For me the most significant aspect of OCCUPY democracy was what he called the consensus view. As I have said before it sounds incredibly tedious to me but in their discussions at the General Assembly they are not calling for a vote – or any other approach governed by standing orders, they discuss until they reach a consensus. As he pointed out there is no alienation of those who do not agree with a motion – potentially 49% who vote against, the discussion continues until they reach a consensus – because they WANT a CONSENSUS. When I think back to meetings I have chaired or participated in, such a consensus could never have been reached. Members came with positions already established. Typically in a trade union there were members from various socialist parties coming together to discuss a trade union motion. They came to present their position and hope to persuade others to their viewpoint. I could imagine that if a vote were taken before a meeting and one taken after, the vote would have been almost the same.
This is so different from consensus democracy, people desiring consensus and working towards it – however long it takes. A true breath of fresh air.
Compare consensus democracy with this discussion on Democracy Now (5th October) between Kai Wright and Arun Gupta. Now I am extremely sympathetic to Kai’s position but there is no attempt on his part to reach a consensus. At the same time , in his defence of OCCUPY Arun was also making no effort to reach an agreement – even harking back to the disagreement to emphasise it. Consensus is so time-consuming, and perhaps I am being unfair to highlight the differences between the two comrades in this 10 minute discussion, but as a contrast it illustrates my point.
Here Glenn Greenwald argues the differences between the democrats and OCCUPY, and the unlikelihood that OCCUPY will succumb to democrat party urging. When you consider consensus democracy that unlikelihood inreases – thankfully.
Now watch this movie on consensus democracy, it is so powerful – you can feel the change:-