Are Anarchism and Democracy Opposed? A Response to Crimethinc

  • Posted on: 15 July 2016
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

Summary: Crimethinc has initiated a discussion about the relationship between anarchism and democracy. Their opinion is that anarchism must be opposed to democracy—not only to bourgeois representative democracy but also to direct, participatory, libertarian-socialist, democracy. I argue, instead, that there is a struggle over the meaning of “democracy,” and that anarchism can and should be interpreted as the most radical, decentralized, and participatory extension of democracy.

Are Anarchism and Democracy Opposed? A Response to Crimethinc
by Wayne Price

Crimethinc, the “Ex-Workers’ Collective,” is organizing a discussion of the relationship between anarchism and democracy. They have published a series of essays, including “the flagship text in the series, From Democracy to Freedom.” (Crimethinc 2016) and a supporting essay by Uri Gordon (2016). They are suggesting that local groups discuss their proposed readings and related questions.

Their view is that anarchism is not consistent with any concept of democracy. They reject not only capitalist representative democracy but even the direct democracy of libertarian socialist communes or workers’ management of industry, accepting neither majority rule nor consensus. My contrary view of the matter was expressed in the title of my essay, “Anarchism as Extreme Democracy.” (Price 2009) So I think it may advance the discussion if I express my opinion. I do not intend to go over their “flagship text” point-by-point, but to cover what I think are the major issues.

As they note, “democracy” has been almost the universal good word. It was once despised by the upper classes as meaning “mob rule.” Now it is acclaimed in the imperial bourgeois states as it was recently in the “Communist” (totalitarian) People’s Democracies, as well as by liberals, conservatives, social democrats, and many (but far from all) anarchists. “Such is the sway of the word democracy that no government or party dares to exist, or believes it can exist, without inscribing this word upon its banner….” (quoted in Draper 1977; 18) This was not said recently but in 1849 by the French historian and politician, Guizot.

In general, “democracy” is defined as the “rule or power of the people (the ‘demos’).” In his Politics, Aristotle classically defined “democracy” as a constitution in which “the free-born and poor control the government—being at the same time a majority.” (quoted in Wood 1995; 220). Of course, Aristotle was not an anarchist. Nor was he a democrat.

Today’s near-universal acceptance of “democracy” does not show that everyone is using the same meaning. There is a difference between the view of the officials who send out the police to suppress demonstrations, in order to “maintain democracy,” and that of the demonstrators who chant, “This is what democracy looks like!” As Gordon writes, “…Democracy is an ‘essentially contested’ concept—its meaning is itself a political battleground.” (2016; 1) For such terms, Draper writes, “…their meanings have become pawns in a social and ideological struggle. The interpretation of ‘class struggle’ becomes a weapon of class struggle, just as the meaning of ‘democracy’ becomes an arena for the struggle to determine what democracy shall mean.” (Draper 1977; 18) (For a review of the historical struggles over the meaning of “democracy,” see Part II of Democracy Against Capitalism, by the late Marxist historian, Ellen Meiksins Wood [1995].)

Unfortunately, Crimethinc has given up on this struggle over the meaning of “democracy.” They interpret the “rule or power” or “government” of the “people” as meaning a state. Therefore they accept the dominant interpretation of “democracy” as referring to the existing bourgeois democracies, as opposed to being a standard by which these states may be judged (and found wanting). They recommend that anarchists and other libertarian socialists give up the claim that these states are not really democratic. They propose that revolutionaries stop using the ideal of democracy to fight against the system. They insist that the bourgeois theorists are right: democracy means a state—therefore it inevitably means oppression and exploitation.

Humans have governed themselves for tens of thousands of years in tribal assemblies and village councils, as David Graeber points out (as they quote him). This demonstrates, he argues, that people are capable of organizing themselves through direct democracy, without states (or markets or classes). While accepting the anthropological history, Crimethinc rejects Graeber’s argument simply by denying that this long history should be called “democracy.” It doesn’t fit their definition in which democracy means a state.

Similarly, they assert, “This is not an argument against discussions, collectives, assemblies, networks, [or] federations….” (Crimethinc 2016; 1) Their goal, they write, is “to create mutually fulfilling collectivities at each level of society….These can take many forms, from housing cooperatives and neighborhood assemblies to international networks.” (44) This may sound like a radical conception of democracy to most people, similar to Cindy Milstein’s program (which they cite) of federated, directly-democratic, communities. Not to Crimethinc. “…When we engage in these practices, if we understand what we are doing as democracy—as a form of participatory government rather than as a collective practice of freedom—than sooner or later, we will recreate all the problems….” (1) So if people even think that what they are doing in a collective is “democratic,” then they will recreate the state, because democracy (as Crimethinc defines it) is a form of “government,” a term by which they mean “state.” This is argument by definition. Other anarchists regard direct, participatory, democracy as precisely the “collective practice of freedom.”

I will now focus on two major arguments against democracy as raised by Crimethinc and other anarchists. (I) “Democracy” is the ideology and political system of existing capitalist states. It is the mechanism by which factions of the ruling class work out their differences. It serves to bamboozle the masses into believing that they are free and have power over the government. Anarchists should expose this false ideology, it is argued, not support it.

(II) Anarchists oppose all forms of rule, not only rule by individual dictators or by minorities. They also oppose rule by the “people,” or “the working class,” or “the majority,” it is argued. “…Force…is what democracy has in common with autocracy and every other form of rule. They share the institutions of coercion: the legal apparatus, the police, and the military….” (4) Therefore, democracy should be rejected in principle—even the most decentralized, participatory, and pluralist socialist-democracy.

Opposition to Existing Bourgeois Representative Democracies

I agree that all anarchists should be in revolutionary opposition to the existing states which label themselves “democracies.” Even the most participatory and responsible states (which is not the United States) are still oppressive and exploitative, supporters of capitalism, patriarchy, racism, and other forms of domination. Bourgeois democracies are still “the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.” Workers and all the oppressed should aim to overturn and dismantle these states—and replace them with alternate institutions which embody the “collective practice of freedom.” To this end, anarchists seek to expose the fraudulent nature of the pseudo-democratic ideology which these states use to fool the people.

a) However, a few comments may be added. For one, it is easier to live under a bourgeois democracy than under a dictatorship or totalitarian regime. Politically, it is easier to organize radical study groups, to publish anarchist literature, and to form radical organizations. It is easier for workers to form unions and for People of Color and immigrants to form community associations. These are limited but real advantages. This should not lead to anarchists’ supporting the bourgeois-democratic state, but to anarchists supporting the limited advantages which the people have under the bourgeois-democratic state—as against fascist attack, for instance.

