always the wellbeing of our community landscape. Maya guides A-list celebrities, CEO's (including Fortune 500), grassroots community leaders, and pro athletes in bringing values-based creativity and purpose- driven clarity to their expressions for conscious, creative legacies. She speaks, trains and facilitates events for global conferences, wisdom centers, and donor-training organizations. Maya is the founder of the Moon Storm Sessions, the Guidess Economy community, and Granite Pass Calibration, a collective of world-class healers, doctors and coaches which clear pro-athletes and $100million + execs of patterns that stand in the way of results, velocity and profit. She spoke at TEDx FiDi Women and her eco-fashions have been featured on the Oprah Network. A former LPSC Jam co-facilitator, Maya’s currently organizing the Evolving & Emerging New Economies Jam for Spring of 2013.
Aumatma Binal Shah is a Naturopathic Doctor since 2006 and co-founded Karma Clinic Network in 2008- where healing is based on generosity, trust, and contribution in aiming to create community and health-promoting relationships. Dr.Shah also teaches and facilitates health and healing workshops, detoxification programs, and group health sessions in a variety of settings from professional to corporate to small group settings. Overall, Dr. Aumatma is very interested in the 'emergent' — the place where innovation and evolution of our current systems is happening. She is excited to participate in the bringing together a group of people from diverse arenas to have a deeply engaged conversation about what is possible, what are we creating, and what do we want to see emerge.
Julia Kious Zabell is a public speaker, workshop leader, group facilitator, and private coach at her company re:Invigorate. Julia champions the future of business being a force for good in the world. She teaches her 4xP Approach (People+Planet+Purpose=Prosperity) to thought leaders, change makers and entrepreneurs looking to change the way business is done, regardless of size or industry. Julia's experience as an adventure leader, architectural designer, massage therapist, and business coach for Do-Gooders combine her passions for sustainability, personal development, structure, and strategy and allow her to translate complex ideas into simple actions any business person can take to have a greater impact. Since she takes work and play equally seriously she integrates both through travel, meditation, playing outdoors, reading, and cooking. Though she lives in the re-emerging Cleveland, she can be found and easily reached online and on the road at www.beinvigorated.com or www.doawesomebydoinggod.com
Mitchell Magdovitz Mitch has been working for the past ten years in what is now referred to as collaborative consumption. He started a web-based ridesharing company in 2002 and continued working in transportation innovation through 2009, with a company that developed municipal-scale, public rental systems for light electric vehicles. More recently, he spent two years focused on developing a non-monetized barter system called letSwap. Mitch is currently a business consultant helping startups across a range of industries, from healthcare to real estate and food and beverage.
You are invited!Our team would like to welcome you to apply for the Jam. Feel free to share this info with other young leaders you know in the region. And do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
With best wishes and love,Maya, Aumatma, Julia, Mitch, Shilpa, Dan and Holly
To apply, download the application and email it back to Maya Corinne firstname.lastname@example.org or apply online here.
Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne promoting “Rethinking Money” at The Big Picture show on RT with Thom Hartmann
Rethinking Money points out that there is a way, in fact a thousand ways, to stop our current juggernaut towards global self-destruction. There is a system of solutions already in place in localities throughout the world where terrible problems have existed. The changes came about, not through the redistribution of wealth, increased conventional taxation, bond measures or enlightened self-interest from corporate entities, but rather, by people simply rethinking the concept of money. With that restructuring, everything changed.
Remedies for Government, Business and Entrepreneurship, NGOs and the Civil Society, and the private citizen are offered. The book also presents clear validation, speaking plainly and directly to general interest readers. This work promises to strike a deep chord with audiences eager to find meaningful, thought-provoking answers.
NEW BOOK RELEASED! For more info go to the book website: http://rethinkingmoneythebook.com/
Order your copy now on Amazon!
July 9-12, 2013Joao Pessoa, Brazil
In an international context where the global capitalist crisis is increasingly affecting European countries, especially along the Mediterranean, the only response from governments has been to implement the usual austerity measures. These austerity measures,tried and tested in other parts of the world, have, yet again, not only failed to regenerate economies, but have led to further impoverishment, structural unemployment, marginalization and insecurity for the majority of who must work to earn a living. In response, large protest movements have begun to emerge in the “developed” countries that are feeling the effects of the crisis the most, reinforcing the need for changes in the management of the economy that not only contemplate the welfare of workers, but also assure that its management rest in their hands..
In the so-called “developing” countries, particularly in Latin America, social movements, people’s organizations and labor movements have been developing self-managed organizations at a grassroots level. Such is the case of the worker-recuperated enterprises in various South American countries, and other forms of workers’ control, both urban and rural. In some instances, these movements have gained some recognition and support at a governmental level, bringing into question the role of the state and the relationship between state power and the autonomy of popular movements: on the one hand the state can be a potential facilitator of the processes of workers’ control, but on the other hand it can be seen as an antagonistic instrument of traditional power with the potential to limit the autonomy of self-managed organizations.
