Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Disconnect

There was something implied in the occupation of Zuccotti Park.  Picketing, protesting, marching - you do that until your demands are met.  I've been reading about consensus-building, and while it's fascinating and a promising model for organizing, I'm having a hard time getting on board.  If the process is the purpose, then I don't see how anyone will get more than participation ribbons within the next five years.  The most cynical thought I have had about consensus-building is that it's the terrifying result of Special Snowflake-ism.  Occupy is anti-hierarchical, which is not the way we tend to see things handled.  Anti-hierarchy seems in this instance to be anti-power, and therefore anti-empowerment.  I held out a little hope after reading this interview with Marina Sitrin on historical use of consensus-building, only to have it totally dashed by Ted Rall later on.

There are precedents of consensus-building working out beautifully.  But I don't think that will happen at Zuccotti Park.  It's the very last thing I want to say "I told you so" about.  I'd love to be proven wrong.  I've spent hours this week trying to convince myself that I am.

OWS has indeed empowered people to make their pain known.  I'll say unequivocally that is an accomplishment.  If I may be flip, America has been in need of a pity party.  (Tongue in cheek!  You can have a pity party about an actual problem.)  But it doesn't appear that this is all OWS has set out to do; there are still people camping out on Wall Street.

I read an article by Ted Rall today about how consensus-building is basically useless at making things happen, but super-fun and important anyway I guess.  I read this in the latest Boise Weekly, which is running a series on empowering people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities to vote.  Hilariously, Rall's article (wherein he made a snide remark about having to listen to the mentally-handicapped during the occupation) was on the opposite page of the first installment of the series.  

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