Crimethinc correctly quotes the great Italian anarchist, Errico Malatesta, as saying that (in his opinion) anarchists should not, in principle, support democracy any more than they support dictatorship. But Malatesta also believed that the capitalist democratic state was preferable to a dictatorship, if only because anarchists could use its ideology against it. “...The worst of democracies is always preferable, if only from the educational point of view, [to] the best of dictatorships.... Democracy is a lie,, in reality, oligarchy, that is, government by the few to the advantage of a privileged class. But we can still fight it in the name of freedom and equality...” (Malatesta 1995; 77).

b) Of all class societies, capitalism has the greatest split between its state and its economy. While many states claim to be democratic, they make no such claim for their capitalist economies. That the corporations and firms are run top-down, as authoritarian institutions, is openly admitted. The rationalization for the capitalist economy is not “democracy” but “free enterprise.” Therefore, to demand a democratic economy is not to reinforce the existing ideology but to challenge it at its root! Workers’ management of industry, consumer cooperatives, self-governing agri-industrial communes, planning from the bottom-up, etc., are democratic concepts completely antithetical to the dominant ideology of capitalism.

c) In a text included on Crimethinc’s reading list, Uri Gordon argues that “…anarchist invocations of democracy…[are] problematic because its rhetorical structure and audience targeting almost inevitably end up appealing to patriotic sentiments and national origin myths.” (Gordon 2016; 1) He criticizes statements by Murray Bookchin and Cindy Milstein about positive aspects of the U.S. Revolution and New England town meetings.

Like all nations, our society has always been divided between oppressor and oppressed: between the bourgeoisie and the working class, white supremacy and People of Color, patriarchy and women, heteronormativity and LGBT people, and so on. As a result, its history is also divided, between the dominant discourse of the great White democratic imperial nation, and opposed, often hidden, traditions of the struggles of the oppressed. This is the history of radical mechanics and sailors during the Revolution, of American Indian resistance, of slave rebellions, of the abolitionists (Black and White), of the IWW, of workers’ mass strikes in the ‘30s, of women’s fights for their rights, of Stonewall and ACT-UP, etc., etc. That is the tradition of revolutionary democracy. It too is part of the “contested concept” of the meaning(s) of U.S. history. The reactionary meaning of the dominant history must be exposed, but should anarchists deny the revolutionary and libertarian traditions? These are the traditions of our class and of our people!

d) Crimethinc claims that the use of “democracy” reinforces the dominant discourse of the existing system. Instead they call for “freedom” (From Democracy to Freedom is the title of their “flagship” paper). But “freedom” is at least as much a code word for capitalism. Our society is supposedly a bastion of “freedom.” The terrorists “hate us for our freedom,” we are told. The economy is “free enterprise” with a “free market.” We live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” according to our national anthem. The non-Communist countries are the “free world” (including the dictatorships). When the French government criticized the U.S. attack on Iraq, right-wingers changed french fries to “freedom fries.” Similarly for freedom’s synonym “liberty.” The Declaration of Independence promised “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Statue of Liberty sits in New York harbor. And so on. Just about every argument which Crimethinc uses against the term “democracy” can be used against “freedom” and “liberty.” Just as much as “democracy,” “freedom” is really a “contested concept,” whose meaning is a “political battleground.”

II. Is Democracy Oppressive in Principle?

Certain anarchists reject democracy as an abstract principle. Just as they oppose monarchy (the rule of one) or oligarchy (the rule of a few), so—they argue—they must oppose the rule of the many, the people (democracy). By what right, they ask, does a majority, or even the whole population, tell a minority or even one person, what they must not do? As previously quoted, Crimethinc believes that even the best libertarian democracy must use force and coercion, leading to “the legal apparatus, the police, and the military.” (4)

However, it is impossible to organize a society, even the freest, without some coercion—reduced to the minimum possible at the time. An anarchist revolution will take away the wealth and property of the capitalists—which the rich will regard as terribly coercive, no matter how nonviolently done. They may resist with counterrevolutionary armies! Also, after a revolution, there will still be demoralized anti-social people who have been hurt by the loveless society of capitalism. They will not immediately vanish. While anarchists do not believe in punishment or vengeance, they do believe in protecting people from anti-social actors (such as rapists). This too requires coercion.

For such reasons, anarchists and other revolutionary socialists have long advocated replacing the specialized layers of “police and military” with a popular militia, the armed workers and former oppressed, under leadership of popular councils—so long as this remains necessary. Crimethinc does not mention this.

More to the point, it is impossible to have an organized society (even one organized from the bottom-up) without collective decision-making. (I leave out personal decision-making, such as choosing a religion or having a sexual orientation, which are indeed none of the business of majorities.)
Crimethinc asks, “…If all those decisions were actually made by the people they impact, there would be no need for a means of enforcing them.” (7) But what if there is disagreement among the people who are impacted by a collective decision?

Suppose there is a commune where a minority believes that a new road should be built. There is discussion in the commune. They win over a majority of the people but a (new) minority still does not want the new road. But either the road will be built or it won’t. This is coercion, not by the police but by reality. If the resistant minority vetoes the road (under consensus) then they are coercing the majority to give up its desire. If the majority wins (in a community of majority-rule, with respect for the rights of minorities), then the minority must live with an unwanted road. They could leave their homes and friends, of course, but any new place they go will also have to decide on roads. Or they could stay. They might be in the majority on the next issue.

The goal of anarchism is not to have absolutely no coercion. It is to abolish the state (which is the institution of coercion under capitalism). The state is a bureaucratic-military socially-alienated machine. It has layers of professional police, prison guards, soldiers, politicians, lobbyists, judges, and bureaucrats, who stand above and over the rest of society. In “The State: Its Historic Role,” Kropotkin writes, “…What [do] we wish to include by the term ‘the State’ [?]…..It not only includes the existence of a power situated above society, but also of a territorial concentration as well as the concentration in the hands of a few of many functions in the life of societies….A whole mechanism of legislation and of policing has to be developed in order to subject some classes to the domination of others.”
(Kropotkin 2014; 254)

In place of the state mechanism, anarchists propose the self-organization of the people (meaning the former working class and oppressed). There will be federated and networked workplace councils and neighborhood assemblies, militia units and other popular associations. Collective decisions will be made—as much as possible—through dialogue and discussion and the use of cooperative intelligence. When everyone is involved in governing then there is no government. Anarchism is democracy without the state.

Have Anarchists Advocated Democracy?

There is some dispute about whether anarchists historically were for or against the term “democracy.” Gordon quotes Proudhon, Bakunin, Berkman, and Malatesta rejecting democracy. He concludes, “The association between anarchism and democracy makes its appearance only around the 1980s, through the writings of Murray Bookchin.” (Gordon 2016; 2) This is untrue. For one, Paul Goodman, probably the most well-known U.S. anarchist of the ‘sixties, presented his anarchism as consistent with an extension of the radical-liberal democratic tradition, including Jefferson and John Dewey.

