I consider Dan Hind as one of the most articulate thinkers about the occupation movements. He is a must-read for everyone participating in occupations.
“We don’t need a movement that stretches beyond politics, we need a movement that stretches the boundaries of politics so that they include meaningful discussion of things that matter.
We all need to act to secure a public status as political beings.” Dan Hind.
Now the question concerning us is : Considering the objective structural conditions in Geneva ( especially the direct participation voting system with popular initiatives), how do we articulate this idea at Occupy Geneva?
The popular initiatives system in Switzerland gives the illusion that the people decide about the future of the country. But this system has many problems: most initiatives concern minor issues such as the construction of a new road here or there meanwhile the political elite decide about the fondamental issues such as the regulations of banks, immigration policies, welfare, workers rights etc…
Furthermore considering Theory of Deliberation of the great german philosopher Habermas, public opinion is made up through deliberation (process of open debate between citizens with equal rights) using language for true communication and social coordination whereas the political decisions are made by politicians who use language as a strategic weapon to manipulate and influence. The consequence for Habermas is that politicians make the decisions while being conscious of public opinion.
This is why the occupation movements are so important : they insist on the process of deliberation (the role of General Assemblies) to stimulate public opinion about things that are essential for the whole of civil society but that politicians have made their own. “We are the 99%” represents this idea in my opinion, civil society is claiming back what has always been his own : politics.
There is two ways of defining politics, said a young representative of the Chilean students movement in a recent conference at the University of Geneva: The first one is the “classic political system” where politics are the domain of political parties and politicians and the only thing that people can do is vote, this is a top-down view of politics. The second is a bottom-up view of politics, where people decide through debate and deliberation what should be done. The second view considers every decision about society to be part of politics whereas the first monopolize what is politics in the hands of the “political elite”.