October 28, 2011

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The Tyranny of Consensus --Mark Read The occupiers have inherited and adopted a decision-making process that has come down from earlier left movements and is lauded as the most democratic form of decision making. Of courser those who wish to see a more democratic society naturally gravitate to what has been billed as the most democratic way to make decisions. Consensus is what the radical left has responded with, for generations. Those of us that have worked within a consensus process model should know better by now, and we do a disservice to younger activists by allowing the myth of consensus-as-always-most-democratic to persist. We were told that the trade off was less efficiency for more democracy, and this simply is not borne out by experience, and most of my long-term comrades have come to recognize this. The only place where I believe that consensus process is genuinely more democratic than a majoritarian (aka voting) process is within a close (and closed) community of collaborators/co-habitants that have practiced the process for years. In virtually every other instance it yields less democratic decisions and processes, not more. The consensus process, when applied to large heterogenous groups such as the one at #occupywallst, yields hierarchies at least as persistent and pernicious as other forms of decision making, probably more. I, and many others, would argue that voting yields more truly democratic outcomes, if practiced responsibly and ethically (ie requiring 75% majorities and allowing ample time for discussion). In the current context the consensus process favors those that feel comfortable...
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We demand: Jobs for All #occupywallstreet A working group on Demands met last night to consider amendments, alterations, and a preamble to the demand of jobs for all that will be presented to the GA on Sunday night. Here is a draft of the demand. Over the next few days, we are hoping to generate discussion and support for it. It's not perfect, but it has been holding up under a lot of questioning and criticism. It's also not singular--there will be more demands. Jobs for all “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.—Frederick Douglass We retain the right to make multiple and/or continuous demands of ourselves, our society, and our government, as there are numerous and varied problems to be addressed by our peoples' movement. We reject the insinuation of connecting these demands to an endorsement of any one political party. Demands are only one integral part of an already successful movement. Many of us wish to effect a dramatic transformation of our society and economy, in order that the 99% can control their workplaces, local communities, job creation, and the global economy and environment. This is offered to that GA as an initial, transitional demand, in the hope that others will follow, and to help us build alliances with workers, the homeless, the unemployed and the undocumented. We expect that as the movement grows we will make new demands on our society, our government, and our selves. Our movement is just beginning. The demands we make and will...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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