A Green State of Mind is presented by the Green Party of New York State to inform debate and spark discussion. The views and opinions expressed are strictly those of the authors


Not only does the Occupy movement have a rich past and dynamic present, but regardless of being now ignored by the media, it has a potential future. (Based on a presentation given to the Peace And Justice Group of Bath, New York in October of 2012.) The Occupy movement is more than one year old, and much has happened in the world. Inspired by these years of worldwide revolution, people have decided to come together to offer a new dialogue and a new vision for the country and the world. Not only is there the resistance to income inequality, corporate power, and austerity but the creation of new political and economic forms that offer a brighter promise of the future. This is despite the increased repression of peaceful demonstrations by the police, who in this context are clearly agents of the state rather than protectors of the public. The depiction of this police brutality through the lens of a reluctant and corporate controlled media has made a demarcation between the haves and the have nots much more clear and specific. The world is now fully aware of the conflict between the 99% and the 1% which has been a product of the policies of the past 30 years. The 99% were those who have been most affected by the economic crisis, while the 1% were those who have survived the crisis unscathed due to their inordinate wealth and power. As time passes, and to further cement this awareness, there needs to be a history of the movement to understand where it can go next. This history not only details what happened, but also how and why it happened. The people of the world can never go back to what was before, and so a new topology must be mapped out so that the past mistakes and crimes can never be repeated. The potential for change is strong if the understanding of the movement is strong. Continue reading


On Immanence: 1. Immanence is internal causality, in that any action or phenomenon in a structure occurs within that structure and each part has the potential to affect any other part. All things in reality can be defined as structures in that each thing can be made up of parts that are in relationships with each other. 2. This internal causality means that the structure in question has autonomy. Autonomy can be defined as “self law” or self-determination, and is a form of freedom that is independent of external forces. 3. Autonomy results in the formation of many cases of direct democracy and an abundance of the commons. Democracy is the method where individuals in groups are able to practice autonomy, while the commons is the resources that allow individuals and groups to make free choices and free actions because of their equality of access to those necessary resources. 4. The many cases of democracy and the abundance of the commons are used as an apparent tool by participants. Participants make use of democracy and the commons in a very self-aware way to further autonomy in the understanding that these tools are their own creation and are meant for this purpose. 5. The apparent tools of democracy and the commons are an expression of desire. Humans can either passively consume external things to fill the lack they have within themselves to fulfill their drive, or they can actively produce things in the world to fulfill their desire. Continue reading


There are basic premises that direct democracy is built upon in order to be the most effective way to organize society and collective action. In the multiple debates and discussions about democracy, specifically direct democracy, there has been attempts to define it. Or at the very least, to distill what is its most basic principles and the traits that exist in all forms of democracy. The major obstacle to this analysis, and the discovery of the axioms of democracy, is that the American tradition has been more about representative democracy than direct democracy. The emphasis on representative democracy is based on the inherent belief at the time that direct control by the people was dangerous and that direct democracy was nothing more than mob rule. This was used as an excuse for the landed and propertied class of the American colonies to recuperate the freedom gained by the American Revolution and redefine it through the lens of limited government and natural rights. The theory of natural rights proposes that there are certain rights that are outside of the decisions of any government, or any changes that could be made by a democratic body. Thus, they are inalienable rights. However, it can be argued that the purpose of natural rights do not necessarily need the institution of a representative government that in the end perpetuates the power of the status quo and the elite that profit from it. On the contrary, representation can be an abstraction and alienation of the popular will, and is an almost impossible way to reflect what free people truly want in a collective sense. The result is that representative democracy reproduces the state and limits the possibility of democracy. In other words, there are axioms of democracy that exist outside of the decision making process of the particular democracy in question. These axioms, as first rules that are self evident and do not need to be explained, insures that the fear of mob rule does not actually happen in direct democracy. They are the foundation for how democracy has worked throughout history as the best way for a group of people to self-organize themselves. Enumerating these axioms will help to insure that the direct democratic tradition is able to refute the charges of mob rule that is so easily used against it in order to defend an existing hierarchy and power structure. The axioms of democracy are the founding rules that allow democracy to happen. Continue reading


There is not only the need for an alternative to the Federal Reserve, there is the strong potential for an alternative. The year 2013 will mark the one hundred year anniversary of the formation of the Federal Reserve. For about the same amount of time, this institution has garnered controversy from how it was planned out to how it operates on a daily basis. The major characteristics of the Federal Reserve is that it is a private banking system, it releases the national currency into circulation through loans, and it lends money directly to the government through bonds. Its internal method of banking is fractional reserve banking, where a percentage of reserves held by each bank in the Fed hierarchy is the amount that is generated out of thin air for loans to the lower banks or to individuals at the bottom, and when those loans are paid back to the private banks it increases the reserve and therefore the amount of fiat currency that can be generated. Fiat currency by definition is not taken from the physical supply of the reserve that is held but is loaned out separately, in this day and age electronically as a transfer of numbers from one account to another. The percentage of the reserve determines the amount but not its source. All four aspects of the Federal Reserve such as its private status, its fractional reserve banking, its putting money into circulation through loans, and its lending to the government are all subject to criticism. The least controversial aspect of the Federal Reserve is its ability to set interest rates, which is a minor component compared to its major actions and duties. All that can be criticized can be replaced with other methods in order to have a far more just and stable banking system, one that is responsible to all citizens rather than a banking elite in partnership with a political elite. Continue reading


