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(en) Czech, afed: Anarchists and direct democracy - Why is the majority of anarchists inclined to direct democracy?

Date Sat, 3 Nov 2018 09:22:06 +0200

For most anarchists, voting on political decisions within free associations on the principles of direct democracy is a political counterpart of free agreement. The reason is that "many forms dominance may arise free ' , nedonucovac s m, contractual í m zp s manner ... and naive í ... think f e mere plated opposition towards and politically s control lead by itself of the end ú pressure " .[Clark, Max Stirner's Egoism]Therefore, the relationships that we form within the organization are equally important in determining its libertine nature as its voluntary basis. ---- Obviously, individuals need to work together to fulfill their lives. Therefore, the individual has three possibilities in realizing "human coexistence" in the realization of "human coexistence": "must submit to the will of others (to enslave themselves) or to subordinate their will (become the representative of power) or to live with others in a fraternal agreement the highest good of all (be in communion). No one can escape this fact. "

It is clear that anarchists choose the last option, the community, as the only means by which individuals can function together as free and equal human beings, respecting each other's uniqueness and freedom. Only through direct democracy can individuals express themselves, critically think, preserve their autonomy, and thus fully develop their rational and ethical abilities. In terms of increasing personal freedom, rational, ethical, and social abilities, it is better to come from a minority from time to time than be subject to the will of the boss all the time. So what is the theory behind anarchist direct democracy?

As noted by Bertrand Russell, the anarchist "does not want to overthrow the government in terms of collective decisions: he wishes to overthrow the system by means of which the decision is enforced over those who oppose it". Anarchists see self-government as a means of achieving this idea. Once an individual joins a community or workplace, it becomes an element of this community. The community is organized in the form of a gathering of all members (in the case of a huge workplace or city, this assembly may be a "subgroup" such as a specific unit in the workplace or in the neighborhood). At this meeting, the individual's political commitments are outlined in agreement with others. By acting inside the community, people must exercise critical judgment and choice, to manage your own activity. Instead of a vow of obedience (as in a hierarchical organization such as a state or a capitalist enterprise), individuals are involved in shaping their own collective decisions, their own commitments to their companions. I.e,

Although the assembly collectively approves the rules governing their communities and is bound by them as individuals, they are nevertheless superior to them in the sense that these rules can always be modified or abolished. People who collectively form a community represent political "authority," but because this "authority" is based on equal human relations, instead of subordinate and superior relationships between people and elites, this "authority" is non-hierarchical. Proudhon wrote: "Instead of laws, we lay down treaties (ie a free agreement). No more laws voted by the majority either, unanimously; every citizen, every city, every industrial union, makes its own laws. "

Of course, such a system does not mean that everyone is involved in every decision that needs to be made, no matter how trivial it is. Whilst any decision may be taken before the assembly (if the assembly decides, probably proposed by a participant), in practice certain activities (eg, practical decisions) will be solved by administrators elected by the community. That is why, in the words of the Spanish anarchist José Llunas Pujols, that "such a group can not write a letter, keep an accounting book, or perform hundreds of housework, it can only be done by an individual . " That is why an "administrative organization" is needed. Suppose the community is "organized without any governing council or any hierarchical authority" , and"Once a week, or more often, he will meet at the assembly to resolve all matters necessary for his development" , yet "appoints a commission that will only deal with administrative matters . " However, the Assembly "sets the commission for a specific set of acts or gives it the necessary mandate" and thus "can be completely anarchist . " Although "it follows that these actions are transferred to qualified individuals who are pre-empowered to proceed ... it does not mean that the college renounces its freedoms . " It should be mentioned that this is based on Proudhon's idea, which states that within the workers ' association "all functions are elected and the rules subject to approval by individual members" .

Instead of a capitalist or centralized hierarchy, self-government (ie, direct democracy) would be the underlying principle of freely associated societies constituting a free society. This would apply to a federation of societies, on the principle of which the anarchist society will have to function. "All commissions or delegations appointed in anarchist societies," as Pujols has rightly claimed, "must be subject to exchange and appeal at any time, by the Permanent Electoral Right of a section or sections of their choice . " In combination with the "mandate essential" and "purely administrative tasks ... then it is not possible for anyone to usurp as much as a bit of authority" . Pujols comes back from Proudhon, who demanded twenty years earlier"Implementing a binding mandate" guaranteeing that people "do not surrender their sovereignty" .

Through federalism based on elected mandates, anarchists ensure that decisions are taken from the bottom. By taking our own decisions, seeking common interests, we will prevent others from ruling us. Self-government is indispensable for anarchists to ensure freedom within organizations so much needed for dignified human existence.

