Excerpt from email out of Philadelphia:
"We have a trustifarian anarchist, …… down here influencing the GA's with swinging people to her ideologies, and she has been transporting anarchist in when important votes happen. So we are in a really sticky situation down here."

This illuminates a fascinating dynamic whereby an "anarchist" personality is actually mimicking old paradigm political tactics, if the report is accurate.  That is, the deliberate co-opting of a democratic process by flooding the consensus pool with "pre-represented", biased votes to drive "self-interested"  results to distort the "natural will" of the general assembly.

It's important to recognize if and how this dynamic is taking place in our own general assemblies.  The question is how does a General Assembly choose to respond to "pressure groups".  Are theses "pressure groups" a part of the natural system and be allowed to operate as is, or are they confronted as a "skewing agent" which distorts consensus.  Are pre-represented or pre-designed pressure groups dissimilar to infusing chunks of corporate money into a democratic process?

That said, every instance has its own personality.  Some aggressive influencers may be amenable to healthy integration over time, some may be a little more pernicious.  I think it's important we remain positive and optimistic without naively losing vigilance.

As #Occupy gains coherence, it is naturally going to appear to some as an opportunity to promote special-interest agendas.  It's not so much that a GA can be hijacked against its will, because of certain built-in failsafes [e.g.-Blocking], but it can be disturbed and disrupted, which is what I'm hearing from this one report from Philadelphia. Naturally, this is also where evolving facilitation skill can cure a lot of ills.

Eventually, every system turns to reflect the shadow of the system it replaces.  How skillfully and compassionately can we integrate dissent?  The thing about dissent is that it REALLY slows things down. 

Do we have the patience to integrate dissent?

To what degree do we recognize the value of dissent?

Is all dissent created equal?




Views: 79

Comment by Ben Roberts on November 13, 2011 at 3:07pm

What if the dissent is disingenuous?  Blocking can then become a powerful too for disruption.

Comment by Jitendra Darling on November 13, 2011 at 3:12pm

Therein lies the rub...how does one confront or assert that?  There remains the choice of the GA to leave a blocker behind/out...

Comment by Stephen Buckley on November 14, 2011 at 2:24am

If anyone can participate in a GA simply by showing up, then a well-organized minority (even if they are "anarchists") can thwart the will of the unorganized majority (who don't show up).

Until #Occupy gets more organized about "what it wants to be when it grows up", instead of only what it wants to stop, then the agenda is susceptible to molding (or subversion) by anybody who just shows up.

As it is now, they might as well put up a sign that says:  "Attention all Trolls!  They've created a great place for mischief here!" 

Comment by David Eggleton on November 14, 2011 at 9:31am

My concern is that dissent can entrap and dissolve when people attempt to sustain it for its own sake.  It is healthy to question an establishment that is in a rut of underperformance and healthy to leave the rut for resumption of movement toward performance.  It is not healthy to establish dissent, as it is only a call to performance.

Comment by John N. Ney on November 14, 2011 at 4:32pm

I am unfamiliar with the General Assembly, as I have never attended.  That said, I will say that it is far better to err on the side of inclusiveness rather then exclusiveness whatever that entails.  The more common ground we can stand upon,  the more common good we can accomplish and the harder it will be for our adversaries to dislodge us from said ground.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend even if only temporarily.  Learn from the Arab spring.

Comment by bruceterrell33 on November 14, 2011 at 9:28pm

A few days ago,  I was speaking with someone who attacked Move On and all people who vote for Democrats.  He was completely certain that there is no place for these people in the Occupy Movement.  I tried the listening and engaging approach for a long time, and others did as well. Yet, each of us were also attacked in turn.  This is an example where blocking may have been best.   If we had not been basking as a group from having done two deep 11-11-11 meditations, I might not have engaged at all.  This is an important call to be able to make. Thanks for this great topic.   Today, someone started attacking Van Jones for working for the "evil Obama". This is a conversation I stepped aside from and that felt right.  I would say we can INCLUDE all those who are coming from their hearts.  If someone insists they are right and is not actually interested in real conversation a clear boundary needs to be set.

Comment by Jitendra Darling on November 15, 2011 at 2:18am

It's easy when the choir is talking amongst itself.  It's when the choir takes to the street, things get interesting.  Especially when other people just don't like your music...no matter how good you think you sound.

Comment by Mr. Blue on November 30, 2011 at 11:43am

Most GAs have a modified consensus rule in the interests of practicality, starting with OWS. The standard percentage is 90% because it's almost impossible to get that kind of agreement on a controversial subject. GAs and Occupies get into trouble when they insist on pure consensus because a small contingent of naysayers can bring the whole process to a screeching halt, ensuring that nothing of consequence ever gets done. Are these folks agent provocateurs or just stubborn? It doesn't really matter because the result is the same. Another comparison: in our state assembly in California, a small group of Republicans has been able to pretty much make California ungovernable by blocking any tax increases whatsoever for any purpose. To clarify, I'm all for inclusion and consensus, just not at any price.


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