Independent Filmmaking Blog
Blog November 2013 - Occupy and US/EU Free Trade Agreement
In September - October I involved myself with Occupy again. I was bored and it was time for some straight forward no BS activism. Film making can be a bit too solo a mission for me.
First I tested the water and found the temperature to be lovely and then I high dived headfirst deep! The water was not as deep as I had hoped. The thud on my head was significant. More on that later.
I joined the Occupy International Working Group at its second inception after the camp dissolved on Feb 28th 2012 when the church showed us that they can lie with just as much conviction as any politician. Bless their souls. I also joined the website crew.
For the OIWG I and one other occupier David Dewhurst organised a talk. The speakers were Linda Kaucher (left) and Tom Lines (right) and they spoke about the US/EU Free Trade Agreement currently being negotiated.
Linda Kaucher has been following international trade agreements for 14 years. Tom Lines has been a government policy adviser in over 50 different countries.
In the US/EU Free Trade agreement (also known as The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) or The Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA)) the European states are being represented by the European Trade Commission which as it was revealed brilliantly in a documentary called the Brussels Business, is deeply influenced by corporate interests. Although the agreement is being negotiated in secret there have been leaked documents. The most significant one confirms the inclusion of the ISDS which is the Investor State Dispute Settlement.
ISDS allows corporations to sue governments directly in international trade dispute jurisdictions of the corporation’s choosing for any loss of anticipated profits.
It is predicted by both speakers that governments will be even less motivated than they already seem to be, to pass laws ensuring workers' and environmental rights, out of fear that such laws will inspire corporations to sue using this new acquired power. The harmonizing of industry standards is also being feared as an excuse to lower European standards to America standards. Also Linda emphatically stressed that hidden under all the political jargon is the fact that its not really about trade as much as it is about services, financial services most pertinently.
As first time facilitator I did OK. As an activist looking for answers it was not so easy. How did we get to a place where such over arching, top end structural legal frameworks can be negotiated in secret? I was curious. Neither Linda not Tom could tell me what local English laws allow such agreements to take place, apparently that is the work of an administrative lawyer. How did we get to a place where these tribunals (yet to be set up, I presume) are to have super powers over national governments. I learnt enough to know I needed to learn more to be active against the erosion of a democratic future. Critiques have aptly named this free trade agreement the Corporate Bill of Rights.
Apparently Julia Gillard refused to include ISDS in the Australian Trade Deals and for that she deserves a picture. Yes I know she is a Zionist but she would have had a tough time squeezing that tool out of the locked and security coded tool box, and so credit where credit due.
This occupy talk resulted in a WG being formed with over 10 newly signed occupiers, including Linda and a video being produced. This is a very successful outcome of which I am proud. Thud healed nicely.
About that thud, well as much as Occupy welcomes me with open arms, it welcomes everyone. *Everyone* includes messiahs (yep we have 2 I believe at the moment) and numerous people who say what should and should not be done but they themselves don't actually do anything. I find this particular characteristic in activism very trying: Opinion giving without follow through. All these freaking chiefs. Feathers everywhere!
"I think we should blah bloo blib..." I hear people say but they do not then put their hands up to actually do or participate in doing blah bloo blip, and the conscientious activists (around 20% in any given meeting, imo) then burn out because they are doing everything. Their weakness in turn is self discipline. Hearing a fantastic idea and being grounded enough to say "No I do not have the time, my personal life is a shambles and I need a cuddle." My impatience with opinion givers is at an all time high, no matter what the time of month it is. Horizontal democracy sometimes feels like Horror-zontal democracy.
Despite the above confession, I believe in Occupy very much. I believe it is a fertile ground for activism to develop into a force to be reckoned with. The more productive people with respectful basic communication skills who can commit at least 4 hours to Occupy a week (that is one meeting plus homework) the better. This is my opinion only. Occupy needs people who will do the work, the organization, the planning, the reading, the phoning, the public speaking, the studying, the writing, the answering of emails, the schmoozing. Thanks to our camp and the tons of effort and grit we employed at the Occupy camp for 4 months in 2011-12 we have media attention and that is an enormous achievement in a world where the main stream media is shackled to shallow and evasive reporting on most matters that concern the public.
I am sure you are all clever enough to try a shallow dive first.
Apart from the official website Occupy has various on line sites.
Communication between them all is improving.
With incredible reliability Obi livestreams almost everything.
Thank you for reading this far.
Please feel free to contact me with your opinions! :)
Quote of the year for me is :