Episode 40: Democracy
I guess sometimes you want to critique the critique and you only get to critique. This was that. We discussed Armenio for about 30 minutes. #RIP. He was a good one. Then on to Democracy. Great conversation. Lots of participation. The trolls were ignorable but got nasty at the end.
Anarchists that critique democracy do so with one foot in a grave. They resist the meaningless abstraction of democracy and replace it with equally empty one of freedom. Usually this a collective vs individual argument where democracy is a stand in for collective logic and thinking and we are elsewhere. This is all fine and good as democracy is indeed one of a thousand/million spooks that one needs to dispel before one starts the hard work of figuring out the difference between and abstraction and Real Life TM. Good Job, keeping on rolling rocks up hills like a motherfucker.
The reason we talk about abstractions as if they are a thing is because language is imperfect and we are imperfect users of it. When we talk about Democracy who exactly are we talking to? Who is we? I think that most of the left, and this includes most anarchists, are talking to the ideal liberal subject. Sort of a conceptual child of the neoliberal Lockean subject and the audience of Rachel Maddow. If we could just make a case for our free, just, and awesome future society to them then somehow we would be one step down the path of achieving it. We talk of Democracy and its critique because at least we are still at the same kitchen table of rational people and don’t have to be shy about the a-word. Direct democracy is particularly reasonable sounding, especially if you are from the NE US where a bunch of other people wear sensible shoes and like to sit in meetings.
For us this is a question less about order of operations (if we take the town, we can take the city) but about the SCALE of our operation. If what we want is some form of the bolo (about 500 people) as our model of life then how much time and energy should we spend on forms of REPRESENTATION? R makes sense if you think in the scale of society but not if you think in the scale of people who know and who they know. Democracy is about millions and not any form of collective good worth discussing for an anarchist. Democracy is a conversation for sociologists and those training to be one. It is fine if we disagree about the efficacy of meetings or blind voting or birkenstocks or whatever but I have no interest in managing you and I want whatever system of living we choose to be consensual. Any system that would force me into a war or paying taxes or sitting in a room pretending to meet is exempt from consideration. Call it Democracy, wrap it up in a toga, and pretend I’m problem if I don’t participate but if the scale is beyond human it is beyond me.