[Marxism] The Australian: OWS spreads to Australia

Nick Fredman nick.fredman at iinet.net.au
Thu Oct 13 20:35:07 MDT 2011


>> The organised far left has to understand this dynamic -- the far left cannot just go in to this and hammer a line at 
people. This is not about winning a vote, but creating spaces for people to discuss through the issues and collectively begin 
to formulate a response.<<

This is very important. I’m planning on taking my two young boys to Melbourne City Square tomorrow morning while my 
partner works but the possibility of a self-declared Red Bloc of Socialist Alternative members running around with far more 
megaphones than are really necessary is not very appealing.  

We should be open and patient when new people move into action, but I do hope there’s some structure to the event or us 
three and I suspect others even without easily bored children might soon wander down the road to the Australian Centre for 
the Moving Image to play vintage video games. This movement is surprising, could be quite important and seems to some 
extent genuinely new. But despite the involvement of union activists in Melbourne, as Stuart reports, organizationally some 
of the sillier autonomous-type ideas of the recent past seem to be prevalent: an idea of “openness” that consists of 
convoluted and not very useful forms being insisted on from the start. E.g. 

>> A majority vote will win, however it is also possible to Block (veto) the proposal in which case the assembly will move to 
modify the consensus and seek 90% consensus to pass the proposal. Hand signals are used to indicate level of support and 
to communicate with the facilitators.<<


Apart from this not making sense, why can’t the people there decide on something else, like a traditional majority vote? Basic 
forms of democratic discussion were worked out about 2500 years ago in city-states in India and Greece, and we really don’t 
have to anguish about new forms, when we should be focused on a movement’s content. 

>> The speaker’s forum will not be amplified, a “people’s microphone” can be used if the crowd size is too big for 
everybody to hear the speaker. The use of a megaphone may be considered if the audience still has trouble hearing, however 
the people’s microphone should be the default method of amplification.<<


Why not have a PA so we can frigging well hear clearly, FFS?

This all reminds me of my partner’s frustrations for part of the organizing of the national student women’s conference in 
2004, when some influenced by autonomous ideas insisted for weeks on end that an open, fluid structure, decided upon 
each day, was inherently more democratic than a boring old agenda. There was a lot of patient but firm arguments that 
people travelling thousands of kilometers might well want to know what was on when and of course a set agenda can have 
some space for late addition and amendment. Luckily this won out and a boring old agenda framed an excellent conference. I 
don’t think the autonomists had at that point come up with the idea that electrical amplification was totalitarian, luckily for 
my partner’s sanity. 

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