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Mike Feinstein reports from Global Greens conference in Dakar, Senegal

US Green Party’s Occupy Statement passes Global Greens Congress with amendments

(From Mike Feinstein, sent April 1)

Reporting from the Global Greens Congress:

Dear NC [Green National Committee]

The GPUS-sponsored statement on the Occupy Movement passed about one half hour ago, with a few amendments that deleted some of our text, a few grammatical, one that we agreed to for extraneous text and three substantial ones that we disagreed with. Two of them passed and one was defeated. The vote totals and the text of each is below.

In general, the text that was deleted had to do with the idea that politics can be ‘occupied’ and the people who voted to delete that text were from the more establishment parties, predominantly the Europeans. I found this quite disappointing, but not surprising. I also felt like the people who voted to delete had not participated directly in the Occupy movement where they live.

In terms of process, I was also disappointed that we only learned that there would be proposed amendments to our text late on Saturday afternoon and when we opened the file that was supposed to contain the amendment, and it only said ‘delete’, but did not contain the reasons why, and no one approached us with the reasons until it hit the floor on Sunday morning, and then there was only the opportunity to have two people speak in favor and two against.

On the amendment that we won (i.e. that we defeated), Chung-Ming Wang (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASIWtQcOuEA) from the Taiwanese Greens spoke in our favor, saying his party had originally submitted their own resolution and then withdrew it in favor our the GPUS one.

Mike Feinstein
NC Delegate, GPUS
Observer, Global Greens Congress (sitting with our Alternate Delegate Bob Marsh and fellow observer Jack Ailey).

APPROVED TEXT:

Global Greens Statement on the Occupy Movement

The Global Greens applaud grassroots movements for self-determination and justice. We view with hope and admiration, recent such movements that are sprouting up around the world, from the Arab Spring to the Spanish Indignants to the Occupy Movement worldwide.

Power structures that are unjust and out-dated are being rejected in every nation, and people arising in one part of our world are giving hope to people in others.

But to bring about truly transformative change, social movements need to affect both attitudes and public policy, and to affect public policy, one has to affect politics. This is a long and worthy process, but one that doesn’t come without risks.

The Occupy Movement is by nature and design an apartisan movement, that is rightfully distrustful of politics as usual. The role of money and corruption in politics is deep and pervasive around the planet, and too often traditional, establishment political parties simply try to ignore or co-opt social movements, rather than empower them.

Like the Occupy Movement, the Green Party has a deep commitment to internal democracy. We believe everyone’s voice must be heard, and that there is a wisdom inherent in our diversity that makes us stronger when we listen to it. Like the Occupy Movement, Greens also believe we have to practice what we preach in our own lives and organizations, in order to create the world we want to live in — in other words, to ‘be the change’ we want to see, including practicing a deep and unshakeable commitment to non-violence.

In the case of the Green Party, in country after county for the last forty years, social movement activists who were not initially interested in electoral politics, but who found that the establishment political parties were unresponsive to their concerns about peace, justice, democracy and the environment, eventually concluded that they needed to start their own, new Green political parties, rather than accept the limitations imposed upon them by the establishment parties. This step was often unanticipated by those who eventually came to this conclusion. But in retrospect, this was a natural evolution from pure activism, to seeking an electoral complement to that pure activism.

Without strong social movements pushing upon politicians, politicians are unlikely to make the changes we need, and we must not sacrifice activism to only do electoral politics. But at the same time, without an electoral complement to social movements, transformative change can often be very difficult to sustain.

Of course, no one political party has a monopoly on good ideas, and we don’t suggest that the Occupy Movement should tie itself to any particular party or parties. But we do believe that it is absolutely critical that strategies to increase democracy and representation should be high on the list of the strategies of the Occupy Movement, because with a greater voice for the people, the other demands of the movement are more likely to occur, and to occur more quickly.

Ultimately greater self-governance, where all people have a say in the decisions that affect them, from the local to the global, is our best hope for humanity — and by extension, for other life on this planet, as the growing and kindred Rights of Nature movement is demonstrating.

With this in mind, the Global Green Party movement stands with people all over our planet who seek that greater voice. Because as we know from our planet’s ecology, all of our fates are inseparable and intertwined.

REMOVED TEXT 59-49-20 (we lost)

The Green Party believes this view is a healthy and necessary skepticism. But we also believe that people and parties can ‘occupy’ politics if they put their mind to it. Although it hasn’t been called that, the Green Party has been trying to ‘occupy’ electoral politics since 1972, when the first Green Parties began in Tasmania and New Zealand. Today, with Green Parties in 100 countries on five continents, and with thousands of Greens elected in local governments plus more than 250 to national parliaments worldwide, the global Green Party movement is a successful example that a political party can do politics differently and still be effective. How?

PRESERVED TEXT 47-70-11 (we won)

In the case of the Green Party, in country after county for the last forty years, social movement activists who were not initially interested in electoral politics, but who found that the establishment political parties were unresponsive to their concerns about peace, justice, democracy and the environment, eventually concluded that they needed to start their own, new Green political parties, rather than accept the limitations imposed upon them by the establishment parties. This step was often unanticipated by those who eventually came to this conclusion. In retrospect, this was a natural evolution from pure activism, to seeking an electoral complement to that pure activism.

REMOVED TEXT 66-39-17 (we lost)

For this reason, Greens want to share the benefits of our 40 years of experience with the Occupy Movement, and all those seeking greater self-determination around the world, that politics can be occupied, and that voters will respond to a kind of politics that sees the means and the ends as inseparable, despite the many obstacles to democracy placed in the way by the status quo parties and interests.

FINAL VOTE

There was no vote count as this one was not close. There were a handful of abstentions, and among them, our GPUS alternate delegate Bob Marsh cast one abstention and two ‘yes’ votes, to make the point that we thought that the statement was weakened in a negative way.

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