An experience diplomat, who knows top-downism from the inside, says Occupy is the best thing going.
A new politics is needed, and in the early weeks of Occupy Wall Street, I saw signs of its emergence. Some would see the Occupy protests as yet more evidence of disorder, not its solution. But to my jaded eye, the beacons pointing to a better method were bright indeed. At the UN Security Council and other diplomatic forums, I had taken part in high-stakes negotiations on everything from Iraqi WMDs to Palestine to the future of the Balkans. But the experience of hundreds of people listening to the voice of one—anyone!—through the “people’s mic” moved me more than any of those worldly negotiations. This was a politics of the many, included at last, at least in the small square of Zuccotti Park, if not in our distant capitals. Here I saw true respect, not the pretend respect of diplomacy. Here I saw involving and passionate debate, not the childish antagonism of Internet debate or the partisan rancor of Washington. The crowd was gripped by an unfamiliar emotion, a shared sentiment that others were listening and that their decisions truly mattered.
This is the start of a new politics, but obviously mere meetings and protest marches are not enough. There is nothing certain about the future, save that it is our actions that will create it and that others are already exploiting our inaction. It is no longer sufficient to appeal to government to put things right; a corrupted system will not reform itself. We must create new systems, new modes of decision-making and interaction, and new forms of economic behavior to replace the old.