Why I Didn’t Participate in “Occupy vs. Tea Party”

I was initially very excited to participate in “Occupy vs. Tea Party” because I viewed it as a platform to bring the two political movements together through dialogue.  The confrontational framing of the “debate” seemed like an obstacle that could be overcome by focusing on problems upon which both “sides” seem to agree: the central banking cartel, the destruction of civil liberties, the disempowerment of the general public, etc.

The first indication that this would be a misadventure was the so called “tea partiers” that were selected to participate.  As one liberty blogger noted “this should be called ‘Occupy vs. NeoCons”.  While one or two of the so called “tea partiers” are liberty-oriented activists, most of them seem to be 2nd wave Tea Party who are more aligned with neocon ideology than the liberty ideology upon which the Tea Party was founded.  One particularly unpleasant participant is a racist shock-jock whose built a career by spreading fear of Islam.  I attempted to bring a liberty-focused tea party organizer onto the show and he was given the run around and then rejected.

The second indication that this would be a misadventure was that Gordon, the show’s producer, gave us no information about his intentions.  Despite a brief phone call, I had no information about the show: no idea what the format was, how the video would be distributed, whether we were receiving any compensation (or free tickets) or if we had rights to footage.  No doubt it was a sloppy operation.  Then, four days before “Occupy vs. Tea Party” was supposed to take place and after numerous attempts to contact Gordon, the Occupy team received an email with the format of the show.  The so-called “debate” would involve each team voting its own members out of the debate.  This extra dimension turned what could have been a fruitful debate into a circus, and that was the idea.  Gordon suggested we “roll with” the other surprises he had in store for us.  I’m not interested in being involved in a circus-style reality show.  If I were, I’d make sure to find one that was offering prizes.

In my short political history, I’ve been involved in both occupy and liberty movement organizing, and I believe that substantial political change is impossible in this country until those two movements come together.  I didn’t believe “Occupy vs. Tea Party” would provide a platform for that type of work to take place, and thus, didn’t participate in the event.

The experience of planning to debate tea partiers has inspired me to commit to doing more organizing that brings the two groups together.  Stay tuned for that.

The Gifting Experience

An amazing gifting phenomenon emerged during the occupation of Zuccotti Park (Liberty Square) in which strangers spontaneously organized themselves to provide food and shelter to anyone in need.  This organic emergence of mass generosity flowered for two months amidst the sky scrappers of multi-national banks and the cynicism of abused souls who looked upon the ‘occupation’ as an unsanitary oddity.

While it may seem odd to the mainstream personality that people would work night and day to feed, cloth, shelter and secure each other without receiving any type of financial compensation, to those who participated in the process of occupation, nothing could be more natural – or rewarding.

Mainstream society is build on the assumption that “resources are scarce” and that “incentives drive decision-making”, but gifting society see things differently.  Gifting societies assume essential resources such as sunlight, water, food and shelter are abundant (but possibly mis-allocated) and that personal passion drives decision-making.  The assumption of abundance allows people in gifting societies to escape the crippling fear of poverty that most people in mainstream society experience on a day to day basis.  When people let go of their fear of poverty, they can begin to embrace their true passions, but the transition isn’t always smooth – in fact it can be quite frightening.

The occupation of Zuccotti Park frightened many people not because it was unsanitary or dangerous, but because it showed people that another world is not only possible, but practical – and may ever provide better services at lower costs. Everyday that the occupation provided shelter to hundreds, food to thousands and entertainment to millions, was a day that the mainstream world-view was not only challenged, but replaced for something more interesting and authentic.

The original occupation of Wall Street is over, but the gifting society that spontaneously emerged out of it is not.  Those involved in the occupation experienced, for a few short months, a society free from money, coercion and hierarchy.  Occupy activists are not going back.  In fact, they’re determined to recreate the experience and spread it far and wide.

The mission of PermaBank is to give people the tools they need to engage in and spread the experience of gifting.  Our first feature is a simple gifts/wishes application in which people “offer a gift” or “make a wish.”

All of PermaBank’s code is free/libre/opensource software designed, developed and deployed by folks from the New York General Assemblies Technology Operations Group.  Check out our other projects and please please please let us know if you’d like to get involved in the PermaBank project.  We need your unique gifts, seriously!

…Solutions through Solidarity through Solutions through Solidarity…

A little coverage

I received three Google alerts involving my name this week.  All were related to my work with Occupy Wall Street.  Here they are, with a little commentary added by myself:

New Protest Apps Crowd-Sourced From Occupy Wall Street Hackers” by Tyler Kingkade.

Communities In Space: How Re-Framing Our Spaces Can Reshape Our Future” by Matt Cynamon.

Then we have “BLOG: Creating an alternative currency for the #globalrevolution ‘alternative world’ borg” by Brenda J. Elliott.  The article is somewhat inaccurate so I’ve written the following response.  I’d have posted in the comment section of the article but it’s too long, so here it is.


