From: SF Bay View: http://sfbayview.com/2012/a-discussion-on-strategy-for-the-occupy-movement-from-behind-enemy-lines/
February 19, 2012
Editor’s note: This comes from the brilliant minds – locked away in one of the most restrictive prisons in the U.S. – who brought you “California prison hunger strikers propose ‘10 core demands’ for the national Occupy Wall Street Movement,” the Bay View’s most read story, with 9,980 pageviews, from Dec. 6, 2011, to Feb. 19, 2012.
by J. Heshima Denham, Zaharibu Dorrough and Kambui Robinson of the NCTT Corcoran Security Housing Unit (SHU)
“But beneath this conventional enthusiasm and amid this ingratiating ritual toward the dominant power, you can easily perceive in the wealthy a deep distaste for the democratic institutions of their country. The people are a power they both fear and despise.” – Alexis De Tocqueville, “Democracy in America”
[photo: New York City – Photo: Javier Soriano]
Greetings, brothers and sisters. A firm, warm and solid embrace of revolutionary love is extended to you all.
As we proceed in this period of evolution in our struggles for substantive social change in the U.S. via the national Occupy Movement, the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Movement, the Anti-Imperialist Movement etc., it is imperative that we not only understand that we are all representative of a single socio-political and historic motive force, but those in opposition to our democratic aspirations are the very same political, social and economic powers that this nation has relied on to ensure the integrity of democracy, social justice and economic equality. This is a contradiction.
This historic contradiction will NOT be resolved via our disparate efforts. Substantive change will only be realized through a comprehensive strategic approach, coordinated and conducted by us all. Simply put, we are a single movement, and for us to have the social impact necessary to compel progress we must proceed with this realization as out guiding ethos. We of the NCTT (New Afrikan Collective Think Tank) in the Corcoran SHU (Security Housing Unit) have a proposal on effective strategic organizing we’d like to share with you here, but before we do so we think it is imperative that you all understand the historic significance of what we are all a part of.
It is our assessment that what is occurring today as it relates to the national protest movement (i.e., Occupy Wall Street, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity etc.) is the unfinished legacy of the struggle for social justice necessary for the U.S. to fulfill its democratic potential. This struggle is part of the rich and courageous legacy of abolitionists, women’s rights activists, organized labor, populists, human and civil rights activists and other democratic struggles of the nation’s past.
|Cincinnati – Photo: J. Cherise McIntosh
Social revolution has always been imperative to this type of substantive change. This calls for the recognition and coming together of people – citizens from different cultural, economic and ideological backgrounds – realizing the common interest inherent in this truth: that we all inhabit the same planet, breathe the same air, are part of the human family.
The social revolution of the 1960s, once it was contained by the conservative, corporate counter-culture, was reduced to being characterized as a “sexual revolution” in the same disparaging terms that the social revolution we are waging in this nation today is being characterized as a kind of mindless, leaderless rabble who simply dislike the wealthy, or “gang members,” whose only interest is imposing themselves on the larger population. These intentionally dishonest characterizations are not being made by the average reasoning man or woman – but instead by those we’ve vested with the responsibility of governing our political, social or economic institutions.
CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thornton, when asked about the alleged “suicide” death of a “jailhouse lawyer” in Pelican Bay’s ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit), responded, “Why are you concerned about that? … Was the inmate someone important? You know, someone well known like Charles Manson?” This is typical of the wealthy and their tools.
Was it any surprise that former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain described Occupy Movement activists as “stupid” because they opposed the inherent institutional inequality of the capitalist arrangement? Neither were we shocked that CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thornton, when asked about the alleged “suicide” death of a “jailhouse lawyer” in Pelican Bay’s ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit), responded, “Why are you concerned about that? … Was the inmate someone important? You know, someone well known like Charles Manson?” This is typical of the wealthy and their tools.
We began this discussion with a quote from Alexis De Tocqueville to illustrate not only the disdain in which the power structure in this society holds the people’s democratic expression but the fear and resentment they hold towards those who dare challenge this status quo in capitalist Amerika. We represent nothing more to these overseers and shareholders – and that’s just what the politicians, policy makers, prison industrialists and corporate executives are – than billions of dollars in potential profit to be extracted from our human misery.
CDCR and its lobbying body, the CCPOA, has succeeded in extorting budgets in excess of some nations’ gross national product by using us as the centerpiece of their distortion and false propaganda campaign of fear and dehumanization.
For example, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and its lobbying body, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), has succeeded in extorting budgets in excess of some nations’ gross national product by using us as the centerpiece of their distortion and false propaganda campaign of fear and dehumanization. They’ve duped taxpayers so successfully for so long at the expense of our very humanity that we had no choice but to take up a strategy in which the ultimate sacrifice may yet be necessary.
Following the ending of the last hunger strike in October, most of us, particularly those of us in these short corridors here and in Pelican Bay, were refused any medical treatment though we lost over 20 pounds in the 13-day period the second hunger strike lasted – and we hadn’t yet recovered from the first.
The kind of sacrifices being exemplified by courageous nationalists and activists like you in the Occupy Movement – we love it, we love you and we stand with you.