Perhaps more accurately, Andrew Cornell writes of the 40s to the 70s, “During the years under consideration, anarchists developed a greater appreciation than their ideological predecessors for the practice of democracy as an ideal.” (Cornell 2016; 17) This was due, he feels, to the influence on anarchists of the “1960s conceptual invention, participatory democracy” (same) and the feminist, anti-racist, anti-imperialist, and LGBT movements.

Actually, the record is more mixed than that. Of course all anarchists, from the start, have opposed bourgeois-democratic representative capitalist governments, often referring to them simply as “democracies.” And anarchists have supported the rights of individuals and minorities to freedom in many areas (religion, sex, speech, art, life styles, etc.)—areas which do not require collective decision-making. At the same time, almost all anarchists have advocated group decision-making, at work or in communes, using terms such as “self-governing, self-managing, autogestion, self-rule, self-determination.” What they have meant in practice has been usually indistinguishable from radical, participatory, democracy.

P.J. Proudhon (the first person to identify himself as an “anarchist”) wrote both negative and positive things about “democracy.” Iain McKay quotes him as writing, “We want the mines, canals, railroads handed over to democratically organized workers’ associations…that vast federation of companies and societies woven into the common cloth of the democratic and social Republic.” (quoted in McKay’s “Introduction” to Kropotkin 2014; 8) Again, Proudhon advocated a system of federated communes, with mandated and recallable delegates. “The imperative mandate, permanent revocability, are the most immediate, undeniable, consequences of the electoral principle. It is the inevitable program for all democracy.” (quoted in same; 9) This was a century before the 1980s and Murray Bookchin.


Crimethinc rejects “democracy” because they have worked out a definition which requires democracy to mean domination, coercion, government, and the state. Then they focus on the existing representative democracies under capitalism, using them as proof of the inevitable failures of even the best democracy.

Instead, I have focused on “democracy” as an historically contested term, pointing to the real-life struggle over its meaning (not just its definition). This is also true of “freedom,” a term which Crimethinc favors, as it is for other terms (such as “anarchism” or “socialism”). Unfortunately, Crimethinc has given up on the struggle over “democracy,” letting the capitalists have the final interpretation.

That is consistent with the general weakness of Crimethinc. They do not write about how the tiny minority which wants anarchist revolution can win over the big, (as yet) non-revolutionary, majority. Granted, before revolutionary anarchists really reach the majority, they must reach out to a layer of radicalizing and militant activists who are open to becoming anarchists in the next period. These people could cohere into organizations and networks. But to win them over, they must be persuaded that revolutionary anarchists have an analysis of the system, a program for changing it, a vision of a better society, and a way to reach the broad population. This will not happen if anarchists reject the popular concept “democracy” and the revolutionary democratic tradition. It requires a recognition that anarchism is democracy without the state.


Cornell, Andrew (2016). Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the 20th Century. Oakland: University of California Press.

Crimethinc (2016). “From Democracy to Freedom.”

Draper, Hal (1977). Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution; Vol. I, State and Bureaucracy. NY/London: Monthly Review Press.

Gordon, Uri (2016). “Democracy the Patriotic Temptation.”

Kropotkin, Peter (2014). Direct Struggle Against Capital; A Peter Kropotkin Anthology (ed. Iain McKay). Oakland: AK Press.

Malatesta, Errico (1995). The Anarchist Revolution: Polemical Articles 1924-1931. (V. Richards, ed.) London: Freedom Press.

Price, Wayne (2009). “Anarchism as Extreme Democracy.” The Utopian.

Wood, Ellen Meiksins (1995). Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism. NY: Cambridge University Press.



I like that Price takes seriously the arguments advanced by CrimethInc. He is still challenging his own ideas, even if he always ends up concluding that he was right all along.

This text doesn't engage with the many arguments advanced by CrimethInc. about whether the concept of democracy has any real meaning without the state--without coercion (police) and exclusion (citizenship) and the monopolization of legitimacy (rule of law). I think the CrimethInc. case is basically that direct democracy without a state just does badly what the state does well, in such a way that people who get involved looking for democracy (rather than anarchy) will just end up joining Syriza. Price's democracy is basically majority rule, without any critique of how to make sure that the majority can't oppress the minority. The main CrimethInc. article, on the other hand, puts a tremendous amount of thought into that, revisiting slavery, the Civil War in the US, etc.

Price writes off completely the distinction the various CrimethInc. authors want to make between what you might call winner-take-all decision-making structures (centralized) and autonomous decision-making structures (decentralized). He's still thinking in 20th century terms, in short. Arguably, this is the most important distinction to make at this point, on the other side of Occupy and now Nuit Debout, to be able to learn from our failures and also from what we have done well.

My two cents.

One of my favorite points of the crimethinc series was that we shouldn't count on any form of organization to dictate how we resolve our differences. We should only validate such forms to the extent to which they actually meet our needs; in a state or out of it, there is never any justification for going along with a form of order that isn't good for us. If Wayne thinks that, in the name of democracy, we should render up the same submissiveness to majority rule that the state demands of us in the name of law and order, then he hasn't understood the first thing about resisting oppression.

with or without a state, democracy requires the subsuming of the individual will to the will of the mass. decisions reached by the "majority" (or plurality, or whatever) must be adhered to by even those that opposed said decision. (which is where i can see why some folks claim that democracy is only feasible within the context of a "state").

so, the issue is between those who hold society above the individual ("social anarchists", etc), and those who do not ("individual anarchists"). i hate to make a binary out of it, because nothing is that simple, but one thing is quite simple: some people (most, if you ask me) are willing to subvert their individual will to the will of a mass/group; some are not. the former would likely support democracy, the latter would likely not.

we all know where wayne comes from, so no surprise that he comes out in favor of democracy. unlike many anarchists i know, i do not claim a monopoly on the definition; so i am willing to allow that social/commie anarchists are still anarchists - just not my kind of anarchist. and if they try to impose their "democracy" on me, there will be trouble in paradise.

So far, this discussion is good, so I'll contribute something.

We may as well say it: both the mutual aid Anarchists
and the early Indigenous, anti-authoritarian cooperatives
were autonomous democracies, plain and simple. I can't
speak for Stirnerites or Crimethinc but two rich sources
of contemporary Anarchism were all about anti-authoritarian
cooperation (I'm sure there are way more).

A lot of scholarship (Sahlins, Linebaugh, Hill, Sakolsky, Clastres,
has shown this is our pre-her/his-story and it deserves further
experimentation. One problem is that Individualist Anarchism
is easier in capitalism where everything is expensive. In every
human relationship one has to speak up in order to have
one's feelings heard.

I think Wayne is right that we're arguing about nomenclature,
because it depends on what branch of Anarchy you're seeing it from.
Consensus decision-making was anathema
to Deleuze because of bureaucracy, but others, for instance, in the
Caracoles seem to use it quite well with lots of grains of salt for
exceptions. Its all what you want to try to build.

