I am really isolated from the urban centres. All I have heard about #Occupy has been from friends and the media. I have been asking about the place, the conversations and the feeling of being there, all to get a closer understanding of what is happening.
Only with these vague impressions, I imagined an #Occupy that might not be the one out in the streets, but one that could be. I imagined public spaces being occupyied (!) by people to generate conversations and opinions about topics of public interest, topics that are many times hidden in meetings behind private doors.
I imagined a participatory and critical way of understanding how our society has been functioning. What for many has been a space for protest, also for me it’s a space for broaden understanding. The conversations at #Occupy not only seem to be exploring the new as much as criticizing the old, but also creating the new as the movement matures – friends have said that people or movements that come with ready-made alternatives quickly realize they are in the wrong place.
The power resides on people having a space to ask themselves if democracy as we see it today is a reality or an illusion.
One thing is a fact – never before we have recorded a number of syncronized public spaces being held to talk about our society and our modus operandi. Never before we had so many spaces where participants of political democracies feel there might be something else to be said, to be understood, to be part of.
And yet those places are not defying democracy, but are surely defying what some call “democratic illusion”, the idea that public participation is restricted to the political sphere and that an individual’s contribution and choice relies on scattered democratic vote or by joining a political party or movement.
I believe that great power of influence of #Occupy also goes beyond the criticism of our capitalist society. The power resides on people having a space to ask themselves if democracy as we see it today is a reality or an illusion. Both people who are camping and others following from other places are people who have multiple but clear motives to at least question the way our political democracy has been going.
And what would happen if we become disillusioned with democracy?
It is impossible to predict what could happen if a critical mass becomes disenchanted with what the world might call in the future “a restrict model of participation”. If there is a possibility of going beyond this model, a disenchanted group or political flag won’t suffice, what is essential is that people disenchant together.
#Occupy seems to be a collective preparation that might lead to another form of social participation, a model that will have the face of the collective and yet have no face. Perhaps it is the first of many other forms that will redefine how we organize our society.
- Read Democracy is the enemy from Slavoj Žižek
- Read José Saramago talking about The least bad system is in need of change: Reinventing democracy.