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Note: The opinions expressed by the moderators and members of this discussion board do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Occupy Together or Occupy Wall St. In the spirit of free information, open discussion, and the freedom of expression, members are able to speak about issues relating and directly pertaining to the Occupy movement. You will be banned for hate speech or intentional misinformation and please refrain from any violent rhetoric; this is a peaceful movement. Thank you.
Looking beyond Capitalism - Proposals for Immediate Action
  • slave November 2011 +1 -1 (+3 / -0 )
    I just contacted a Spanish activist with significant research and practice background in the movement proposing a new project for setting up a global resource center to help establish an alternative economic system based on sustainable economic principles replacing capitalism. Below are the details of the letter. I would appreciate any constructive comments / criticisms. In fact I call for suggestions on how we can implement such a project pooling the resources of those who would like to move beyond protest and calls for reform but would not want to wait for "the revolution" either.

    I am a fellow activist with several years of experience in the movement (since early 1980's) with focus on finding an experimental alternative to the economic system of capitalism. I do not like to be categorized into "socialist" or "communist", etc. because these do mean different things to different people nowadays. But I do come from a "science" background and have found the analysis of Marx and Engels for the most part "scientific" and valid as many of their predictions attest.

    I decided to contact you because I am active in the OccupyWallStreet (OWS) movement which got some of its momentum from the fellow Spaniards whose Indignant movement I have been following online for about 1 year. I am particularly impressed by the Spanish Revolution of 1936 and the establishment of the autonomous worker's councils and the idea of Horizontalidad as opposed to any state control of the means of production under any guise. Are there similar ideas being discussed / planned / implemented in Spain currently? Are there discussion forums or groups in the forefront of this that I may join for exchange of ideas or at least for further research?

    My vision is to help bring this issue of implementing a new alternative economic system into reality, (i.e., without waiting for a "revolution" or the ultimate collapse of capitalism) starting locally and immediately. I understand it may be a controversial issue even among people like you but I think it is a valid option that should be seriously investigated (i.e., by scientific research and experimentation) considering the significant changes in the world (e.g., significant improvements in science and technology, and the much more destructive and self-destructive nature of capitalism in its final growth phase under globalization) that may make options previously considered "utopian" by some (e.g., the worker's councils, scientific egalitarian communalism, etc.) a possibility. In addition, such initiatives are desperately needed by increasing masses of people many of whom are skilled and resourceful even in areas of science and technology (i.e., the necessity and possibilities exist and growing).

    I believe this is a tremendous opportunity for a true "renaissance" in the most basic human values by delivering the economic system that could foster and develop those values. An economic system based on common ownership, cooperative production and shared exchange and distribution based on need and ability to produce (this is in contrast to the economic principles of capitalism). Accordingly, my intention is from the start to help establish working channels that demonstrate such an economic system, where we work cooperatively owning the content commonly and exchange and distribute the results in a shared arrangement so as to enable the establishment of "communal prototypes", semi-autonomous units of the future global economic system that through their increasing local and global numbers and interactions outcompete the self-destructive capitalism in an "organic" and evolutionary manner - i.e., "revolution" through evolution (the survival imperative), by primarily economic means / not political means.

    So specifically, this project is about establishing a resource center for establishing a new economic system - i.e., the focus will not be so much on criticizing capitalism for its growing dysfunctions and crimes rather on finding credible and practical solutions outside of capitalism based on the new economic principles through scientific research, and expmerimental implementation funded by the movement (i.e., by common ownership). The best experimental ideas and regions for successful projects could be cooperatively determined for effective resource allocation. Similarly, labor / skills / resources / etc. could be more efficiently implemented across the globe for specific projects. This project may serve as a "think thank" for the movement where the participants can "brainstorm" and consider the viability of certain ideas both strategically and tactically. By having a global / international vision and capability the movement could "cross-polinate" and hopefully use some of the best ideas in the world. This would also be in the spirit of planned production (minimizing wasteful energy and human oppression) instead of the anarchy of production under capitalism. Furthermore, it would provide a significant model for horizontal organization serving as a potentially powerful means for sustainable change.

    I would appreciate any help you can provide with this respect. In fact I would think our Spanish comrades could be among some of the more immediate beneficiaries due to their seemingly more advanced state of crisis and heightened social consciousness as well as historical precedence.
  • dragonfly November 2011 +1 -1 (+1 / -0 )
    Occupy Movement: Next Step Convergence
    The biggest mistake that passionate advocates for a cause make is overestimating their ability to reach critical mass and underestimating the competition of other movements with greater appeal which rob them of both attention and supporters.

    What can the next big step for the Occupy movement be?

    Canadian author Erich Koch has written a compelling article: An Objective for the U.S. Occupy Movement: A Constitutional Convention. Koch recognizes the path for obtaining reform constitutional amendments is using the provision in Article V for a convention of state delegates, having the same power as Congress in proposing amendments that still must be ratified by three-quarters of the states. It has never been used despite many hundreds of state requests for a convention because, clearly, Congress and most status quo forces fear such a convention.

    Only a constitutional amendment can fix the corrupting impact of money in politics. This is also the focus of Dylan Ratigan’s fine effort, except that the use of the convention path has not been emphasized.

    Koch cited an article by Alesh Houdek: Has a Harvard Professor Mapped Out the Next Step for Occupy Wall Street? that cited using the convention option. Dan Froomkin also has presented the same case in: Lawrence Lessig's New Book On Political Corruption Offers Protesters A Possible Manifesto. A specific call for an Article V convention was made by the pro-Occupy US Day of Rage group.

    The 99 Percent Declaration group has called for a National General Assembly; their grievances includes the need for constitutional amendments to achieve solutions

    Author Scott Turow has presented: How Occupy Wall Street Can Restore Clout of the 99%. His recommendation is to work for a constitutional amendment requiring Congress to regulate the expenditure of private money on elections. Fine, but missing from his analysis is the recognition that Congress will never propose reform amendments, only an Article V convention will do the job.

    The Occupy movement must explicitly start making the case to the broad public why their effort can achieve more of what is needed. A recent poll found: “In the latest survey, 33 percent voiced support for Occupy Wall Street, down from 35 percent in a previous poll, while opposition to the movement climbed from 36 percent to 45 percent. Twenty-two percent were unsure.”