I’d like to applaud you on the most thoroughly researched post on my work with OWS to date.  There are a few inaccuracies I’d like to clear up:

First, the p2pfoundation isn’t involved in permabank.  At first we were using their wiki to document our efforts because they have a solid platform and community managers but we’ve since moved our documentation to wiki.occupyeverywhere.org.  It’s still very much incomplete and should greatly improve over the next 2-3 weeks.

Second, PermaBank is being written in Python/Django.  We were going to use Drupal to create a working demo but talented Python developers emerged so we’re going straight to the main event.

Third, FLO Solutions Working Group has no connection to the p2pfoundation except that we wrote up a page on their wiki.

Fourth, I don’t have any real connection to floEarth except that I’m friends with it’s creator.  If the project develops I might get more involved.

Fifth, it’s ‘Sarapis’ not ‘Serapis.’  Greek spelling.  I don’t know if you looked too deeply into who/what Sarapis is/was but I think you’ll find it interesting.

The tone of this piece makes it sound as if you’re describing some nefarious plot to take over the world when, if fact, my efforts are simply to help people use information technologies to create their own capital so they no longer have to rely on the currency politburo at the Federal Reserve.

Let me know if you’d like to discuss these issues further.


Favorite Bands of SxSW Showcase 2011 Part 1

I had the pleasure of listening to 850+ tracks from SxSW 2011 Showcase.  Nothing like a week of new music to make working on my computer an absolute pleasure.

Here’s a list of my favorite bands, with the best at the top.  So much great music!

black atlantic
black cherry
bliss n eso
colour revolt
el da sensei
two fresh
adam & Alma
analog rebellion
the appleseed bast
b. bravo
bill baird
body language
bright light social hour
cruel black dove
darren hanlon
depressed buttons
dual core
eli paperboy reed
french horn rebellion
the ghost of a saber tooth tiger
the glass
gun runner
harrys gym
horse thief
inspired flight
kendra morris
kevin devine and the goddam band
keys n krauts
karma’s big band
mv (misteur valaire)
norman palm
red queen
sun raw
torpedo boyz
unicorn kid
volkova sisters
bear driver
beat connection
chapter 24
diva gash
the eastern sea
ebony bones
the fervor
foin bois
geko jones
goddess & she
goldheart assembly
the good natured
the growlers
holey bonar
an horse
hospital ships
the hours
ingebright haker flaten
john vanderslice
kenneth brian band
the kingston springs
lady friends and flowers
leah and the moonlighters
loch lomond
los rakas
maps & atlases
marco morales
midnight magic
natalie prass
semko containe taylor
the shinning twins
sister crayon
slim cessna’s auto club
small sins
smoking popes
spoek mathambo
worm ouroboros

As If We Couldn’t

If you listen to media’s murmuring, you’d think that the American people were ready to give up.  The bankers are too crafty, the corporations too powerful and the politicians too pliant.  We don’t know which way is up, where to turn or on whom to depend.  We’re lost, sad, unhappy, and maybe a little overweight.  For a few brief moments we had HOPE that that America’s most powerful institutions could still solve our problems during commercial breaks.  Yes we can, they whispered in our ears.  Yes we can…

As if we couldn’t. As if the American people couldn’t recognize a lie when it’s told to our face.  As if the American entrepreneur couldn’t maneuver around the obstacles created by international bankers and their confused economists.  As if the men and women in our Armed Forces who committed to defending our Constitution couldn’t stand up to anyone who demanded that they oppress their fellow citizens.  As if our farmers couldn’t team up to develop their own technologies, save their own seeds and reap their own harvests.  As if honest people couldn’t win elections.

“You can fool some people all the time, and all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”  I think Bob Dylan said that.  Americans are getting smarter – not the coastal elites who think reading the New York Times qualifies as civic participation – but the “dumb” Americans who’ve enough common sense to recognize that Big Government and Big Business have teamed up to steal our wealth while misdirecting us with the help of the corporate media.  But they don’t control everything on the internet, and as the veil is lifted, both the problems and solutions become much more clear.  I’m particularly interested in the solutions.

While Silicon Valley gets all the press for their trendy products, thousands of programmers, engineers and developers across the world continue to build the free, libre and open source technologies upon which local economies depend.  While multinational chemical companies receive prestigious awards for monopolizing agriculture, American farmers continue to share best practices, organizing seed banks and reach customers directly through farmer’s markets.  While central bankers act like economic gods with their reactionary monetary policies,  local entrepreneurs continue to discover new opportunities to create real value for their communities.

If you’re looking for problems, you’re going to find prestigious people in glossy magazines whining about the difficulties that lie ahead.  If you’re looking for solutions, you’re going to find unrecognized folks working  quietly and feverishly, as if the fate of the world depended on it.  The time for criticism is over.  The time for action is here.

If you’re interested in the emergence of the new, participatory, local-networked economy, what Buckminster Fuller would describe as “a new model that makes the existing models obsolete,” start reading about free/libre/open source technology and ask yourself this simple question: what if everyone had the tools they need to create what they want.

The best has yet to come.