October 11, 2011

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General assemblies = constituent power The general assemblies are--or are becoming or can become--a power based on the direct initiative of the people from below. The Russian word for these councils is "soviets." An American version is being created by people from all over the country. They are not based on "a law enacted by a centralized state power." They are their own source of power--again, a direct initiative of the people from below. In NYC, they are discussing their own security, in effect or potentially replaceing the police and the army. Yes, they still rely on the police to an extent, but this is an ambiguous, ambivalent, and partial reliance. In the US, a strong majority (over 80% ) has little to no confidence in government. As the general assemblies grow and endure, they become a second power, a new source of collective self-governance. At the beginning of the 1990s, we all witnessed a spectacular collapse in power--a government that seemed almost invincible (even as it was decrepit) crumbled. It can happen here. We already know that there is no faith in government--our statistics tell us this regularly; our media report it--the right hates government and says it doesn't work; the mainstream condemns the stalemate; the left (2 or 3 people on msnbc) worries in a bizarre, schizoid fashion. The thing is---it is already common knowledge--everybody knows--that the political and the economic system is broken. The only thing that is left is thinking that change is impossible-but Occupy Wall Street has broken that barrier....

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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