Emerging Participatory Democracy Movements

People are rising up against plutocracy and corporate capitalism in growing movements around the world, such as "Yes We Camp" and "Occupy Wall Street."  One of the defining characteristics is to establish grassroots participatory democracy as a fundamental organizing principle.

“Yes We Camp,” one of the witty twitter hashtags of Spain’s 15 May movement, sums things up well. Inspired by the Arab Spring, galvanized by crisis, unemployment and austerity, fed up with the ineffective, corrupt, and often misanthropic political process, we are leaving our homes and moving to the street. In a blend of last-chance desperation and optimistic empowerment, we are building autonomous, totally democratic camps in city centers across the world. In these camps total inclusive democracy is praxis, everything is shared, and we build revolutionary consciousness everyday.
The camp is fundamentally organized around the principle of the General Assembly. If you’ve been in any kind of leftist meeting you have an idea of how it works: someone volunteers to be meeting facilitator, and people raise their hands to get on the ‘stack’. The facilitator calls on people in the order they volunteered, and only one person speaks at a time. They seek consensus rather than majority rule: all of the meetings I witnessed ended with dissenters agreeing to proposals and accepting the decision of the group. In a majority vote, voters are presented with a yes/no question and 51 percent carries the day, but in General Assembly proposals are built during conversation and debate, and as such actually reflect the desires of the group as a whole.
From the general assembly Los Indignados formed commissions, which focus on specific issues and questions within the camp, such as communication, international press, infrastructure, and food. These commissions set up their own booths and tents, where they work and remain available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to speak with the public walking through the square. Commissions all have their own assemblies, following the same methods. As such, all actions, choices, and movements are formed from the bottom up, not the top down.

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