Manufacturers

From Democracy to Freedom

The Difference Between Government and Self-Determination according to Crimethinc.

More details


£4.44

From Democracy to Freedom grew out of years of dialogue between participants in social movements around the world. Exploring how recent uprisings have been catalyzed and limited by democratic discourse, From Democracy to Freedomexplores the difference between government and self-determination, proposing new ways to understand what we’re doing when we make decisions together.

Democracy is the most universal political ideal of our day. George Bush invoked it to justify invading Iraq; Obama congratulated the rebels of Tahrir Square for bringing it to Egypt; Occupy Wall Street claimed to have distilled its pure form. From the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea to the autonomous region of Rojava, practically every government and popular movement calls itself democratic. 

And what’s the cure for the problems with democracy? Everyone agrees: more democracy. Since the turn of the century, we’ve seen a spate of new movements promising to deliver real democracy, in contrast to ostensibly democratic institutions that they describe as exclusive, coercive, and alienating.

Is there a common thread that links all these different kinds of democracy? Which of them is the real one? Can any of them deliver the inclusivity and freedom we associate with the word?

Impelled by our own experiences in directly democratic movements, we’ve returned to these questions. Our conclusion is that the dramatic imbalances in economic and political power that have driven people into the streets from New York City to Sarajevo are not incidental defects in specific democracies, but structural features dating back to the origins of democracy itself; they appear in practically every example of democratic government through the ages. Representative democracy preserved all the bureaucratic apparatus that was originally invented to serve kings; direct democracy tends to recreate it on a smaller scale, even outside the formal structures of the state. Democracy is not the same as self-determination.

To be sure, many good things are regularly described as democratic. This is not an argument against discussions, collectives, assemblies, networks, federations, or working with people you don’t always agree with. The argument, rather, is that when we engage in those practices, if we understand what we are doing as democracy—as a form of participatory government rather than a collective practice of freedom—then sooner or later, we will recreate all the problems associated with less democratic forms of government. This goes for representative democracy and direct democracy alike, and even for consensus process.

Rather than championing democratic procedures as an end in themselves, then, let’s return to the values that drew us to democracy in the first place: egalitarianism, inclusivity, the idea that each person should control her own destiny. If democracy is not the most effective way to actualize these, what is?

As fiercer and fiercer struggles rock today’s democracies, the stakes of this discussion keep getting higher. If we go on trying to replace the prevailing order with a more participatory version of the same thing, we’ll keep ending up right back where we started, and others who share our disillusionment will gravitate towards more authoritarian alternatives. We need a framework that can fulfill the promises democracy has betrayed.

In the following text, we examine the common threads that connect different forms of democracy, trace the development of democracy from its classical origins to its contemporary representative, direct, and consensus-based variants, and evaluate how democratic discourse and procedures serve the social movements that adopt them. Along the way, we outline what it would mean to seek freedom directly rather than through democratic rule.

Cart  

No products

£0.00 Shipping
£0.00 Total

Cart Check out

New products

  • A Post Fordist struggle
  • Unwaged Fightback A History of Islington Action Group of the Unwaged, 1980 - 1986
A Post Fordist struggle
Report & reflections on the UK Ford-Visteon dispute 2009.
Read more
Unwaged Fightback A History of Islington Action Group of the Unwaged, 1980 - 1986
UNWAGED FIGHTBACK, A History of Islington Action Group of the Unwaged,...
Read more
Strange Confused Tumults of the Mind
"STRANGE CONFUSED TUMULTS OF THE MINDE": Wanderings in the past, present...
Read more
The Wilhelmshaven Revolt
A Chapter of the Revolutionary Movement  in the German Navy 1918-1919....
Read more
May Day in South London by Neil Transpontine
For centuries people have been celebrating May Day in South London.
Read more
The Movement of Movements
What Makes Us Move?, the first of two volumes, provides a background and...
Read more
Bold Defiance
The Spitalfields Silkweavers: London’s Luddites?
Read more
William Covell and the Troubles at Enfield in 1659
WILLIAM COVELL AND THE TROUBLES AT ENFIELD IN 1659An enclosure struggle...
Read more
The Establishment Versus the Rotunda
THE ESTABLISHMENT VERSUS THE ROTUNDA! Remembering 1830s London's most...
Read more
I Haven't had so much fun since my leg fell off.
I HAVEN'T HAD SO MUCH FUN SINCE MY LEG FELL OFF, The North London Civil...
Read more
Rent Strike, St. Pancras 1960
RENT STRIKE: ST PANCRAS 1960 by Dave Burn
Read more
Menacing Language and Threats
“MENACING LANGUAGE AND THREATS” The Anti Corn Law Riots of 1815
Read more
Black Women Organising
BLACK WOMEN ORGANISING, The Brixton Black Women’s Group and the...
Read more
MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL *418 MARCH 2018
JJ Jacobson of OFFENDERS in memoriam, Dublin venue Karate Klub, MARTHA...
Read more
MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL *417 FEB 2018
Year-End Top Ten Issue! Top tens from 2017, photographs from Angela...
Read more
V is For Vegan
A hardcover book subtitled "The ABCs of Being Kind" by Ruby Roth
Read more
The Yeast of Your Worries
A Yeast Infection Survival Handbook
Read more

» All new products