Rhizome has a very interesting post reflecting on the processes being used by the Occupy movement. It references Ivan Boothe’s post which in turn talks about the tyranny of structurelessness.

What I take from this is that any group process is going to be more comfortable for some than others. It’s easy to miss these differences and end up thinking we’re being frightfully egalitarian when we’re not.

I don’t think there is ever true “structurelessness” in a group – only an unwillingness or inability to see what structures are there. This comes up a lot when talking about Open Space: people will cringe and say it lacks structure whereas it has lot of structure though less of it is created in advance than with some other approaches.

My head starts to spin when I dwell on this for too long. But I often return to the need to focus on managing my own piece of the puzzle and not get too grandiose in my ambitions to manage, outwit, rescue, redeem or otherwise manipulate other people.

3 thoughts on “Structureless?

  1. Earl Mardle

    Couple of things. The points Rhizome and Ivan make are valid but they also overlook the other reality of social and economic progress.

    Slavery was not ended by slaves, nor child labour by children, the powerless find it very difficult to seize power and usually have to do it with serious violence. Yes the OWS people are privileged and it is their obligation as privileged people to act, in essence, because they can.

    The lack of apparent structure does, and will, lead to informalised relationships that are therefore unaccountable and opaque. But the huge advantage that the lack of structure offers is that there is nobody with whom TPTB can “negotiate”, nobody they can take into a smoke-filled room and bribe, blackmail or beat into submission. The only place the conversation and the negotiation can take place is in the full glare of the public space.

    As long as OWS can refrain from trying to make policy or specific operational demands they will be able to remain at least reasonably public.

    Their job is not to demand particular actions, it is to demand particular results. The only people who can take any action are those with the power. But they wont get any kudos for the action, only the results will matter.

    SERIOUSLY interesting times.

  2. annette

    Interesting piece – but there’s another layer to all of this which isn’t mentioned – the unconscious, which, despite all our best efforts gets in the mix and undermines the rational and reasoned attempts to be inclusive etc etc…


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