The Next Revolution : Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy

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(1921 - 2006) ~ Father of Social Ecology and Anarcho-Communalism : Growing up in the era of traditional proletarian socialism, with its working-class insurrections and struggles against classical fascism, as an adult he helped start the ecology movement, embraced the feminist movement as antihierarchical, and developed his own democratic, communalist politics. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "The historic opposition of anarchists to oppression of all kinds, be it that of serfs, peasants, craftspeople, or workers, inevitably led them to oppose exploitation in the newly emerging factory system as well. Much earlier than we are often led to imagine, syndicalism- - essentially a rather inchoate but radical form of trade unionism- - became a vehicle by which many anarchists reached out to the industrial working class of the 1830s and 1840s." (From : "The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism," by Murray Book....)
• "...a market economy based on dog-eat-dog as a law of survival and 'progress' has penetrated every aspect of society..." (From : "The Crisis in the Ecology Movement," by Murray Bo....)
• "We are direly in need not only of 're-enchanting the world' and 'nature' but also of re-enchanting humanity -- of giving itself a sense of wonder over its own capacity as natural beings and a caring product of natural evolution" (From : "The Crisis in the Ecology Movement," by Murray Bo....)

(1929 - 2018)
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (/ˈkroʊbər lə ˈɡwɪn/; October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018) was an American author best known for her works of speculative fiction, including science fiction works set in her Hainish universe, and the Earthsea fantasy series. She was first published in 1959, and her literary career spanned nearly sixty years, yielding more than twenty novels and over a hundred short stories, in addition to poetry, literary criticism, translations, and children's books. Frequently described as an author of science fiction, Le Guin has also been called a "major voice in American Letters", and herself said she would prefer to be known as an "American novelist". (From :


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Foreword by Ursula K. Le Guin “The Left,” a meaningful term ever since the French Revolution, took on wider significance with the rise of socialism, anarchism, and communism. The Russian revolution installed a government entirely leftist in conception; leftist and rightist movements tore Spain apart; democratic parties in Europe and North America arrayed themselves between the two poles; liberal cartoonists portrayed the opposition as a fat plutocrat with a cigar, while reactionaries in the United States demonized “commie leftists” from the 1930s through the Cold War. The left/right opposition, though often an oversimplification, for two centuries was broadly useful as a description and a reminder of dynamic balance. In the twenty-first century we go on using the terms, but what is left of the Left? The failure of state communism, the quiet entrenchment of a degree of socialism in democratic governments, and the relentless right... (From :

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Introduction by Debbie Bookchin and Blair Taylor The world today confronts not one, but a series of interlocking crises—economic, political, social, and ecological. The new millennium has been marked by a growing gap between rich and poor that has reached unprecedented levels of disparity, consigning an entire generation to diminished expectations and dismal prospects. Socially, the trajectory of the new century has been equally bleak, particularly in the developing world, where sectarian violence in the name of religion, tribalism, and nationalism has turned entire regions into insufferable battle zones. Meanwhile, the environmental crisis has worsened at a pace that has exceeded even the most pessimistic forecasts. Global warming, rising sea levels, pollution of the air, soil, and oceans, and the destruction of massive tracts of rain forest have accelerated at such alarming rates that the environmental catastrophe that was expected to reach grave proportions... (From :

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1. The Communalist Project Whether the twenty-first century will be the most radical of times or the most reactionary—or will simply lapse into a gray era of dismal mediocrity—will depend overwhelmingly upon the kind of social movement and program that social radicals create out of the theoretical, organizational, and political wealth that has accumulated during the past two centuries of the revolutionary era. The direction we select, from among several intersecting roads of human development, may well determine the future of our species for centuries to come. As long as this irrational society endangers us with nuclear and biological weapons, we cannot ignore the possibility that the entire human enterprise may come to a devastating end. Given the exquisitely elaborate technical plans that the military-industrial complex has devised, the self-extermination of the human species must be included in the futuristic scenarios that, at the turn of the millenn... (From :