Our hunger strikes were the only way to effectively resist the nonstop assault on our humanity which is the inevitable consequence of burying us indefinitely in these sensory deprivation torture units. Equally, when working wages or employment itself are so shamelessly inconsistent with the cost of living, resulting in conditions of poverty, there is a corresponding poverty of spirit. The success of the Occupy Movement, like the hunger strikes, requires sacrifice and strategic insight. The kind of sacrifices being exemplified by courageous nationalists and activists like you – we love it, we love you and we stand with you.
Seizing the reins of history
What we all must come to understand is our struggle – like the vision of a new social structure inherent in this movement – must adopt new methods of ensuring its survival and expansion. The shear absurdity of some of the political pandering and positions in this election season, from Newt “Gingrinch’s” espousal of the merits of exploiting child labor in the underclass to discussions of cutting unemployment benefits by Tea Party Republicans in the face of record unemployment and cash-fat corporations refusing to hire, highlights how out of touch these puppets of the 1 percent ruling elite are with the daily challenges of the common man or woman.
Simultaneously, we are being asked to trust these same people who are responsible for creating conditions for, and exploitation of, human misery. We have been doing so for centuries and it has only moved us from one socio-economic crisis to the next.
Only when the people, the 99 percent, seized the reigns of history has the democratic destiny of humanity and its most noble ideas – unity, equality, self-determination, cooperation, freedom, justice and human rights – been advanced to any appreciable degree. Each progressive step forward – from the Suffrage Movement, which seized a woman’s right to vote from an entrenched chauvinistic privilege, to the nonviolent protests of the Civil Rights Movement that repealed segregation, to the empowerment and self-defense tactics of the national liberation movements that followed – was punctuated by a coherent strategic approach whose relative success or failure has been equal to the resonance it found in the nation’s mass psychology.
We cannot expect paths to social change to be laid by the forces of oppression, which means we must pursue self-determination and self-sufficiency, demonstrating the validity of our vision of society through social practice.
No one with a modicum of intelligence would disagree with the validity of our message, the righteousness of the Occupy Movement’s 10 core demands or the correctness of our aspirations. Yet this is not enough to sustain a movement so vocally opposed to the entrenched power structure of the 1 percent and all the tools of repression at their disposal.
|UC Berkeley – Photo: Brian Nguyen
No, what will be needed is nothing short of the unified might of the 99 percent, most if not all of us speaking with one voice, with one will, animated by this same spirit throughout. We cannot expect paths to social change to be laid by the forces of oppression, which means we must pursue self-determination and self-sufficiency, demonstrating the validity of our vision of society through social practice. We possess all the tools necessary to transform our occupations into practice programs which address some of the core inequities in the capitalist arrangement we currently stand in opposition to by imbedding them in the most underdeveloped and disenfranchised communities of the 99 percent, where the effects of corporate greed and institutional inequality are most visible.
There is another common thread running through the Occupy Movement, Hunger Strike Solidarity Movement and Anti-Imperialist Movement: Most of us engaged in these movements either champion, hail from or have been forced into the underclass of the U.S. socio-economic strata. I want you all to ask yourselves, after a cursory examination of U.S. society, who has done most of the work, most of the dying, most of the time in prison or on the unemployment line? Who has little or no interest in the maintenance of the current status quo, who has been disproportionately affected by the sub-prime loan fiasco and the socio-economic impact of corporate greed and political corruption?
Invariably we must answer it is the underclass communities of this nation, Amerika’s ghettos, hoods, barrios, trailer parks and projects. Their unfortunate position in the capitalist arrangement and desperate historical relationship to the productive system forces this segment of society to the forefront of any revolutionary scheme.
Who has done most of the work, most of the dying, most of the time in prison or on the unemployment line? Who has little or no interest in the maintenance of the current status quo? It is the underclass communities of this nation, Amerika’s ghettos, hoods, barrios, trailer parks and projects.
When the honorable Comrade George Lester Jackson expressed this same analysis some 40 years ago, people did not fully grasp what he meant. Yet here we are still pursuing the victorious conclusion of the same democratic process.
Three pilot programs
What we propose is harnessing the full spectrum potential of the Occupy Movement at every level and lining it with the untapped power and potential of the millions and millions in underclass communities across Amerika via three pilot programs which are complimentary, self-sustaining and socio-economically empowering for all of the 99 percent, while proving definitively that the spirit of cooperation is more socially fulfilling and impactful than the greed and avarice promoted through capitalist competition.
We propose organizing major segments of the movement and those they serve to not only safeguard the survival and forward progress of the cause itself, but open an entirely new front for the struggle. The Occupy Wall Street Movement, Occupy the Hood and the underclass communities, each working in coordination, could prove an unstoppable force if organized and mobilized with unity of purpose. Each segment of this broader organizing force possesses mutually beneficial qualities whose socio-economic and political impact far exceeds the sum of its individual parts.
|Occupy the Hood founder Malik Rhasaan, left, United States Marine Corps. Sgt. Shamar Thomas and Preach are pictured after a meeting with public housing residents to discuss coordinating actions against police brutality. Shamar is the sergeant who’s shown in a video seen by 3 million people showing him hollering at 30 NYPD officers from among protesters on the sidewalk, “There’s no honor in hurting unarmed civilians.”
