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From Popular Assemblies To Provisional Government

The Legitimacy of Existing Government and The Old Politics Have Come To An End.

Today, from one end to end of the world to the other, there can be no turning back. The democratic instincts of hundreds of millions of people are crying out for expression. We are now joining the call, as expressed by Occupy Wall Street, that no power on earth can suppress them or us.

Many invested their hearts in Obama’s “Change We Can Believe in” – now those who were sincere about that must join with others to finish the job ourselves. The changes that we seek must be created and implemented by us. We must have hope and faith in our own capacity to create new forms of real democracy. We are the ones that we have been waiting for.

The national-state-city governments are illegitimate. The Democratic and Republican parties are the comedians of the modern political world. Both hierarchal government and elite run party politics have been bought by the money interests. If we are to live together as equals their authority, and our dependence, on them have to come to an end.

Instead of facilitating dependent participation these popular assemblies must become the basis of a direct democracy where we need to begin to make all decisions on economic planning, judicial affairs, foreign policy, education and cultural matters.

Proposals for Transitional Government

In order to break the direct connection between government and capital in the short term we propose that no state, city, county government leader or administrator (or their spouse) can be associated in any significant way with any for profit enterprise. This means they cannot hold shares or be on the board of any privately held for profit company. They shall not have received two or more salaries, live by the rent of others, ten years before or after taking office. Those who cannot meet this standard must step down immediately.

Yet, if this is a process of everyday people emancipating themselves – then every ordinary person must learn to govern. In order to have a “democracy” (majority rule) we have to begin to oppose the rich minority who believe they have a right to rule over us.

We must begin to conceive of ourselves as forming a provisional government of Atlanta which can be an assembly of delegates from workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods with transitional demands that the nation-state-city must implement (or not obstruct) through our growing dual power. This hierarchal form of government must be dismantled. Not only new elections must be had but a new constitutional/charter basis for the establishment of a truly democratic form of government must come into being.

There must be no separation of government and economic production. Workplace, school, and neighborhood committees will establish this once and for all as the basis of a government of popular self-management. Economics is related to politics.

Housing, problems of health and homelessness as well as international affairs are directed related to ecological considerations. Ecology is directly related to public space, housing, health, and education. In order to address these problems we propose that all nation-state-city constitutions and charters must be changed to reflect the direct sovereignty of the popular assemblies and committees of everyday people. We will solve these problems together, with new more democratic forms of social organization. or they will not be solved at all.

We need to seriously discuss forms of SELF-Management And Real Equality In Workplaces

Take Back Public Spaces

There shall be no distinction between one public place and another. All public places, can be accessible and occupied, without permit from police. As a courtesy to neighbors people can record ahead their desire to use the space but it is not to be policed by hierarchal authorities. More than we realize the question of occupying public space is not a mere matter of parks, recreation or civil disobedience. It is a matter of taking over the public infrastructure of society as represented by many workplaces. We must make the private owners of our workplaces accountable to the public as well.

The Banks Are Our Property

The banks are now more than ever our property, thanks to the government bail out of the rich. The US government, in our name and with our taxes, bought substantial shares in many failing banks. Even if this were not so, their wealth is based on lending out our deposits. They must be made to bail out and relieve the people.

The Banks will be charged with immediately granting erasure of credit card debtors of all residents of the Nation-State-City for $10,000 or less. They will issue amnesty for all foreclosed home mortgages with a remaining $50,000 debt. This is our money the present government gave the banks. Since the President of the United States cannot “bail out Main Street and Wall Street” as he promised, the time has come to occupy the banks and do it ourselves.

Democratically organized consumer cooperative should take steps to encourage the local production and distribution of organic healthy whole foods at moderate prices. Local neighborhood farmers markets directly controlled by popular committees will be encouraged to facilitate this process.

In workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods all administrative and management positions are to be elected by the rank and file.

Those “leaders,” we shall call them facilitators of our will, are to be compensated on an equal basis as the rank and file, subject to instant recall and term limits.

Correct the Housing Bubble Ourselves

Homeless shelters must be abolished. Multiple dwelling real estate owners, whom own apartments and office buildings with excessive vacancies (this is so all over the city) must dramatically reduce rents below present market value and arrange leases with free rent for the first six months to accommodate the homeless as much as possible.