The Fourth International Gathering of “The Workers’ Economy” seeks to explore these and other questions relating workers’ struggles from different perspectives and national contexts. It seeks to provide space for discussion and debate using the experiences of workers’ control and self-management as a point of departure, bringing together academics, social activists, and workers. Together with worker-recuperated enterprises, cooperatives, labor movements and organizations, social movements, political groups, and academics, among others, we have been co-developing the International Gathering and its themeswith representatives from over 20 countries that have participated in our previous three gatherings. We reiterate here what we emphasized in previous encuentros: while in uneven ways perhaps, workers are undoubtedly inventing alternatives that are not only limited to the economic, but that extend out into wider cultural processes as well. Based on non-capitalist relations of production, these processes have increasingly been opening up spaces for prefigurative politics. Moreover, these alternative economic institutions are affording workers room for discussing issues such as internal power and gender structures, as well as the relationship between workers, workplaces, and their surrounding communities. These processes, visible for example in the recuperated factories, workers’ cooperatives, and micro-enterprises of the world, although still incipient, show that workers can indeed self-manage a more humane and sustainable alternative than what is offered by corporate globalization.
The Fourth International Gathering will be held in the town of João Pessoa in the state of Paraíba in northeastern Brazil, and hosted by the Incubator for Social Enterprises (INCUBES), at the Universidade Federal da Paraiba, and the Programa Facultad Abierta (Open Faculty Program) of the University of Buenos Aires.
History of the International Gathering of “The Workers’ Economy”
The International Gathering of “The Workers’ Economy,” had is its first encuentro in Buenos Aires in July 2007 under the theme “Self-management and Distribution of wealth.” It was organized by the Open Faculty Program of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Buenos Aires, in conjunction with academic institutions, social organizations, and workers in Argentina and around the world. The International Gatherings, have emerged into a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences between academics, activists, and workers. These ideas center on the possibilities and challenges of self-management; the regeneration of a political, economic, and social project by the working class and social movements; as well as critical discussion and analyses of the practices of academic research focusing on self-management and the workers’ economy..
The Argentine experience of workers’ control and self-management provided a solid basis for discussion for the first encuentro in 2007. These discussions took on an international nature by the second and third encuentros (held in Buenos Aires in 2009, and in Mexico City in 2011) which explored, and learned from, the different experiences of the working class and social movements around the world. As an ultimate objective, they contemplated on an alternative economic, social and political project from that which neoliberal global capitalism presents. In this sense the themes and discussion topics of the International Gatherings became more diverse with each new encuentro, expanding to different areas of social struggle and critical thinking, yet still remaining true to the spirit suggested by the title of the International Gatherings: how to think about, debate and construct an economy emerging from workers themselves and encompassing workers’ self-management.
Proposals for panels and paper presentations may include, but are certainly not limited to, the following thematic areas:
1. Analysis of capitalist management of the economy and proposals for self-management2. The new crisis of global capitalism: Analysis from the perspective of the workers’ economy3. The historical trajectory of self-management: From traditional communities to labor movements4. Actual practices of self-management today: Possibilities and challenges. (Including, but not limited to: worker-recuperated enterprises, cooperatives, and attempts at self-management by indigenous communities, peasants and social movements)5. Self-management and gender: Creating democracy6. Analysis of the socialist experience: Past and future7. The challenges of trade union experiences in neoliberal global capitalism.8. Informal, precarious, and degrading employment: Social exclusion or reconfiguration of labor in global capitalism?9. New movements in response to the global economic crisis: Perspectives from the struggle for self-management10. Challenges facing popular governments in the social management of the economy and the state11. The university, workers, and social movements: Debates over methodologies and practices of mutual construction
Organizational structure for the IV International Meeting “The Economy of the Workers”The IV International Meeting will take place 9th-12th July, 2013 with morning and afternoon sessions, and will be open to the public. There will be plenary sessions and workshops with the presentation of papers, videoconferencing, and a final plenary session with discussion and conclusions
Organizing Committee:Incubator for Social Enterprises (INCUBES) Fedeal University of Paraíba, João Pessoa, Brazil; Department of Social Relations of the Autonomous Metropolitan University-Xochimilco, Mexico; Programa Facultad Abierta (Open Faculty Program), Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Abstract submission deadline for papers: 22 April 2013Notification of approved presentations: 2 May 2013Final papers submission deadline: 30 June 2013
Please send abstracts for presentations to the following emails:
English: email@example.com - Marcelo Vieta (Research Fellow, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (EURICSE), Trento, Italy, and York University, Toronto, Canada) Portuguese: firstname.lastname@example.org - Mauricio Sardá (Coordinator of the Incubadora de Empreendimentos Solidários, Universidade Federal da Paraiba, Brazil)Spanish:centrodoc@gmailcom- Documentation Centre of Worker-Recuperated Enterprises, Open Faculty Program, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina email@example.com - Andrés Ruggeri (Director, Open Faculty Program)firstname.lastname@example.org - Marco Augusto Gómez Solórzano (Director, Labor Studies, UAM-Xochimilco, Mexico)
For more information on the International Gathering of the Workers’ Economy, including previous meetings in 2007, 2009 and 2011: www.recuperadasdoc.com.ar https://sites.google.com/site/estudiosdeltrabajouamx/
- guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 20 November 2012 01.00 EST
George Ferguson, who beat 14 candidates to become mayor, also revealed on Monday that the hole in the city council's budget was £32m – £4m greater than he had expected. Ferguson said he would work with anybody who could come up with a clever way of finding the savings needed without harming services.
