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On Plutocracy & the ‘Occupy’ Movement

It’s wonderful to go on trips, but it is so sweet to get home again. We had a great time…cruising along the rivers of Europe from Amsterdam to Budapest, and experiencing a lot of history and culture on the way. But…it’s good to be home now, so we can get grounded again in this amazing moment in history. Of course, the biggest news in our country and now around the world is the ‘Occupy’ movement. No one has a crystal ball on this one! It may be a flash-in-the-pan, or it may be a tipping point. Whatever eventually happens…it raises some questions about our country and the global economy that deserve careful scrutiny. This is a time for the dialogue and deliberation community to provide the tools and leadership needed, so citizens can discuss, focus and digest the variety of frustrations and needs being voiced.

First, I want to share the link again to a blog post from April, 2011…‘Our Context Is Plutocracy.’ Back in April, I took some heat for being ‘too partisan’ in my approach to this topic…and my language was ‘not inclusive enough.’ Perhaps these voices were right…but, how else can we frame the fundamental trends in national and global wealth accumulation for public conversations? So…here is the link once again for this blog post:

Our Context Is Plutocracy’ blog post

Let’s fast-forward to now. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ has been characterized as a ‘mob’ by some…while others find themselves wondering what took so long. In our democracy, people get to express themselves, and they get to gather with others as they see fit. Whether you like what they are saying or not…these are our neighbors who are voicing their dissatisfaction with some economic trends and some political ideologies. I disagreed with those who just wanted to dismiss the opinions of Tea Party followers and leaders…and I believe the free expression of public frustrations and needs by ‘Occupy’ followers is essential at this time…in our country and around the world. Only time will tell if these ad hoc groups will fall apart, or coalesce. Here’s more:

The ‘Occupy’ Movement blog post

Peace to you…as we decide together what’s truly important…and why.

Craig Paterson
California NIF Network and NCDD Member & Blogger

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Craig Paterson
I am the primary researcher/writer/project manager of the 'California NIF Network' for face-to-face deliberative work in communities, and the creator and coordinator of 'Deliberative IDEAS' for online deliberative work, particularly in the virtual world of Second Life. I've done extensive work in deliberative theory and practice, including many issue framing projects.

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  1. Thanks for this post, Craig! An NCDDer shared a link on our discussion list the other day to a great video outlining the process the Occupiers are using, in case others are interested:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dtD8RnGaRQ

    Also, here’s a link to a nice compilation of resources on the Occupy protests that NCDD member Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute has posted on his blog:

    http://tom-atlee.posterous.com/occupy-wall-street-what-is-involved-in-making

    It includes a REALLY interesting 10-minute video showing what happened when Congressman John Lewis showed up to address the group. And once you see that video, I think NCDD member Tree Bressen’s new resources titled “Top 10 Most Common Mistakes in Consensus Process and How to Avoid Them” (posted at http://ncdd.org/rc/item/6044) is all the more pertinent.

  2. Tim Chambers says:

    I totally support what you’re saying, Craig. The condition we’ve permitted ourselves to get into, following the acolytes of Ayn Rand and von Hayek, has been disastrous for most of us, though successful for a few, but the pigeons are now coming home to roost.

    I’ve been writing on this subject since the mid-nineties, in my novel, Banana Republican Blues. I knew the crash had to come sooner or later because Capitalism cannot exist without a healthy consumer market and ours has been gradually strangled by continuous cost cutting and increasing returns on investment at the expense of the average worker/consumer.

    We have a demand side problem now and ideologically blinded politicians, still attempting to fix it with supply side solutions. That is so 1980’s. The problems were very different back then and those ideas can’t help us now.

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