    The Occupy movement success is not inevitable. The movement must better define what success means and how it can be achieved if it is to attract and keep the support of many millions of Americans. It needs specificity for its solutions that ordinary Americans can relate to.

  • slave December 2011 +1 -1
    With that kind of logic we might as well keep choosing the "lesser evil" since that is what "the ordinary Americans can relate to". Isn't that the logic that got us here? How many more declarations / constitutions with or without "conventions" / bill of rights / manifestos / bibles / other such moral / political or legal expressions do we need? Don't we have enough laws for eternity? Shouldn't your first question be why the existing laws have not worked before proposing others? "Only a constitutional amendment can fix the corrupting impact of money in politics." - tell me one thing that under capitalism would not be subject to "the corrupting impact of money".

    "The Occupy movement...needs specificity for its solutions that ordinary Americans can relate to." Check back the political rhetoric 100 years ago when the world was not facing half the danger that it is facing now threatening extinction of humanity itself. At that time the political discourse was generally even more advanced with the option of a systemic economic change upfront among the options for meaningful social change. We cannot afford to play dumb in the midst of dumbing down that the capitalists (now 1%, compared to 10-20% about 1 century ago) encourage. We must base our proposals for effective change based on what is necessary proportional to the gravity of issues we face rather than what would be politically palatable to the sheepish "Americans". When the titanic is going down it is not the time to negotiate with the masters moving up the floors.

    "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." (Einstein)

    "Truth never damages a cause that is just." (Gandhi)
  • ira January 2012 +1 -1
    @slave, you said:
    "But I do come from a "science" background and have found the analysis of Marx and Engels for the most part "scientific" and valid as many of their predictions attest..."

    "...My vision is to help bring this issue of implementing a new alternative economic system into reality, (i.e., without waiting for a "revolution" or the ultimate collapse of capitalism) starting locally and immediately...."

    "...So specifically, this project is about establishing a resource center for establishing a new economic system..."

    I like your post extremely well and agree with it.

    Did you check out the FabLab projects?
    Originating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge (USA), they lately are growing to a bigger worldwide movement. Goals are to give individuals the possibility to create things and machines with hightech methods for no or very little money. If you would chain those machines (or even whole FabLabs) together you could even do kind of mass production (where it makes sense).
    The machines all are governed by open source computer programs. The FabLab-movements regard their engagement as "second revolution after the digital revolution", because now it is not only software what you produce but also real things!
    In a FabLab you can use machines like 3D-printers, laser cutters for all different kind of materials (like paper, wood, acryl glass, fabrics...).
    The philosophy of this movement is also to make the people more independent from the economic system we have today.
    Search the internet for fablabs in your country, you should be finding some :-)

    I even have another very interesting link here:

    Here is a guy who built a machine which can be used as an incredibly flexible multi-use machine. And: you can build it yourself, there is a pdf for download with detailed descriptions.
    He takes care that everybody who wants to build this machine for him/herself, or for his/her community, can do so with parts found in dump sites, or for very little money!

    It could be worth to investigate the possibilities: what could happen (in a sense that it would bring forward a system change) if we help together chaining those machines, labs, human resources, ideas, ....
    Maybe it is all there already and we "only" have to put those pieces together?
    Maybe we leave politicians and finance people and their lot let swim in their own soup and meanwhile just build a parallel society? (Not easy with police power and such, I know, but certainly worth dreaming of...)

    Visionary greetings,
    P.S. Let me know if you make progress. I might join you.
  • slave January 2012 +1 -1
    @ira, "Maybe we leave politicians and finance people and their lot let swim in their own soup and meanwhile just build a parallel society? (Not easy with police power and such, I know, but certainly worth dreaming of...)"

    The possibilities are growing exponentially just like the Moore's law of computing ability. I have been familiar with the FabLab concept since its inception (the latest Zeitgeist movies also takes on that issue). These rapid technological advances are exposing the capitalists for the parasites they really are and have been. Most of the best technologies were developed by those working outside of "individual competition" (e.g., publicly funded universities, government research and labs, now open source). Why should we support such a bunch of welfare leeches who insist on riding on our backs? I foresee that they become eventually irrelevant as more and more people figure out how incredibly easy it is to live in plenty and equality, i.e., without capitalism. The major tool kits I have come to rely on are 1) the "new scientific method" and 2) "class consciousness", both anchored in the "dialectical materialism" (i.e., most simply stated: everything is matter, and matter is all interconnected through change) concept of history, nature, universe.

    I consider the technical aspects of the new economic system very important for its feasibility, but this is the easier part and really has not been the major hurdle for the last few decades as the efficiencies and possibilities have grown exponentially. The other essential and more challenging ingredient is about having a people of vision, free of the capitalist "infection" of "individualism", who can work / live / and produce cooperatively, bound by common ownership as the levelling tool aligning their interests, "free" from the antisocial competition rooted in private ownership carving up the "body" / "organism" of our interdependent species to the point that the whole is far less than the sum of its parts - i.e., status quo. This is about understanding the role of social consciousness, and at a deeper level class consciousness, which is essentially about understanding the socioeconomic expressions of the deeper economic property relations.

    With a "scientific" / "dialectic materialist" understanding of these two ingredients we could move to fashion them according to the needs and necessities of our species' survival, effectively building a new / alternative more sustainable economic system - i.e., "parallel society". Once we provide a practical experimental example / a "communal prototype", which necessarily requires a "critical mass" of well trained / skilled members adept at the above concepts, this can be replicated just like the cells of an embryo in a network forming a global new body for our global species.

    If you feel comfortable with such an approach, let us start with a FIRST STEP(S) that could qualify as moving outside of capitalism and establishing the new economic system. What would you propose for this (I suggest also considering where, when, with whom, how, and why)?
  • ira January 2012 +1 -1
    @slave you wrote:
    "The major tool kits I have come to rely on are 1) the "new scientific method" and 2) "class consciousness ..."

    "I consider the technical aspects of the new economic system very important for its feasibility, but this is the easier part..."

