Sunday, November 27, 2011

This Ain't Your Daddies Corporation: Musings on Power in the Occupy Movements

The problem with writing and talking about Occupy is that it is so different from what most Americans are used to. As I understand it Occupy movements are not structured in the way the US government, IBM, GE, Microsoft, the Methodist Church, the Mormon Church, the New York Times, or CBS are. All of those institutions are hierarchical bureaucracies. Occupy, on the other hand, drawing on radical democratic forms of the past, are democratic and leaderless, at least officially.

Occupy, in Weberian terms, is a charismatic movement like Quakerism where charisma was conceptualised as spread throughout the entire group Occupy is highly democratic and decision making works within it like it works in a Quaker silent meeting for business. Decision making is by consensus and decision making is local.

Since Occupy doesn't work, like economic, political, and cultural bureaucracies, from the top down, from the leader down, Occupy doesn't centre around a cult of hierarchical celebrity personality. occupy consciously avoid cults of celebrity personality with leaders celebrated by the media and the masses.

For this reason the media, as was the case with the early SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) in the 1960s which was, like Occupy, consensus oriented and non-hierarchical, can't get their head around this movement. They can't imagine a world without bureaucracies, hierarchies, celebritised leaders. They can't understand why some leader of the movement cannot issue a position paper. They simply can't comprehend how positions in real democratic movements originate out of consensus rather than decision making by celebrity leaders.

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