When combined with adjusting the housing bubble ourselves through bailing out indebted mortgages but also demanding all multiple dwelling real estate developers who have full occupancy give back six months rent for those who have resided with them for the last two years; the recovery and structural adjustment will have been made.

Water, sanitation, and sewage workers, utility and transportation workers should be compensated on an equal basis as the administrators who are elected from their ranks.

As the separation of mental and manual labor, the division of labor, is elitist and the basis of top down regimes. All manual and mental laborers will be compensated the same.

All workers in every field who do not already make $50,000 a year will have their salaries raised to that standard. All those that earn more will be reduced to that standard. All will be guaranteed a cost of living raise each year. “The middle class” – a term used to confuse working people about their past and future potential for prosperity — while defusing ordinary people’s rightful instinct to directly rule, will now be guaranteed the economic autonomy only the rich have enjoyed by leveling the hierarchy above the median income for individuals.

The financial basis for these salary reforms will be maintained by structurally adjusting the chief executives, professional bureaucrats, and moguls. All leadership positions will no longer be distinguished by special or gross compensation, and all private property owners will have to respond to the self-managing committees of their labor.

Mothers and Unemployed Must Be Central To The New Economic Vision

Wages for housework will be implemented from a slashing of the military budget for all women, and male primary care givers, for all households with children. This will be regardless of whether one or both parents/caregivers work outside the home or not. The new economy will be based on caring not killing.

Direct payments to women, and a society which counts their caring work, will break the back of patriarchy. It will go further than any other initiative, to insure women’s sexual and relationship autonomy, equal pay for equal work, defend their reproductive freedom, minimize the demeaning of their bodies, and enhance the possibilities of more intimate and respectful human relations, whether heterosexual or same sex relations.

Sympathy to women’s plight and their demeaned status, while still maintaining fear of fostering a sense of “entitlement,” has come to an end. Popular committees of single mothers and single fathers will convene to determine who are the few deadbeat parents and judge and rehabilitate the few who are ”deadbeats” and abuse our mutual aid. Meanwhile this initiative in women’s autonomy and working class economic empowerment will move forward at the expense of adjusting corporate welfare and their sense of entitlement.

Unemployed Workers Councils will inspect the practices of the Banks and Department of Labor, in their practice of home foreclosures and facilitation of relief. They will take over the degrading mandatory re-education classes, which emphasize nonsensical psychology and self-esteem talk in exchange, for our relief. They will join with permanent welfare recipients in juries to decide who is worthy of permanent relief on their own authority without social workers. They will inspect the budgets of corporations and the existing hierarchal government, by demanding they open their accounting books, and will take the lead in finding their own jobs. The unemployed and low wage workers will no longer merely scrape together two and three jobs with diminishing wages in faith they will find something better eventually. (Mothers have always had double duty and their work, waged and unwaged, is never done.) Emancipating ourselves from this drudgery and degradation is the key to a new beginning.

Amnesty for Immigrants, Tear Down All Borders

We will not have a society which truly rejects racism if multi-racial America builds unity around possessive individualism. Fear of the latest “yellow peril,” Spanish speakers, and Arabs and Muslims, must come to an end. There must be amnesty for all illegal immigrants within the borders and then they must be torn down.

There is something wrong with suggesting that historically oppressed people in this nation-city-state should “come first.” To solve the immigration problem we have to solve the politics of “it’s our turn now” – people of color, women, gay people — which props up the existing regime. Respect for all can only be solved only by dismantling hierarchal power and increasing equality for those without the aspiration to rule.

Every human being, regardless of national origins or how many years they have been present, must be subject to one uniform law code.

ICE, all immigration authorities, and all surveillance records are to be abolished. Public discourse in schools and governance should be bilingual and multilingual as official policy.

After the abolition of hierarchal government it will become clear that the old “diversity” that papered over true racism and added cultural legitimacy to a bankrupt regime will no longer be the standard of our understanding of equality.

A Vision of Social Ecology

A direct democratic environmental policy will be crafted by an assembly of sanitation, water, sewage, parks and recreation, hospital and public health rank and file workers.