    "Once we provide a practical experimental example / a "communal prototype", which necessarily requires a "critical mass" of well trained / skilled members adept at the above concepts, this can be replicated just like the cells of an embryo in a network forming a global new body for our global species..."

    Again, I agree with you, the critical part is consciousness in a broader mass. Sometimes I am worried because, also here in the Occupy Forum, there are still so many people who limit their thinking and visions to find "better laws" for capitalism instead of understanding that capitalism is as perfect and just (in its own means) as it can possibly get... :-(

    Your question about which "FIRST STEP(S) could qualify as moving outside of capitalism and establishing the new economic system" is very intriguing.

    (Following my thoughts in random order):
    Educate people of their true situation (i.e. pin down all ideologies people use daily to be able to endure all this)

    Educate people (see A.) ... ;-)
    and also educate them about the astonishing possibilities we have already with things like FabLabs, open source, community building via internet etc. The more people are confronted with this knowledge the more creativity is set free for what could be done with it.

    Do a thorough research of all existing alternative forms or experiments of communal living (historical and of today), analyse them and present the result to a broad public (again to seed creativity).

    If you did find some interesting approach in one of the existing experimental communes then try to join them with many like-minded people, or try to establish a similar system and cross-link each other fast and thoroughly.

    My idea for G. and H. is to try to learn from existing experiences as much and as fast as possible, so that you don't have to make all those nitty-picky mistakes again from scratch.
    Taking into account that our generation does come with a capitalistic education background and that therefore not all communal thinking comes naturally yet.

    Addition to H.:
    What would qualify for an "interesting approach"?
    My answers would be:
    1. communes who try to follow the principle of decision-making by consensus, instead of outvoting like in a democracy.
    2. communes where religion either is absent or does not matter at all (the same counts for esoteric thinking, but exludes kinds of personal spiritual awareness where you feel esteem for your environment, animals, plants... which probably results in a quite natural way of treating your fellow creatures kindly and thoughtfully).
    3. communes who have already some experience with points 1 and 2
    4. communes who consider points 1 and 2 important and have a location where nature and existing political government are kind :-)

    Do a research of possible apt locations to found such communes.

    A complete different approach (but maybe to be pursued at the same time) could be to take advantage of existing bankrupt town councils. Town councils which have no money to repair their public bath, to run the public library, to pay their fire service, and all those other institutions of public communal living.
    If we would have a critical mass of like-minded people then, it might be possible to try to reorganize communal life towards structures where money is of no importance (because useless anyway ;-))

    The idea in the last part (J.) basically originates from texts by the German researcher Wolfram Pfreundschuh who also is busy trying to find a practical "way out".
    (You find his essay here:

    Addition to Point G:
    Since 2 days or so there is the announcement of a new movie, "Empire Me" by Paul Poet, about contemporary groups who try to live according to their visions despite capitalism.
    I have not seen it yet (will do so on Monday), and the trailer does not tell much, really.
    But maybe/hopefully there will be the one or other inspiration for directing or accelerating my thoughts into the right direction (sometimes also a bad movie can do this ;-))

    What do you think about these points?
    Waht are YOUR possible "First Steps"?
  • slave January 2012 +1 -1
    @ira, thanks for your response. I can see from the way you responded that you are trying to better yourself by tapping into the collective while adding your own contributions. That idea of "intellectual humility" is essential to developing and constructing anything meaningful including the dire needs of the movement i.e., ourselves.

    Before I go on and address your response, including the issue of the very important FIRST STEP, I would like us to propose some ground rules. I am trying to use this opportunity and experiment with the PROCESS itself (i.e., the "means") and not just the answers / SOLUTION (i.e., the "goal"). In other words, I would like to adopt a means that would justify the goal. If we agree that the goal (i.e., our underlying assumption) should be equality (as the basis of any meaningful democracy where the collective is equally empowered, knowledgeable, motivated, and responsible to address the problems that are by their very nature could only best and most sustainably addressed by the collective), and this by necessity requires developing an alternative economic system based on COMMON OWNERSHIP as the principle economic ingredient, then what means of process would be best suitable for this goal?

    Of course, I have something specific in mind, and I tried to engage you in that direction by the way I posed and framed the question in the last post. What I am trying to experiment / implement here is generally known as "DIALECTICAL LEARNING" where at least by my understanding it is about posing a problem / challenge, examining our current situation / resources / variables, and then trying to bring in the building blocks to solve the problem while questioning the methods and ingredients of our counterpart(s) in a dynamic interactive critically engaging collaborative process, STARTING with the interest areas of the other side (i.e., relating to their starting point, thus engaging with them emotionally and intellectually / cognitively). This method is then very different that the typical "didactic learning" method which is a hierarchical method, where one assumes the role of an active authority / expert / teacher, and the other a passive student.

    So here again you are seeing that even our communication processes which many of us take for granted and are not conscious of them, are governed by "ideology" (worldview / logic / intellectual or cognitive framework). The former process / method is based on what I consider will be the ideology of the new economic system i.e., "dialectical materialism" (everything in nature is matter and interconnected through constant change) vs. the latter based on the ideology of capitalism as "metaphysical materialism or idealism" (everything in nature whether made of matter or not is disjointed and can be divided and potentially survive independently immune from change).

    Essential to this proposed process are the tools of "critical thinking" or more specifically "evidence-based thinking". I posted a few videos on this subject on another discussion board earlier today.
    The thread also contains other tools that I think would be valuable in drawing lessons from and applying to answer the question(s) - i.e., the "first step".

    In addition, this other tread also has some more specific and relevant resources that we can add to over time.

    I may also draw from concepts explained in this other discussion thread which looks at the broader evolutionary trend in the socioeconomic development of our species and the political economic theory I am using (along with their underlying assumptions) to understand and explain this process.

    I certainly do not mean to overwhelm you, but I thought it would be good to show our tools that we bring to the table, looking for the most appropriate tools for the task. I am sure if you asked any skilled worker (from a carpenter to a surgeon) they would tell you how important our selection of tools are for the success of our task. Of course, we need more than good tools for the job.

