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Dutch scholar Marianne Maeckelbergh actively participates in and writes about international democracy movements, starting a decade ago with the anti-globalization movements against the power of organizations like the World Bank and IMF, also called alterglobalization. Many activists flowed from the older movement to the new ones. She found the horizontal organizing methods have maintained similar techniques of decisions made in small working groups that report back to the large gathering for consensus led by facilitators. If people disagree with a proposal, their suggestions will be added if possible. If not enough agreement, they are asked to talk their ideas over with the pertinent working group later. Another similar organizing technique is the use of hand signals to see the sentiments of a large crowd, such as approval with the twinkle, disapproval with the arms crossed to block and to protest against sexist or racist language by banging two fists together with arms raised. A third similarity is the acceptance and expectation that conflict will occur and is a creative part of the democratic process. If someone observes inequality it’s her or his responsibly to speak up.

Differences were anti-globalization activists didn’t intend to have long occupations and they were much less open to newcomers and to being filmed. Maeckelbergh traces the origin of horizontal organizing to feminist, peace, anti-nuclear movements, environmental and Do-it-Yourself (DIY) movements of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. For example, DIY punk musicians like Riot Grrrl in the US and the German band Mono für Alle! produced their own music independent of corporations. Another anticedent is the Zapatistas encuentros large organizational meetings since the mid-1990s.

 

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