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Colonization

[ originally published at OccupyWallStreet.net ]

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(photo: Friday, Day 14 of Occupy Wall Street – photos from the camp in Zuccotti Park and the march against police brutality, walking to One Police Plaza, headquarters of the NYPD. CC BY 3.0 David Shankbone )

There has been a flurry of discussion around process in OWS of late. This can only be a good thing. Atrophy and complacency are the death of movements. Any viable experiment in freedom is pretty much going to have to constantly re-examine itself, see what’s working and what isn’t—partly because situations keep changing, partly because we’re trying to invent a culture of democracy in a society where almost no one really has any experience in democratic decision-making, and most have been told for most of their lives that it would be impossible, and partly just because it’s all an experiment, and it’s in the nature of experiments that sometimes they don’t work.

A lot of this debate has centered around the role of consensus. This is healthy too, because there seem to be a lot of misconceptions floating around about what consensus is and is supposed to be about. Some of these misconceptions are so basic, though, I must admit I find them a bit startling.

Just one telling example. Justine Tunney recently wrote a piece called “Occupiers: Stop Using Consensus!” that begins by describing it as “the idea that a group must strictly adhere to a protocol where all decisions are unanimous”—and then goes on to claim that OWS used such a process, with disastrous results. This is bizarre. OWS never used absolute consensus. On the very first meeting on August 2, 2011 we established we’d use a form of modified consensus with a fallback to a two-thirds vote. Anyway, the description is wrong even if we had been using absolute consensus (an approach nowadays rarely used in groups of over 20 or 30 people), since consensus is not a system of unanimous voting, it’s a system where any participant has the right to veto a proposal which they consider either to violate some fundamental principle, or which they object to so fundamentally that proceeding would cause them to quit the group. If we can have people who have been involved with OWS from the very beginning who still don’t know that much, but think consensus is some kind of “strict” unanimous voting system, we’ve got a major problem. How could anyone have worked with OWS that long and still remained apparently completely unaware of the basic principles under which we were supposed to be operating?

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Four Points and a Circle, Complimenta (I), The Manse/Ithaca, NY Sept 2, 3, 2012.

“At length, desisting, all ceased together, gathered together, all sighed together…”
- To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

COMPLIMENTA invites artists and viewers to step outside of the usual space of art production, exhibition, and deposition. The site is The Manse, a property situated in the Town of Enfield, City of Ithaca, NY, where time stretches, allowing for a fuller platform; a wider dance; a different form of expansion wherein alternate structures can arise. Forty-five local and international artists have been invited to present site-specific or semi-site-specific works that will be presented in the forest, garden, barn, pond and studio of the Manse.

The Manse and COMPLIMENTA share and ethos of building open space for conversation, making this an ideal inaugural pairing of conceptual practice and natural landscape. Over the course of 2 days we will present performances, painting, poetry, film, sculpture, music, lectures, and workshops. - Complimenta (I)

The Manse, Ithaca, New York. September 2nd, 3rd, 2012

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Artist Brian Zegeer from Museum of the Mother Colony, has organize two events today at The Flock House occupation in Battery Park:

First at 6pm is a tour of Little Syria by Joe Svehlak, highlighting the first Syrian neighborhood in Manhattan.

Then at 8pm is a talk by Todd Fine about Ameen Rihani’s Book of Khalid, the first Arab-American novel.

Location: Battery Park, State Street and Pearl, mere steps away from the Staten Island Ferry (R to Whitehall) Map: http://goo.gl/maps/UZWZ

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Decolonization in the Americas shouldn’t just mean dismantling political control from foreign rule, real decolonization will begin when all colonizing ideologies are acknowledged and undone in the former colony. In most cases these colonizing ideologies run deep within the frame work of a society. Recently Boliva’s the Department of Decolonization has re-established the right to indigenous unions. Another step toward decolonization. This follow’s the “Rights of Mother Earth” law that Bolivia has recently passed in attempt to push back the abuse of nature, another area ingrained with colonial ideologies.

post script: I’m left thinking what could a deeper decolonization process mean for the northern parts of the Americas?