    Please let me know what you think of this approach and the few tools provided so far? Please feel free to comment or add to such tools, especially in the appropriate discussion threads. I am eager to move on and respond to your comments and questions, especially cracking the FIRST STEP issue.
  • ira January 2012 +1 -1
    @slave you said:
    "I certainly do not mean to overwhelm you,..."

    no worries, but I do need some time for reading all this :-)
    Will be back as soon as possible.
  • ira January 2012 +1 -1
    @slave: "I would like us to propose some ground rules."

    I am fine with that.

    "I am trying to use this opportunity and experiment with the PROCESS itself..."

    This seems to be quite similar to what I meant when I said that it is necessary to seed creativity in many people. Because we don't know yet what exactly the parallel system will look like in detail, nor how to get there. We need a LOT of cooperation with other people now.

    My posting here will be more a collection of thoughts - and more questions - than answers to questions. But as we agree: it is crucial to ask good questions for finding good answers.

    "If we agree that the goal (i.e., our underlying assumption) should be equality [...] and this by necessity requires developing an alternative economic system based on COMMON OWNERSHIP as the principle economic ingredient..."

    That is exactly what my goal is, too.

    I am quite familiar with the concept of "dialectical learning" you mentioned. Since a few years I study (and use) alternative learning and teaching methods. Usually children undergo hierarchical learning only, and are forced to do so in competition, during their years in school. This causes them to loose their joy for learning and frustration in school is common. If you instead give them the chance to learn at their individual speed and according to their interests and personality, they learn the multiple amount of things with constant or even growing feelings of joy.
    In my studies I read that the human brain responds with "well feeling" if its owner successfully learns. From this it follows that it is one of the basic needs of human beings to be involved in active learning (and even has to do with the evolution of man kind). This aspect could be an important asset for planning that famous FIRST STEP.

    Back to which "means of process would be best suitable for this goal":
    For a preparation I suggest a list of useful assets. I liked the movie on "Tit for Tat" strategies, and I believe that this quality in human nature would also be an important asset in planning the first step.

    So for now we have 2 assets:
    - people love to learn (if you let them do it their way)
    - people love to share/to help/to cooperate (if you let them do)

    These aspects are very powerful. Comes the next question: how to make concrete use of it in our context?
    (I don't know yet).

    I go back to the first step of our goal - in your other thread, I read that you find it necessary to provide the working class with survival means independently of capitalism.

    Boringly I must agree again. ;-)

    Things necessary for a decent human life are at least: nourishment, housing, clothing, heating, health care, culture.
    Capitalism takes care to separate every person from every possible good by the means of money. No money no food. No money no shelter. And so on. Money and a competitional society isolates people and makes them poor, also - or first of all - emotionally poor.

    Following the logic of "Tit for Tat", a resulting action could now be:
    Separate and Isolate Capitalism, i.e. the parts capitalism is made of:

    Any suggestions how to start this?

    Here comes another thought, just an observation actually:
    capitalism has to actively put force/work/energy into separating and isolating people and forcing them into the use of money. That does not come naturally. As soon as this force would relent, the people would quickly find ways to organize their lifes differently.

    If you analyse the way how exactly the system functions you will be able to weaken or damage it. This is why I said in my earlier post that I find education is so important.

    At the same time try to feed people with good learning experiences, with working cooperations wherever possible. Would this strategically be possible to plan? Could we open up "Learning Camps" all over the world? Actually I would LOVE to call for a worldwide strike for parents not to let their children go to school... and have them organize the schooling themselves.

    What about the rising number of workless people? On the one hand they are so busy fighting for their daily needs that I understand if they have no energy left for discussions like this. On the other hand, if they could put some energy in taking their lifes in their own hands, building cooperations of all kinds, helped by everyone else who is a occupier from heart and insight, maybe this could become a fast growing movement.

  • slave January 2012 +1 -1
    @ira, sorry for getting back to you late. I am trying to set the ground work, so others can see what we are doing, follow our footsteps if they decide to. I just established a new discussion thread on the subject of Critical Thinking, where we can come up with / agree on some standards in our communications (please feel free to comment / critic / add / etc. so we can come to an agreement in adopting a set of standards)

    I am glad that we appear to be on the same page about the essential concepts / building blocks (e.g., COMMON OWNERSHIP, the "PROCESS" or means justifying the end), because those take a rather long time to build and require consider motivation, knowledge, and experience. Of course we will have to wait for applications to test that understanding and its depth.

    "At the same time try to feed people with good learning experiences, with working cooperations wherever possible..." and "What about the rising number of workless people? ... On the other hand, if they could put some energy in taking their lifes in their own hands, building cooperations of all kinds, helped by everyone else who is a occupier from heart and insight, maybe this could become a fast growing movement."
    That is what the "dialectic materialist" method is all about. Building a new economic system (and its overlying dependent superstructure of politics, culture, spirituality, morality, ideology) on the ashes of the old one - i.e., "organic" or "evolutionary" growth. The shear growing scale of the disasters (on both human / labor and environmental aspects) provide the growing necessities / winds of change. The growing victims primarily of the working class and now formerly middle class poor and unemployed provide the growing armies of change. And the growing scientific and technological advances (many of which were developed and are currently used as tools for profit in the current capitalist system) will provide the possibilities and catalysts for the global transformation. In other words, capitalism is on a suicide mission. The more it succeeds the closer it comes to its death, the more it will provide the ingredients for its alternative. Once the new economic system takes an embryonic form that can be replicated, all it would need will be a spark. The only reason capitalism appears so strong today is not because of any inherent strength, but because no authentic challenger has shown up (i.e., most ideas and efforts have been basically repackaged capitalist ideas many of which have been tried and retried many times over just like the fashion designs, or formula music designs, etc. - any sense of their novelty depends on people's ignorance). The world / nature is dynamic. It is darkest before sunrise. It is dryest before the first rains.

    I am glad you noticed the "Tit for Tat" social psychology experiments interesting. Please review the other ones as much as possible as I will be making reference to them when we try to tackle the issue of the FIRST STEP. In particular, I hope you will feel at ease with the material presented by prof. Sapolsky on his 23 video series listed in these discussion threads They are packed full of intriguing ideas relevant to our task. Again feel free to add to these threads with other relevant tools, suggestions.

