Wednesday, 11 September 2013



In  recent articles about ‘democracy’, ROARmag. has emphasized the concept of ‘autonomy’: as an expression of independence from the state or the government or the elites. Never mind that 'autonomy' is often used in relation to individual behaviour, asserting the independence of the individual from the group.
 I want to focus on what was called 'community politics' in which it is vital that the group has a strong sense of identity, and the individuals interact, collaborate, cooperate
There have been attempt for several decades, as in North Africa and Southern Europe, and the countries of South America, to foster community politics and community action  with a view to limit the powers of  the elites across the world, and liberate poor minorities. In every case community dissent has been greeted by the armed force of the military or the police  Direct action and direct democracy depend upon the pursuit of dependence, coalition, collaboration, equality, not discrimination nor inequality.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s  there was the development and the rapid expansion of the Civil Rights Movement. In the USA and UK, the African communities, [the Afro-Americans, and the Afro-Caribbeans,] along with their allies, organized marches, protests, riots, direct action; occupations as sit-ins; boycotts, all designed to express their dissent against discrimination, and segregation, and to emphasise community life and their rights as citizens.

The Civil Rights Act was passed in the USA in 1964 following extensive campaigns by Malcolm X [who was assassinated in 1965] and Martin Luther King[assassinated in 1968]
The Race Relations Acts in the UK in 1965; and in 1976, were passed in the wake of civil disobedience, and civil disorder.
Civil Rights, when applied to the UK, was exercised  particularly in Northern Ireland, to support the Catholics against the Protestants and put a stop to community militancy and terrorism.

The Civil Rights Movement gave expression to the cycles of struggles over inequality, and poverty amongst the ‘racial’ communities. In the USA the discrimination was based on ‘skin-colour’ and applied to  black not white citizens. In the UK, the hostilities were also about skin colour, but the ‘black’ communities were of African/Indian/Bangledeshi/Pakistani/ Caribbean origins, and all British Commonwealth citizens, following the 1948 British Nationality Act.
In all cases the legislation is demanding that ‘the whites’ stop discriminating against ‘the blacks’; and men against women.
Sex discrimination was, and still is, endemic to all communities, and was seen as part of the equal opportunities agenda.  It was part of the Civil Rights Act 1964/1968, and the Equal Pay Act 1963 in the USA. It was made illegal in the UK in 1975.
These examples indicate that community politics had been common and dependent upon the intervention of governments. Racial and sexual discrimination was rampant and was not going to go away. It is clear that the Civil Rights movement supported the emergence of social movements in general and community politics in particular.

The ROAR Collective wants to examine the ways in which the Real Democracy Movement is striving to establish independence [autonomy] from the ‘state’.
The movement has been involved in a cycle of struggles over poverty and inequality, capitalism and banking, oppression and military  force. In Syria, the struggle against the state has been a struggle by the majority Sunnis against the Armed forces of the Alawite minorities..  In Egypt, the struggle has been against the military dictatorship. In Libya, the struggle became a battle against NATO. In Tunisia and Algeria the poor rose in protest against the rich elites.
ROAR  identifies a global project of cooperation, mutuality, equality, community, and  all attempts to transform democratic systems into community politics. The Arab Spring in North Africa has led to military action in the face of community action, the most extreme form of which has been the gassing of citizens.
Real Democracy is about community action, community decisions, direct democracy, direct action, cooperation, social inclusion, and dialogue, and when necessary, occupation of public and private spaces which should be available for the community.
Any movement for ‘real democracy’ will be ‘anti-capitalist’. Capitalism is elitist, intended to enable the rich elites to get richer, and to exploit workers for lower wages. It is designed to promote inequality, to maximize profits, as well as to increase exploitation of raw materials. Capitalist systems will lead to the destruction of the biosphere, the pollution of the atmosphere, and to climate change.
Community action that is anti-hierarchy, anti-capitalist, anti-elitist , will be the politics of  dissent, and will become the target of those in power!
The model of Real Democracy promoted by ROAR is enacted by communal assemblies. All citizens of the local communities will be able to vote on decisions and priorities for their governance. Within this form of community politics, all property will be owned by the local communities and allocated for community use. Real Democracy will be collaborative, collective, cooperative, and expressed as community action. Communal enterprises will be operated as ‘cooperatives’.
In the discussion about ‘Real Democracy’, it is asserted that the citizens must practice what they preach. For example, a participatory democracy must be participatory.  All citizens must be able to vote.  Of course, it is clear that these ROAR proposals assume a basic model of democracy which is participatory, cooperative, collaborative.    A Civil Rights democracy must exercise the civil rights of all citizens: black and white; male and female; Christian and others; and so on. One group must not act on behalf of another. Each community group will be directly involved in the discussions and decisions
An important aspect of this is that citizens must be able to vote ‘for’ and ‘against’ any proposals without fear of penalty. The politics of dissent is acted out in peace. Another aspect, is that community politics will be based on majority votes, not unilateral votes The minority may want to overturn the decision; Or the majority to get rid of the minority. But they need to organize dialogues, and negotiations in cooperation. Community politics is not a system in which all citizens must vote collectively at all times. Nor one in which a majority vote gives the majority absolute power.!
But if we are to explore the possibilities of the development of  democracy [or what has been called ‘real democracy’], then all citizens must be entitled to decide how to organize their democratic communities. An important part of the concept of democracy is that all citizens are involved in their governance. This can also mean that they are entitled to decide how they are governed. At the moment, the accepted model is ‘representative democracy’ whereby the majority vote for a party, or an individual or local people. If the practice is participatory democracy, then the citizens are free to decide on how they are governed. If they do not want to be involved in the daily routines of committees, or assemblies, they can draw a lottery. Or volunteer. If the citizens are not free to choose what sort of democracy they want, what sort of system is that?

No comments:

Post a Comment