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2. The Ecological Crisis and the Need to Remake Society In addressing the sources of our present ecological and social problems, perhaps the most fundamental message that social ecology advances is that the very idea of dominating nature stems from the domination of human by human. The primary implication of this most basic message is a call for a politics and even an economics that offer a democratic alternative to the nation-state and the market society. Here I offer a broad sketch of these issues to lay the groundwork for the changes necessary in moving toward a free and ecological society. First, the most fundamental route to a resolution of our ecological problems is social in character. That is to say, if we are faced with the prospect of outright ecological catastrophe, toward which so many knowledgeable people and institutions claim we are headed today, it is because the historic domination of human by human has been extended... (From :

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3. A Politics for the Twenty-First Century It would be helpful to place libertarian municipalism in a broad historical perspective, all the more to understand its revolutionary character in human affairs generally as well as its place in the repertoire of antistatist practices. The commune, the town or city, or more broadly, the municipality, is not merely a “space” created by a given density of human habitations. In terms of its history as a civilizing tendency in humanity’s development, the municipality is integrally part of the sweeping process whereby human beings began to dissolve biologically conditioned social relations based on real or fictitious blood ties, with their primordial hostility to “strangers,” and slowly replace them by largely social and rational institutions, rights, and duties that increasingly encompassed all residents of an urban space, irrespective of consanguinity and biological facts. The town, city, municipa... (From :

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4. The Meaning of Confederalism Few arguments have been used more effectively to challenge the case for face-to-face participatory democracy than the claim that we live in a “complex society.” Modern population centers, we are told, are too large and too concentrated to allow for direct decision-making at a grassroots level. And our economy is too “global,” presumably, to unravel the intricacies of production and commerce. In our present transnational, often highly centralized social system, it is better to enhance representation in the state, to increase the efficiency of bureaucratic institutions, we are advised, than to advance utopian “localist” schemes of popular control over political and economic life. After all, such arguments often run, centralists are all really “localists” in the sense that they believe in “more power to the people”—or at least, to their representatives. And s... (From :

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5. Libertarian Municipalism: A Politics of Direct Democracy Perhaps the greatest single failing of movements for social reconstruction—I refer particularly to the Left, to radical ecology groups, and to organizations that profess to speak for the oppressed—is their lack of a politics that will carry people beyond the limits established by the status quo. Politics today primarily means duels between top-down bureaucratic parties for electoral office that offer vacuous programs for “social justice” to attract a nondescript “electorate.” Once in office, their programs usually turn into a bouquet of “compromises.” In this respect, many Green parties in Europe have been only marginally different from conventional parliamentary parties. Nor have socialist parties, with all their various labels, exhibited any basic differences from their capitalist counterparts. To be sure, the indifference of the Euro-American... (From :

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6. Cities: The Unfolding of Reason in History Libertarian municipalism constitutes the politics of social ecology, a revolutionary effort in which freedom is given institutional form in public assemblies that become decision-making bodies. It depends upon libertarian leftists running candidates at the local municipal level, calling for the division of municipalities into wards, where popular assemblies can be created that bring people into full and direct participation in political life. Having democratized themselves, municipalities would confederate into a dual power to oppose the nation-state and ultimately dispense with it and with the economic forces that underpin statism as such. Libertarian municipalism is thus both a historical goal and a concordant means to achieve the revolutionary “Commune of communes.” Libertarian municipalism is above all a politics that seeks to create a vital democratic public sphere. In From Urb... (From :

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7. Nationalism and the “National Question” One of the most vexing questions that the Left faces (however one may define the Left) is the role played by nationalism in social development and by popular demands for cultural identity and political sovereignty. For the Left of the nineteenth century, nationalism was seen primarily as a European issue, involving the consolidation of nation-states in the heartland of capitalism. Only secondarily, if at all, was it seen as the anti-imperialist and presumably anticapitalist struggle that it was to become in the twentieth century. This did not mean that the nineteenth-century Left favored imperialist depredations in the colonial world. At the turn of this century, hardly any serious radical thinker regarded the imperialist powers’ attempts to quell movements for self-determination in colonial areas as a blessing. The Left scoffed at and usually denounced the arrogant claims of European powers... (From :