We of the NCTT Corcoran SHU urge you to distribute this strategic proposal to all the various Occupy Movement groups nationally, all the various chapters of Occupy the Hood – especially its founder, Malik Rhasaan – and that together they bring this proposal to the underclass communities across Amerika. We want to urge all our brothers and sisters in lumpen organizations within these communities, no matter what set you claim, nation you ride – Sureño or Norteño – hood you represent or crew you roll with, to support and defend these brothers and sisters from all aspects of the Occupy Movement as they enter your/our communities, many living in and being from those same or similar communities, to build with us a new dynamic that will enrich us all.
Equally we want to urge all our brothers and sisters in the Occupy Movement to learn from the people as you enter and work with the underclass community so we all may better serve the interests of the 99 percent. For some of you, it will be a new and sobering reality, completely outside of your experience, and should provide an uncensored view of the human misery and socio-economic inequality in Amerika. It is imperative that you all look upon the interests of the movement and those communities as your very own; the survival of the movement and hope for substantive change in the daily dynamic of economic desperation and despair in the underclass communities of the U.S. may well depend on it.
We want to urge all our brothers and sisters in the Occupy Movement to learn from the people as you enter and work with the underclass community so we all may better serve the interests of the 99 percent. Look upon the interests of the movement and those communities as your very own.
The three pilot programs we are proposing are NCTT word-product, either drawn from our archives or uniquely developed to ensure the success of this enterprise. This venture will require some structural organization amongst you. We suggest you adopt a democratic centralist organizational structure which will allow everyone to air their views, opinions and suggestions – be they popular or unpopular, correct or incorrect – in group discussions on policy decisions. Yet those with the greatest knowledge and insight on the specific subject matter being disclosed should have the greatest influence on the policy ultimately adopted.
|Philadelphia – Photo: Larissa Mogano
Such an approach will encourage the broadest possible participation in the decision making process, while securing the most viable and sagacious ideas and preventing the cropping up of ultra-democratic ideas, where someone has something to say on every little thing and nothing ever gets accomplished, just bourgeois aversion to the collective will.
These programs are intentionally designed to be universally adaptive, modifiable and amendable to work in any community. The success of some aspects of these programs will be benefited by specialized knowledge, insight or skill sets. We are aware that the Occupy Movement in its various permutations, as well as the underclass communities in which these programs will be imbedded, possess intellectuals, professionals and technicians whose knowledge and participation will prove essential, and we urge you all to begin taking stock of these skill sets and maintaining – or creating – a local database of each activist or participant’s skill sets, such as computer engineering, drywall, agricultural expertise, technical engineering, plumbing, visual art etc.
To facilitate the success of these collective work initiatives and as we see success, we expand these efforts into new areas of development.
Our brothers and sisters already doing vital work in the Occupy the Hood chapters, such as the “Feed the Hood” program, we ask you now to expand your relationship with the Occupy Wall Street Movement beyond the confines of the people of color working group and enter a new and broader phase of community development and social organization which will see a true union of all of our social forces in the practical work of building an entirely new basis for relating to the productive system.
|Oakland – Photo: Ben Margot
Occupy the Hood is the natural bridge between all aspects of the 99 percent, and it is only through a functional union such as this that our movement can be transformed into a true social revolution and perhaps more.
Those of you who’ve been engaged in these historic hunger strikes across the nation in support of the five core demands and in opposition to the maintenance and expansion of these sensory deprivation torture units and the prison industrial complex as a whole – especially those of you in these short corridors with us here and in Pelican Bay – if you retain any influence in your hood, barrio, trailer park or community, we urge you to have those on the streets from your community, if they don’t have an Occupy the Hood chapter established, to contact Malik Rhasaan on Twitter (#Occupy the Hood) and establish one, as the broader and deeper the movement is out there, the greater the positive impact will be on every aspect of this society, including on our struggle here (see No. 6 of the 10 core demands of the Occupy Movement
Occupy the Hood is the natural bridge between all aspects of the 99 percent.
To all you brothers and sisters on college campuses or in unemployment lines across this nation, if you don’t have an Occupy Movement chapter established in your city, contact the nearest Occupy Movement chapter to you and establish one of your own. It is in your interest to alter the fundamental dynamic of human relationships and the basis for prosperity in this nation, and what we propose here may well give us the greatest possible chance to do just that.
The three pilot programs we propose are:
1) the closed circuit economic initiative;
2) the sustainable community agricultural commons;
3) the block vote democratic initiative.
We will explain each here in basic terms and should you need detailed program formats or other help, you need only contact us directly. We have done our best to give you all the necessary information needed to start here. Please bear with us. I assure you it’s worth your time.
The Closed Circuit Economic Initiative
The Closed Circuit Economic Initiative (CCE Initiative) is a cooperative economic venture designed to amplify local wealth by re-circulating it in the community in which it originated, while providing collective ownership of the venture to the community and movement, while simultaneously addressing local unemployment in the community in which the venture is based. The CCE Initiative was originally designed to address the flight of wealth from New African communities to more affluent ones that actually owned the businesses in New African (Black) neighborhoods.
