Skip to main content

Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

"Direct democracy" is a euphemism

October 8, 2011
Body paragraph

"Direct democracy" is a euphemism

Our task is both to experience and to conceive the concrete, that is to say, reality in its fullness and wholeness.
--R D Laing, Politics of Experience

One of the most potent things about #OWS* is that people are engaging each other face-to-face with what is happening and what it means to them personally. We are doing this in countless ways: face-to-face talk, coordinating with each other to do tasks, in general assemblies, even in our dreams and imaginings.

?Potent' in two senses of the word: potentially powerful and actually powerful. For people to empower themselves they need to be in dialog with others. They need sites that make it possible to see and hear themselves in process, and make sense of what they are experiencing through seeing and hearing others as they are making sense of what they are experiencing. #ows is that kind of site. It is providing the opportunity for people to actualize the potential of the immediate situation they are engaged in. As such it is a direct experience of doing what we are always doing; creating our selves and the world we live in.

We actualize that potential by staying connected to our experience and open to the experience of the others. We waste this rare opportunity to the degree that we disconnect from our experience by thinking and acting out of old stuff-that is, notions, assumptions, and projections about what is going on without being aware that that is what we are doing. We cannot avoid acting out of this old stuff. Our reasoning minds are always in the past while our experience is always in the present.

This dynamic doesn't zero in on conclusions as much as it blossoms out from its ferment into questions and imaginative wonderings that suggest possible ways of acting to create the kind of worlds we might want for ourselves.

This is what we are doing-at least hopefully-whether one is engaged in managing food or planning march logistics, just talking, and so on. All of this comes into a shorthand focus in the General Assembly, which is our overall coordinating format.

What a pity to reduce all the richness of this direct experience down to such a lame meme as ?direct democracy.' At best, this has become a poor abstraction laden with endless quirky connotations. Another dead phrase from the past freezing our thinking and alienating us from what is happening now.

*At this point it is not clear what "#ows" refers to. It has gone nation-wide in tune with Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Our land," fulfilling George Bush I's dream of a "thousand points of light." Still its basic point of reference is Liberty Plaza neighboring the Wall Street of NYC. I am keeping all of this in mind while using the term.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
CAPTCHA This question is to verify that you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam.

What does the G in GEO stand for?