We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Monday, February 1, 2016
Electionless inter-governmentalism über alles
(Note: My following comments also essentially applies to another recent essay on ROAR entitled "The CUP: up to its neck in politics" by Peter Gelderloos.)
What is so striking about both articles is the lack of an essential analysis from an anti-capitalist perspective. Gelderloos barely mentions capitalism in one paragraph, but the rest of his analysis ignores the essential anti-democratic nature of capitalism which undermines every institutional attempt at a democratic practice. Thus he lamely and vaguely suggests that people (apparently in reference to anarchists) must create their own democracy. He fails to see that no structural features of societies, including especially institutions, are independent of a society that is structured into classes--basically into two classes: workers and "owners"--and thus always must contend with anti-democratic influences.
In this piece by Phillips capitalism is totally ignored while the overwhelming emphasis is on the anti-democratic nature of European governance. It seems to me that the European left has not gotten over the dissolution of their celebrated safety nets that existed in the post-WWII era which ended as the virulent rise of neoliberal capitalism impacted their new governance of the European Union. Thus they are complaining and confused about the deterioration of social-economic conditions under the more recent neoliberal infected policies of the European-wide governmental structures. In the past many Europeans were appeased by the safety nets, and as a result they failed to see the anti-democratic nature of their governments. Now with the establishment of supra-European governing structures, the dramatic increase of inequality and lack of any significant democracy is much more obvious.
Their confusion lies in the fact that they fail to recognize that capitalism is antithetical to a genuine democracy. Capitalist regimes can only create at best their more celebrated form of bourgeois democracy, which is capitalism's fake form of democracy, and at their worst, fascism. I believe that European as well as American leftists too often confuse bourgeois democracy with the real thing, fail to understand the difference between the two, and underestimate the power of capitalist ideological centers to spread this confusion.
I wish I could offer a revolutionary program as an alternative to this European leftist confusion, but that will be up to all clear thinking revolutionaries everywhere.