From #Ur-Occupied Boston (#Ur-Tomemonos Boston)-General Assembly-The Embryo Of An Alternate Government-Learn The Lessons Of History-Lessons From The Utopian Socialists- Charles Fourier and The Phalanx Movement-Works of Frederick Engels-A Fragment of Fourier’s On Trade
Click on the headline to link to the archives of the Occupy Boston General Assembly minutes from the Occupy Boston website. Occupy Boston started at 6:00 PM, September 30, 2011. The General Assembly is the core political institution of the Occupy movement. Some of the minutes will reflect the growing pains of that movement and its concepts of political organization. Note that I used the word embryo in the headline and I believe that gives a fair estimate of its status, and its possibilities.
An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!-Defend All The Occupation Sites And All The Occupiers! Drop All Charges Against All Protesters Everywhere!
Fight-Don’t Starve-We Created The Wealth, Let's Take It, It’s Ours! Labor And The Oppressed Must Rule!
Below I am posting, occasionally, comments on the Occupy movement as I see or hear things of interest, or that cause alarm bells to ring in my head. The first comment directly below from October 1, which represented my first impressions of Occupy Boston, is the lead for all further postings.
Markin comment October 1, 2011:
There is a lot of naiveté expressed about the nature of capitalism, capitalists, and the way to win in the class struggle by various participants in this occupation. Many also have attempted to make a virtue out of that naiveté, particularly around the issues of effective democratic organization (the General Assembly, its unrepresentative nature and its undemocratic consensus process) and relationships with the police (they are not our friends, no way, when the deal goes down). However, their spirit is refreshing, they are acting out of good subjective anti-capitalist motives and, most importantly, even those of us who call ourselves "reds" (communists), including this writer, started out from liberal premises as naive, if not more so, than those encountered at the occupation site. We can all learn something but in the meantime we must defend the "occupation" and the occupiers. More later as the occupation continues.
In the recent past as part of my one of my commentaries I noted the following:
“… The idea of the General Assembly with each individual attendee acting as a “tribune of the people” is interesting and important. And, of course, it represents, for today anyway, the embryo of what the ‘new world’ we need to create might look like at the governmental level.”
A couple of the people that I have talked to lately were not quite sure what to make of that idea. The idea that what is going on in Occupy Boston at the governmental level could, should, would be a possible form of governing this society in the “new world a-borning” with the rise of the Occupy movement. Part of the problem is that there was some confusion on the part of the listeners that one of the possible aims of this movement is to create an alternative government, or at least provide a model for such a government. I will argue here now, and in the future, that it should be one of the goals. In short, we need to take power away from the Democrats and Republicans and their tired old congressional/executive/judicial doesn’t work- checks and balances-form of governing and place it at the grassroots level and work upward from there rather than, as now, have power devolve from the top. (And stop well short of the bottom.)
I will leave aside the question (the problem really) of what it would take to create such a possibility. Of course a revolutionary solution would, of necessity, have be on the table since there is no way that the current powerful interests, Democratic, Republican or those of the "one percent" having no named politics, is going to give up power without a fight. What I want to pose now is the use of the General Assembly as a deliberative executive, legislative, and judicial body all rolled into one.
Previous historical models readily come to mind; the short-lived but heroic Paris Commune of 1871 that Karl Marx tirelessly defended against the reactionaries of Europe as the prototype of a workers government; the early heroic days of the Russian October Revolution of 1917 when the workers councils (soviets in Russian parlance) acted as a true workers' government; and the period in the Spanish Revolution of 1936-39 where the Central Committee of the Anti-Fascist Militias acted, de facto, as a workers government. All the just mentioned examples had their problems and flaws, no question. However, merely mentioning the General Assembly concept in the same paragraph as these great historic examples should signal that thoughtful leftists and other militants need to investigate and study these examples.
In order to facilitate the investigation and study of those examples I will, occasionally, post works in this space that deal with these forbears from several leftist perspectives (rightist perspectives were clear- crush all the above examples ruthlessly, and with no mercy- so we need not look at them now). I started this Lessons Of History series with Karl Marx’s classic defense and critique of the Paris Commune, The Civil War In France and today’s presentation noted in the headline continues on in that same vein.
A Five-Point Program As Talking Points
*Jobs For All Now!-“30 For 40”- A historic demand of the labor movement. Thirty hours work for forty hours pay to spread the available work around. Organize the unorganized- Organize the South- Organize Wal-Mart- Defend the right of public and private sector workers to unionize.
* Defend the working classes! No union dues for Democratic (or the stray Republican) candidates. Spent the dues on organizing the unorganized and other labor-specific causes (example, the November, 2011 anti-union recall referendum in Ohio).
*End the endless wars!- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops (And Mercenaries) From Afghanistan! Hands Off Pakistan! Hands Off Iran! Hands Off The World!
*Fight for a social agenda for working people!. Quality Healthcare For All! Nationalize the colleges and universities under student-teacher-campus worker control! Forgive student debt! Stop housing foreclosures!
*We created the wealth, let’s take it back. Take the struggle for our daily bread off the historic agenda. Build a workers party that fights for a workers government to unite all the oppressed.
Emblazon on our red banner-Labor and the oppressed must rule!