A voter appeal for this election season. We are in a time of great historical change. Many things are happening in a very short amount of time, and we are all witness to it. From the Arab Spring that toppled dictatorships in the Middle East to the protests against austerity in Europe, a new awakening is occurring to oppose the status quo that has failed everyone for the past thirty years. But in the United States we find that there has been in the last four years a surplus of hope but a lack of change. There were many promises inherent in the election of Barack Obama, but there was also the full realization by those who were observant that his 2008 campaign platform was not as progressive as was imagined by those who ardently supported him. In other words, his supporters were more committed to change than the candidate himself. From that point on, it was clear that he was funded by Wall Street to the same degree as his Republican opponent, and we began to see this influence in the enactment of his presidency and who he surrounded himself with in his administration. The bailouts saved the banks that had ruined the economy with not one person held accountable for this crime. The healthcare bill advocated by the administration, and passed by Congress, had an insurance mandate that is nothing but a corporate subsidy for the insurance companies that will do nothing to improve access to health services for everyone. Instead of being a peace president, and in direct contradiction to his Nobel Peace Prize, Obama has intensified the wars started by George W. Bush with drone attacks that have killed more innocent civilians and assassinated American citizens without a trial. Though he has promised to close Guantanamo, pull back on federal raids on statewide legal medial marijuana dispensaries, and recently spoke out in favor of same sex marriage, the president has been slow on these issues or only given lip service to them. Meanwhile, the government continues to imprison people without trial, raid legal medical marijuana dispensaries, and delayed acting when states have enacted laws limiting gay rights. The signing into law by the president of the NDAA, which will allow indefinite detention of citizens on American soil, is the most recent concrete example of the disappointment this administration has been. Overall, it has been a series of appearance rather than substance in terms of policies for change. Continue reading


Presentation written for the Upstate Occupy Conference in Syracuse on June 16th and 17th of 2012. One specific phenomenon that has come from anarchism and is manifested in the Occupy movement is that of resistance and creation. Resistance and creation are two actions that form a two-step process in which the first step, resistance of what exists, requires the second step, creation of what can be, in order to make use of the space of freedom that would result from the initial resistance. To be able to see resistance and creation in particular within each occupation site, it becomes necessary as a starting point to refer to the analysis found in the article “On Immanence and Occupations” written by Ian Alan Paul. The author makes use of the poststructuralist philosophy of the French thinker Gilles Deleuze in order to properly frame what is actually going on in the movement. At each occupation site, one will see resistance and creation through the deterritorialization and reterritorialization of public space and authority. Deterritorialization is a formal term meaning structures that are taken apart, while reterritorialization means structures reforming in a different way. Resistance inherently takes apart existing structures of power, while creation will reassemble new structures that better serve and empower the people. Each site, whether in New York City or Oakland or Syracuse, takes apart the defined meaning of the public space and who controls it and reformulates a new sense of space and new ownership through the use and power of the people. The result is the direct action of physically occupying the site as well as the direct democracy to form a new type of community in the site, all made possible by the strategy of resistance and creation. In this context, resistance and creation is therefore a production of desire or what can be seen as the expression of the will of the people motivated by their individual desires. This expression is through collective action, recognizing that there is a better chance for people to express their desire through cooperation than as isolated and alienated individuals. The process of desire expressed through collective action that one can see in the transition from resistance to creation is a disruption of representation. By representation, one can mean not only the attempts by the media to impose a representative identity on the movement but also the formal structure of representative democracy itself. By escaping the limits of these two types of representation, the collective action within resistance and creation exists between the one and the many, neither a monolithic group identity where all difference is snubbed out nor isolated individuals that are unable to work together to achieve common goals. Continue reading


