But “Occupy” is anything but a protest movement. That’s why it has been so hard for news agencies to express or even discern the “demands” of the growing legions of Occupy participants around the nation, and even the world. Just like pretty much everyone else on the planet, occupiers may want many things to happen and other things to stop, but the occupation is not about making demands. They don’t want anything from you, and there is nothing you can do to make them stop. That’s what makes Occupy so very scary and so very promising. It is not a protest, but a prototype for a new way of living.
Now don’t get me wrong. The Occupiers are not proposing a world in which we all live outside on pavement and sleep under tarps. Most of us do not have the courage, stamina, or fortitude to work as hard as these kids are working, anyway. (Yes, they work harder than pretty much anyone but a farmer or coal miner could understand.) The urban survival camps they are setting up around the world are a bit more like showpieces, congresses, and “beta” tests of ideas and behaviors the rest of may soon be implementing in our communities, and in our own ways.
The occupiers are actually forging a robust micro-society of working groups, each one developing new approaches - or reviving old approaches - to long running problems. In just one example, the General Assembly is a new, highly flexible approach to group discussion and consensus building. Unlike parliamentary rules that promote debate, difference, and decision, the General Assembly forges consensus by “stacking” ideas and objections much in the fashion that computer programmers “stack” features. The whole thing is orchestrated through simple hand gestures (think commodities exchange). Elements in the stack are prioritized, and everyone gets a chance to speak. Even after votes, exceptions and objections are incorporated as amendments.
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