Most of the squats I've visited (and lived in) had some form of consensus
decision-making without majority rule, that is, mostly "unanimous only"
decisions. Anything that was extremely controversial was tabled 'til later.
Most people actually brought good ideas even when they were unachievable
given the resources available.

There were, however, harsh divisive gaps between say, anarcho-techies,
and primitivists, between vegans and paleo-diet people, and later,
APOC and whites. Then there is the class issue. People
held to their dogmas way more than arguing about consensus.

How to get anything done without authority:
1. a set of agreed-upon rules which are arguable;
2. the creation of project groups which are still affiliated
to the larger group; the back-and-forth between initiatives
and assembly...
3. the encouragement of individual initiatives?

We're always so close yet so far, it seems.

"Anything that was extremely controversial was tabled 'til later." Classic procrastination brah, keeps everything warm and cosy

You don't want to work in a group, don't hang. If you do, you work within the groups rules. You post like a 12 year old that has no friends.

First of all, the commenter Le Way is a fucking piece of trash, and I wouldn't like anyone to think I was defending him.

Second, what you're saying works IF participating in groups is genuinely voluntary and there aren't any artificially imposed drawbacks (resource scarcity, etc.) to not doing so. But since democracy is almost always understood as a form of governance, including by Price above, that means that you either accept the rules of the group or are deprived of all the benefits of human society altogether (and maybe become a legitimate target with no rights). Any US citizen is free to renounce her citizenship, for example, and try to "not hang" rather than accepting the rules of the group, but we all know why no one does that.

Fuck governance, including when it is called democracy. Real voluntary association is something else.

A situation an anarchist might face illustrating the shortcomings of the democratic process is that of participation in a mainstream union. As middlemen for organized labor and capital, labor bureaucrats often make decisions detrimental to the rank-and-file. Members have the ability to either vote for or against their exploitative proposals.

Other unions might have more participatory practices, yet similar issues remain. Members might vote to take the union in a direction that will lead to less worker control, which would be clear to an anarchist but unforeseen for those not familiar labor politics. If you don't like it, you have to either suck it up or go somewhere else.

Crimethinc highlights strategies based on autonomy and cooperation.

this article discusses democracy and anarchism in the one-sided positivist [dualist] terms of 'what people do'. this is a logical view rather than a physically real view.

the physically real organization in nature is non-dualist wherein epigenetic inductive influence actualizes creative potentials that manifest as genetic expression [what things do].

as the physically real organizing is expressed in indigenous anarchism, "it takes a whole community to raise a terrorist [criminal, rebel, revolutionary]". that is, relational dynamics are the inductive source of things and 'what things do'. colonialism is a relational dynamic that continues to induce rebellion that manifests in terrorist actions. 'terrorist organization' may also be seen in the one-sided dualist, 'what things do' sense and their LOGICAL organization could be anarchist or democratic. ['what things do' is dualist logical abstraction]

that is, the dualist depictions of organization are LOGICAL rather than physically real [grammatical reduction of relational activity to noun-and-verb logical constructions]. in the physical reality of our experience, every organized system is included in a relational suprasystem. the 'university' manifests as an organized system logically [dualistically] describable in terms of its components [departments, faculties, plant] and processes, however, in physical reality it is actualized and sustained by the inductive influence of the relational social dynamic [suprasystem] it is included in.

the logical view of organization is preferred by moralists [dominant in Western society] since the actions of the logical organization are portrayed as being fully and solely attributable to the local organization. the terrorist organizations that are inductively actualized by colonization are abstracted out of physical reality and depicted as 'independently existing organizations' [organizing as noun rather than verb] that are fully and solely responsible for their 'own' behaviour'. this is purely logical and radically unlike the physical reality of our experience. as experience-based intuition informs us, the source of the terrorist organizing is the relational dynamic of colonization [the relational suprasystem that inductively actualizes a genetic expression termed 'terrorism/rebellion'].

Since colonizers enjoy a great advantage over the colonized, they strive to sustain their domination and exploitation of the colonized [whether the colonization is by the rich within a state or by powerful states on an interstate basis]. the status quo is maintained by use of a binary-logical moralist 'justice' system which orients exclusively to 'what things do' as if they are independent systems with their own internal process driven and directed behaviours; i.e. logical abstractions. Organizing in nature, which seeks to restore balance in unbalanced situations [unity pulling in opposition against itself], is 'non-dualist' in that the relational dynamic of the social collective inductively actualizes 'rebellion' among its more marginalized members. the colonizer justice system portrays the rebelling marginalized members as 'independent agents' or 'independent organizations' with internal process driven and directed behaviour, in contradiction to 'it takes a whole community to raise a rebel'. in other words, the dualist, logical view of organization [expressible as a noun] is put into an unnatural precedence over the non-dualist physical reality where organizing is a relational dynamic [expressible as a verb].

this article's discussion on democracy and anarchism constrains its depiction and interpretation of 'organization' to one-sided, dualist terms [as a 'what-things-do' organizing system]. it does not deal with the physical reality of our actual experience wherein 'organizing' is a verb [relational dynamic] rather than a noun [an independently existing structure that is imputed to be the fountainhead author of its own organized behaviour].

rebellion is a non-dualist physical phenomena like the Heraclitean bow or lyre wherein a unity is pulling against itself. the 'rebels' and the 'community' are not two mutually exclusive 'independently-existing entities', except in a noun-and-verb language that names and defines them as such, obscuring the relational essence of organization, and representing organization, instead, in terms of its secondary, 'what things do' aspect [genetic expression is actualized by epigenetic inductive influence within a non-duality]..

as nietzsche points out, Western civilization preserves its status quo by putting reason and morality into an unnatural precedence over intuition and balance/harmony. this article's viewing of organization in one-sided [dualist] logical and moral terms is an artefact of such cognitive entrapment.

"rebellion is a non-dualist physical phenomena like the Heraclitean bow or lyre wherein a unity is pulling against itself."
From someone who can't tune a 6 string guitar or comprehend Gestalt psychology HaHaHaHaHaaaaaa

I'll add my thoughts... the organizational model Wayne is endorsing here hasn't produced any of the interesting advances in street protests or social movements that we've seen since the anti-globalization days. One of the reasons some of us have been trying to theorize more about autonomy is that all the good stuff that has happened since at least the WTO black bloc has been autonomous, not democratic.

Also, Wayne's argument about the way the original CWC article talks about freedom seems kinda cheap. CWC obviously talks a lot about what kind of freedom they mean. Whereas they can't come up with any kind of democracy they could want, and they explain why. So it's not just semantics...

As I try to take Crimethinc’s arguments as seriously as they are meant, so I hope that my critics will try to take my arguments seriously. For example, First Anonymous, states that “Crimethinc case is basically that direct democracy without a state just does badly what the state does well.” Second Anonymous states, “If Wayne thinks that, in the name of democracy, we should render up the same submissiveness to majority rule that the state demands of us….” And Mr. Deep declares, “with or without a state, democracy requires the subsuming of the individual will to the will of the mass.”