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8. Anarchism and Power in the Spanish Revolution Today, when anarchism has become le mot du jor in radical circles, the differences between a society based on anarchy and one based on the principles of social ecology should be clearly distinguished. Authentic anarchism above all seeks the emancipation of individual personality from all ethical, political, and social constraints. In so doing, however, it fails to address the all-important and very concrete issue of power, which confronts all revolutionaries in a period of social upheaval. Rather than address how the people, organized into confederated popular assemblies, might capture power and create a fully developed libertarian society, anarchists conceive of power essentially as a malignant evil that must be destroyed. Proudhon, for example, once stated that he would divide and subdivide power until it, in effect, ceased to exist. Proudhon may well have intended that government be reduced to the minimum... (From :

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9. The Future of the Left By the beginning of the twentieth century, the Left envisioned itself as having reached an extraordinary degree of conceptual sophistication and organizational maturity. Generally, what was called leftism at that time was socialist, influenced to varying degrees by the works of Karl Marx. This was especially the case in Central Europe, but socialism was also intermixed with populist ideas in Eastern Europe and with syndicalism in France, Spain, and Latin America. In the United States, all of these ideas were melded together, for example, in Eugene V. Debs’s Socialist Party and in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). On the eve of World War I, leftist ideas and movements had become so advanced that they seemed positioned to seriously challenge the existence of capitalism, indeed, of class society as such. The words from the “Internationale,” “Tis the final conflict,” acquired a new concretene... (From :

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Acknowledgments Some of these essays appeared previously in other venues and we would like to acknowledge them as follows: The essay “The Ecological Crisis and the Need to Remake Society” was originally written for a Greek audience in 1992 and later published in English under the title “The Ecological Crisis, Socialism, and the Need to Remake Society” in the journal Society and Nature vol. 2, no. 3, 1994. “A Politics for the Twenty-First Century” was originally a video-transmitted speech presented to the First International Conference on Libertarian Municipalism, Lisbon, 1998. “The Meaning of Confederalism” was originally published in From Urbanization to Cities,London: Cassell, 1995. “Libertarian Municipalism: A Politics of Direct Democracy” was originally titled “Libertarian Municipalism: An Overview” and appeared in Green Perspectives, no. 24, 1991. “Cities: The Unfold... (From :

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Further Reading Books by Murray Bookchin Post-Scarcity Anarchism. Berkeley: Ramparts Press, 1971; and Oakland: AK Press, 2004. The Limits of the City. New York: Harper and Row, 1974. The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years 1868–1936. New York: Free Life Editions, 1977; and San Fransisco: AK Press, 2001. Toward an Ecological Society. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1980. The Ecology of Freedom. Palo Alto: Cheshire Books, 1982; and San Francisco: AK Press, 2001. The Modern Crisis. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1986; Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1987. The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1987. Revised edition as From Urbanization to Cities: Towards a New Politics of Citizenship. London: Cassell, 199... (From :

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Many less well-known names could be added to this list, but one that in particular I would like very much to single out is the gallant leader of the Left Socialist Revolutionary Party, Maria Spiridonova, whose supporters were virtually alone in proposing a workable revolutionary program for the Russian people in 1917–18. Their failure to implement their political insights and replace the Bolsheviks (with whom they initially joined in forming the first Soviet government) not only led to their defeat but contributed to the disastrous failure of revolutionary movements in the century that followed. I frankly regard this contradiction as more fundamental than the often-indiscernible tendency of the rate of profit to decline and thereby to render capitalist exchange inoperable—a contradiction to which Marxists assigned a decisive role in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Contrary to Marx’s assertion t... (From :


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