Billions around the world have watched the familiar pageantry of the US Presidential race: Trump, the champion of the new extreme right, laying the groundwork for the despotism to come; Sanders, the partisan of an impossible dream, who nonetheless succeeded in luring disaffected millions back into electoral politics; Clinton, the despised representative of the status quo—around whom the hapless majority are forced to rally, since the future is sure to be even worse. Contemplating this bleak spectacle, some people object that this isn’t real democracy.
This talk about real democracy will be familiar to anyone who lived through the Occupy movement or one of its overseas equivalents. In 2011, from Tunis to Madrid and New York, movements triggered by the economic crisis turned into experiments with new forms of governance. By 2014, the luster of real democracy had begun to wear off: the Ukrainian revolution confirmed the right-wing appropriation of the discourse, while the movement that spread from Ferguson began with a riot, not an assembly. But next time revolution is on the agenda, we’ll surely hear more calls for “real” democracy. As long as democracy is the only paradigm we have for change, even anarchists will demand it.
Reflecting on the revolts of the preceding decade, we decided it was high time to get to the bottom of what democracy really is—and whether it’s what we want, after all. After years of research, discussion, and experimentation, we are excited present our conclusions in a massive new feature: From Democracy to Freedom.
In this 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 could mean to seek freedom directly rather than through democratic rule.
This is the flagship text in a series we will be publishing over the next several weeks, including testimony and critical analysis from participants in directly democratic movements around the world.
Recent Blog posts
• To Change Everything in 11 More Languages[September 21st]
• #50: The History and Future of Prison Strikes[September 7th]
• A Fitting End: The Death of John Timoney[August 30th]
• #49: September 9th National Prison Strike[August 24th]
• The Democracy of the Reaction, 1848-2011[June 23rd]
• Rojava: Democracy and Commune[May 19th]
• Confronting Cops and Klan in Stone Mountain[May 18th]
• Born in Flames, Died in Plenums[May 13th]
• Reflections on Direct Democracy in Slovenia[May 11th]
• #48: From Democracy to Freedom Audio Zine[April 26th]
• Anarchy and Democracy Reading Groups![April 19th]
• Occupy: Democracy versus Autonomy[April 14th]
• Destination Anarchy/Every Step Is an Obstacle[April 7th]
• From 15M to Podemos[April 5th]
• From Democracy to Freedom[March 31st]
• Series: The Anarchist Critique of Democracy[March 16th]
• Born in Flames, Died in Plenums [Texts / May 13th]
• “Gotovo je!” [Texts / May 11th]
• Destination Anarchy! [Texts / April 7th]
• From 15M to Podemos [Texts / April 5th]
• From Democracy to Freedom [Texts / March 29th]
• The Party's Over [Texts / March 16th]
• The French 9/11 [Texts / Dec 14th]
• The Borders Won’t Protect You [Texts / Nov 17th]
• Understanding the Kurdish Resistance [Texts / Sep 23rd]
• Next Time It Explodes [Texts / Aug 13th]
• Reflections on the Ferguson Uprising [Texts / Aug 10th]
• Rolling Thunder #12 [Journal / June 1st]
• Why We Don't Make Demands [Texts / May 5th]
• Turkish Anarchists on the Fight for Kobanê [Texts / Feb 3rd]
• Syriza Can’t Save Greece [Texts / Jan 28th]
• To Change Everything [Tools / Jan 15th]
• From Ferguson to Oakland [Texts / Dec 12th]
• The Thin Blue Line Is a Burning Fuse [Texts / Nov 25th]
• The Making of “Outside Agitators” [Texts / Aug 20th]
• What They Mean when They Say Peace [Texts / Aug 18th]
• Why Riot against the World Cup? [Texts / June 12th]
• Rolling Thunder #11 [Journal / April 7th]
• Ukrainian Revolution & Future of Social Movements [Texts / Mar 18th]
• Deserting the Digital Utopia [Texts / Oct 28th]
• After the Crest, pt. I: While the Dust Is Settling [Texts / Sep 9th]
Things happen, and you read about them in passing on the internet. But when the smoke clears, to get the inside story, read Rolling Thunder, North America’s premier anarchist journal. Issue 12 covers the uprising that spread from Ferguson, the fight for Kobanê, the life of Biófilo Panclasta, Syriza and the trap of electoral politics, anarchist analyses of sex work, biopower, demands, revolutionary strategy, and much, much more. 154 pages!
We have partnered with our dear friends in the NSA to produce a Customer Appreciation Page at watchingover.us. Our first outreach project to promote awareness about the PRISM program and the NSA in general is a state-of-the-art sticker suitable for mobile phones, computers, and other electronic devices. Sport one of these to let everyone know where you stand; take a roll to educate your fellow students or employees!