Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Portland: stuff that happened this week, stuff that could happen in the future

On Wednesday, one guy was yelling "open the street! open the street!" in front of the barricaded street between the two occupied park blocks. I talked with him and some other folks out there for about an hour. (The street is now open again; the police arrested 8 barricaders Thursday morning after politely allowing any barricaders who didn't want to be arrested to vacate the street.)

The General Assembly, which invites anyone to attend, speak, and vote, is pretty established as the governing body for the occupied blocks and related activities, such as marches. So we've already succeeded in establishing a foothold for direct democracy. I think most of us would like for that model to expand outward -- for all kinds of living communities, working communities, recreational spaces, etc. to be governed by the people involved rather than by pre-established hierarchies. People working in a factory could form a General Assembly and start deciding for themselves how to run the factory rather than taking orders from executives. The General Assembly model seems OK for now, and preferable to the other currently existing, hierarchical governing bodies, such as companies and governments, but I think it will inevitably quickly evolve into other models, probably online democratic systems, like I've been blogging about for years. The New Yorkers are already launching an online system for conducting their General Assemblies.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Portland

We're feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and participating in a community based on voluntarism, gifts, and direct democracy -- in other words, actual democracy, where everyone participates in setting policies.

Last night at the General Assembly, we made a decision about how to make decisions (I copied these bullet points from where it was posted two days ago, as a proposal; last night the proposal passed and became policy.)

* After discussion of a proposal, facilitators will ask to “see the consensus of the assembly”, by asking who agrees, who disagrees, and who stands aside. These proportions will always be recognized and recorded, as the basis for further development of the proposal, and/or autonomous action by those that agree.
* If there is very strong support for a proposal, the facilitators may ask to see if there are any remaining blocking concerns. If there are not, this can be considered a “full consensus of the assembly”. This has the greatest legitimacy for action on behalf of the whole.
* When appropriate, a consensus of 90% or more of the assembly, regardless of blocks, can be considered an “agreement of the assembly”. Depending on the proportion, this has relatively less legitimacy as “speaking for the whole” and should be used cautiously with understanding that there are unresolved major concerns.

The encampment has become a fully functioning village. There are committees for peacekeeping, engineering, medical, food, sanitation, safety, media, etc. etc. It has become a living model of how to organize society without hierarchy or money, a model which can keep spreading outward indefinitely. So the "protesting" is actually turning into an honest-to-goodness worldwide nonviolent revolution :-)