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View Diary: Occupy DailyKos: Solutions Working Group (120 comments)

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  •  Not exactly dismissed..and more to come (1+ / 0-)

    Vyan and I were discussing this yesterday. As someone who has studied human behavioral biology and anthropology myself, it is natural for humans to form structures within their societies, and these structures tend to be hierarchical.

    Here are the problems with your point...First, we are not hunter-gatherers living in small bands of 50 or so people with strong familial ties...we are a nation of some 300 million people with diverse backgrounds living in what is becoming an increasingly global society. Second, even these groups generally had structures usually based on age (who had the most wisdom), and on who could best care for the well-being of the entire group (i.e. who was the best hunter).  

    The point isn't so much that there is a hierarchy, but how the hierarchy is formed...positions of leadership need to be earned, not bought.

    I (with some help, I hope) will be putting more together on this in an attempt to get everyone on the same page with regards to this internal struggle that we seem to be having regarding how we define our structure and what it should look like.

    The OWS group on DKos had a discussion yesterday about how being "leaderless" is a tactical advantage and we should not give that up...and the main reason for this, from what I understand, seems to be that we want to make sure the leaders cannot be corrupted and compromise the movement...

    I agree...but have three points regarding this...first, the tactical advantage isn't so much in not having leaders...it's in making sure that WE are framing the conversation and setting the agenda. And if the conversation is about how we're disorganized and don't have leaders, we need to be able to effectively address this and show it to be to the contrary, because it is distracting from our message and not helping us gain support.

    Second, if no one can make decisions for the group without first going through the process, then I don't think we have to worry about our leaders becoming compromised.

    Third, from a practical perspective, we already have a structure where people take on different roles and interact with other people or groups on different levels. Part of this is just semantics...and a paradox...the difference between what is an how we describe it...

    So I don't care if they're called leaders or spokespeople or what, but I do recognize that people have a need to label things so they can better understand them, and I also believe that internally we need an effective and efficient structure that can facilitate crafting our message and our action plan and getting people on the same page so we can present a more unified voice that will help engage more people, and ultimately help us become a more powerful force to influence positive change.

    Anyway, I will be putting together a diary on this, hopefully soon, and hopefully with some help (feel free to volunteer)

    99% isn't enough. We're all in this together.

    by Frank Lee Speaking on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 01:58:22 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Your generalities about hierarchy are wrong (0+ / 0-)

      and, unfortunately, quite commonly held, Frank.  

      I'm going to disagree with your belief that it is "natural" for humans to form structures within their cultures and that these structures tend to be hierarchical.  A lot of human cultures have indeed been hierarchical.  But that doesn't mean that they have to be.  The existence of human cultures that are non-hierarchical does argue for that.  And the FANTASTIC ADVANTAGE we have as human beings as that we can be so adaptable.  

      Maybe thinking about hunter-gatherers seems off-the-wall in this discussion.  I don't.  I think we should look to cultures that work and see what we are able to borrow from those cultures.  We need all the workable models that we can examine.

      I know that we are not hunter-gatherers living in small population densities. (The people I describe live in bands of about 40 or 50 folks and are part of much larger groups that get together for celebrations, such as that of a girl's first menstruation - they handle that rite of passage much more happily than we do.  The larger groups consist of about 500 people, who are in turn, in touch with larger groups at other times, so that there is greater opportunity for finding a sweetheart, bartering, gossiping, singing and dancing.  People simply break up into groups of a size that the Forest can support for a couple of weeks.  Movement from band to band is extremely fluid.)

      Observing - and participating - in groups this size made me think that it's a number that seems to work pretty well.  

      Who was the best hunter?  Well,  it's interesting that you bring that up.  Major changes in Africa have all but eliminated elephant hunting among these people, but prior to that, ntuma, male elephant hunters, did go up against those enormous animals with their spears.  And if they managed to make a kill without being killed, when they got back to camp to tell everyone where to go to start butchering, none of them would accept credit for the actual kill.  They dissembled.  They changed the subject.  No one wanted to be known as the best hunter. No guy would admit to me he had ever been an ntuma - elephant hunter.  Today, when women and men together net hunt small deer-like animals and other game, no one brags that they made the kill.  Prestige avoidance is an absolute value.

      Anyone who might take it into his or her head to brag or get a little cocky is quickly taken down by teasing from the group.  I use the word cocky deliberately because I got tired of the Man the Hunter paradigm a few decades ago.

      Who is the wisest?  Who is the most experienced?  No man or woman will claim those attributes, and decisions about things like when to break camp are discussed until a consensus is reached.  And if a consensus is not reached, some people break camp, and some don't.  No one has authority to tell anyone else what to do.  

      I know that we are not hunter-gatherers, but a lot of Americans presently live as foragers, often used as a synonym for hunter-gatherers.  I can't calculate how many people could live off the junk most of us have.  How many people could we clothe with what we have in our closets? The excess has got to end.