Did any of these writers read my section II, about why a minimum of coercion is necessary, with or without a bureaucratic-military state mechanism? Especially my argument about what the people of a community have to do when they are forced by nature to make a collective decision, such as whether to build a new road? The road will be built or it won’t. Some members of the community will have to be dissatisfied with the decision (and if they move away, this too is not what they wanted). Abstract talk about the evils of “submissiveness to majority rule” and “subsuming the individual will to the mass” is just so much hot air. There will never be a world where collective decisions won’t have to be made—however decentralized we make society. These writers simply do not deal with my argument.

The old trap-an-anarchist-with-the-how-do-we-decide-on-building-a-road routine. Seen it before Bruce. Your tricks are merely the last gasp of a depraved one-sided dualist logico-moral semantic reality obsession. Frankly, we are tired of it sir.

just for your edification, wayne, i do not see "democracy" as synonymous with ad-hoc, contextual, impermanent groups of individuals coming together to jointly deal with (which may not involve any group decisions) an issue that affects them all. that (the latter) is quite different from the reified role of "the people" in some non-statist utopia that uses democratic processes as part and parcel of their political management.

the difference is in truly autonomous individuals, freely associating as they see fit, vs a reified decision making body. a body politic, if you will.

one person's hot air is another's cooling breeze. just because one disagrees with you does not mean they are not dealing with your argument (or, as you might predictably follow up with, "they just don't understand"). believe it or not, intelligent individuals can actually understand you, and yet STILL disagree.

I'll go with your response because I'm definitely not reading section II

Peep section 1. Name-dropping Guizot, Aristotle and Graeber like that! There's gotta be a huge market for my left-anarchist name drop generator. Metternich, Diogenes, Milstein!

"There will never be a world where collective decisions won’t have to be made—however decentralized we make society."

This is no excuse to turn democracy into a value. Again I repeat, democracy is a decision making process, nothing more nothing less. As Mark Lance argued over a decade ago, stop fetishizing process. Quite frankly if collective decision making crosses into the realm of reified collectivity then you have a problem as it relates to an anarchic orientation. Good anarchist orientation tries to avoid top down decision making as much as possible such as procrastinating like the above example. If you are going to entertain processes that steam role preferences and autonomy then you might as well involve dictatorship as well. Democracy belongs in the margins just as much as that other dirty D word and it has a longer more effective track record.

Wayne, please ignore all the usual trolls on this site. It's frustrating to converse in this environment, but here we are.

As for your arguments, I think one of the basic differences between what you are arguing (which I have read) and what CrimethInc. and other commenters are arguing is that you think that the way to solve disputes should be codified into a formal system, and that everyone should buy into the legitimacy of that system, so long as it is democratic. The alternative is to accept that no system is inherently legitimate, and people (minorities et al.) are entitled to rebel against any social order that consistently represses their desires. In the democracy you describe, we can imagine a minority that loses every dispute, and as soon as we also imagine that group as having a different ethnic identity, we are back to a major problem. From a democratic perspective, that's just too bad for them. From a non-democratic anarchist perspective, they have the right to stand up for themselves, and anarchists should see the value in their doing so. This is just a little step towards explaining a very big difference, but it comes down to the question of whether there is a right way to organize society, or whether we should see ourselves as constantly experimenting in pursuit of freedom.

Excellent post! Politeness might be bourgeois in many contexts, but we are all losing an opportunity to learn from each other and to challenge ourselves to be able not only to clearly articulate our perspectives, but to convey them with some measure of conversational skill. I thouroughly disagree with Wayne nand you have just nailed one of the reasons for that in a clear and concise way without snark. Wayne Price holds almost no anarchist views yet doesn't seem to get that. Perhaps he is emotionally attached to the rebellious attitudes of anarchism but intellectually bound to leftist ones?

PS sometimes snark is warranted and sometimes insults are funny and pointed, but I look forward to more posts like the ones in this thread.

you say;

"no system is inherently legitimate, and people (minorities et al.) are entitled to rebel against any social order that consistently represses their desires."

this 'right to rebel' legitimizes 'individual desires'. this has been the starting point for Western religious and scientific beliefs; i.e. in the 'independent being and free will' of the individual. 'democracy' and 'dictatorship' have been attempts to moderate the conflict that arises from such abstractions ['independent being' and 'free will'].

indigenous anarchism starts with the acknowledging that there is no such 'independent being' nor 'free will' in the physical reality of our natural experience. this is supported by the understanding from modern physics that space is inherently relational and is the source of all local, visible, tangible [sense-perceived] entities within it. thus, there are no grounds for legitimizing individual desires as the determinative force, although this is a suggestion that comes from the noun-and-verb architecture of language which suggests that the local visible tangible forms are the source of the relational world dynamic, rather than the relational world dynamic being the source of the local visible, tangible forms within a non-dualism, as given by Mach's principle;

"the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants" -- Mach's principle

so long as people follow the tradition of Western civilized people, believing in the abstraction that we are independent beings with free will, with the 'right' of direct individual pursuit of desires, there will be continual oscillation between forming larger and smaller groups with 'common desires' [the larger groups benefiting from greater power to impose their desires on others, and the smaller groups benefitting from a more custom-tailored satisfying of their desires].

not all cultures have members that put pursuit of individual desires into [unnatural] primacy over the call of nature and amor fati, giving oneself up to the epigenetic inductive influence of one's situational inclusion in the transforming relational continuum and letting it actualize one's creative potentials and give them genetic expression. this liberation of the individual from his 'little sagacity ego-self' that runs around operating out of his acquired 'knowledge' calculating and planning and aiming to achieve his internally incubated goals and objectives, to become who he wants to become, ... the 'little-sagacity ego-self, soul-diminishing opposite of giving oneself up to amor fati and der wille zur macht, (the animating influence immanent in inorganic/organic Nature);

wolfpacks don't need to intellectualize their organizing nor do ecosystems in general. did Western civilization really improve on nature by elevating intellectual abstraction above natural experience based intuitive organizing?

intellectualizing organizing of a collective by formulating logical propositions or 'semantic realities' and putting them in competition with one another so that the participants agree to accept the winning 'semantic reality' as their common 'operative reality' is radically unlike the intuitive/instinctive organizing in nature.

the belief in science and the belief in the intellectual organizing approach known as democracy come from the same source; i.e. the belief in independent being [of the individual and collective]. 'organizing', given the belief in a collective as a multiplicity of independent beings, is seen to involve the use of language and intellect to coordinate the actions of multiple independent beings. that is what intellectualized decision-making is all about. it is not about physical reality.

humans, like wolves, can live together in harmonious community without dependency on intellectual decision-making. the fact that humans have language and intellect doesn't improve on their organizing in a general, natural physical phenomenal context, it makes it worse. what it does is to give humans a framework for organizing themselves out of the context of the physical reality they are included in.