Works of Frederick Engels-A Fragment of Fourier’s On Trade 
Source: MECW Volume 4, p. 613;
Written: in the latter half of 1845;
First published: in Deutsches Bürgerbuch für 1846;
Signed: F. Engels
The Germans are gradually beginning to spoil the communist movement too. Here also being as always the last and most inactive, they believe they can conceal their somnolence by contempt for their predecessors and empty philosophical boasting. Communism has hardly come into existence in Germany before it is being seized on by a whole host of speculative minds who imagine they have performed miracles by translating into the language of Hegelian logic propositions that long ago became commonplaces in France and England and now offering this new wisdom to the world as something unprecedented, as “true German theory”, in order to be able to throw mud to their heart’s content at the “bad practice” and “ridiculous” social systems of the narrow-minded French and English. This always ready German theory, which has had the boundless good fortune to get a whiff of Hegel’s philosophy of history and to become embodied in the scheme of the eternal categories by some dried-up Berlin professor, and which then perhaps leafed through Feuerbach, a few German communist writings and Herr Stein’s book [Lorenz von Stein, Der Socalismus und Communismus des heutigen Frankieichs. Ein Beitrag zur Zeitgeschichte]on French socialism, this German theory of the very worst sort has already, without the slightest difficulty, reconstrued French socialism and communism according to Herr Stein, has allotted it a subordinate position, has “overcome” it, and “elevated” it to the “higher stage of development” of the always ready “German theory”. It has never occurred to it, of course, to acquaint itself to any extent with the things to be elevated themselves, to take a look at Fourier, Saint-Simon, Owen and the French Communists — Herr Stein’s meagre extracts are quite sufficient to bring about this brilliant victory of German theory over the wretched efforts of foreigners.
In contrast to this comical arrogance of German theory, which is incapable of dying, it is absolutely necessary to show the Germans what a lot they owe to foreigners since they became concerned with social questions. Among all the pompous phrases now loudly proclaimed in German literature as the basic principles of true, pure, German, theoretical communism and socialism, there has so far not been a single idea which has grown on German soil. What the French or the English said as long as ten, twenty and even forty years ago — and said very well, very clearly, in very fine language — the Germans have now at last during the past year become acquainted with in bits and have Hegelianised, or at best belatedly rediscovered it and published it in a much worse, more abstract form as a completely new discovery. I make no exception here of my own writings. What is peculiar to the Germans is only the bad, abstract, unintelligible and clumsy form in which they have expressed these ideas. And as befits genuine theoreticians, from what the French have produced — they still know almost nothing at all of the English — they have so far found worthy of their attention, apart from the most general principles, only what is worst and most theoretical: the schematic plans of future society, the social systems. The best aspect, the criticism of existing society, the real basis, the main task of any investigation of social questions, they have calmly pushed aside. Not to mention the fact that these wise theoreticians are accustomed also to speak contemptuously of, or to ignore altogether, the only German who has really achieved something, namely: Weitling.
I want to put before these wise gentlemen a short chapter from Fourier, which they could take as an example. It is true that Fourier did not start out from the Hegelian theory and for this reason unfortunately could not attain knowledge of absolute truth, not even of absolute socialism. It is true that owing to this shortcoming Fourier unfortunately allowed himself to be led astray and to substitute the method of series for the absolute method and thereby arrived at such speculative constructions as the conversion of the sea into lemonade, the couronnes boréale and australe, the anti-lion, and the conjunction of the planets.  But, if it has to be, I shall prefer to believe with the cheerful Fourier in all these stories rather than in the realm of the absolute spirit, where there is no lemonade at all, in the identity of Being and Nothing and the conjunction of the eternal categories. French nonsense is at least cheerful, whereas German nonsense is gloomy and profound. And then, Fourier has criticised existing social relations so sharply, with such wit and humour that one readily forgives him for his cosmological fantasies, which are also based on a brilliant world outlook.
The fragment which I am reproducing here was found among Fourier’s works after his death and was printed in the first number of the periodical Phalange [La Phalange. Revue de la science sociale, XIVE année, 1re série in 8o, Paris, aux Bureaux de la Phalange, 1845. — Publication des Manuscrits de Fourier: “Section ébauchée des trois unités externes”, pp. 1-42 of the January and February issue. — Note by Engels], published by the Fourierists from the beginning of 1845. I am omitting what relates to Fourier’s positive system and what otherwise is of no interest, and in general am making such free use of the text as is absolutely necessary with the foreign Socialists in order to make the things they wrote with definite aims in view readable to a public which is alien to these aims. This fragment is by no means the most brilliant of Fourier’s writings, nor is it the best of what he wrote about trade — and yet no German Socialist or Communist, with the exception of Weitling, has so far written anything remotely comparable to this rough sketch.
To save the German public the trouble of reading the Phalange itself, I should mention that this periodical is a purely monetary speculation on the part of the Fourierists, and Fourier’s manuscripts published in it are of very unequal value. Messieurs the Fourierists who publish this review are germanised, pompous theoreticians who have replaced the humour with which their teacher unmasked the world of the bourgeoisie by a holy, thoroughgoing theoretical, learned seriousness, for which they are deservedly ridiculed in France and prized in Germany. The description of the imaginary triumphs of Fourierism which they present in the first issue of the Phalange could send a professor of the absolute method into raptures.
I begin my reproductions with a passage which has already been reprinted in the Théorie des quatre mouvements. This is the case with considerable sections of the present fragment of which, however, I shall give only what is most essential.
See On Trade, by Fourier
See The Hierarchy of Bankruptcy, by Fourier