Representing Consensus and Dissent: On the (Anti-)Representational Politics of the Occupy Movement

Gerald Posselt


The political strategies of the Occupy Movement are often described in terms of free deliberation and consensus. This becomes especially manifest in the rejection of any representational politics in the General Assemblies. Here, processes of decision-making are organized, as it seems, strictly horizontally and are consensus-oriented. However, this does not necessarily mean that the Occupy movement endorses a notion of rational consensus or of an ideal speech situation. Such a position runs the risk of imagining a community without conflict and division, while at the same time jeopardizing political agency and the possibility of social transformation. Against this position I will argue that the Occupy movement offers an opportunity to rethink and reformulate the concepts of consensus and representation. For it can be shown that the slogan “We are the 99 percent” not only claims but performs and politicizes the antagonistic split between “we” and “they” as well as “I” and “we” that is constitutive of the political. Thus, Occupy helps us to envisage new forms of representation and building consensus that do not eliminate dissensus, but rather consider it an essential moment of democracy.

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ISSN: 2281-3209                DOI Prefix: 10.7408

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