who says that our natural ability to live in harmonious community should play second fiddle to intellectual decision-making? in other words, who says our natural intuitive anarchism should play second fiddle to the intellectual, belief-in-independent-being based organizational approach of Western civilization that we call 'democracy'?

you say;

"There will never be a world where collective decisions won’t have to be made—however decentralized we make society. "

organizing by logical proposals and collective decisions is a human invention that Western civilization has put into an unnatural precedence over [relational experience-based] intuition. it basically puts us into a 'semantic reality' radically unlike the physical reality of our natural experience.

the fertile valley inductively actualizes, orchestrates and shapes individual and collective behaviours. the roads into valley settlements are built by the pioneers making their way into the community as they flood in to become the community. emergent needs in a continuing relational dynamic actualize creative potentials that work toward their resolution [genetic expression], as in a community with the ethic of 'mutual aid'.

to limit discussion of human organization to logical proposals and decisions is to suggest that humans have discovered a method of organization superior to nature overall [nature is not dualist machinery but logical proposals and decisions are].

Hi Wayne,

Is there a source for this or are you stepping away from only publishing your texts first at Anarkismo (couldn't find it there)?

Also, ten years later; another critique of CrimethInc. from you. Still remember the original image that ran with the text, as a pretty much sum up of a poor critique, that unfortunately is still repeated today:

What has changed for you most between 2006 and 2016 about anarchism, about CrimethInc., for you to be making these observations? cheers.

Several commentators specifically object to my statement, "There will never be a world where collective decisions won’t have to be made—however decentralized we make society.”

We are a social species and live in a social environment. Our selves bump up against each other. Without other people, we cannot achieve any of our desires (we couldn’t even think without language, which is a social product). But we have to take other people into account and modify our desires to fit in with theirs. Which is to say that we are coerced into giving up getting absolutely whatever we want. Even when we compromise with others, we are accepting that we cannot have whatever we want and are “coerced” by the existence of others. We can aim to minimize “coercion” and collectivity, but not to abolish them completely.

Suppose I can get whatever I want and no one (not even everyone else) can prevent me from getting it? Then I am king. But, you say, a king can coerce everyone else, which I do not want to do? Yet if I can get whatever I want, I must be able to prevent anyone else from getting anything they want which might interfere with my wishes! Only the king can do this. Rejecting democracy, we end up with dictatorship.

As to my thought-experiment about how a commune decides about building a road, I do not see a single response! One writer says it is an old trick, without giving us the old answer. Mr. Deep expresses concern about how “ad-hoc, contextual, impermanent groups” might deal with issues. But my question was how a settled community (what he refers to as a “body politic”) would decide a problem in real life without democracy. Mr. Deep has no answer.

I wasn’t writing about a codified system, any more than the tens of thousands of years of self-governing tribal councils all had the exact same structure. So long as it has some form of self-management which satisfies the people, it is ok with me. That would be a radical democracy.

However, no social system is perfect. In a community of direct democracy, a minority clique might come to dominate. Or a minority might be frozen out, not just on one issue but repeatedly. Either way, there would have to be struggle and effort to restore more democratic norms (such as electoral organizing, civil disobedience, and various sorts of hell raising). It is no argument against direct democracy (or against anarchism for that matter) that it would not be perfect. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

To say that I am not advocating much that is anarchist is to miss my main point: I am discussing how society might be organized—without a state (without a bureaucratic-military alienated institution above and separate from society)!

Rocinante: There is no other source for this. Why it isn’t published in, I have no idea. Nothing has changed between 2006 and 2010 in my thinking about anarchism or Crimethinc (although I like to think that I have learned some things). See my 2009 article (cited above) on “Anarchism as Extreme Democracy”—which was published in The Utopian.

The old answer is to not be entrapped by the thought experiments of semantic reality's logico-moral policemen. But if you desperately need an answer, I would say yes. Or no.

Wayne, I don't want to build a road and I don't want anyone else to either. If I lived in any sort of non-state and people started building a road I would resist to the point of physical altercation.

Is based on some kind of disenfranchised dictatorship. No amount of democracy changes this. Democracy simply lateralizes dictatorship in these sorts of affairs. In a world of modern infrastructure there is no autonomy and the more autonomy there is the less infrastructure there is. It is one of the 5 great historical monopolies(Tucker's other 4) as Kevin Carson would point out.

There is also the WORK involved in building a road which a leftist like Price will not even consider. What I value is human communities and individual autonomy. You will see many things in these human affairs, democracy and other civilized values and functions is not one of them.

Whether or not one agrees with Price's popular use of the word democracy to mean autonomous self-organisation, it has to be admitted that nobody here has bothered to even address his practical question about how to get things done collectively without it.

Dismissing the question itself of building the bridge is just a cop-out.

Personally, I really don't think there's much difference in effective terms between what certain anarchists call "democracy" and what Crimethinc call "autonomy". We want the same things in practice – decentralised/federative forms of collective decision-making which are voluntary and respect the individual – we just disagree on whether the D-word is a good way to describe these processes for a number of reasons.

Crimethinc's arguments of "too many political factions use it" and "the word has too many meanings" clearly don't work. The same is even more true of the word freedom, associated with capitalism as much as democracy is associated with statism. Autonomy, on it's own, likewise is associated with antisocial individualism of the shallow escapist variety; a kind of political hipsterism.

Given the positive appeal the word democracy has, but also given the need to specify what we mean by it, I say split the difference.

Say that we don't support "democracy" in an uncritical sense – same with "freedom" – but that we do support direct participatory democracy on the strict condition that it's SUBORDINATE to autonomy. Autonomous democracy rather than just "direct democracy".

Anarchists support freedom – but only in the context of equality and solidarity.

Anarchists support democracy – but only when subordinate to autonomy.

Dismissing the question isn't a cop out. It's a stroke of genius.

"Anarchists support democracy – but only when subordinate to autonomy."

why must you position your ideas as those of "anarchists"? there is no unity of thought among anarchists, nor should there be, imo.

that said, i agree that the ONLY way "democracy" could possibly work for this anarchist is as subordinate to my individual autonomy. and then, is it really democracy? "rule (of the people) by the people" is very different beast than "rule of myself by myself, with consideration of others that matter to me".

Impossible position or not, nailed it

If you read the main CrimethInc article, you'd see that they present the same critique of autonomy that you do, only much more fleshed out.

Also, their critique of whether to use the word democracy, from a semantic perspective, is much more nuanced than Wayne is giving credit for. Did you read the Uri Gordon article CrimethInc published about that? And sure, "freedom" is broad, too, but used contextually, in contrast to democracy, it says everything they want to say. No language is sufficient in a vacuum; nothing is language in a vacuum.

If we want democracy to be subordinate to autonomy, but we always describe what we want as democracy, we will end up organizing with people on a basis that always subordinates autonomy. That's the CrimethInc argument about semantics, in a nutshell. I think they're probably right.