[photo: Oakland – Photo: Noah Berger, AP]
We discovered that a single dollar will circulate in the Jewish community for some 35 days, in the Korean community for 28 days, yet a dollar circulates in the New African (Black) community for an average of 70 seconds. Yes, seconds. However, what we also learned through further analysis was this was in fact, to a greater or lesser degree, a universal disparity throughout underclass communities regardless of their racial or national makeup.
The wealth of underclass communities rarely, if ever, went to enriching those same communities. But there is within our power a way to change that.
Similar to the electrical charge fulfillment action of a closed circuit capacitor – where circulating a charge through a catalyst in a closed circuit will ultimately fulfill a storing device’s capacitance with no need to increase the voltage yield of the charges – it is possible to increase the economic capacity of a community by circulating its wealth in that community for a longer period. This capacitance is increased if the community itself controls the economic circuit in which current exchanges flow.
Similar to the electrical charge fulfillment action of a closed circuit capacitor, it is possible to increase the economic capacity of a community by circulating its wealth in that community for a longer period. This capacitance is increased if the community itself controls the economic circuit in which current exchanges flow.
Here is how we will accomplish this: The Occupy Movement will prepare fliers and pamphlets outlining this initiative in clear, easy-to-understand terms, specifically referencing the unique conditions on the ground in the local underclass communities you hope to begin in. The larger the community, the more impactful it will prove.
|Oakland – Photo: David Bacon
Occupy the Hood activists, organizers and leaders from the community slated for the initiative, along with Occupy Wall Street activists, will canvas the hood together distributing these educational fliers door to door, to churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, pool halls, the street corners, the hood spots and homie hangouts, salons, barbershops and wherever our people congregate, answering questions and promoting the value of the initiative.
Next a survey flier will have to be produced which asks each individual in that community the three top goods and services they most frequently spend their money on – and/or the largest portion of their money on – and/or the largest portion of their money every month. This may vary depending on the community, from groceries to gasoline, from laundrymat services to parking. Once these surveys are collected and their results compiled and we have the top three goods and services that particular community spends their money on, we’ll have the basis for our first economic venture and a business plan to produce based on the No. 1 pick.
For example, let’s say food and home supplies is the area where the most money is spent in Southeast San Diego’s Skyline community. The first venture in this community’s CCE Initiative would be a grocery store, which brings us to our next step: a true community organizing meeting – or several – will have to be held with the entire community and movement activists participating to elect economic trustees for the CCE Fund: one from Occupy the Hood, one from Occupy Wall Street, and two from the community in which the venture is based.
These four will collectively oversee the CCE Fund for that community, allowing those funds raised to be accepted only by those four persons together – no single individual will have access to the fund – and only for the CCE Initiative venture agreed to via the democratic will of all involved. This will ensure checks and balances are maintained and trust is assured.
To fund the grocery store, we will ask each individual in that community to contribute $1 or $2 bi-monthly, along with their names, addresses and phone numbers to the CCE Initiative for a six-month period. Let’s say there are 10,000-15,000 residents in this community, along with those local Occupy Movement activists who wish to contribute. Each individual will receive a CCE certification card for their contribution, no matter how small.
All these funds will be deposited in the CCE Fund’s interest earning account, which would raise an estimated $100,000 in that six-month period. We use the lion’s share of those funds to purchase or build our own grocery store in that community, owned by that community collective who are on the CCE registry; if you contributed, you’re on the registry.
We will then hire only people from that community or from the local Occupy Movement who are unemployed. Those Occupy Wall Street activists with accounting, business, tax, zoning, law, real estate, grocery or other related expertise should provide that expertise to ensure the success of these ventures and receive a CCE certificate for their contributions to the effort’s creation and continued success.
Once established, we need not worry about patronage or marketing because those who own the venture – the community itself – will, of course, shop in their own grocery store and encourage others to also before going elsewhere. All the profits, minus overhead, will go back to the CCE Fund with 60 percent being paid out monthly to all CCE Initiative registrants – those with a CCE certificate of contribution – in the form of a dividend check, the other 40 percent gaining interest in the CCE fund.
We need not worry about patronage or marketing because those who own the venture – the community itself – will, of course, shop in their own grocery store and encourage others to also before going elsewhere.
We will keep contributing and collecting the $1-$2 every two weeks, depositing it in the CCE Fund. Also, in the next six months, we purchase a “sympathetic-support venture,” one that depends on or contributes directly to the initial venture; let’s say a bakery. The grocery store will purchase its baked goods inventory exclusively from the CCE Initiative bakery. Again, the bakery will hire only people from that community or local movement without a job.
Again, we repeat the process. In the next six-month period we purchase a second sympathetic-support venture; let’s say an organic grain and produce farm, again hiring only those from the community and local movement who are unemployed. Grain, flour and product inventories for the bakery and grocery store will be purchased from our farm – all of these ventures buying and selling to one another while servicing the broader community which owns them.
|Miami – Photo: Miami Workers Center
Again we repeat the process in six months, this time acquiring a small cannery and packaging factory to begin offering our own canned foods and packed goods from both our farm and bakery to our grocer – and on to the broader market. Again, we hire only from that community and local movement’s unemployed.
As this proceeds with each expansion of the CCE Initiative venture, the local unemployment rate drops, the amount of dividend checks paid out to CCE Initiative registrants rises, until eventually that community reaches 100 percent employment, with a second revenue stream directly linked to their own consumer choices. As the prosperity of our collectively-owned businesses grows, we will inevitably reach complete community economic interconnection and social empowerment for the people and the movement.
