From Jonathan Simon:
Important I think not to dismiss this stuff (see report on OWS internal conflicts below) as just a media tear-down. I know there’s plenty of that, along with infiltration and sabotage, and I also know that OWS, in its various venues, is very much a work in progress. But unless each assembly finds some way(s) to get a handle on the destructive, trust-destroying side of these internal conflicts, a good part of the energy of the gatherings will be spent internally and they will die on the vine.
What’s been happening at OWS NY underscores the value of representative democracy. There’s a very good reason that nearly all democracies, whether at the national or village level, turn before long to some representative mode of governance and decision-making. Pure democracy gets extremely dicey for groups larger than say a classroom or girl scout troop. When it’s hundreds or thousands, the breakdown is all but inevitable imo.
This is where elections come in. Bestowing our power on representatives is a profound act of trust, not necessarily an abdication. It goes without saying, then, that a rigged electoral process which grossly distorts that lending of power will ultimately wreak havoc on any polity. It is, I think, a terrible mistake to attempt to substitute pure democracy for representative democracy when that representative democracy has broken down almost entirely because the mode of election has broken down (having been hijacked, whether by Citizens United, Jim Crow, or computerized rigging), such that the representatives no longer fairly represent the electorate.
So much of what we are seeing politically in the US is the result of that breakdown of electoral process (and I’m not thinking only
of the general elections, but of the crucial primaries that set the candidate fields) and yet so little attention is being paid to that, even by the OWS people. They are offering up an ethos of “pure democracy” as the alternative model to a representative democracy gone terribly off the rails, when a repaired representative democracy would serve us far better, and is imo what is needed. However refreshing pure democracy may seem at first blush, if and when it breaks down into contentious paresis, it may well take down with
it much of the energy that might have been applied to repairing our electoral process and the still-viable representative democracy that it underwrites.
Senior Editor, Traffic & Trends, The Huffington Post
Occupy Wall Street: At Zuccotti Park, Conflict Arises Among Occupiers