Finally, regarding whether anyone is dismissing the question about the bridge, let me spell this out for you... Wayne is demanding a universal one-size-fits-all framework for making decisions. CrimethInc et al. are saying that there shouldn't be one. That's the fundamental difference. There are many different kinds of decision-making processes, which may serve us in different contexts, but one thing we can be sure of is that no process is inherently legitimate, and we should refuse to abide by any process that consistently subordinates our autonomy. If democracy is a form of rule, that will bring us into conflict with it, and we should be prepared in theory and discourse to engage in that conflict.

"Their opinion is that anarchism must be opposed to democracy—not only to bourgeois representative democracy but also to direct, participatory, libertarian-socialist, democracy."

Not against democracy, but moving beyond democracy.

Thanks for the further comments.

That total individualism can lead to dictatorship is beautifully illustrated by Verified. “I don’t to build a road and I don’t want anyone else to either…I would resist to the point of physical altercation.” Who are you, Verified, to deny people their right to have roads?

Similarly one of the Anonymous rejects “rule of the people by the people” in favor of “rule of myself by myself with consideration [only] of others that matter to me.” Taken seriously, this is simply psychopathological. Aside from saying that there is no reason for us to care about you if you do not care about (most) others, you are delusional about the society we live in. Since collective decisions must be made, they will be made by more than you, like it or not. The only way you can have individual free is to be part of those collective decisions which affect you--which is participatory democracy.

(2) Solarpunk Anarchist notes that Crimethinc and I may not be all that far apart, except in terminology. I agree. In fact, I argued that much of their rejection of “democracy” is merely a matter of definition. But I do not see how “autonomous democracy” is better than “direct democracy,” “radical democracy,” or “participatory democracy.” Let alone “anarchist democracy.” What does “autonomy” mean to most people, besides “freedom” or some such?

(3) Anonymous writes that it is wrong to “be entrapped by…thought experiments….But if you desperately need an answer….” No, it is you who desperately need an answer. Some day you will have to make a decision with a group of people and you will need to be able to do so. How will you do it? Majority rule with rights for minorities? Consensus of some sort? You will need a method. Better try some thought experiments ahead of time.

(4) Another of the Anonymice writes that “Wayne is demanding a universal one-size-fits-all framework for making decisions….There are many different kinds of decision-making processes.” Now, where did A. Mouse get this view of my “demanding” (no less) a rigid framework? He or she quotes nothing and refers to nothing.

Here is what I just wrote in my very last (very recent) comment: “I wasn’t writing about a codified system, any more than the tens of thousands of years of self-governing tribal councils all had the exact same structure. So long as it has some form of self-management which satisfies the people, it is ok with me. That would be a radical democracy. However, no social system is perfect.”

Adding the concept of rights to my statement makes it one of morality. Rights, a reified concept, do not exist. I am not asserting that I will deny people the right to have roads, just as someone building a road that I don't want is not about denying my right to not have roads. There are no rights to have roads, just as there are no rights to not have roads, just as there are no rights in general. You've made the issue into in a moral one, thus straw manning my position. Roads destroy the habitat I desire to live in. Therefore, they are a direct attack against me and I will respond accordingly.

This can never be a dictatorship because there are too many other individuals who might build the road anyways. If that happens, I'll go somewhere else or sabotage them from afar.

Wayne--you say "The only way you can have individual free is to be part of those collective decisions which affect you--which is participatory democracy." One of the CrimethInc. arguments is that there are several different ways to "be part of those collective decisions which affect you," some of which are less anarchist/liberating than others. Majority rule voting among atomized individuals, for example, is different from a group of people who identify with each other, seeing themselves as part of a whole even when they disagree, making their way towards consensus while being careful not to steamroll over each other. Emphasis on the inherent legitimacy of the process ("democracy") will tend to produce the former; emphasis on the importance of respecting and preserving a diversity of perspectives and projects while striving for mutually beneficial coexistence will tend to produce the latter.

If you use your imagination just a tiny bit here, you can see that I'm talking about two different approaches to very concrete activities, like city planning. This is not a refusal to discuss concrete things, but a concrete political difference about how we approach collective decision-making. You can be sure the Crimethinc article isn't just theoretical navel-gazing; those people are the sort you always find in the middle of protests and organizing. As they talk about in their introduction, they're talking about their experiences in social movements, not what they read in books.

To summarize all this in a word, freedom of association. If you take freedom of association seriously, it is more radical, and more demanding, than even the most radical democracy.

Also, I think Crimethinc make a good case that 99.9% of real existing democracy has been absolutely execrable, in a way that makes it a bad idea to try to coopt the language of democracy to describe anarchist values. We're more likely to end up adding momentum to a discourse that doesn't serve us. That's the reason I call myself an anarchist, not a democrat.

Wayne, you responded to my anon comment and others, kind of flippantly and offhand though like you were lecturing a child, but you know what, you seem like an earnest guy...

Look around you right now, what's going on? Starting a new state, society, government? Building any roads, bridges with your buds? You have this urge for answers to questions that will never exist in the abstract timeless spaceless way your conceiving of them. A big fetishism of words and empty gestures.

Keep a sense of humour though. Next time I hear some person complain about politics or the state, government, I'm immediately going to shout: "How you gonna build a road mother fucker?!?!"

The most any of the anti-democracy folks here seem to be able to come up with, with regard to the question "how would you decide to build a bridge/road?" is:

"I reject your dualist metaphysics LEFTIST!"


"I wouldn't. Roads mean civilisised dwelling areas where I would have to WORK!"

Or some nonsense about any form of decision-making (beyond the individual alone) being "lateral dictatorship". Guess we should all just wander around as totally isolated monads and never interact with anybody else, lest we might have to make a decision together. Is the pronoun "we" dictatorial too?

Just want to point out that Wayne is NOT actually building a road and has no plan to. For me that's relevant.

Of infrastructure and decision making. It's not about isolated nomadic existence. An anarchic system could sustain some consensus infused democracy, like occupy for instance, but not as an ongoing basis. Same with road building as well as a sustained undunbarian body politic.

Also, again, democracy should not be a value or fetishized process.

This is a gross distortion of most of the comments in this thread, which anyone can read. I think that most of the people arguing in favor of the CrimethInc. text are neither anti-road primitivists nor people who talk about dualist metaphysics. YOU, my friend, are the one dodging the issue.

As for the pronoun we, it certainly isn't essentially oppressive, but that's the whole point: all sorts of imbalanced relations are obscured by the implication that being part of a united and indivisible we is inherently desirable. There's a big difference between interdependence and codependence.

The issue is indeed moral. I do think that democracy is an underlying value—it means freedom in group processes.

