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The direct democracy as an alternative proposition

category international | theory & praxis | review author Tuesday, 01 November 2011, 16:36author by initiative for direct democracy Докладвай тази статия на редакторите


  Direct democracy is the immediate way to take decisions in one society. That means from us to us without leaders, representatives, instructors or whatever. The direct democracy is formed from simple people/citizens without honors and titles. As C.Castoriadis claims “democracy if it’s not direct, it’s not a democracy”.

 It isn’t a theoretical text of ideas but a practical reality. It’s the reclaiming of the free public spaces in the neighborhoods and the creation of public assemblies where everyone decides, everyone participates, everyone controls.

  When direct democracy appeared? We would say always and everywhere whenever the people – the society- took their lives in their hands.

  The direct-democratic structure is not the solution to our problems but is the way to express and find the solution.  In the today devalued political and party system, this can be the possible way out, just only if we realize that the crisis is not just economical or political one, but it s touching the heart of the problem, it s a systemic one. Therefore the demand of horizontal social structure, in which is included the direct democracy, is not only a critic of the today system but a proposition of abolishing it.

  And why we speak for structures? The structures of one society are not just an organizational matter but a deep social matter. That means, that they reflect the idea that the citizens have for themselves, their values and their everyday activities (for example in a democratic or in a totalitarian regime the social relationships are developing in different way). The high rate of abstention in the elections around the world and the creation of spontaneous movements worldwide are showing us that the party structures no longer can inspire the trust of the people. These structures until today were built from a “faith” to the party and its role as “genius”. The party knows what must be done and who must do it. They are serving ready solutions and ideologies which must be obeyed in a religious almost way, just like Moses received the 10 orders from god. Today no one can believe anymore in these “metaphysical” powers of the parties and the representatives.




And there it goes the proposition of direct democracy.

We will try to organize the basic characteristics of the direct democracy in the following framework:

1. One basic element for the development of the direct democracy is to realize that it goes together with the political equality which means that the citizens participate equally in the dialogue and in the decisions. But this political equality cannot exist without social and economical equality (for example one boss cannot speak equally with one worker because of their different social and economical positions). So, direct democracy cannot exist in a state or in an authoritarian regime where from the start the economy, for example, is in the hands of few or where they exist competitive human relations like “your failure is my success”. We already know the paradoxical case of the so-called “direct-democratic state” in Switzerland .We also listen for referendums from time to time. But these examples are just very limited versions that presuppose again the governmental control and must not be mixed with the demand of direct-democracy. With the direct- democracy (political, economical and social equality), it stops existing the separation of the politics and the economy from the society. Actually it will not exist the term “politics” with the meaning that we give him today…In case that we use direct-democracy alone, without the upper analysis, it’s possible to produce totalitarian and authoritarian decisions.

2. Second characteristic is the rotation. In a direct democratic structure the participants who take responsibilities must be often revoked and the works must be rotated. With this way, are avoided the unofficial leaders, the bureaucracy and the disharmony between talking and acting. One example can be the direct-democracy in the working places, in the assemblies of the workers. In order all the workers to be able to participate really in the taking of decisions, it s necessary to have a comprehensive idea about how their business is working. If some workers are responsible to fix important data of the business and have access to them, probably they will have the comprehensive opinion of how it s working all the business. Therefore, they will have more information and they will create an informal managerial group.  From the other hand, the rest of the workers who are doing physical and more simple works will not be able to judge and decide so well. For this reason direct democracy in the working place means no one to work only an unpleasant work or only a spiritual and useful one. It should be created by the workers a balanced and various program of responsibilities.

3. Connected with the previous characteristic is also the next one: the access to the knowledge and the information.  The reasons are, obviously, the same with before. Citizens that have the right to decide and have control of their communities is necessary to inform and educate themselves freely. This will help them to make sure and collective steps and choices.

4. As fourth characteristic we can add the autonomy of the direct-democratic process. That means that the direct–democracy is not a regime which creates permanent institutions but a continuous process, a continuous possibility for the participators to build their own institutions and laws. The people, in this case, are free to discover new ways of creating and organizing their social life, of governing themselves. They experiment continuously the structures that they use and their flexibility so that they can change them when they need to. Therefore, we speak for a variety of versions that the social life can have, depending on the area, the special circumstances, the experience that they obtain and the new values and meanings that appear. As Zapatistas from Mexico say “let’s try it and we’ll see”.

5. In direct democracy they don’t exist formalized and institutionalized (формализирани и институционализирани) majorities and minorities. As we said earlier, there is a continuous process of creating our institutions. Therefore, the decisions can be taken with consensus, with unanimity (единодушие) or with majority according to the willing of the participators (so it doesn’t t exist one ready recipe that must be followed).

6. Also, we can say that the “direct” (or immediate) of the direct-democracy excludes the mediations (посредничество) between the society and the institutions. That’s why it’s working in a framework out of state mechanisms, parties, bureaucracy and everything that can be considered as mediator and intermediate. The representation (as we know it today) is, also, abolished not only because is a mediation in the way that we decide our affairs but also because the decisions must be carried out from everyone. So, we have 2 meanings of the word “direct”: the immediacy of taking decisions without representatives (the way) and the immediacy of making them happen without bureaucratic structures in the middle (the action).

7. Obviously, direct-democracy aims in the political justice and participation and cannot mean only that everyone is gathering in the assemblies and decides for everything. Therefore, the last important characteristic is the participation in the decisions according the degree that you are influenced by them. This is the only one criteria from which someone can understand the level of his participation in the decisions (for more see: Michael Albert on Parecon).  Everyone that is influenced from the decisions must have the right to give them a shape. That, obviously, excludes all the kinds of discriminations which we grown up with, such as: Bulgarian or gypsy, indigenous or immigrant, homosexual or heterosexual, man or woman, fat or thin etc. The direct-democratic process requires personal and social conscious free from prejudices and stereotypes.


author by David Ames Curtis - Agora Internationalpublication date Friday, 06 January 2012, 11:51author email curtis at msh-paris dot frДокладвай тази статия на редакторите

Would the author(s) of article 38102:

Initiative for Direct Democracy. "The Direct Democracy as an Alternative Proposition" (Tuesday, 01 November 2011).

be so kind as to contact us at the e-address below.

Yours in the Struggle,

David Ames Curtis
Agora International
27 rue Froidevaux
75014 Paris FRANCE
TEL/FAX: 33 (0) 1 45 38 53 96
E-MAIL: curtis@msh-paris.fr
SKYPE: davidamescurtis
Cornelius Castoriadis/Agora International Website
URL: http://www.agorainternational.org
URL: http://perso.wanadoo.fr/www.kaloskaisophos.org/rt/rtdac....html

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