Ferguson's first decision of his three-and-a-half year tenure was to scrap the name Council House and replace it with City Hall. At his swearing-in ceremony at Temple Meads station, he said the new name showed that the building and the work that went on inside it belonged to the people of Bristol, not to the mayor or the councillors.
Ferguson, wearing his trademark bright red trousers, also revealed that he was scrapping charges for on-street parking on Sundays. He said that from next year he would look at making parts of the city traffic-free on the first Sunday of every month, as happens in Bristol's twin city, Bordeaux.
To applause, Ferguson said he wanted to move fast. He did not want to commission expensive surveys or report on initiatives. "Let's just do it and see how it turns out," he said.
Of his salary – currently £51,000, though the figure could change – Ferguson said he would take it in Bristol pounds, a currency introduced this year and proving a success.
Thanking the voters for entrusting him with the "ultimate project", Ferguson said Bristol had a minor link to London but a more important link to the rest of the world. "We are a proud provincial city," he said. "We are pretty self-contained and we are independent."
Ferguson will try to form a rainbow cabinet with councillors from the political parties he defeated in last week's elections. He said he had already had positive talks with the leaders of all four parties on the city council.
He accepted there would be tough times ahead and revealed that at his first meeting on Monday he was told the hole in the budget was up to £32m. "We've got to be really clever," he said. "I will work with anybody who can find ways to deliver the services. I come with absolutely no dogma about how we do it. What matters is that we do it."
Ferguson completed his speech by asking everyone present to join him as he took the oath made by young men of Athens when they became citizens: "I shall not leave this city any less but rather greater than I found it."
This week, Strike Debt tweeted out triumphantly: “It’s a new era. First machine fired up at worker owned factory. #NewEraWindowsandDoors”. For those of us who’ve been following news about the Chicago factory formerly known as Republic Windows and Doors, this was the culmination of years of struggle. It’s an exciting moment, and a victory which hopefully can inspire other factories across the country.
Though the factory had been making windows and doors since 1965, our story starts in 2008 with the financial crisis and the actions of Bank of America. Despite having received billions in tax dollars, Bank of America (and other major banks) spent much of 2008 cutting off struggling small businesses or businesses with low returns—not because they couldn’t afford to lend to them, but to improve their balance sheets. Republic Windows and Doors lost their credit line in late 2008 (just a few days after BOA received $25 billion in bailout money) and summarily fired their 250 workers in three days, without either the 60 days notice or the 60 days severance required by the WARN act.
A common story, perhaps, but at Republic Windows and Doors the workers didn’t acquiesce. Instead, in December of 2008, they occupied the factory for six days, bringing major national news coverage, and won their severance. It’s important to remember that in 2008, occupation was seen more as a labor action from the 30s then a common tactic for protest on the left.
In February 2009, the plant was purchased by Serious Energy, and reopened, with many of the workers returning to their previous union contracts. It seemed like a major victory, and things went well at the factory for a time. But then, in February of 2012, sudden closure was again announced, this time by the new bosses. Once again, workers rallied to the factory, this time with a big wave of support from Occupy Chicago, and though their occupation only lasted 11 hours, they won fair severance pay once more.
But now, rather than wait for another boss to just repeat the cycle, the workers are taking control of the factory. In May of 2012, they incorporated as a democratically run worker-owned cooperative, and they’ve begun purchasing the machinery in the factory bit by bit. They have the support of their union, the United Electrical Workers, as well as the micro-finance solidarity economy organization Working World.
Read more here: http://www.shareable.net/blog/a-new-era-from-occupation-to-workers-control