Consensus doesn't require that we retreat to the lowest common denominator, but rather that we admit that there are important differences in our approaches to political questions. This is a space that must be open to debate and argument. Particularly when the General Assembly is divided, political or controversial questions should not be avoided or relegated to working groups. Debate shouldn't be narrowed to a choice between two tactics, but instead broadened to a discussion of strategy and the overall politics, direction and purpose of the movement.
In light of this, we now put forward some ideas for future strategy, informed by these thoughts.
Where do we go from here?
The camp at City Square was a means not an end. It was a moment and a series of actions that gave space to our rebellion, to the commons. Now that City Square has been violently fenced off and enclosed by the 1%, we need to think about how we can keep achieving our ends, and not fetishise the means that were previously used.
The camp to be established at the Treasury Gardens should be seen as one part of a wider strategy. What Friday showed us was that the Occupy Melbourne movement has grown into so much more than just the camp at the City Square, or elsewhere. City Square and what we made of it was central to the beginnings of Occupy Melbourne, and to its ongoing conception, but something is lost in confining it to that. On Friday we moved our struggle into the streets, into the media and firmly into the public realm. The danger of remaining solely located in the Treasury Gardens is that the risk that a tent city becomes the sole site of the movement. For what do we do if we are confronted with a State, embodied in Robert Doyle, which does not allow us to set up a tent city anywhere within the city of Melbourne? Our decisions shouldn't be determined by the limits set by the state. We need to be in a position of choosing our times and spaces of confrontation with the state, rather than adopting a strategy that sees us always acting in defence.
We need to keep returning to various sites in the city and turning them into places for common decision making. We need to find ways of making the antagonisms in society visible, in a way that draws more people into the creation of a dynamic, growing movement that can challenge the rule of the 1%. We need to build a movement which strengthens its means of self-constitution and can position itself as a counter-power.
We should hold regular demonstrations through which we target the Town Hall and demand that Robert Doyle resign, and challenge the fencing-in of City Square. We propose that Occupy Melbourne uses these targets to build a larger movement. We should challenge the symbolism of the fences around City Square by organising a day for the tying of thousands of ribbons to them, and keep holding rallies that take people to the fences in an attempt to push them over. We should keep building these rallies until we have the numbers to dismantle the fences and take back our Square.
If we can't institute a permanent tent city, we need to think about ways of making our Occupation mobile - creating a moving kitchen, library, art space, discussion space, childcare, roving General Assemblies and more. That is, creating spaces and practices which are organised around the logic of solidarity, not profit. And if we're mobile, we should also move towards organising neighbourhood assemblies outside of the city centre. We should expand the communal spaces of Occupy Melbourne to the suburbs.
We do all these things knowing that we each have different things to offer. All of us have our time stolen in different ways by the daily grind of capitalism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, racism, colonialism. Importantly, all of us want to be involved. And while there may be differences in the time, energy and knowledge that we can each commit to Occupy Melbourne, we assert that this will never be the basis for hierarchies amongst us. We will not push people out because they have less time, disregard people because they are not sure how to articulate their thoughts, alienate people when they make mistakes. None of our politics is pure. We will embrace a willingness to make sure our patterns of organisation don't align themselves with structures of domination. Occupy Melbourne is a continuous learning space, a space to make mistakes and together figure out how to do better next time, how to expand and how to continue, how to keep going and never stop. Occupy more, decolonise more, find each other, build larger and stronger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, building consensus, and reclaiming our lives.