Occupy Wall Street: democracy in action

The Occupy Wall Street movement, like the protests in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, shows democracy in action.  Huge numbers of people who didn’t know each other came together, organized living arrangements and took action in a disciplined, non-violent manner.  It is a great contrast to the dysfunctional government in Washington, whose operations are unsatisfactory to almost everyone, including its own members.

As an example, take the move by Mayor Bloomberg to oust the Occupy Wall Street movement from its base with the excuse that it was necessary to “clean the park.” Occupy Wall Street had done already organized its own efficient cleanup, and created an efficient public relations system to make the world aware that it had done so.  It then prepared to resist the ouster, but in a disciplined, non-violent manner.  At the last moment, Mayor Bloomberg backed down.

If Occupy Wall Street participants had not been so well-organized, Mayor Bloomberg’s excuse would have sounded plausible.  If Occupy Wall Street participants had not been so well-disciplined, the threat of police action would have resulted in either retreat or violence.

The successful functioning of the Occupy Wall Street movement shows that whatever the problems of American government, they are not a result of the inability of the mass of the people to govern themselves.  People in small groups can govern themselves very well.

Occupy Wall Street’s General Assembly system, as described in the video, is a good way to arrive at an inclusive consensus decision among people of good will with a common purpose.  Without the good will and common purpose, the General Assembly structure would be of no avail.  Occupy Wall Street would be as vulnerable to the influence of money and special interests, and to an obstructionist minority, as is the United States Senate.

Click on  Quick guide on group dynamics in people’s assemblies for ideas about the consensus decision-making process from the Puerta del Sol Protest Camp in Madrid.

Click on Intellectual Roots of Wall Street Protest for a report on the theoretical background of the General Assembly decision-making process.

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