We will recreate neighborhood farmers markets, encourage the growing of natural herbs and other organic medicines, (including cannabis and marijuana). Where this contributes to alternative institutions we will enhance them. However, they cannot be liberal lifestyles or mere illusions alone. We will develop mass transportation system for all, reduce pollution, build more sustainable sources of energy, rebuild bridges, tunnels, and roads — we will also mobilize committees for such major projects on an ad hoc basis such as rebuilding the levees (which are still not fixed since Hurricane Katrina!) . We will mobilized committees to do natural disaster relief work (earthquakes, floods, etc.)

Education

We must move beyond “No Child Left Behind” and tell the truth about our public schools. It is not about Bush or Obama, Democrat or Republican – it is not about what makes teachers, students, and parents “comfortable.” In Atlanta there is Black community control of the schools and Black children do not graduate with basic skills in reading, writing, science and math. If you don’t know, now you know!

The matter at hand is not the Black middle class’ capacity, in their administrative functions, to represent the community as a whole – no middle class has ever legitimately had or succeeded at that project. It is not a problem of correcting mistaken impressions by white people. With full employment and leveling of hierarchies, we will be able to begin honestly assessing the basic skills of children when diplomas are no longer anxious gateways to a competitive and cut throat world. A caring economy would, as we have begun to do with these transitional demands, guarantee a living wage to all. Being left behind or learning slower would no longer be an antagonism when we design a society that is caring and doesn’t kill.

The “Hope Scholarship” problem is not a budget problem – unless we wish to implement free education for all. It is a problem that the average student in Georgia has a “B” (an above average grade). Teachers, regardless of color and gender, are fired who refused to fix the exams. Popular committees needs to restore all of these conscientious teachers with full pay and benefit retroactively and we will retire all principals and administrators in office more than two years from the time that these committees are established and empowered.

We want schools that tell us our true history. But it was a mistake of the past generation to ask the government above society to give it to us! All cultural consciousness for autonomy is the proper realm of families and communities. We will not get much further than textbooks distinguished by multiculturalism and rainbow coalition nationalism in the shadow of state power.

Self-Managing Labor and Trade Unions

The workers organize unions. Trade union bureaucracies do not organize workers. That must be the basis of any meaningful perspectives and proposals on the self-management of labor. “Right to work” states, prominent in the South, can discourage the presence of already existing trade unions. Southern Populists can campaign against existing union’s “dues check off,” which obscures most trade union bureaucracies’ collaboration with management to automatically take union dues out of a workers’ check, negotiate contracts, and police the workers for management in the name of trade union representation.

Nevertheless, once workers move the politicians can play around with any restrictive legislation they want. The transport workers shut down the railroads and airports. The truck drivers stop deliveries of finished goods and raw materials. The utility workers turn the mayor’s and police station’s lights and phones off. The sanitation workers stop picking up the trash or deliver it to the mayor and police chief’s residence. While there will be rare exceptions, most existing union “leadership” will stand in horror at such initiatives and reveal who their conception of contract negotiations serves. Union bureaucracy or management will not be able to stop the power and capacity for the self-emancipation of labor. Such strike action is one aspect of popular self-government.

As we have said, there are many other tasks for labor besides getting jobs and earning wages – like economic planning, judicial affairs, foreign policy, etc. Attacks on trade unions by politicians are only on one level attacks on labor’s right to organize. It is smug when trade union bureaucrats suggest attacks on them are attacks on the labor’s self-emancipation. Capitalist governments never sincerely grant that right for all time, and can never take it away. The police, and the propertied interest they serve, and the money the trade union bureaucrats give to legitimize capitalist politicians, must be defeated by working people when are livelihood is moved against. That is all.

Foreign Affairs

In workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods popular committees should begin establishing their own people to people foreign policies with fellow workers across the globe. Material aid can be organized. Voluntary international brigades of working people, who are not professional soldiers who carry out imperial government’s will, intervene to help overthrow authoritarian rulers in the world wherever they may be found. Where human rights are a real concern, and not just the rhetoric of imperialists with a nuclear arsenal, and drone planes which carry out targeted assassinations, and then who give out and receive peace prizes; peace, trade, and honest friendship could be established for the first time by our popular committees and assemblies. For discussion, we suggest beginning with consideration of these perspectives/demands to take direct action.