    Looking forward to further collaborations. I hope others will join us.
  • slave January 2012 +1 -1
    @ira, I also thought of suggesting to you, that if you are more technically / technologically inclined, you may want to start a new discussion thread e.g., 'Technologies for the New Economic System', where we could introduce technical innovations (new or old) that would be amenable to living communally and autonomously (e.g., off-grid) that are fairly simple / preferably easy to manufacture with local materials or inexpensive / easy to repair and sustainable, geared towards survival needs and networking. We could initially start with developing some of the criteria just mentioned (i.e., "ground rules") and then search and post candidates. Then gradually once we figure out the more challenging human development aspects of the project we can incorporate those technical tools into the experimental "prototype" proposal.

    We will also have to develop an educational training program, where people can be trained in the necessary skills. We would need a large cooperative effort (some of which you alluded to) including reexamination / rewriting of many subjects based on the "new" methods of logic (i.e., "dialectic materialism", "dynamic / ecological / evolutionary analysis", "critical thinking", "new scientific method", "dialectical pedagogical methods", "cooperative learning / experimentation", etc. most of which express a similar approach). This would necessarily mean a cooperative interdisciplinary approach on all levels, with many of the curriculum organizers being / becoming students themselves as they gradually expand out of their narrow likely two-dimensional or tunnel-visioned ("metaphysical") disciplines / specialties and enter a web of give and take dynamic interdisciplinary and more practical / experimental interaction with the likely aim and result of better reflecting reality, all according to the new approach. "Home schooling" or rather "communal home schooling" would of course be appropriate for training but again according to the new cooperative / "dialectic" / "socially constructive" learning methods. With this respect many of the traditional "family" roles has to be gradually changed as the new communal societal members assume more social (in contrast to the traditional "individual") responsibilities in rearing the children and the youth. Many of these issues have to be researched in depth and where necessary experiments planned and implemented for optimal results / efficacy. In fact, performing experimental science (designed and implemented locally) will necessarily become part of the fabric / culture of the new society, along with the language of "critical thinking", etc.

    But I got ahead of myself again. Once again let us see how solid a foundation we can set at the FIRST STEP. I will address your very appropriate questions and proposals about the subject once we get to it.
  • ira January 2012 +1 -1
    @slave, that is a load of interesting ideas, thoughts, propositions...

    Two short comments for the moment:
    Just for information - since I am a member of the working class my revolutionary time is sparse during the week (and exceptionally next weekend, too). If I cannot come back to this discussion often for the next couple of days, this will not happen because I am not interested (the opposite is the case). I will read often (but maybe not write so much).

    Second: I fear that all your proposals, texts, links etc. are so many and dig into so many different fields at the same time that a clear representation of where exactly we are standing could become clouded.

    I have a draft of a proposal to tidy up a bit:
    let's think about building a special kind of discussion-network, or wiki, which works like this:
    Take all points that we feel important for agreeing on before moving further (like common ownership etc.), and imagine them positioned on a route (I would like to draw here now, but... well I need to continue to write as clearly as possible):
    Like this:
    Point A: [details] - agree? - No --> discussion
    | Yes
    Point B [details] - agree? - No --> discussion
    | Yes
    Point C [details] - agree? - No --> discussion
    ... and so on ...

    All people joining this discussion forum start at Point A. If they agree with this point (it is linked to detailed information, discussions etc.) they move on to Point B and so on.

    If someone does not agree at some point, he/she clicks on No-->discussion, and there finds a thread of all people actively discussing this subject.

    As soon as someone is content with the discussion and understands why there should be a mutual agreement on Point X he/she activates the Yes-Button for this Point and moves to the next level of agreement/info or discussion.

    This would also have the nice advantage that we could see how many people agree on which subject, and/or which subjects are especially difficult to agree on and need more educational work and/or more dialectical communication.

    The other advantage would be that all necessary material and information would be bundled with the main subject it belongs to (of course there will be cross-linking) and is easier to read and find your way around.

    Naturally the "route" of points to pass will be provisory at first. Over time and actual use with this system there will be need to probably put some new Point in between others, to rearrange the order, to merge one, or to change one's wording etc. Because also this would be a learning process, and also could help to put everyone's thoughts in a creative order, seeding new assisting ideas more quickly.

    What do you think about this?

  • slave January 2012 +1 -1
    @ira, I am going to be very busy myself for the next 2 weeks. Please review the info in the links provided in the other tools discussion threads with comments / modifications / additions / etc. so we could be at least current when referring to that material.

    Your above proposal is related to "the ground rules" we are trying to establish and therefore relate to the "critical thinking" discussion thread. We can elaborate and articulate it more (e.g., similar to the idea of "socratic inner and outer circles, and hot seats", "working committees in some OWS", etc.) but I like the general idea. I think the key will be in establishing the "ground rules" which we can develop in the "critical thinking" discussion thread by first deciding what would we our definition of "our" critical thinking, i.e., which rules we require people to apply in their research and discussions without attempting to control the content - rules that would be UNIVERSALLY recognized for effective evidence-based inquiry (and necessarily ingredients of critical thinking / "scientific" method / "dialectical materialism"). The rules should bring discipline and constructiveness to the table, helping to keep the process open but conditionally, thus deterring distractive and abusive interference. They should show a clear and open path in joining the more advanced discussions, by 1) the requirements of the work (study, homework, research - all which could be enhanced collectively too), and 2) following the self-critical "ground rules" of critical thinking discourse / communication - i.e., individual work and discipline should be encouraged, and encouraged / reinforced collectively.

    Once again, just like the "tit-for-tat rule", if we are truly siding with EVOLUTION rather than deluding ourselves, once we agree on a few rules that would constructively channel our energies without stifling them, then the "natural course of nature" should move us forward based on "the wisdom of the collective" dialectically and materially, step by step each one building on the other with the winds of change behind us / helping us.

    1) So I suggest coming up with "the ground rules" preferably starting at the other thread on "critical thinking" with the ingredients of an optimal "critical thinking method", and then presenting it here for full formulation as "ground rules" that would set the minimum standards, applied collectively, in our research and discussions about specific issues, theses. The "ground rules" could / should encompass more than the "critical thinking method" principles per se, and include collaborative / cooperative elements which would be in fact extensions of the method (encouraging intellectual humility and integrity) but more specifically build the breadth and depth of the group preparing us for future steps towards the more practical phases of the project.