As the prosperity of our collectively-owned businesses grows, we will inevitably reach complete community economic interconnection and social empowerment for the people and the movement.
The CCE Initiative dividend checks may begin as small as $.30 or $.40, yet in 18 months could be $30-$40. The CCE Fund can then turn its attention to establishing a local credit commons, where the community can invest in its own people’s interests, not to generate profit from usurious interest rates, but to promote community prosperity and meet human needs. Here, people from the community and local movement can get micro-loans, home and auto financing, and standard banking services.
|Cincinnati – Photo: J. Cherise McIntosh
In this way, the underclass community becomes entirely independent of the standard competitive capitalist economy through simple unity, cooperative economics and collective work, distribution of wealth and ownership. All dividend adjustments will be distributed equally amongst everyone in the CCE Initiative, regardless if you contributed $1 or $2 or your specialized knowledge and insight. So long as you contribute to the CCE Initiative, you’ll receive an equal share of dividends.
By means of the CCE Initiative, we can clearly demonstrate cooperation serves the interests of the 99 percent where competition has clearly been unequal to the task.
Once a full community economic circuit is closed, it can be joined to others in the region or nationally, providing a socio-economic alternative to the yoke of wage slavery offered us all by the 1 percent ruling elite. We need only touch the corporate capitalist economy where our own innovation and enterprises fail to meet the capacity or are simply unable to. But we here of the NCTT are always thinking and, in truth, the only limitation to the CCE Initiative meeting the material needs of the 99 percent is your own imagination; we assure you there are further options.
By means of the CCE Initiative, we can clearly demonstrate cooperation serves the interests of the 99 percent where competition has clearly been unequal to the task. By those means we establish a true transfer culture from which substantive change in the nature and structure of U.S. society can be realized. This CCE Initiative corresponds to Nos. 1, 2, 9 and 10 of the 10 core demands of the national Occupy Movement.
The Sustainable Community Agricultural Commune
Chronic poverty and underemployment – the legacy of corporate greed and political corruption in Amerika – can be directly linked to chronic disease, high obesity rates and the plethora of health problems that accompany them. These types of physical debilities impact underclass communities disproportionately due primarily to anemic access to quality produce, meats, grains and vegetables in our communities.
Of equal concern is the ecological impact of multinational corporate agri-concerns, from the exploitation of Third World brothers and sisters – some 90 percent of the produce consumed in the U.S. is grown in the Third World, while the majority of the rest comes from large corporate farms – to the adverse environmental impact of greenhouse gas emissions from shipping food thousands of miles to reach our tables. Yet it is within our power to change this dynamic by embracing sustainable urban farming as a viable alternative.
Throughout the underclass communities of Amerika, especially in the wake of record foreclosures and the intentional gentrification of our communities, there are vacant lots, open plots and tracts of aimless dirt that we can reclaim and transform into urban gardens that will not only feed the communities healthy and nutritious food, but also provide a valuable and significant source of revenue for them.
Consider that less than 2 percent of the food consumed in metropolitan areas in the U.S. is grown there. Yet urban areas consume billions of dollars worth of food each year, including junk food, sodas, fast food, condiments and processed snacks that, unfortunately, are staples of many poor folks’ diets because the stuff is cheap and filling. But if our food was locally produced, it would not only be healthier and 50 percent cheaper than if you bought it at your supermarket, but also serve as a source of revenue for the community by selling the surplus to local chefs, restaurants and our own farmers markets, while relying on organic and other agricultural advances to increase both quality and yields.
Less than 2 percent of the food consumed in metropolitan areas in the U.S. is grown there. If our food was locally produced, it would not only be healthier and 50 percent cheaper than if you bought it at your supermarket, but also serve as a source of revenue for the community.
I’d like to illustrate what we propose more clearly using Cleveland, Ohio, as an example. According to Entrepreneur Magazine (October 2011), by increasing local urban farming by 5 percent in greater Cleveland it would translate into $750 million more in revenue for local purveyors. When was the last time a $750 million business was relocated to your community, let alone the hood, barrio or trailer park?
Cleveland based business development analyst Michael Shuman did a study on what would happen if northeast Ohio managed to provide 25 percent more of the food it consumed. This report revealed that such a move would create over 27,000 new jobs, increase annual regional output by $4.2 billion and grow tax revenue by more than $125 million.
If northeast Ohio managed to provide 25 percent more of the food it consumed, it would create over 27,000 new jobs, increase annual regional output by $4.2 billion and grow tax revenue by more than $125 million.
In 2007, Cleveland became the first city in the U.S. to zone for community gardens. It now subsidizes farms in the city’s core and the 6-acre farm plot that opened recently in the heart of the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, only a few blocks from the Riverview Towers projects, not only services surrounding restaurants, but our brothers and sisters from the Riverview projects can buy fresh produce just outside their building, closer than the Safeway, Kroger or fast food joint, and 50 percent cheaper than its regular price. Now imagine if that 6-acre farm was collectively owned and operated by the residents of the Riverview Towers projects. That’s exactly what we are proposing here.
|Orlando – Photo: Beverly Campbell
We call on our Occupy Movement brothers and sisters – both Occupy Wall Street and Occupy the Hood – to link with local underclass community organizers and pool their assets, expertise and labor to educate, organize and mobilize the community’s residents for the sustainable community agricultural commune (SCA commune).
