How today’s leftists conduct meetings

Paul K. writes:

I appreciated Ken Hechtman’s explanation of the rituals of the Occupy protesters, with their “People’s Microphone” repetitions and finger wiggling signals. There is further explanation of some of this movement’s mysterious rites at a blog called Corrente. The blogger, Lambert, who supports the demonstrations, approvingly traces these procedures to “ethical education innovations that became popular in the 1990s and 2000s” in elementary schools.

Lambert describes some of the signals:

This means, “STEP UP!” One of the organizers demonstrates, scooping the air with two upraised arms. This means, “We haven’t heard from you and would like to hear more!” She turns her arms around in parallel, and pushes them towards the ground in parallel: And this is “STEP DOWN!” You know what that means? It means that you’ve been contributing a lot of times already. Maybe you are a MALE IDENTIFIED PERSON. In which case we might want to hear more from a FEMALE IDENTIFIED PERSON.

I’ve always been nostalgic for the anti-Vietnam demos of my high school days. What I tend to forget, perhaps conveniently, is that there were almost no women speaking at these demonstrations, and how frustrated I felt knowing that if I wanted to be heard, I’d have to fight for space with the alpha males, just like in class.

But here in Zuccotti Park, not only are women being prioritized [Paul K adds: or, in demonstrator New-Speak “Pushed ahead in The Stack,” meaning “Stepped Up” in the queue of speakers when things get too alpha-male]. There’s even a special working group for shy persons! (“If you are nervous about speaking in the big group, come to our meeting, and we will make sure your ideas are heard.”)

Paul K. contnues:

To me, the most interesting element of the blog post I quoted was the concept of MALE IDENTIFIED PERSON and FEMALE IDENTIFIED PERSON. As I understand it, this removes the oppressive biological distinction of man and woman and makes it a matter of self-identification. Thus, someone like Chaz Bono who has female genitalia but takes hormones and chooses to be a MALE IDENTIFIED PERSON must be acknowledged and respected as such.

I was familiar with this concept but was not up to speed with the correct leftist term for it.

- end of initial entry -

Ken Hechtman writes:

I’ve seen activist meetings that take it further than this. I’ve seen them set up a “men’s mike” and a “women’s mike” and alternate between the two. There are invariably more men lined up at the men’s microphone but once all the women at the women’s mike have spoken, the debate is closed. It doesn’t matter how many men haven’t been heard from. The debate is closed.

There’s probably something to the idea that activists get this stuff from self-esteem kindergarten but there’s another part of the story too. When people go to their first activist meeting and get told, “This is how it works around here. This is our procedure,” they have nothing to compare it to. They’ve never learned how Robert’s Rules of Order work or why Robert’s Rules is the best way to run a democratic organization or even why democracy is better than ultrademocracy in general.

Six or seven years ago, I used to work at the riding association level both federally and provincially. Both the federal NDP [New Democratic Party] in Quebec and provincial Quebec Solidaire use the Code Morin. Code Morin isn’t identical to Robert’s Rules but it’s similar enough for our purposes. It’s a parliamentary procedure, not an ultrademocratic one. Anyway, my biggest headache in those days was people coming into electoral politics from an activist background. It wasn’t that they didn’t know how to run a meeting, it was that everything that they did know, no longer applied. This is an actual interaction I once had at a meeting with a former activist:

“The vote is 4 in favor to 1 against. The motion passes.”

“But I disagree!”

“OK, I understand that but everybody else voted for it.”

“But I disagree!”

“Yes, and you lost the vote.”

“But I disagree!” (etc.)

This former activist was used to the idea that she had an absolute right to veto anything she didn’t like and she didn’t understand why the NDP didn’t and couldn’t work the same way.

Joseph E. writes:

I’m not surprised this stuff originated with elementary school reformers.

It reminds me of hand signals used to control unruly 3rd graders at recess or in the lunch line.

Infantilization proceeds apace.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 15, 2011 11:05 AM | Send

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