    2) We could then apply these "rules" to something like your proposal, for a stepwise progression, permissive to people of various backgrounds and familiarities / aptitudes for the concepts, without hindering the more "advanced" (i.e., towards a practical project) discussions / work. Eventually, this could be no different than a cooperative skills training camp following the "dialectc learning" model.

    Looking forward to your feedback.
  • ira January 2012 +1 -1
    @slave "Eventually, this could be no different than a cooperative skills training camp following the "dialectc learning" model."

    This was what I was thinking about.
  • slave January 2012 +1 -1
    @ira, I posted this as an example in the other discussion thread on critical thinking. I thought of highlighting it here as a practical example that someone else has thought through in greater detail which might help you / us to incorporate components of it in the proposal you suggested. Ultimately, in accordance to the approach ("critical thinking", "dialectical learning", "evidence-based learning", "social constructivist learning", "scientific learning", etc.) we need to start the EXPERIMENT based on the "best" available evidence / experience applied appropriately to a specific participants, and have the members themselves improve the process "dialectically", "critically", "scientifically" by reviewing the results and tweaking the process for best customized, constructive results.
  • slave January 2012 +1 -1
    1) I came across a fairly interesting discussion thread
    that I consider very interesting in several respects, and I thought you might find interesting too and should review carefully. First, because it offers an alternative more traditional approach to establishing a cooperative society based on the very important precedences of the Owenite communes of the 19th century, and the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist / "worker's council" traditions with a "successful" example of "producer coops". This is a prominent example as you will see, but in no way unique, and you will be challenged (if not already) sooner or later to weigh the feasibility and appropriateness of this model with respect to the necessities and possibilities of our times. Specifically this is a challenge to the network communal model that we are trying to establish here. I do not want to suggest any bias against the "traditional coop model" and I would hope that you won't approach it with any bias either, despite what I stated above and on that discussion thread (link above). In fact let's not be surprised if we find each other on opposite sides of the thesis / argument about this issue. At this point I find this a great CASE STUDY of the method we are trying to establish with the application of the "critical thinking" / "dialectical learning" skills we have yet to better formulate ( as well as a broad and in-depth understanding of the "new economic system" / network of global "communal" or cooperative society we would like to propose (starting with the FIRST STEP) with much of its short- and long-term implications.

    2) I tried to apply some of the Socratic Questioning method from the "critical thinking" skills thread to which you can review and critic. I would appreciate your feedback. You may notice that my application is not quite as facile as it should be, partly due to the inadequacies of the writer where I cannot determine what he / she is trying to communicate and have hesitated to ask for clarification (much easier to do in a more interactive setting), partly due to not having established a systematic method, and my rusty skills.

    3) Just to clarify the agenda (please do not interpret this as pressure, as you previously commented on your availability), that the important task of establishing the "ground rules" still remains. Please consider my last post above, in addition to the main discussion thread for this
  • ira January 2012 +1 -1
    Possible ground rules could be:

    A. offer your own argument for discussion (the opposite would be: "I am right because I know the truth" or similar)

    B. try to choose the wording for your argument as short and precise as possible (i.e. avoid Fallacious Arguments)

    C. try to discuss one piece of relevant topic only (don't get lost in too many topics at once)

    D. investigate the arguments of your discussion partners until all parties feel themselves correctly understood

    E. stay with a topic until all discussion partners agree (consensus)

    F. revise your own arguments if necessary and say so (post again)

    G. remember the set goal at all times and be open for (completely) new ideas coming up

    Idea to help Critical Thinking to be put in use:

    Keep a notebook (maybe as own thread) for each discussion of a topic, where every party is able to note his/her spontaneous own ideas/thoughts which would be off-topic in the main discussion but should not get lost during time.

    This notebook should be used only by people taking part in the discussion. And it should be okay to just sketch ideas, and put down fragmentary thoughts "quickly and dirty".

    Texts there should not be subject to judgement. They are the splints of the main discussion and could become seeds for other good ideas - or just stay splints and that would be okay, too.
  • slave January 2012 +1 -1
    @ira, where are you trying to access this from? I had no problems accessing it.
  • slave January 2012 +1 -1
    @ira, I suggest first and foremost to agree with a set of rules applied to the method we communicate i.e., based on the "universal" rules of "critical thinking". I think this should be our starting point (i.e., Point A).

    Once we agree on the specific set of these rules then we should consider other rules to help move the discussion along without fragmenting too much (i.e., dividing people / discussion groups to the more skilled vs. lesser skilled groups, with the more skilled group members being encouraged to act as a guide for the lesser skilled groups through periodic individual participation in those groups). In this way 1) the skill acquisition is improved and advanced as well as 2) the discussions on particular issues, with the more skilled groups dealing with more complex / contentious issues.
  • ira January 2012 +1 -1
    @slave you said "I suggest first and foremost to agree with a set of rules applied to the method we communicate i.e., based on the "universal" rules of "critical thinking". I think this should be our starting point (i.e., Point A). "

    Do you mean we should agree to have a discussion based on clarity, credibility, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance and fairness?

    I would like that.

    On what set of rules would you wish to agree?

    [Regarding the download of ConductingEffectiveSocraticSeminars.pdf, I tried to access it by clicking on the link. I also tried to call the url directly. Server still is not available.]

  • slave January 2012 +1 -1
    @ira, "Do you mean we should agree to have a discussion based on clarity, credibility, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance and fairness?"
    Yes, but more than that and and more formally (i.e., the above is a good initial partial list we could easily agree on). Although "fairness" is too subjective, and I may argue against its inclusion, since "accuracy" (a more objective and related concept) is already included.

    We should make a case about what is the "minimum number of rules" and their content to expect from each other (i.e., not just for the two of us, but for the movement as a whole) in our arguments. The "critical thinking" rules (or we can call it something less pretentious) should also be based on "universal" criteria (to be discussed as to the validity of such an absolutist expression, and its practical content). We should also look at the various aspects of communication, several of which are addressed in the other discussion thread, argue about their 1) "universality" AND their appropriateness to be included based on their 2) "social quality / value" AND eligibility for the 3) "minimum standard / number of rules" criteria.