Our first step will be in canvassing the community, distributing fliers to everyone, about our intention of building the SCA commune with that community, then going through the meticulous process of cataloging each square yard of land, no matter how large or small the plot – who owns it, and what it will take to get it zoned and secured for community use.
We call on our Occupy Movement brothers and sisters – both Occupy Wall Street and Occupy the Hood – to link with local underclass community organizers and pool their assets, expertise and labor to educate, organize and mobilize the community’s residents for the sustainable community agricultural commune (SCA commune).
Simultaneously, another survey of that community and the local businesses which use produce and poultry must be conducted to determine which fruits, vegetables, herbs and grains are most widely consumed, popular and commercially valued in that community and area.
Once done this must be compared to which crops among those will grow most effectively and profusely in that unique climate and environment.
In so doing we must also consider new agricultural innovations such as vertical urban gardening, poultry cultivation through modern chicken coops such as those offered by “chicken cribs” (go to Backyardchickens.com) and free range techniques. The diversity of industry and innovative insight based in the Occupy Movement will prove particularly valuable as we seek contacts and assistance from conscious industry proponents, such as Jac Smit of the Urban Agriculture Network, Michael Shuman, author of “Community Food Enterprise,” who is currently a consultant at Cutting Edge Capital in Oakland, California, or Dickson Despommier of the Vertical Farm Project and those amongst movement activists with the same expertise, insight or skill set.
Equally essential at this stage will be our brothers and sisters of Occupy the Hood in organizing movement activists, community organizers and residents into the divisions of labor necessary to initiate the commune. Following the collective ownership format, we go to the people soliciting contributions of $.50-$1 from community residents and movement activists over a 90-day to six-month period, while securing volunteers from across the community and local movement to work the farms on a rotating basis. If one cannot contribute money, they can contribute their labor or both if they like.
Detroit – Photo: Destiny Turnboe
Everyone who contributes something to that cycle will be given a commune membership card entitling them to 50 percent in produce and 50 percent in dividends. Therefore 50 percent of the seasonal yield will be set aside to feed the commune and 50 percent will be put on the market for sale. All produce sold to residents of that community will be discounted at our farmers’ markets, while chefs, restaurants and other businesses interested in our locally grown produce will receive it at the going rate.
Sixty percent of all profits (minus overhead) from the SCA commune fund will be divided amongst commune members equally as dividends, while 40 percent will continue to incur interest in the fund as the $.50-$1 that community residents and local activists continue to contribute to the fund to expand our farms and branch out into poultry production and other husbandry. This will provide quality, organic and free range meats for our commune and potential customers in the same percentages and allotments previously discussed.
We encourage the movement to reach out to conscious businesses like Greenaid, a L.A.-based guerilla gardening company that makes clay, compost and seed balls that can be tossed in derelict urban areas to make them green spaces, and Urbio, a San Francisco-based company that makes planters for vertical urban gardening, for donations to this effort of equipment and material. As the commune grows, the SCA fund can turn its attention to funding other sympathetic ventures, such as a mobile slaughterhouse and produce distribution trucks, all employing only people from the communes or that community’s local movement who are unemployed, broadening the scope of our farms and their positive impact on the underclass communities in which they are based.
Our urban farms will provide a safe place of peace and prosperity for our people, our children and our youth to fellowship as they build a brighter future for themselves, their communities and this world, all from the power of their hands, heads and hearts.
The SCA commune will serve to literally root the movement in the community while effecting positive change in the daily lives of the people. By providing these communities with healthy and nutritious food, creating a vital source of collective wealth, reclaiming and breathing life into what would be eyesores or an impetus for fascist tools of the ruling 1 percent – police, sheriffs etc. – to harass poor people in their own communities, we improve the quality of life for those of us most adversely affected by the current social order.
Our urban farms will provide a safe place of peace and prosperity for our people, out children and our youth to fellowship as they build a brighter future for themselves, their communities and this world, all from the power of their hands, heads and hearts. In addition we open an entirely new industry with limitless economic potential in the center of the underclass communities of Amerika, and it’s owned, operated and patronized by those who are its residents, the 99 percent. This program corresponds to No. 2 of the 10 core demands of the national Occupy Movement.
The Block-Vote Democratic Initiative
In our last communique we definitively established that the ruling 1 percent had successfully hijacked the political process in Amerika. If any of you have been watching the partisan insanity playing out in Congress, the tripe being spouted by mental midgets like Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump, the ultra-right wing pandering of Mitt Romney or the fence straddling timidity and status-quo maintenance of the Obama administration, you should have no doubt we speak the unvarnished truth.
We have also articulated the fact that the reason so few people vote in underclass communities is the socio-economic and race-based disparities that are responsible for the human misery in these communities are institutional and systemic to U.S. capitalist economics. No matter who they vote into office, their plight does not change. The problem is not the democratic process, which is as yet unfinished in Amerika. No, the flaw lies in the legalized corruption of politicians at the local, state and national level.
