... The way Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy movement worldwide are structured is drawn from another way of thinking. Marina Sitrin, an early participant in the Occupy movement in New York and the author of the book Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina, describes horizontalism thus:
“Horizontal, as it sounds, is a level space for decision making, a place where one can look directly at the other person across from you, and discuss things that matter most to all of us – we decide the agenda. Horizontalism is more than just being against hierarchy, or people having power over others – it is about creating something new together in our relationships. The means are a part of the ends. The forms of organizing manifest what we desire; it is not a question of demands, but rather a manifestation of an alternative way of being and relating.”
Horizontalism and consensus might seem complicated, especially after watching the houses of Congress descend into a battle of egos and wills. Trying to get a simple majority of the Senate, let alone the 60-vote supermajority that is essentially required for every vote now that the filibuster is routinely abused, to agree on anything is a near-impossible task, so how would 95 percent consensus ever work?
But the fact is that thousands of people can come to agreement on complicated issues. Witness the reported vote of 1720 to three (with six “unsure”) at the University of California-Davis over a student general strike this week in the wake of the pepper-spraying of unarmed students by a university cop. And some of that perhaps comes from the fact that they are not playing power games, jockeying for higher position (and more fundraising dollars), or making grandstanding speeches. The people's mic, the Occupy protesters' amplification system, actually contributes to the horizontal structure by cutting down on the ability of any one person to hold court for too long. Any speech requires the consent of those participating in the people's mic, and they can revoke it at any time by simply not choosing to repeat those words. ...