    I prefer to discuss this more in the other discussion thread and then formally adopt the elements debated and agreed there here. Let me know what you think.

    As for
    I think it is a valuable example. Unfortunately I could not download it to send it to you. So I suggest you google "Socratic Questioning" and find other example(s) that you like, or can draw examples / ideas from for helping to shape our dialogues / debates, including extracting / synthesizing some useful rules.
  • ira January 2012 +1 -1
    @slave, regarding "We should make a case about what is the "minimum number of rules" and their content to expect from each other" - for my opinion the number of rules is not so important, more the content. I propose that we try to have not many rules but the necessary amount with a well phrased content, and which are easy to come back to, or refer to them.

    You said, "I prefer to discuss this more in the other discussion thread and then formally adopt the elements debated and agreed there here. Let me know what you think."

    Tomorrow I will try to post on that other discussion thread a draft for one or two of possible rules, as a starting point to be discussed and developed further together.

    You said, "Although "fairness" is too subjective, and I may argue against its inclusion, since "accuracy" (a more objective and related concept) is already included."

    That's fine with me.
  • slave January 2012 +1 -1
    @ira, agreed. I am not trying to drag my feet. But would rather see you and others take the lead in some of these discussions. I would then critic them in due time, of course constructively. As for the "ground rules" I hope we can develop rules that establish a healthy "non-biased" and "free" atmosphere of "DIALOGUE" (vs. "debate") where people can feel comfortable to discuss their thoughts however, "imperfect" and "prejudiced" it may be including making "mistakes" TO BEGIN WITH.

    I think when there are clear rules, well understood, and "universally valued", they will be easier to follow and more responsibly adopted, providing for fewer occasions of personal attacks and manipulation by the challenger(s) or the challenged individual(s).

    But then as individuals enter the "process" and get to know and understand the rules and their "universal" value in regards to the goal of constructive communication and human growth based on evidence / reality / nature / necessities of survival collectively and as an individual within the collective, they should assume more RESPONSIBILITY and be held increasingly responsible based on their level and experience in a step-wise progressive manner providing the practical basis for a "relative constructiveness" (based on the principle to each according to their need and based on their ability). What I am suggesting here is that there has to be necessarily an integration of some "SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVIST VALUES", rather than "idle dialogue" / "intellectual masturbation". This will necessarily require "JUDGEMENT" and could at times be regarded at odds with the atmosphere of "free dialogue" necessary for great creativity. I think we could implement / integrate social rules above and beyond those developed in the "critical thinking" discussion thread for this purpose. That is why I consider the idea of "GROUND RULES" more than just the rules of "critical thinking", requiring additional rules for "critical social construction".

    For the latter e.g., we may even consider the application of the "tit-for-tat" rule / strategy along with a wider discussion of cooperation, its historical / biological / evolutionary / neuropsychological and economic system / class driven components, discovering / implementing other experimental strategies and tactics. I suggest this broad overview, not to complicate matters, or needlessly add to the number of rules, rather find the best / most effective and sustainable social constructivist rules in concept and implementation that would give us the best chance of forming a solid / sustainable foundation. Some of these concepts will have to be revisited in the FIRST STEP also, as the basis of this sustainable social construction.
  • slave January 2012 +1 -1
    (@ira, please verify),
    A brief summary of our short-term goal on this discussion thread:

    Establishing "ground rules" which could help build our movement step by step, idea by idea, person to person, etc. in a constructive way combining 1) the necessities of our dire individual and collective predicament as motivation with 2) the knowledge / experience / skills of the collective, 3) "science" and technology and power of evidence, along with 4) "universally" "valued" "minimum number" of GROUND RULES in the categories of "critical thinking" and "critical social constructivism".
  • ira January 2012 +1 -1
    @slave, I am very content with your answers and very keen on accelerating our progress (I also started watching the proposed series of videos about critical thinking - it feels like this information comes at the right moment in my own search for more knowledge as a base "to change the world" ;-) (Inaccuracy intended).

    Only my answer on that other thread (Strategy-Labor-Environment, No. 8648) took up my spare time for today. For the 3 following days I support involuntarily the capitalistic system, so I will be back in writing on thursday regarding the setup of our ground rules.
  • slave February 2012 +1 -1
    @ira, I have thought that specifically we should implement a process that "discriminates" among memebers based on their SKILL set, (in this case "critical thinking", we will consider the "critical social skills" separately - the combination of the two, necessarily interrelated, I suggested would form the basis for GROUND RULES). I believe that as people master the skills they will "naturally" abandon capitalism due to its inherent false assumptions and internal contradictions and "discover" the "new economic system" "dialectically / organically". Accordingly, I think the broader more abstract and theoretical discussions would find their practical applications with the increasing level of skills acquired. I am actually ambivalent about what I just stated and that is why I had also proposed those additional "critical social construction skills" to help enable and motivate us towards a more decidedly socially constructive communication.

    As I am thinking outloud, I still wonder if we should impose a skills barrier and how? If the answer is yes, should the ones with higher skills just shun or ignore the lower skill persons. How would one defend against discrimination? (e.g., know that the segregation is just based on skill set and not some power issue pretending to be a skills issue?).

    After reflecting on your responses, I believe we may find the answer in the other set of rules and skills we are trying to discover and adopt, i.e., "critical social construction rules and skills". For example, if we come up with socially constructive rules and skills that encourage the more skilled individuals in "critical thinking" to reach out to the base and help to train and advance the less skilled individuals in "critical thinking" then we have established a feedback loop. As a suggestion for such a "socially constructive rule and skill" I may suggest that we keep decision making on the broad issues based on overwhelming majority decision, which would encourage the overachievers to help lift up the lower ranks in their training in order to contribute more effectively in advancing issues / plans; as a related rule I suggest that a "minimum standard of skills proficiency" has to be obtained to earn the right of participating in the decision making (just as we can not expect a child to have an equal vote as an experienced adult).

