occupy wall street movement: 'it's about the process, stupid'
by robert aziz
Given our human bias not to take seriously anything that is not served up to us in the form of absolutes, it is beyond annoying that the in-your-face presence of the OWSM would have the audacity (interesting word) not to reduce what it is they are actually after to a veritable grocery list of demands. The audacity of their hope (interesting phrase) is that we might get the critical point that "democracy," as I wrote almost three years ago in my HuffPost blog entry of October 20, 2008, "is not a commodity of fixed value; rather, it is a process and as such something we must work each and every day to secure. To uphold and improve democracy's process is, therefore, to uphold and improve democracy itself. The more functional the process, the more authentic the democracy."
When I published Democracy and Self-Organization: The Change of Which Barack Obama Speaks in 2008 I did so with two reasons in mind. The first reason was that I feared the change of which Barack Obama was speaking, having not taken the form of an itemized list of demands, was not strongly on the radar screen of most individuals, even though they could sense its significance at a feeling level and wished to support him. The second reason was that I wanted to explain how the change of which Barack Obama was speaking was actually a direct expression of the current cultural need for meaning, hence its widespread resonance. By way of nature we continue to evolve psychologically and spiritually, much as we adapt physically to our ever-changing environments. In terms of our search for meaning at the cultural level, it is the case that what worked for us 150 years ago when it came to addressing our social, political and ethical challenges will not meet our needs today. Of course this is not to say that there won't be those who will continue to cling to the old in near-addictive fashion.
The change of which Barack Obama spoke in the presidential campaign of 2008, the change toward which we have been moving as a culture by way of nature is a very specific change. It is a change that supports inclusive rather than exclusive process. It is a change that accounts for the real stakeholders and the real factors in play. It is a change in which dynamic process is protected from the imposition of false absolutes in the form of secular and religious ideologies. It is a change in which interpersonal, social and political process does not succumb to the imposition of any labels whatsoever that preclude our engagement with others as human beings first and foremost.
"For democracy to be functional," I wrote in Democracy and Self-Organization, "its process must be inclusive and dynamic. For democracy to be functional, it must hold open the requisite space for the genuine processing of information. For democracy to be functional, everyone must be invested in the outcome of the self-organizing process and no individual or group should experience the paralyzing apathy of marginalization. All important and critical issues must be put on the table and openly and frankly processed, not only by the voting public, but also no less by their elected representatives. Democracy would, in this regard, be a truly inclusive and dynamic process altogether freed from the narrow, self-serving agendas and manipulations of power politics and lobbyists."
Let's face it: OWSM is simply picking up where the election campaign left off. The change of which self-organizing nature speaks is not going away.