The following is a presentation given at Corning Community College for their 2012 Earth Day event. In order to address environmental problems, and the human impact on the environment, structural sustainability is a far better method than green consumerism. Sustainability, and the living of a sustainable life, is a necessity in order to insure that the carrying capacity of the environment is not exceeded. The various ways to be sustainable can either be through green consumerism or a more structural type of sustainability that involves collective action. The first step to understand the benefits of structural sustainability is to distinguish it from the more popular practice of green consumerism. Green consumerism is the individual consumption of products, usually technology, that may allow one to be environmentally responsible. However, as an individual buying a product, this is inherently isolated from a larger sustainable project. Consumers have the illusion that they are doing something for the environment, but in reality their act of consumption prevents them from addressing the larger picture or doing anything on a large scale. Therefore, green consumerism supports green washing, corporations giving the appearance of being supportive of the environment when in fact they are practicing business as usual. For corporations, green washing is nothing but public relations, and consumers believe this image by buying products in the hope of protecting the environment. But the internal actions and drive for growth of a corporation will always limit and be a perpetual obstacle to real sustainability. Authentic sustainability will never be allowed through the green consumerism of the image put forth by green washing because it will always go beyond the goal of profit. At most, green consumerism addresses the symptoms rather than the cause of environmental damage, leaving the cause untouched. Buying hybrid cars or energy efficient lightbulbs will not protect ecosystems that human societies rely on, especially not in the long-term. Overall, the negative aspects of green consumerism is made worse by the fact that since it is through individual consumption, green consumerism is not even able to be practiced by most people due to economic conditions. If someone where able to afford buying the latest sustainable technology, they alone could be self-sufficient and truly sustainable, but their neighbors who earn less would never even have that capacity which further isolates the actions of the individual that can engage in green consumerism. Green consumerism implies the inequality of access to the proper tools of sustainability because of income. Green consumerism is thus a dead end in the realm of sustainability and a hobby that only the rich can afford. Continue reading


The Occupy movement is an example of a case where demanding the impossible instigates real incremental change to be possible. When the Occupy movement emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, many in the media refused to acknowledge that it had a coherent set of demands or solutions. Over time, the reporting of the movement diverged widely from the reality of the various occupations across the country. Each encampment, itself an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, conducted a General Assembly where direct consensus-based democracy occurred. It was through this process that demands were articulated and solutions proposed. But since direct democracy is a very rare phenomenon at this time in the United States, the media and various pundits refused to recognize it as a valid method for organization and expression, let alone as a way to put forth demands and solutions. Corporate power, and the limiting of real democracy through a representative form of government, has made direct democracy seem to appear as a foreign element in the American tradition. However, as historians such as Howard Zinn have shown when discussing the various social movements of this nation, direct democracy has been one of the main methods for self-organization. And as David Graeber has demonstrated, direct democracy even preceded ancient Greece in one form or another in various tribal societies. In other words, there is a long history of this type of political organization but it has been excluded from the narrative of the West for so long, or pacified by being converted into the republicanism of the state, that it does not have the chance to speak in the language that many are used to. Current forms of power have made that impossible. Therefore, the demands made by the Occupy movement would at first seem impossible, or so out of step with the status quo that it could be targeted as being idealistic, utopian, or naïve. Divorced from the master narrative of the republican form of government and capitalist economy, the ideas of ending corporate personhood and ending corporate funding of electoral campaigns on their own seem both practical and concise. It is when it is outside of the structure of meaning and its corresponding structure of power that it can be defined as impossible. But the sudden rise of this movement is an example of how new ideas can be injected into the existing system so that the system itself transforms and realigns what it considered possible and impossible. In order for the possible to even begin, there must be a demand for the impossible. Continue reading


Economic democracy can be very useful as a starting point and toolbox for the world that the Occupy movement is fighting for. 1. The Occupy movement is unique in that it uses an internal democratic process through the General Assemblies alongside the nonviolent civil disobedience of the occupation sites themselves. This internal democracy is the method used to discover grievances, demands, and solutions which is very vital to the identity of the movement and its subsequent actions. It is a bottom-up process that is shaped by its participants. The internal democracy is also an example of prefiguration which means, in the words of the I.W.W., “creating the new world in the shell of the old”. Prefiguration is distinct from either revolution or reform and that is why it can be difficult for the status quo to pin down and stereotype this movement. Economic democracy can be a potential solution that can be developed through the General Assemblies, and can be quite helpful as a starting point in the overall discussion as to how to deal with the inherent problems of the existing economic order. But economic democracy is also prefiguration in that the participants shape and control the enterprises they are within. It can be very easy for the General Assemblies to transition to democratic forms in an alternative economy since the process is similar and follows parallel principles of organization. Continue reading


As the Occupy movement exists so does the Green Party, sharing an affinity of peace, ecology, justice, and democracy. For two months, there has been a new expression of the will of the people. Occupy Wall Street, along with hundreds of other occupations across this nation, is vital to the future for two reasons. First, it is important as the articulation of the immense dissatisfaction of those who still find themselves unable to survive in this failing economy. A gigantic income inequality, the inordinate power that corporations have over our democratic process, and the calls for austerity that push more people into poverty with less economic rights all demonstrate that the status quo is untenable. Second, through the direct democracy of the General Assemblies that are practiced at each occupation, we find that new alternative political and economic forms are viable and possible. This new democracy from the streets is how the grievances, demands, and solutions of the protesters are formulated rather than prefabricated by corporate backers such as the Koch brothers. What is being seen is the actualization of ideas from Buckminster Fuller and Mario Savio. Fuller proposed that the best way to convince someone would be to create a working model that makes the old system obsolete. Savio stated that when the machine becomes so odious it becomes necessary to put bodies upon the gears to make it stop. This prefiguration and nonviolent civil disobedience makes this a special moment in American history. The movement is made up of hard working people who played by the rules but the economy failed them. Truly, the U.S. is at a pivot point of change in its history. Continue reading