    I think by creating rules that are dialectically connected by "feedback loops" and grounded at the base, we help to create a bottom-up society. More elaborations and tweaking is of course needed by I suggest that to be done after we open up and do our preliminary research on the "skills and rules of critical social construction" and related topics of the science of "cooperation", "social constructiveness", etc.
  • TheRielDealTheRielDeal February 2012 +1 -1
    @slave, I agree with your intentions but I can't accept a 'credentialism' approach towards something that is meant to be free and open. We would be directing dialectics, which is not very 'dialectical'. Credentialism is also one of the major qualities of capitalism that we should avoid. Whomever determines the "minimum standard of skills proficiency" is placed in a position of authority. The arbiters of "skills qulification" would also represent a distinct cross-section (ie. the already well educated), thus leaving those who have been denied a fair chance at education in life out of the decision-making process. Principally, OWS should be concerned with equal opportunity of expression and educational-unbias. Moreover, inclusivity gives OWS a 'holier than thou' advantage over other systems of exclusivity.

    We must understand and promote the belief that critical thinking is universally possible (everyone is capable of it under the right circumstances). Imposing limitations on those who may discuss is a denial of this belief. While you seem to describe these limits as 'temporary', until acceptance of critical thinking is established, the prospect of manipulation of rules for various personal gains becomes near-inevitable.

    I say this with ambivalence also, because, like you I would love to see the level of discourse increased, but I think artificially enforcing it through any basis of segregation is not the way to go (it's inorganic). I'm certainly open to hearing ANY suggestions for advancing dialogue, but these suggestions should be as widely agreed upon as possible. Broad unanimity should be a key goal for OWS in any decision process.

    "I believe that as people master the skills they will "naturally" abandon capitalism due to its inherent false assumptions and internal contradictions and "discover" the "new economic system" "dialectically / organically"." --I believe this too, but with 'minimum skills requirements' we would not be true to dialectically/organically allowing anything to grow unimpeded.

    Please consider this and let's continue the open discussion.
  • stringband February 2012 +1 -1
    Wow, have you ever wondered why the rich right-wing depend on Think Tanks and not discussion boards. Some see the writing on the wall, this movement is dying. Sure we can still put people on the street but they are all saying different things and the numbers are falling. Individuals like slave try valiantly to find order and direction but the group is biased toward anti-organization. Everyone wants to be a general and no one is happy being the soldiers. That isn't an indictment, it's just human behavior when a group does not see a common direction to a higher purpose. The methods and direction have to motivate the members of the group enough to make them relegate themselves to followers status. Otherwise everyone is pulling the group in different directions and all of these directions are weighted equally. Good ideas and bad ideas about how to reach the higher purpose, all seem to be considered valid and worthy.

    Believe me, my sympathies are with you but groups naturally self-destruct if they don't compromise on realistic methods that can move the group toward that higher purpose. People just walk away due to a lack of perceived progress, that is what I see happening here.

  • TheRielDealTheRielDeal February 2012 +1 -1
    I just don't think we should be too eager to beat them by operating the same way as they do, @stringband. Wouldn't it be a greater victory if we could develop our strategies in a more exemplary way? If we could continue to address every issue in the 'fair, democratic, and just' way that we proclaim to be in favour of we can lead by a better example. Instead of exclusivity, we should find better ways to use the power of our numbers and grow those numbers, not reduce them willfully.

    Not to say that those of us who are serious critical thinkers can't continue to debate whatever we choose to in private, but we should accept that 'convincing others' is an awaiting crucial accomplishment. Sure, there are a few people on this forum who constantly miss 'the point' and tend to derail discussions, but they represent a real challenge to us that must be met. If we are confident in our beliefs (as I am), then we must accept that others are also capable of grasping the same logic. It's up to us to defeat the status quo, not by avoiding confrontation with it, but by proving it to be fallacious. Let's not start drawing borders, it will be our downfall.
  • slave February 2012 +1 -1
    @stringband, what you just described is typical of "transitional states". I suggest you look up "dynamic equilibrium" which is a scientific concept that reveals the dynamic (i.e., changing even when appearing to stay the same or equilibrium) "nature" of nature. You should find it in any basic science books that talk about reactions (e.g., chemistry). Don't be surprised by the ebbs and flows of the movement, nor the apparent "chaos" especially in the "transitional stages" where many directions have to be considered and even tried before a clear one is established. That is nature in action, and you are part of it.

    @TheRielDeal, great to see you take part in this discussion, I mean where have you been? I welcome your critic. I for one am not afraid of being wrong. In fact I consider it the secret to my strength, whatever that might be considered by others. You may have seen that I have been slow in my proposals. That is not because I do not have any, or don't feel strongly about them. Rather, because I do not want them to be "mine". This is a social process, and the solutions have to be developed collectively, in a way that people understand them i.e., through common struggle. The solution(s) have to be "ours".

    So I hope that you and others come to agree with the principle, that if we are to have "economic emancipation" i.e., the cornerstone of "the new economic system", we have to "earn our equality by sharing the responsibility proportional to our abilities". If this egalitarian principle is not apparent and practiced from the start i.e., the correct "means", the "end" will not be egalitarian either. "The means must justify the end". In other words, I am in no hurry to help develop these "means" unless I find traction among others also. Ultimately, I will not "invent" a solution, that nobody understands especially because they don't "own" it / were not responsible for developing it, just like the other "top-down" measures. If I did "the means will not justify the end".

    So I hope we can expand the participation on this topic, especially among those who have a serious "socially conscious" and "socially constructive" attitude.

    As for your criticism, it is valid at this point. But I hope you don't possess it privately, i.e., tie it with an ego, as many do. The whole notion of "critical thinking" with just like any other words can be abused, is the emphasis on the "evidence" i.e., relevance to reality. And as such it is often an issue of "context" e.g., the same thing may appear "discriminating" in one context, and "liberating" in another. This "duality of nature" (or rather 'mulidimensionality of elements in nature' if I may say) is essential in avoiding falls into "dogmatic traps".

    So whereas I accepted your criticim on its face value, i.e., I have the same initial reaction towards it, I do not accept that upon further examination, or with some minor tweaking, the criticism will remain valid / of significance.

    I hope you now try to think through it more, as I am (hopefully along with others) and reconsider that issue (i.e., the validity of your critic) and offer constructive suggestions to help organize a society with a decidedly "socially constructive" direction based on egalitarian principles - i.e., the new economic system.