The rampant dictatorial governments in Italy, Spain and Russia, which arouse such envy and longing among the more reactionary and timid parties across the world, are supplying dispossessed ‘democracy’ with a sort of new virginity. Thus we see the creatures of the old regimes, well-accustomed to the wicked art of politics, responsible for repression and…
Shawn Wilbur argues that “anarchy” and “democracy” are completely distinct principles—philosophically. Philosophically, there is “no middle ground.” However, in actual living, there is “the likelihood that we might continue to have recourse to practices that we think of as ‘democratic.’
It marks a nice contrast from Wayne Price’s relatively “aw shucks” disinterest in philosophical critiques of democracy that Alexander Reid Ross brings history and philosophical language to the defense of democracy. Unfortunately, I have a violent allergic reaction to the flavor of philosophical language he adopts. On the upside, I appreciate that Alexander has injected…
As long as there has been something called “anarchism,” anarchists have been struggling to define it—and, as often as not, they have been in struggle against other self-identified anarchists. At this point in our history, this seems both hard to deny and pointless to regret.
Having already written three essays on the topic of anarchism’s relation to democracy, I will only present a few comments. These are generally in response to the interesting remarks of other writers in this series.
It seems to me as though there’s been two prevailing and conflicting ideas about democracy in this symposium. The first idea is that democracy is irreconcilable with anarchy in principle. The second idea is that democracy can — ironically because of practical concerns — be compatible with anarchy. I’ve made my own position clear.
This is not a symposium on the post-left and certainly that term of self-identification has been increasingly appropriated by reactionaries, but it’s important to note that the original post-left argument for anarchists to distance ourselves from “the left” was the opposite of some kind of etymological argument that appealed to relatively fixed underlying meanings.
In “The Regime of Liberty,” Gabriel Amadej advocates the Proudhonian ideal – reflected in the dictum “property is liberty” – of some individual sphere of last resort where means of subsistence are secure from the will of the majority: “Democracy disrupts this balance and places society under the unaccountable domain of community.
This C4SS discussion about anarchism and democracy has been intriguing—even though I am one of only two writers who have regarded them as compatible concepts. The brief essay by Grayson, “Demolish the Demos,” is especially useful. It clarifies what is at the root of the disagreement among anarchists about democracy. The basic issue, I believe, is not what…
I should clarify for Derek Wittorff that I wasn’t embracing, for example, calling all collective decisionmaking “democracy.” Rather, I was entertaining the more extreme definitions out there. I was attempting to point out how some kernel of “the rule of all over all” lies within each of these alternative definitions.
I found William Gillis’ essay “The Abolition of Rulership Or The Rule Of All Over All” to be a very interesting read. It covered many of the same points as my essay without much disagreement, and in a much less compressed manner. However, there was one notable difference, and a couple of slight disagreements.
It should be clear that one of the key conflicts in these debates about anarchy and democracy is a struggle over the nature of anarchism. And it is probably safe to say that nearly all anarchists wrestle with the difficulties of defining that term.
Nathan Goodman brings an interesting definition of “democracy” to the conversation — and one that I didn’t preemptively critique — openness. Seeking to bridge the oft-stated dichotomy of markets and democracy, Nathan cites Don Lavoie’s conception which essentially posits markets as the truest expression of democracy.
This piece is the tenth essay in the June C4SS Mutual Exchange Symposium: “Anarchy and Democracy.” A fundamental difference between anarchism and statism is that anarchists do not assume that public officials are any more morally entitled to use force or to threaten people with violence than anyone else.
Classical liberalism emerged as a radical ideology, challenging the status quo of monarchy, mercantilism, religious tyranny, and the ancien regime. The liberals promoted two ideals, markets and democracy, as alternatives to the old despotisms. Yet markets and democracy seemed to be at odds.
There has long been a certain kind of democratic spirit in anarchism. Of course when we bring forth the imagery of statist and authoritarian injustice, we feel the rhetorical pull to illustrate it as a collective issue, one that is relevant and applicable to all.
The relationship between democracy and anarchism is undoubtedly a contentious one. In his work The Principle of Federation1, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon makes it clear that democracy has an important legacy to respect. Because Proudhon declared that Universal Suffrage was above The Republic, he had to evaluate the character of democracy in ideal terms. Proudhon categorized democracy…
As a working definition of democracy, I think about the best we can do is this description of anarchy in Pyotr Kropotkin’s 1911 Britannica article on anarchism — the attainment of harmony: “…not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free arrangements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional,…
Philosophical Considerations If we had the luxury of sticking to the philosophical terrain, the question of distinguishing anarchy and democracy would, it seems to me, pose very few problems. Certainly, it would be unlikely to pose the persistent, seemingly intractable problems that it does at present. Anarchy describes the absence of rule, while democracy describes…
This piece is the fourth essay in the June C4SS Mutual Exchange Symposium: “Anarchy and Democracy.” Democracy is a word that evokes an array of affective responses depending on time, place, and people involved. For the Patriot movement, democracy stimulates a constellation of ideals, values, and principles.