Immediate statehood for the Palestinian people

End the Embargo of Cuba

No more spies sent into North Korea and Iran as “journalists” and “backpackers”

No unilateral targeted assassinations against anyone, American citizen or not, without a fair trial.

Immediate withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Not merely “all combat troops.” Do the troops who stay give out soccer balls to children?

Close Guantanamo Prison in Cuba. Grant transparent fair trials to all based on the same standards granted the most prosperous of U.S. citizens.

No more discussion of human rights and development which disrespects the autonomy of African and Muslim women and imposes on them white middle class “body politics” and gender norms from the West.

Let women’s autonomy be a true guide all over the world. Reject the false universality and chauvinism sponsored by the State Department, and popular television which presents women of color across the globe as synonymous with underdevelopment and dependency.

End the more than 200 years of subordination of Haiti.

Peace and human rights cannot be sponsored by imperialists and their false claims toward collective security, human rights, and internationalism. Capitalist laws which suggest ordinary people cannot establish their own foreign policies, that this is espionage or treason to the nation, reveal the ruling elite’s self-serving conception of national unity.

It is this nationalism, patriotic loyalty to Big Brother, which has allowed the owners of the means of production to move freely and collaborate with governments abroad to subordinate world labor. When we move, expressing solidarity with working people all over the globe, implementing workers’ sanctions against crimes against our brethren and sistren in the world arena, another world is revealed to be possible.

The Police, Courts, and Prisons

The Atlanta City Prison is not “a budget problem.” It is a problem of institutional racism where Black working people have been subjected to disproportionate incarceration by an overwhelming Black police force, Black mayor, and often a Black police chief. The manner in which the mayor and city council discuss this matter is shameful.

We demand popular committees, on a voluntary and rotational basis, to inspect the prison conditions, officials and corrections officers – the committee must be multi-racial and made up of equally of citizens with clean records and those who previously had been incarcerated for a major felony. Let the ordinary people inspect the claims of the professional prison administrators and see what can be reformed and what cannot.

Let the tendency among the prisoners to study and organize themselves take the lead in their own rehabilitation.

The problem of permanent police brutality in our cities reveals why the politics of who is “privileged” and “guilty” wielded against the white man has failed. Everyone agrees that people of color are disproportionately subjected to police brutality. How can that not be institutional racism? In the past urban uprisings were powerful responses to this crisis. The city has been administered by people of color for decades. What establishment organizations, claiming to be social movement groups, march on Black mayors and police chiefs in Atlanta and other Black led cities? Instead they call up their friends in national-state-city government, wink at them, and say “we got this” and shut down the instinct to rebel. Of course when the forecast is not hot, they are firing people up, testifying until the next election cycle.

For the last four decades Black men have disproportionately been incarcerated. The communities where Black people live, since voting rights have been secured, have elected people of color politicians to lead. It is time that it was clarified why police brutality is not being fought. In the late 1960s it was believed Black police chiefs would end police brutality – Black leadership in that realm of governance was something new for many people. For many decades now, the police have been and are killing you. What are you going to do?

Copwatch programs are successful to an extent. When we establish patrols by popular committees to watch the police that is a self-emancipating stand. But who is confronting the people of color cops, police chief, and the people of color administrators of this regime? A movement of self-emancipation based on the old politics of “I have a dream” and “Black Power” cannot do it. A movement that reveals these misleaders can no longer discipline our communities – multi-racial marches into their jails and offices exposing that their time is up and their pretense to legitimacy is over will solve the police brutality problem (as it functions in terms of race).

Our court and legal system, the division of civil and criminal law, the division of privileges for citizens and foreigners, is based on property and prejudice of the authority of the moneyed interests. It is fashionable to speak of justice without having any thought as to what the law really defends and who it suppresses.

We need to take the notion of jury duty to another level. On rotation, we should be making decisions on every aspect of governance not just trials. But we should be instructing the judge, not the judge the jury. The parameters of what is to be done in cases of injury to body and property on an individual basis may require a justice is blind approach. But the ruling class knows their interest and impartiality masks our understanding of it.

