There was something implied in the occupation of Zuccotti Park. Picketing, protesting, marching - you do that until your demands are met. I've been reading about consensus-building, and while it's fascinating and a promising model for organizing, I'm having a hard time getting on board. If the process is the purpose, then I don't know if anyone will get more than participation ribbons within the next five years. The most cynical thought I have had about consensus-building is that it's the terrifying result of Special Snowflake-ism. Occupy is anti-hierarchical, which I'll admit is sort of hard for me to wrap my head around. Anti-hierarchy seems in this instance to be anti-power, and therefore anti-empowerment. I held out a little hope after reading this interview with Marina Sitrin on historical use of consensus-building, only to have it totally dashed by Ted Rall later on.
There are precedents of consensus-building working out beautifully. But I don't think that will happen at Zucotti Park. It's the very last thing I want to say "I told you so" about. I'd love to be proven wrong. I've spent hours this week trying to convince myself that I am.
OWS has indeed empowered people to make their pain known. I'll say unequivocally that is an accomplishment. If I may be flip, America has been in need of a pity party. (Tongue in cheek! You can have a pity party about an actual problem.) But it doesn't appear that this is all OWS has set out to do; there are still people camping out on Wall Street.
I read an article by Ted Rall today about how consensus-building is basically useless at making things happen, but super-fun and important anyway I guess. I read this in the latest Boise Weekly, which is running a series on empowering people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities to vote. Amusingly, Rall's article (wherein he made a snide remark about having to listen to the mentally-handicapped during the occupation) was on the opposite page of the first installment of the series.