"Waves of nostalgia swept over me. This was exactly how I spent my college years..."

“You get so many voices and so many opinions, it’s hard to find consensus,” said Ambrose Desmond, a 32-year-old psychotherapist from San Francisco who was the leader of the meeting. Or would have been if there were any leaders. Which there most definitely were not.

The people sitting around with Desmond were studying a proposal for reorganizing the way that the various working groups — Donations, Finance, Outreach, Internet, Sanitation, Medical, Direct Action and many, many more — make their opinions felt in the evening assembly. The current system, it said, makes newcomers come away “exhausted by our model of direct democracy, rather than invigorated and inspired by it.”

Waves of nostalgia swept over me. This was exactly how I spent my college years, which were theoretically dedicated to creating a more humane society and stopping the war in Vietnam, but, in reality, mainly involved meetings. Endless meetings in which it was alleged that the winner was the person who managed to remain sitting while everyone else toppled over with boredom. I can’t say definitely, because I never made it to the end.

“Just make sure there’s not a whole bunch of white men speaking, please,” said a young woman to the group, which was largely a whole bunch of white men.