The People’s Summit is an opportunity to build a coalition event between Occupy Chicago, Coalition Against NATO / G8 (CANG8), and other community groups who want to contribute resources and energy to serve a threefold purpose:
1. To educate our communities about war, austerity, global capitalism, and corporatization in the 21st century and what it means for the ways we the people live in the world, from the local particulars of daily life, such as the increasing cost of a loaf of bread in Chicago, to the 1.4 billion people worldwide living in absolute poverty; from the ‘war on terror’ and global ‘homeland security industries’ to increased militarization of domestic policing; from global wage depression and the creation of huge disposable labor reserves living under minimal conditions to devastating climate change effects, destruction of environments and the privatization of common resources. From each of these threads and endless more, the power of global economics, where national and international corporations and institutions are interlinked with military forces, determines the fabric of the contemporary state of world affairs. The Occupy Movement has instilled the great urgency in us all to understand how the complex conditioning by global processes have given the 99% of the world more in common than we have dared to imagine before.
2. To mobilize our communities for radical democracy, including dissent in the form of non-violent protest during the NATO / G8 summit and beyond, and the nurturing of long-term collaborative mobilizations between local, national and international communities and groups. We accept Rahm’s recent challenge to our civil liberties, and we will work ceaselessly for all people to actualize their right to participate in a truly democratic forum.
3. To present alternative visions of the world we all know to be possible through critical reflection, humor, art, direct democracy, collaboration, and informed dialogue. The People’s Summit’s educational axiom resides in the act of providing a radically democratic space where liberty and justice is within the act of thinking of the all for the all - all of the People in all our multiplicities. Our educational axiom is not a question of delivering information and theories by experts to a consuming audience where thought is a pacifying and alienating product - that is neoliberal education. In the face of our repressive states and corporate militarized regimes, we have a responsibility to adopt new modes of thought; therefore, most powerfully, our axiom is the call for a concrete manifestation of an ethical, political demand: that a response to the current crisis of global capitalism must arise collectively through creative thought about and for equality and emancipation for all across the globe.
As such, the People’s Summit is a space for the 99% to dare to think of the needs of all the people not in ways dictated by ruling class and race ideologies, but in ways derived from our own ethics, intelligences, experiences, and studies. We care not where someone was born or what citizenship papers they may hold, nor do we hold prejudices against any predicate or identity that a human being may have. We welcome all to our summit, and we welcome their voices. We believe that by coming together in solidarity and connecting critically the complex dots of how our lives have been determined, that our visions will equip us with the necessary ideas, tools, and agendas to manifest change on the local and global scales. A better world is possible, and we have a responsibility to become the change that we want to see in this world.
The Occupy Chicago Education Committee proposes that Occupy Chicago host the People’s Summit at our Cermak headquarters. We ask for your approval in hosting the People’s Summit, which will be held over the course of two days and will consist of a series of keynote speakers, teach-ins, workshops, think tanks, panel discussions, breakout sessions street theater, and cultural and social events that inspire and invoke informed dialogue between citizens, occupiers and activists locally, nationally, and internationally. The three rooms on the 5th floor would be ideal for hosting mini-workshops of 15 - 20 people apiece, and the larger space on the 7th floor could accommodate crowds for keynote speakers. If we see that our summit may grow beyond current capacity, we will collectively address alternatives with CANG8 and other involved groups. In fact, we are already looking into alternatives.
We request that the People’s Summit be scheduled for the weekend of May 12th and 13th. From May 19th through the 21st, Chicago will be in the international spotlight for the NATO/G8 summit. Not only will the dignitaries and representatives of the 1% be traveling here from across the globe, but national and international activists and occupiers will bring their own displays of direct democracy and freedom of speech to our streets. As the Occupy Chicago Education Committee, we feel that it is our responsibility to provide an open space for us, the underrepresented 99%, to dialogue about the human rights issues that concern us on a daily basis -- housing, health care, education, immigration, workers’ rights, and rights to public space, among others -- and the political, economic, and social questions and responses they require. We wish to host the summit on these particular dates to incorporate all who are already traveling for the summit to join us in our own. We believe that hosting the summit earlier will detract potential national and international participants from joining us.
In fact, we believe that it is our duty to host a People’s Summit that manifests civil rights as well as freedom of speech and assembly on the eve of a summit that hides behind barricaded doors but enforces its austerity measures on the backs of its citizens. This is the first time since 1977 that the world’s most powerful governments and military leaders will be meeting in the same place at the same time. As Occupy Chicago, it is our duty to provide a space for the 99% to determine the ideologies, possibilities, and logistics of building a better world. Neither the G8 nor the NATO summits will provide this space, and streets that form a radius around McCormick place will become a fortress erected against and antithetical to the 99%’s intelligence, ethics, and basic human rights.
Who are the G8? The Group of Eight, a forum of the leaders of U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Russia, and Canada, meets annually to spread “the gospel of neoliberalism,” as Eric Ruder has recently written in his article “Enforcers for the Global 1 Percent.” They enact sweeping decisions that blatantly ignore their own populations’ interests and serve to protect multinational corporations’ freedoms, such as the decision to withhold AIDS drugs to poverty-ridden Africans or the decision to oppose climate change measures because they are “barriers to trade,” as quoted in Ruder’s article.
What is NATO? NATO, the world’s most powerful military alliance, presents itself as a means to provide security “in all areas of everyday life” via mutual self-defense between Western Europe and the United States. However, NATO has been repurposed to help the United States “pursue its own imperial interests,” as Ruder has written, which do not reflect our own interests as members of the global 99%.
For further information, the Occupy Chicago Education Committee will host several teach-ins leading up to the summit that further address the operations, history, and general roles of both NATO and G8.
We acknowledge the prohibitions and state repression that will, most likely, accompany the People’s Summit. We acknowledge the danger of an attempted last-minute shut-down, and we anticipate that Rahm will do anything he can to prevent us from airing our voices during his time in the spotlight. As Chicago is the Democratic Party’s “showcase” city as well as Obama’s campaign headquarters, the likelihood of extreme state repression is high. We are familiar with the recent and permanent restrictions that Rahm has imposed on our civil liberties:
1. Limiting demonstrations to two hours
2. Prohibiting all amplified noise, including bullhorns, that has not been registered for a week in advance
3. Increasing fines for civil disobedience
4. Decreasing public park hours
5. Enabling himself to act without City Council approval
However, we will let neither fear nor the tyranny of the 1% prohibit us from providing a public space that allows all who are concerned to help build a better world. With this acknowledgment in mind, we take as our axiom that intellectual, creative and critical thought and exchange about the world is for all, and it is through this that we strengthen our resolve, determination and courage to participate and host the People’s Summit. After all, if the 1% can have their summit, why can’t we have ours? Hosting the People’s Summit at Cermak will nurture our freedom to explore with enthusiasm and desire what People Over Profit can really mean, inquire how we can mobilize, then act to build the world that we have the courage to imagine. This is the axiom of the People’s Summit, and we ask Occupy Chicago to embrace it within our new home.
We anticipate energetic discussion among the members of Occupy Chicago as to our role and agenda within the People’s Summit, and we thank all whose efforts will help make this possibility a reality.
Occupy Chicago Education Committee
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