It can be argued that if you are in a minority, most of you are ruling (S. Brown: "Democratic regulation is still a regulation" ). But the concept of direct democracy, as we have described, is not necessarily linked to the concept of majority rule. If someone finds himself in a minority vote, he or she finds himself before deciding whether to make a choice or refuses to accept it as binding. Let the minority have the opportunity to exercise its judgment, and the choice is inconsistent with its autonomy and becomes the imposition of commitments that it has not accepted freely. Deploying the will by most coercive means is at odds with the principles of direct democracy and free association. Therefore, the concept of direct democracy can not be a denial of freedom, and in the context of free association and voluntarily accepted commitments, the only means by which freedom can be developed (as Malatesta,"Individual autonomy is limited by the obligation to observe the promises" ). It is not necessary to emphasize that if a minority remains in the community, it can constantly remind its proposal and persuade most of its erroneous decision.

Here we must point out that anarchist support for direct democracy does not mean that we think that most are always right. Not at all! The argument for democratic participation is not that most are always right but that no minority can be trusted that it will not prioritize its interests over the interests of the whole. History demonstrates what common sense implies, and that anyone with a dictatorial power (from the head of state, to boss, husband, etc.) will use its power to enrich and maintain power at the expense of those who are subject to its decisions.

Anarchists realize that most can do and make mistakes. That is why our theory of association places great emphasis on minority rights. This can be seen in our theory of voluntarily accepted commitments, based on the right of minorities to protest against the majority decision, which makes dissent a key factor in decision-making. Carole Pateman adds:"If most of them acted in bad faith ... (then) a minority will have to take political action, including action of adequate political disobedience, in order to defend its citizenship and independence and political union itself ... Political disobedience is only one of the possible expressions of active citizenship self-governing democracy is based ... The social practice of promises includes the right to refuse or to change obligations; likewise the practice of voluntarily assumed political obligations is meaningless without the practical recognition of the rights of minorities to refuse or to avoid consent or, if necessary, to disobey it. "

Apart from relations within the association, we also need to break the relationship between the associations. As we can see, the association between associations follows the same concept as the union within the association. Instead of an individual operating within an association, we have associations operating within confederations. Connections between federations in the Confederation operate on the same horizontal and voluntary basis as within the association, with the same rights to "voice and leave" for individual members and with the same rights for minorities. In this way, society becomes an association of associations, a community of communities, a commune of communes, based on the maximization of individual freedom, through maximum participation and self-government.

This system of direct democracy fits nicely with anarchist theory. The Malatesta spoke for all anarchists when he said that "anarchists reject the rule of majority in general governing human societies . " As we can see, the majority has no right to enforce the detriment of the minority - a minority can always leave the association and in the words of Malatesta, not to "submit to the decision of the majority, even before they even suspect what they represent" . Direct democracy within a voluntary association therefore does not create "majority rule" nor does it assume that a minority must unconditionally submit to the majority. Anarchist advocates of direct democracy therefore follow Malatest's argument:"Anarchists certainly realize that in coexistence it is often necessary for the minority to accept the majority. Where there is obvious need or benefit in doing something, and this requires the consent of all, a handful ought to feel the need to adapt to the wishes of many ... But such adaptation on the one hand by one group must on the other hand be reciprocal, voluntary, and must come from the awareness of necessity and goodwill to prevent a stiff paralysis of the course of social affairs ... "

The minority has the right to withdraw from the association, as well as to take action, to protest and to appeal, while the rule adopted by the majority is not principally binding. It is rather a purely decision-making tool that allows minority dissent and expression (and consideration of) its view, while ensuring that no minority will force its will most. In other words, the majority decision is not binding on the minority. To that, Malatesta adds that "no one can expect or even wish that someone who is firmly convinced that the direction most of them has led to disaster, left his conviction and passively watched, or even worse, to support a policy he considers to be wrong . "

Even an individualist anarchist, Lysander Spooner, recognized the usefulness of direct democracy when he noted that "all or almost all voluntary associations give a majority or some other group of membership less than a whole some limited right to use their own discretion as a means to reach a final position . " However, only the unanimous decision of the jury (which would "assess the law and justice of the law" ) could determine individual rights provided that this "tribunal fairly represents all the people" since "no law can be lawfully enforced and made valid by the association against the welfare, or a person of any individual, except when all members of the association agree to ". (Spooner's support for the jury is based on the idea that "in practice it would be impossible" to unanimously approve all members of the association.)

Direct democracy does not necessarily have to be in conflict with the rights of minorities or individuals. In practice, it is possible in anarchist society to imagine that direct democracy would be used to make the majority of decisions in most associations (more than the absolute majority may be required), combined with the jury system, the system of protest / direct actions of minorities and the system of evaluation / protection of minority rights / rights. However, specific forms of free decision-making can only be created through the practical experience of directly involved people.

Finally, we must emphasize that anarchist support for direct democracy does not mean that this solution should be given priority in all circumstances. For example, many smaller associations can prefer consensual decision-making. However, most anarchists believe that direct democracy within free association is the best (and most realistic) way of organizing anarchist principles of personal freedom, dignity and equality.

Source: Anarchist FAQ - Why are most anarchists in the face of direct democracy?

Published in Existence No. 3/2014

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