OWS at the crossroads

One night in mid-October, hundreds of people had gathered, trying to agree on whether to buy brewing equipment, coffee and tea. Queries were fired from the crowd:

Would it be free-trade coffee?

Could they avoid using disposable cups?

How would they chill the milk and cream?

An hour later, the same proposal was still being debated.

“Can’t we just make a decision?” a young protester whispered to his girlfriend.

Recently, the protesters voted to revamp the process: the general assembly would still decide broader issues, but representatives of smaller groups would form a “spokescouncil” to handle day-to-day operations. The change was voted on last weekend. Some opponents feared that the general assembly would lose power. Others worried that small groups would gain a disproportionate voice.

“Mikhail Bakunin warned us of the hierarchy of bureaucrats,” one participant cautioned the group, citing the 19th-century Russian anarchist.