Horizontalism – Horizontalidad

Posted: 04/10/2011 by zandtao in Democracy, ONE planet, Struggle
Tags: , , ,


I heard this term first on Democracy Now (3/10/11). Mirina was discussing a grass roots democratic form of organisation that occurred on the streets of Argentina when they had their economic crash in 2001; this article describes how it arose. I particularly note this ” quote from Pablo “It was not an ideological decision, nor intellectual, nor academic, nor political. It was the most spontaneous thing, the most basic. You went out into the street [on the 19th and 20th] and found yourself with others on a corner. It’s not that there was a decision to be horizontal, we simply found ourselves feeling a strong rejection of all that was known. A strong rejection of political parties, of the form of political parties, of all those that were in the Government, and the State …We thought, we are going to do things ourselves. We are going to do things together, democratically, in a direct way, because here we are all equal. There are no bosses, we don’t want bosses, no one giving orders, we order ourselves, decide among ourselves, and well, someone said, ‘this is horizontal.’ So okay, this is horizontal because it’s not vertical. We don’t want bosses, that’s why it wasn’t vertical. But its not part of any ‘theory of horizontality.’ No one invented it, it just emerged.” “

This is the way they described what was happening in the organisation at OccupyWallSt. In this clip from Dem Now:-

– the British journalist describes how the organisational structures are similar globally, how the police tactics have similar global responses, and then Mirina Sirtin, author of the book on Horoizontalism – mentioned in above article, told us that the demonstration was moved from Chase plaza – J P Morgan’s police bribe of $4.6 million paid off very quickly.

What seems to be being described is a change in democratic emphasis. This is not a grass roots democracy that is mobilising to confront the power structures of the corporatocracy – a futile aim of the movement that I was active in 25 years ago, it is a grass roots democracy that is empowering itself. This has tremendous implications if we follow it through. Suppose we consider the economic implications of this self-empowerment. Once Occupy finishes Occupiers globally will have empowered themselves and will not be reliant on the corporatocratic organs of state and media. They will not sit back and receive in the way Thatcher’s children, money will not be their God and consumerism their way of life. Occupiers will then look to themselves for the answers, and this networking will start to include economy. I link this in with the ideas I discussed in the Mindful Consumer Network (MCN) (scroll down). They will start to recognise the need for organising and trading amongst themselves. I won’t reiterate the control of consuming I have discussed before, but just feel hopeful for the future. As the corporatocracy loses more and more money to this network consuming, they will start to squeeze more and more those people who don’t step outside the corporatocratic-provided spending. There is a hopeful future in this, the less money they have the less money they have to spend on armaments – drones, and the more chance people will have.

I feel so much happier than the negative anonymous image I discussed yesterday.


I remember back in the 80s having a discussion with a feminist group who were sympathetic to my activism – not so much that I was active in the trade union movement but I interpret it as that I was genuinely interested in working for all peoples, including women. I kept trying to persuade them that their activism was needed in the male chauvinist movement to help change it for the better; there was no doubt that it was controlled by aggressive males – including myself when I was competing with them. They would argue that a typical meeting revolved around leaders – in that situation myself as elected secretary of the Trades Council, that the speakers although controlled to some extent by standing orders were demanding that the members follow their way of thinking. And then there would be a vote and people would be expected to follow the dictates of the vote, a vote that becme the policy that the leaders enforced. The women declined to join.

Since then I have watched women who have become active, and I have seen women become just as aggressive within the movement – hence my earlier comment about thinking that loud-mouthed women had instigated the police response. But now I see a different organisational structure, and in the above Democracy Now clip the panel were women. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think women were the only people fighting in Argentina but I do see the organisations as having a different approach. At #OccupyWallSt there is a home. Groups are organised to do different functions – groups that include men, but they are stressing that these are not top-down structures – what you might call male structures, the prevailing structures of society. To be perfectly honest I don’t see how this can work – it is not my system, but it clearly does. It sounds incredibly frustrating if decisions are continually questioned but this doesn’t matter. Occupy has thrown up the model that provides hope for the future, a hope that can put a dent in the corporatocracy. My way, my methodology no matter how caring I was just didn’t work – it never could.

What are the objectives of Occupy? This question you see asked often by the Old Guard, including women that belong to it. But Occupy is not about questions and analysis it is saying:-

Occupy is not about the corporatocracy – Occupy wants to be free of the corporatocracy.