      Certainly our population density is too high - there are just too many people in the world.  Period.  If we solve some of our other problems, people will not feel it necessary to have six children so that two will survive.  

      I may be very wrong, but it seems that you have trouble envisioning a group without a hierarchy.  You seem to assume a hierarchy.  Almost every one of your paragraphs has a LEADER in it.  Please don't count on anthropology to support you.  And please remember that human beings are incredibly adaptable.  Even if no humans had ever functioned without the Queen or the President or the Prime Minister or the High Priest to tell them what to do and represent them in diplomatic negotiations with others of the High and Mighty, we are not stuck with that model.  We are able to adapt.

      I think that being leaderless is a tremendous tactical advantage.  And in answer to any accusation that we are disorganized, we can respond that we ARE organized: we are organized in such a way that we refuse to acknowledge the leadership or authority of any individuals to represent or speak for any of the rest of us.

      We can proclaim that hierarchy is obviously a failed model, corrupting to even the best among us, and ultimately destructive to the needs of the governed. We know that power corrupts and we're not handing over power to anyone.  

      As an experiment in America over some centuries, we have found that allowing leaders to emerge or electing leaders to represent us has led to little but grief.  So we have a better plan.  Each of us is responsible to and for each other and each of us is a leader with a voice as legitimate as any other.  

       In your second paragraph, you state that the people of the African rainforest have strong familial ties.  Right and wrong.  Some are siblings, or parents and children.  Some are from distant bands, totally unrelated.  But they behave as a family.  

      Can't we?  And aren't we?  Aren't total strangers putting themselves in harm's way to protect others?  Tending each other's wounds, encouraging each other, standing up non-violently for the 99% who don't even know what's going on?  Actually, in some cases, risking death for each other. OWS or earlier daily life, isn't this what most of us have always done? Isn't this altruism one of the things that makes us human? I see us as sisters and brothers, not kids vying for student body president.

      I think we can rise to the tremendous challenge of each being a leader. This is something completely new for many of us, and we'll make mistakes, but we'll learn from them and they will not be fatal mistakes. We are many; they are few.  If you read Gandhi's biography, and right now that book and I are inseparable, I see how many times he failed at little things and big things, and how many times he learned from failure, picked himself up and came up stronger and smarter.    

      I believe in us. It's not that we can do this, it's that we are doing it.  We're facing a set of challenges and dealing with them.  It's messy.  That's to be expected.  We're not just creating a new way of acting, but of speaking, of thinking.  We are deliberately creating a culture.  And that is so awesome.

      Thank you for engaging in an interesting discussion with me, Frank.  I am proud to call you my brother.

      Best,
      Elizabeth  
         

      I have no help to send. Therefore I must go myself. Aragorn

      by Old Gardener on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 07:16:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  likewise (0+ / 0-)

        Though I do not think a few examples that go against what I said proves the generalities I made false. I could make the counterarguments, and go on at length about human nature and organizational development, but as I said before, the argument about hierarchy is largely paradoxical...call people what you want...what matters is what they're doing...and one thing I will not be doing is having a circular conversation or theoretical debate where we are largely arguing two sides of the same coin. I'd much rather talk about the policies we want to change and how we plan to change them, and let the structure evolve organically.

        There is one quick thing I want to point out before I move on, and that is that we can't really say hierarchy is a failed model, because hierarchy is not a model, but one of a number of features in a variety of models that comes in different forms.

        But in any case, all further points should be directed toward functionality alone.  This is what I was trying to say: Like you said we should expect this to be messy in the early stages; I've been saying that all along. But if ultimately we want a more effective, more efficient government of by and for the people (and that's what I want at least), then that needs to be reflected within our own organization. The examples you gave work nicely with 50 people, but get up past 150 and they start to break down. There's a reason why we don't run our federal government like a general assembly...it would be a completely untenable, chaotic bureaucratic nightmare. It's the same reason Occupy Philly resolved through their consensus process that the formalization and ratification of the official petition of grievances should be done by a body of representative delegates chosen through a democratic election process rather than an open meeting where anyone is allowed to attend and submit their own proposals.

        I'll let you decipher what it all means though, and just leave it at this: I'm going to try and avoid these types of discussions, and continue to put my energy toward helping to develop a clear, focused message and action plan that will engage the millions of people who, even if they don't know it yet, agree with the fundamental principles we stand for, and are just waiting to be given a little direction as to how they can get involved in helping to influence positive change in our society (and I could certainly use some help).

        99% isn't enough. We're all in this together.

        by Frank Lee Speaking on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 12:51:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  not just a question of leaders being compromised (0+ / 0-)

      but also being assassinated or character assassinated.

      What I mean to say is, the concern wasn't just about bribes or co-optation.

      Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 03:03:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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