Conclusion

We have offered a program of transitional demands rooted in direct democracy and workers self-management for discussion. We may not have the capacity or instinct now to move in this necessary direction. But as the Occupy Wall Street movement shows history moves quickly.

“Change we can believe in” for many was thought to be the right politician who embodied “yes we can” in a campaign for equal opportunity to enter the rules of hierarchy. This was less than four years ago. This was partially based on the notion that the American system of government and political economy was basically good but needed a few reforms or that one politician above society’s bad decisions can bring the world to the brink of catastrophe. For working people, women, people of color, in modern industrialized nations, and in peripheral nations of the Third World there has always been a threatening catastrophe. We were supposed to learn from 9/11 that the forces of empire could not go forward degrading people all over the world without resentment and resistance. We were supposed to learn from Hurricane Katrina that even within the United States, our people live as if they are expendable, before and after natural disasters, from the perspective of local, state. and national government. People will try everything, waiting and waiting, before they begin to act in a revolutionary way. Once they begin to move they can clear up the accumulating mess of generations. Should these popular assemblies move beyond protest, we hope the suggestions we have made for discussion are looked back on as valuable in the near future. Time will tell.

(see our facebook page — email us at gfddatlanta@gmail.com)

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  1. October 12, 2011 at 7:56 am

    This is what some people in Atlanta and Savannah Georgia think the OWS Movement should be about.

    https://georgiadirectdemocracy.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/from-popular-assemblies-to-provisional-government/#comments

    It should be about self-emancipation through workplace and neighborhood popular committees, wages for housework, unemployed inspection of the banks and government, and a people to people foreign policy

  2. October 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I find this to be extremely possible. Its informative and provides issues as well as in depth solutions for the present and near future. I am interested in participating in whatever I am capable. I want to share similar posts with detailed ideals and expressions that I have put together overtime with the intentions to implement with the right backing and cooperative support.

    the link is as follows: http://coridagreat.blogspot.com/

    I look forward to collaborating with these views.

    Peace, Love, and Respect
    Cori DaGreat

  3. October 21, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I find the idea of wages for housework very interesting. Could you share with me more how that might work?

  4. Ivy
    October 21, 2011 at 11:53 am

    How would the banks and corporations permit the unemployed to inspect their claims to serve the people? It doesn’t seem like they would voluntarily submit to such an initiative at this time. How do you propose to compel them to do so?

  5. October 21, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I’ve never heard anyone in Atlanta point the finger at the mayor, police chief, and school board for maintaining institutional racism — that is so true! But it is difficult explaining to people that the Black Democrats don’t represent progress. Why do you think it is so hard to convey this to people?

  6. October 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I am a female college student from Korea. I get tired of N. Korea and other Asian countries being misrepresented in American media as cultures to fear, though it is true that our rulers suck and they need to be overthrown (like ALL aspiring rulers as you say). Do you really think a people to people foreign policy is possible?

  7. November 6, 2011 at 1:14 am

    This is a truly inspiring document! Now we need to take the next step and figure out how to create this transitional government. I believe that this can be done through referendums/initiatives. According to Atlanta City Ordinance section 2-501 we need the support of 15% of the residents of the actual city of Atlanta to get a referendum on the ballot. And after that we need a simple majority to get it passed. We can use a referendum to begin transferring power to a set of transitional citizens councils. And after a set period of time (say, one year) another referendum could be used to abolish the redundant elected officials, leaving all power in the hands of the citizens themselves.

    • February 7, 2012 at 12:02 am

      William,
      Thank you for your questions and comments. Interestingly, another article, by a blogger from Atlanta, has been written regarding the possible role of transitional demands in a movement for Direct Democracy. You can view that article here: http://mrefuspeaks.blogspot.com/

      While we may differ with this blogger on a few points, I think this article helps to clarify the usefulness of transitional demands and critique Occupy Atlanta’s failure to put forward any such demands or politics independent of the Democratic party’s platform as it relates to Atlanta.

      Thank you for reading. Apologies for the late response.

      -GFDD

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