Penny’s notes on our discussion of Naomi Wolf (2/7/12)

Penny’s notes on our discussion of Naomi Wolf on Occupy – from the British Guardian

Tuesday, February 7th – reading “Naomi Wolf On Occupy”. from the British Guardian

I would first like to say, I’m of the gray haired generation, and when James, who was the facilitator today, asked for volunteers to write a blog entry, I had to ask, what is a blog? I have trouble sending an e-mail. I really don’t want to be left behind and a blog sounded like a new term for a report, and I can do that, so here goes.

I would like to say that what I have taken away from the reading group, more than the content of the material, is the passion of the people in it. It is refreshing to see young people organizing such a diverse group where everyone’s opinion is valued. You hear so much about the youth of today being selfish or self serving and I agree there are some young people like that, but I also see middle age and old people like that. What I experience when I get out and work with groups with my values is that there are lots of young people out there that are as concerned about our world, our environment and our lives as there are old people. I have been blessed to be included in this group that strives to hear everybody.

Today, we read “Naomi Wolf On Occupy.” It was a question and answer interview with her. Some of the discussion topics we had after reading were:

Does consensus create a bottle neck and should it be majority instead? We discussed whether consensus was a way to curb authoritative leaders or does it create them. The value of consensus is that everyone is heard. What is important to one may be trivial to another. We seemed to agree that the consensus process is slow, but creates more lasting effects. It was mentioned that maybe consensus was overused and if you use it on less important things, it takes up valuable time and people loose interest. The suggestion was made that it should be used on critical issues only.

Does Occupy need a central message? Concerns were expressed that a central message would create a top down leader role rather than have everyone’s concerns included. The whole experience of Occupy is that the 99% be heard. We re-read some of Naomi’s answers to verify that she does not want one leader. She states that the top down strategy is dead and that the new world requires that everyone be a leader ready to speak and write and lobby. She believes you get there through majority voting and not consensus and that led us back into the discussion of consensus vs majority.

May Naomi be inserting herself into the movement for her benefit? One person clarified that she is a reporter. The conclusion seemed to be to wait and see.

Should Occupy use the “pincer movement” from Act Up as a technique to move issues forward? She feels Occupy has a reluctance to use this technique because it is contaminating.

Is non-violence the best strategy? There seemed to be agreement that Occupy needs to stay non-violent.

Should Occupy water down the message and have more people’s ideologies be included or focus our message and alienate some people? This lead to a discussion about teaching people to set goals and work for what Occupy wants. We were all concerned that there is a fine line between educating someone and using propaganda on someone. Our consensus was that we wanted unity not uniformity. We agreed that Occupy is a well of resources, a hub for existing movements to come together.

Hooray, my first blog!

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