The reason so few people vote in underclass communities is that no matter who they vote into office, their plight does not change.
Similar to the conflict between federalists and republicans during the inception of the U.S. two-party system in the 1700s, once the people elect these pawns of the 1 percent, they feel the people should just sit down and shut up, while their ears turn only to the voices of lobbyists, special interests, and those who can improve their political careers and coffers. But it need not be this way if the incalculable power of the democratic will of the underclass can be awakened.
Before the sleeping giant of underclass democratic power – the poor man and woman’s vote – can be strategically harnessed, there must be some assurance that their interests will be realized. This effort will provide that interest for all the 99 percent.
What we propose in the Block-Vote Democratic Initiative (BVD Initiative) is to do just that by bypassing these corrupt politicians altogether by putting the policies we, the 99 percent, support on the ballots of local, state and national elections via petition with a simultaneous voter registration “block” comprised of Occupy Movement activists and entire underclass communities, so the shear number of affirmative votes passes the policy measures outright.
What we propose is to have Occupy Movement activists – both Occupy the Hood and Occupy Wall Street – prepare informative pamphlets specifically targeted to their local underclass communities and districts containing our 10 core demands and issues of particular interest to that community which the vast majority of the people support. Once we’ve assessed the will of the people, ballot measures and signature petitions should be prepared based directly on those policies most widely supported, with voter registrations drives to register everyone in the community and movement who supports the policy. Each local policy initiative or position on a bill should be organized as a block capable of passing – or defeating – the initiative outright.
On the state level, greater coordination between underclass communities will have to be organized through Occupy Movement activists, and again if possible our “block” should be so overwhelming as to pass the initiative outright. On the national level that will prove even more difficult as the concurrence on the specific policy will lose resonance in direct proportion to the site of the population we seek to serve.
Nevertheless, we should still seek to pass these measures outright. To facilitate this, each measure’s vote should be preceded by at least two weeks of demonstrations corresponding in size to the measure’s social impact – i.e., local measures warrant local demonstrations, state measures should warrant a statewide wave of demonstrations, and national measures should see demonstrations from coast to coast. This will raise awareness and galvanize support in other segments of the social strata ensuring the measures pass.
There are three possible measures reflective of our 10 core demands we are fairly certain would find overwhelming support in underclass communities across Amerika:
1) A total ban on all corporate and financial influences, including lobbyists and “strategic analysts,” from any aspect of the electoral process. Only individuals should be able to influence the polls with their votes and campaign contributions – see No. 7 of the 10 core demands of the national Occupy Movement.
Only individuals should be able to influence the polls with their votes and campaign contributions.
2) Establishment of community based parole boards, with a panel from the community where the offender actually lived and would return, determining when an indeterminate term – such as 25 to life, three strikes etc. – has been sufficiently satisfied and he or she is ready to return home. This contrasts with the current panel of DAs, police and other law enforcement officials that make up parole boards today. Most prisoners hail from underclass communities and it is these communities who should decide when they are sufficiently rehabilitated to return. This corresponds to No. 6 of the 10 core demands of the national Occupy Movement.
Most prisoners hail from underclass communities and it is these communities who should decide when they are sufficiently rehabilitated to return.
3) Establish universal health care for the poor. All individuals making under $25,000 a year and families making under $50,000 a year should be provided access to a comprehensive universal health care system. This corresponds to No. 2 of the 10 core demands of the national Occupy Movement.
Establish universal health care for the poor.
Such measures would pass overwhelmingly in the underclass communities of Amerika, serve to empower those most disenfranchised segments of society, and improve the quality of life for over 100 million people in the U.S., all because we, the 99 percent, via the BVD Initiative, removed corrupt politicians from the policy creation and implementation process. Any force opposing this undiluted expression of the will of the people would be by definition undemocratic.
It is our sincerest hope that you all see the merits of what we propose here and act in accordance with it. In any conflict resolution scenario, the first step that should be made is a strategic analysis of yourself and those forces aligned against you to ascertain your relative strengths and weaknesses. The wise know such assessments, especially in socio-political conflicts, must be constantly studied and reassessed because they are in a state of constant change.
If this is done correctly, we can calculate the prospects of victory or defeat. Conflict resolution and warfare are based on identical principles. Sun-Tzu, in his sage masterwork, “The Art of War,” stated, “If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the outcome of 100 battles.”
If we analyze the actions and reactions of the tools of the ruling 1 percent, it’s clear they are pursuing a course of encirclement, isolation and marginalization against the national movement, hoping that their control of the mass media and a lack of broad-based organization in the movement will allow them the opportunity to erode support for it over time, isolate it from positive public opinion and ultimately destroy it. It is a posture and strategic approach that has worked for them in the past. This is possible only if we allow it.
The ruling 1 percent are pursuing a course of encirclement, isolation and marginalization against the national movement, hoping that their control of the mass media and a lack of broad-based organization in the movement will allow them the opportunity to erode support for it over time, isolate it from positive public opinion and ultimately destroy it.
The most prudent way to counter such an attempt is to place the movement in a position of invincibility, while simultaneously redefining the nature of the conflict itself. The movement is strong – we’ve shown that on every front, be it on the streets or behind these walls – yet it’s largely unanchored to the material interests of those we represent. A seed in the ground is easily uprooted, a tree with deep roots, however, is a monumental task to remove.