If the individuals in a community wish to decide something—such as whether or not to build a road—I am for their being able to make that decision as a group. I am not for “Majority rule voting among atomized individuals,” but all for “a group of people who identify with each other, seeing themselves as part of a whole even when they disagree, making their way towards consensus while being careful not to steamroll over each other.” (as one Anonymous writes). Sounds like a healthy decentralized democracy to me. What I am not for is for a minority having the right to prevent the rest of the community from making its decision, one way or another (even after an effort has been made to include everyone in the discussion, and even if minority rights will be protected after the decision is made). That would be a dictatorship.

The same writer states, “Crimethinc make a good case that 99.9% of real existing democracy has been absolutely execrable.” This is only true (I argued in my article) if we limit “democracy” to class society (from ancient slave states to capitalism). These have all been oppressive, exploitative, and statist. But if we include the tens of thousands of years of tribal and village assemblies and councils, then democracy has shown itself to be workable, without states, classes, or markets. Crimethinc rejects this analysis for no other reason than that it doesn’t fit their definition of “democracy”.

I like to think that I am “an earnest guy” and not just dismissing alternate opinions out of hand. But one writer dismisses my arguments as an “urge for answers to questions that will never exist in the abstract timeless spaceless way you’re conceiving of them” I disagree. Communities will be organized under anarchism and will have to make group decisions. These decisions will either be democratic or authoritarian. And this is true even now in the movements in which we participate. The refusal of so many anarchists to think things through is unserious and dangerous.

"This can never be a dictatorship because there are too many other individuals who might build the road anyways. If that happens, I'll go somewhere else or sabotage them from afar."

The values you place on reified ideas have no basis in the world you live in and as long as you have them you are a slave to them. Majoritarian tyranny that "tries" not to steamroll over people sounds a lot like cops who "try" not to kill people. People will still get steamrolled.

" I am not for “Majority rule voting among atomized individuals,” but all for “a group of people who identify with each other, seeing themselves as part of a whole even when they disagree, making their way towards consensus while being careful not to steamroll over each other.” (as one Anonymous writes). Sounds like a healthy decentralized democracy to me. What I am not for is for a minority having the right to prevent the rest of the community from making its decision, one way or another (even after an effort has been made to include everyone in the discussion, and even if minority rights will be protected after the decision is made). "

What about people outside of your community? This is an excuse for colonization by consensus.

"The refusal of so many anarchists to think things through is unserious and dangerous."

They have certainly thought things through, as evidenced by the thread, and they don't agree with you. This is certainly "dangerous" to your own comfort, and many of these folks are quite ok with that. Life is dangerous and no manner of getting to any of the ways of organizing you are talking about will occur without lots of violence and death. To think otherwise is delusional.

do deer vote with their hooves, as they trod on and cut down plant growth, clearing trails that provide a commonly usable networked infrastructure that facilitates forest travel?

is voting with your feet a democratic process, as when students on university campuses create a network of rectangular grid transgressing node-connecting paths that facilitate direct inter-class transit?

is 'democratic process' within a mutual aid oriented collective still 'democratic process' if it concerns the incubating of organized movements within a collective by direct action that bypasses intellectual debate and decision-making? or would we need another name-label like 'anarchistic jamming' or 'libertarian jamming' for voting with one's feet?

or do we want to forget about voting with our feet and head straight for the doughnuts and coffee in those intellectual debating and decision-making sessions where we can argue over variants on the theme of 'democratic process' and other approaches to intellectual decision-making that Western civilization likes to put upstream of actually doing stuff?

Wayne says "if we include the tens of thousands of years of tribal and village assemblies and councils, then democracy has shown itself to be workable, without states, classes, or markets. Crimethinc rejects this analysis for no other reason than that it doesn’t fit their definition of “democracy”."

But those tens of thousands of years of assemblies and councils didn't understand themselves as democratic, and as even David Graeber admits, democracy as it began in Greece was DIFFERENT precisely because it introduced voting. It totally confuses the most essential issue for you to call a bunch of things democratic that never called themselves democratic and that are FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT FROM DEMOCRACY, and then assert that that solves your problem! LISTEN, Wayne!

This has been an interesting discussion. Some of the comments have been intelligent and thought-provoking (to me) and others I regard as pretty silly (again: to me). Yet I think I have learned some things, at least about how some other anarchists think. (Whether anyone has learned anything from me, I cannot say.) To a certain extent we have been talking (writing) past each other. There have been few comments on what I actually wrote in the essay and only a very few on my thought experiment about how an anarchist community would actually make collective decisions which had to be made. So, a few responses to comments, and then I am done. (Which is not to stop anyone else from continuing, obviously.)

One writer notes that "democracy as its began in Greece was DIFFERENT" from the generations of self-organizing by tribal assemblies and village councils I mentioned. So it was. Those "primitive" assemblies and councils were also different from each other. And Athens was a democracy of the slave-holding men. A self-managed communist commune, with whatever it choses to use of industrial technology, will also be different. So what? Unlike Crimethinc, I chose to define democracy to mean communal self-governing/managing/organizing/determination. Under this definition (which is perfectly compatible with the traditional uses of "democracy") these are all varying types of democracy. The point is not to "win" an argument by defining the terms the way you want. Self-managing has worked and worked well.

"What about people outside of your community? This is an excuse for colonization by consensus." I am not sure of the point. I made the thought-experiment as simple as possible. But I have already mentioned that communes and workplaces will form federations and networks, as anarchists have always thought. How to integrate and coordinate these federations without either domination or chaos, is an old question of democracy (note my quotation from Proudhon on delegation). People will have to experiment to work out the best methods, I suspect.

I am so sorry, what an awful shock. Do not blame yourself, it would not have been the democracy and it wouldn't ave been by fright either. Please do not beat yourself up, you did no cause this to happen.. Unfortunately it was just time. Guilt is a natural emotion we get during grief, so are the 'What if' feelings. Honestly there was nothing you could have done Wayne, really ;(

We can't go on like this with suspicious minds Wayne!! " primitive " councils show us that their hierarchy is concealed beneath a democratic veneer supported by the riefication of a blind faith using religious rites and totemic censure to secure its agency.

Wayne Price doesn't write for anarchists. He writes for liberals who happen to stumble upon something related to anarchism and directs them towards social democracy.

That's the trouble. He directs neo-Marxist arguments directly at us, badgering us to look, act & talk like Marxist morons instead of intelligent anarchists. Social-democracy has nothing to do with this ideological colonization effort of his. Its ' all Marxism - all the time ". Go away and leave us in peace, please Wayne!

The trouble is that you consider yourself as one of "us", Pro-rat. Also, defending social-democracy from Wayne's Marxism? Social-democracy is even further away than an anarchist community than Marxism is. It is the most reactionary and pro-State ideology next to fascism. Countless waves of socialist hippies and polite academic activists won't help hiding the fact of the brutal, mindless subservience to the institutions of Power that this ideology promotes.

I thought this was clear for most people visiting this site...

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Enter the code without spaces.