People's Mic and democratic charisma

Occupy Wall Street's frontier assemblies

in Focaal
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  • 1 Cornell University ceg97@cornell.edu
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The People's Mic is a new genre of political speech. In Occupy Wall Street (OWS) general assemblies, this tactile media for public deliberation was integral to embodying new political community across American cities in a globally oriented movement of the squares. Whether or not OWS has exemplified direct democracy per se, the People's Mic has cultivated new forms of democratic charisma between previously disaggregated constituencies-a “leaderful charisma“, with historical roots in pious American oratorical traditions (“hallowed speech“) and more recent movements for intercultural solidarity building (global justice, horizontalist, feminist, etc.). In this article, I signal how the People's Mic atavistically conjured and resembled the American town hall meeting in a contemporary and heterogeneous US frontier assembly. Before its strategic incapacitation, the Occupy movement's widespread use of People's Mic served to undermine the authority of private-public monopolies and to place a check on mounting police repression of urban space.