From a blog post by a Clevelander that has been part of Occupy Cleveland from the get go. Harrison Kalodimos.
In response to many of my friends expressing exasperation that the occupation will not release a “coherent list of demands,” let me offer this explanation.
A demand implies that we are asking someone else to do something for us, it accepts the legitimacy of the existing power structure and asks a favor from it. However, we do not accept the legitimacy of the American corporatocracy, and we are not asking favors from it. Rather, we are asserting our rights in order to defend ourselves against it.
When we assert that the impact of the people’s voice in the political and economic structures that shape our lives shall be a function of our inherent and equal human dignity and not of the size of our bank accounts, we recognize that no legislation can secure this right until the fundamental structure of our political and economic system is changed. Instead, we have taken up a two part strategy of non-violent resistance and democracy-building.
Our non-violent resistance is a recognition that the institutions of government that were once trusted to protect citizens have failed to do so. Therefore, we have chosen to highlight the many ways in which our rights have been curtailed by exercising those rights in public ways. Every time a police officer beats down one of our members, our numbers grow. Every time a city attempts to chase its citizens out of public spaces, our numbers grow. Every time the hypocrisy of the corporate media is exposed, our numbers grow.
Secondly, we are engaging in a democracy-building process because we recognize that to declaim the failures of the current system is powerless without offering an alternative. In our general assemblies, we are growing a new structure of participatory democracy that emphasizes listening over speaking, equality over hierarchy. The structure of the general assembly and its process of consensus-based decision making is not new, it has been used for thousands of years by groups ranging from the Iroquois Confederacy Grand Council to the Quakers. We are simply updating and expanding the structure to fit our needs. [emphasis mine]
I understand that the occupation is bewildering to those who have not yet participated in it. I can also understand how an organization without hierarchy can be confusing to someone who has grown up knowing nothing outside hierarchy. But there was once a time in which self-governance was a bewildering concept to those who had known nothing but feudalism.
Please ask me any questions about the occupation you wish. There have been many misconceptions deliberately pushed forward by the media, and I am eager to correct them. However, understand that no one person can speak for the entire movement. All I offer is the perspective of someone who has been involved in OccupyCleveland since its first General Assembly.
The democratic approach that the #Occupy movement has implemented in it’s purist form has tremendous significance for the movement and society as well. And they are practicing and refining it every day. This kind of thought provoking material is showing up more and more and even on the discussions lists where a fairly lengthy discussion on what to to about out current form of capitalism and why it is failing so badly for so many. Even going into the implications of advancing technology. This out of the box approach to our current problems goes far and beyond anything that those in Washington could possibly comprehend.