It reminds me of Wangari Maathai and her trees. The Green Belt Movement that mobilised around her involved women of the land who were planting trees. Whilst this movement did not support the dictatorship of Arap Moi, it was almost as if it was acting despite Arap Moi. They were planting trees in areas despite what the corporatocracy demanded of its puppet, Arap Moi – even if the puppet put force in their way. This is Occupy. These people are organising despite what the corporatocracy wants. Their challenge is not they will replace the leaders of the corporatocracy but that they will replace the corporatocratic structure itself – they don’t wish to participate in the corporatocracy.

Imagined Agenda

I am going to let my imagination go a bit – not that the following will happen but maybe some of it will. It could be a return to barter – no consumer-oriented debt. Maybe money will be used – maybe community currencies. But goods and services will be provided between the different groups horizontally, at present food is provided for Occupy for free. OK initially the Occupy movement will use food that is bought within the corporatocracy, but gradually Occupy will realise that any food bought from the corporatocracy feeds the corporatocracy. And they will say no more. There will be Occupy farms where Occupy workers will grow food for the different wings of Occupy. The existing organic movement and communes will join in with Occupy. Systems will be put in place where skills can be traded for food for services. The top-down corporatocratic structures of Big Firms simply support the coffers of the corporatocracy so they won’t be used.

What about where Occupiers are living? Have they squatted? Well, they wouldn’t be allowed to. But no, they are on the streets – not even in tents. Sleeping bags in bivy bags under the elements. This itself is saying we don’t want your consumerism, your mortgages, your debt entrapment. Maybe after Occupy, Occupiers will form communes where people will build their own houses – without mortgages. Communes will trade with communes. And when these communes have linked Occupiers will say to teachers teach us what we need to know – not what the corporatocracy wants us to know so that we become enslaved in the corporatocratic structures.

And then teachers can teach, they can teach insight in schools. They can teach Peace. They can teach history about the old ways where over the centuries greedy banker families had manipulated governments through debt. How banks had tempted governments into debt by providing them with money that funded piracy and then colonialism. And then working with BigTechno they provided the government with indebting money that bought weapons to fight wars that only BigTechno needed – to fight pseudo wars against “Terror” that meant expensive machines were bought that flew over countries far away and killed people indiscriminately – drones. And how eventually the banks stopped allowing BigTechno to use their government puppets to pay for these weapons because Occupy had got enough people not to pay into the government and vote for the government so the banks could never be repaid.

And then Occupy began to teach again the meaning of Home and society. Home is where children grow up, this is why we have societies so our children can grow up well, so that we can care for each other. Children can begin to understand that we are part of Nature – ONE planet. Society began to learn that government structures are not for the profits of the landowners or the aristocracy or the corporatocracy but the new horizontalist structures help people in their homes to bring up children.

Maybe Nature has finally got through to women that their movement of the 60s onwards is not about getting a bigger proportion of the cake that Big men had gained by exploiting humanity. Sure there was a need to prevent chauvinist excesses but not to replace those excesses by excesses by women. These women have now begun to say we want the world back for our children – our Homes. Support the new organisation of grass roots democracy and ….


  1. […] Horizontalism – Horizontalidad […]

  2. […] their money is not acceptable. Secondly there is a talk of cooperative structures, this is Horizontalidad. For me this is not going far enough but that is easy to say bashing away on a […]

  3. […] – a discussion of cooperatives that grew out of the financial crisis in Argentina, Horizontalidad worked on a 3-stage process leading to the […]

  4. […] Occupy movement is coming up with many approaches gleaned from different global movements such as Horizontalidad, and many grass roots actions as described in The Take and Beyond Elections. But as Thay says in […]

  5. […] communal farmers in Kenya, Vandana Shiva’s seed protectors, Community-Supported Agriculture, Horizontalidad and the initiatives that are coming out of Central and South America – Beyond Elections, all […]

  6. […] But what would happen if all the 99% went to the “receptionists”? There would not be enough receptionists, complaints managers and security to deal with the 99%. So there are two other pillars of the reception area. The first is the media. Now the media makes huge profits out of the 99% through the entertainments industry. But whilst entertaining the people they also make sure that the people are not aware of who has the power and how to access them, in effect they ensure that all activity is carried out in the reception area. Blue Bloods is a cop show that considers the dilemmas of a caring NYPD, and whilst it is good entertainment it never once addressed the issue that the NYPD were criminalising Occupy at the bequest of the 1% (particularly the $4.6 million donation of Morgan Chase). […]

  7. […] seems no end to the misery. From Horizontalidad in the early 90s through the Arab Spring to Occupy (tag) throughout the world and finally OWS, […]

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