We are the 10 percent! The tyranny of a minority

I do not profess to be some sort of expert on the internal politics of Occupy Columbia, but I did hear something last night that startled me a bit.

I had wondered how on Earth they decided to do anything without acknowledged leaders. So after the “We Dare You to Arrest Us” rally was over last night, I moseyed over to eavesdrop a bit on their “general assembly.” And I heard what you can hear on the clip above.

I thought at the time maybe I had heard it out of context. As you can hear on the video, someone was saying hi to me at the beginning of this, which distracted me (you can hear me mumbling, “Hey. Hey, how are ya?”). But as I listen again, it seems pretty open and shut — any minority over 10 percent can block any decision.

As a guy who has for years fought efforts in our Legislature to make ordinary decisions subject to a supermajority of two-thirds — meaning one-third plus one is in charge — I was rather taken aback by this.

Walk me through this, please… This is a group that is indignant that, according to its legend, 1 percent controls things and 99 percent are victims, right? Yet this group lets 10 percent (plus one) make decisions for the 90 percent?

So it’s 1 percent good, 10 percent bad? Or what?

Maybe there’s a logical explanation. I’ll try to remember to ask next time I see some of these folks. They were kind of scarce around the State House when I looked today…

6 thoughts on “We are the 10 percent! The tyranny of a minority

  1. Mab

    Re: your voice

    “…you use it whether or not [whether or not] you agree with what is being said [you agree with what is being said]…”

    @ 1:06


    Normally “horizontal democracy” [look it up — Hakim dropped this label] is about mob rule. The numbers don’t add up here…

  2. Brad

    Yeah, that kinda creeped me out, too. If I found myself a part of a crowd that was repeating what was being said, and then I hear the words “you use it whether or not you agree with what is being said,” I would say, “Hey, wait a minute,” and slip away quietly to think long and hard about what I was doing.

    I am not a machine, and I am not a parrot. One of the things that bothers me most about parties is that in order to be in a party, you have to subordinate some of your own opinions to that of the group for the sake of solidarity (because there’s no way any two members of a group can agree on EVERYTHING), and if you’re “on message,” you find yourself parroting the words of others.

    This is that to the nth degree.

  3. Mark Stewart

    I know that people feel good standing together for something. That’s called a cause.

    This Occupy thing? This I do not get.

  4. Nick Nielsen

    I understood the “you use it” part to be explaining how the pete/repeat crowd amplifier works. They’re not, in that case, expressing an opinion, but passing on the speaker’s words.

    A 90% consensus? I have trouble getting that from myself when I’m deciding where I want to go for lunch!

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