Zhuge Liang, a famous general from ancient China’s “warring states era” (180-234 A.D.), in the chapter, “Discerning Bases,” in his essay, “The Way of the General,” said: “If you attack evils based on social trends, no one can rival you in dignity. If you settle victory based on the power of the people, no one can rival you in achievement. If you can accurately discern those bases of action and add dignity and faith to them, you can take on the most formidable opponent and prevail over the most valiant adversary.” Truly basing the movement in the people ensures no force on earth can prevail against it. It truly becomes invincible.
Conclusion: You can transform the world
For all of you reading these words, we want you to really understand what you are involved in and what’s at stake. You are on the cusp of making history, of quite literally changing the world. Right now you have it within your hands to transform the nature and structure of the most powerful nation on earth, and thus transform the world.
[photo: akland – Photo: David Bacon]
You represent the ongoing struggle for democratic change in the U.S. A historical legacy reaching back hundreds of years is now in your hands. The means for victory are at our collective fingertips; you need only reach out and seize this opportunity. Will it be easy? Of course not. Nothing of value comes without cost or sacrifice. Power concedes nothing without demand.
But what must be understood is that we, the people, the 99 percent, are the most powerful force in this world and our cause is just. Proceeding from this truth with strategic intent we cannot lose. We are on the right side of history. Our ideas are moral; our cause is just.
We, the people, the 99 percent, are the most powerful force in this world and our cause is just.
But understand we cannot assume this is self-evident, nor that it will be enough to win. We must promote and demonstrate the correctness of our view through social practice. Understand we will not win this conflict without public and political support, but people who may agree with us will still not join the movement unless it’s clear our cause is righteous and just.
Yes, the corporate-political power structure is authoritarian, hypocritical and avaricious. Greed and corruption define the very fabric of U.S. institutions and power considerations. You are expressing the frustration and hostility the people already feel. But still this is not enough. There must be a qualitative transformation in that moral outrage.
[photo: Oakland – Photo: Ray Chavez, Contra Costa Times]
If we view morality from a historical perspective, it has evolved over time into a system of ethics societies use to create values that serve the public good. If these values cease to fit the vast majority of the people’s interests, the morality of society slowly shifts, evolving new values. The morality of corporate capitalism, where “Gordon Gekko” clones live, the ethos “Greed is good” does not fit the vast majority of the people’s interests; it never has. Yet now, that moral self-realization is inescapable.
Articulating this is not enough, and leaves us – even occupying the moral high ground that we do – vulnerable. But demonstrating the righteousness of our cause and moral integrity of our ideas, while simultaneously imbedding the movement within the population most adversely affected by the entrenched interests of this greedy and corrupt elite, our ideas become an interest, our movement becomes a social revolution and any hope of opposition to the successful realization of our 10 core demands becomes academic.
The highest form of strategy is to win without fighting. When time is not an option, we must rely on an approach just as good: to win first and fight second. This is what we are proposing here. If you succeed in waking the sleeping giant of socio-political and economic potential lying dormant in the underclass communities of Amerika in pursuit of this equalitarian democratic imperative, we will have already won. Should the 1 percent, or their tools, be fool enough to oppose the inevitable conclusion of such a social revolution, they will reap a fool’s reward.
If you succeed in waking the sleeping giant of socio-political and economic potential lying dormant in the underclass communities of Amerika in pursuit of this equalitarian democratic imperative, we will have already won.
U.S. Army Col. John Boyd, in his analysis of how to suppress guerrilla insurgencies or popular revolutions, stated the only effective countermeasure to our strategic approach: “Undermine the … cause and destroy their cohesion by demonstrating integrity and competence of government to represent and serve the needs of the people rather than exploit and impoverish them for the benefit of a greedy elite. (If you cannot realize such a political program, Boyd noted, you might consider changing sides now to avoid the rush later.) Take political initiative to root out and visibly punish corruption. Select new leaders with recognized competence as well as popular appeal. Ensure that they deliver justice, eliminate major grievances and connect the government with its grass roots.”
In essence, to defeat us they would have to capitulate to our 10 core demands without struggle. Well, brothers and sisters, with the unholy alliance of corporate interests and political patronage that defines the modern political and economic power structure in the U.S., we need not fear such countermeasures anytime soon.
It is our sincerest hope that you all find some value in our counsel and take up these ideas as your own. Our love, loyalty and solidarity to all those who love freedom, justice and equality and fear only failure. Until we win or don’t lose.
|J. Heshima Denham
For more information on the NCTT Corcoran SHU or details on these programs, contact:
• Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B1L-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
• J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B1L-46, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
• Kambui Robinson, C-82830, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B1L-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212.
Read these brothers’ previous stories: “Feeling death at our heels: An update from the frontlines of the struggle,” “California prison hunger strikers propose ‘10 core demands’ for the national Occupy Wall Street Movement,” “A brief hunger strike update from the front lines of the struggle: Corcoran-SHU 4B 1L C-section Isolation Unit” (second story in that post), “From the front lines of the struggle,” and “We dare to win: The reality and impact of SHU torture units.”
This story was typed by Adrian McKinney.