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Forum Post: Food for thought from one of OW's founders

Posted 8 years ago on Nov. 19, 2011, 3:24 p.m. EST by alouis (1511) from New York, NY
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/15/occupy-anarchism-gift-democracy

"... we have to understand that there's always been an enormous gap between what those ruling America mean by "democracy", and what that word means to almost anyone else. According to the official version, of course, "democracy" is a system created by the founding fathers, based on checks and balances between president, Congress and judiciary. In fact, nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or Constitution does it say anything about the US being a "democracy". Most defined democracy as collective self-governance by popular assemblies, and as such, they were dead set against it, arguing it would be prejudicial against the interests of minorities (the particular minority that was had in mind here being the rich). They only came to redefine their own republic – modeled not on Athens, but on Rome – as a "democracy" because ordinary Americans seemed to like the word so much..."

"Most Americans are, politically, deeply conflicted. They tend to combine a deep reverence for freedom with a carefully inculcated, but nonetheless real identification with the army and police. Few are actual anarchists; few even know what "anarchism" means. It is not clear how many would ultimately wish to discard the state and capitalism entirely.

But one thing overwhelming numbers of Americans do feel is that something is terribly wrong with their country, that its key institutions are controlled by an arrogant elite, that radical change of some kind is long since overdue. They're right..."

11 Comments

11 Comments


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[-] 1 points by Chris3141 (34) 8 years ago

For an opposing view, see the link below. I support OWS and want it to succeed. And I think that the leaderless structure worked well early on as a way of getting attention. But as we move towards the second phase -- engaging with legislatures and getting the majority of Americans involved -- we need to understand that we need a charismatic leader who understands PR.

http://occupywallst.org/forum/ows-is-becoming-increasingly-unpopular-heres-how-t/

[-] 1 points by unfleecedbysheep (153) 8 years ago

Republic=back to the people, a return of power to the public,

[-] 0 points by alouis (1511) from New York, NY 8 years ago

They never intended a democracy. "The people" were white, male and owned property. David Graeber said it very well.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/15/occupy-anarchism-gift-democracy

In fact, nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or Constitution does it say anything about the US being a "democracy". Most defined democracy as collective self-governance by popular assemblies, and as such, they were dead set against it, arguing it would be prejudicial against the interests of minorities (the particular minority that was had in mind here being the rich). They only came to redefine their own republic – modeled not on Athens, but on Rome – as a "democracy" because ordinary Americans seemed to like the word so much.

But what did, and what do, ordinary Americans mean by the word? A system where they get to weigh in on which politicians will run the government? This is what we're always told, but it seems implausible. After all, most Americans loathe politicians, and tend to be skeptical about the very idea of government.

[-] 1 points by April (3196) 8 years ago

I am glad you posted this. Its important to understand the difference between what we all "think" of as democracy, and the more precise and technically accurate definition, and its role/non-role in our Constitution.

I think we are skeptical of government today, because it is not working for us. It seems to be working for those with monied influence quite well.

It goes far beyond deciding "which" politician will win. Deciding "which" is only part of the process. The one that wins must also serve in the best intersest of the entire electorate. And that is the problem.

What I "think" of as democracy (I'm one of those that really likes that word, even if it's not in the Constitution! There must be some historical reason that we came to love that word so much and identify with it so strongly!), is the government working for all citizens fairly and equally. In the overall best interest of the entire electorate and for the benefit of overall society. With a restrained form of capitalism as our economic model.

[-] 0 points by alouis (1511) from New York, NY 8 years ago

What I posted was written by David Graeber, one of the founders of Occupy Wall Street. He's taken a low profile for now. I hope he emerges soon and shares more of his insights because obviously the man is a genius.

[-] 1 points by April (3196) 8 years ago

Just so we're clear - when I say "government" I mean our Representative Republic form of government.

Since you're such a fan of David Graeber, are you equally enthusiastic about Direct Democracy?

[-] 0 points by alouis (1511) from New York, NY 8 years ago

I'm becoming a fan of David Graeber after seeing the growth of the OW movement's influence. This is more or less his brainchild. As far as direct democracy goes, I tend not to think it is possible to have such a thing in a large and complex arena, but maybe it works very well within a movement like OW. Then again I could be wrong. I read posts here about ramming through a thirty thousand dollar expenditure to send OW "non leaders" on some sort of trip to Egypt. I don't even know if that is true, and i don't know if the posters are reflecting the whole story, but damn, it doesn't sound like something I'd have wanted to contribute to, without my permission.

[-] 0 points by 4thesystem (13) 8 years ago

The success of America will never be in question. We extracated ourselves from the Great Depression albeit with the help of a small World War. Unfortunately there seems to be a small economic problem on the otherside of the Pond which is not helping matters at all. We are global brothers and sisters dragged down by poor personal decisions to piss away money on dreams.

[-] 1 points by weepngwillo2 (277) 8 years ago

Idiot dreamers, right? Wrong. The pursuit of hapiness was a dream, womens suffrage was a dream, Civil rights were a dream. We have the ability to fix the problem, we but have to take the reigns. America was founded on the belief that attaining your dreams is a goal not a sin.

[-] 0 points by alouis (1511) from New York, NY 8 years ago

yeah, there was that small matter of World War Two, costing what, 50 million human lives and umpity trillions of dollars in destruction. Great way to get things back in order (for around thirty years.)