The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy
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From Athens to New York, recent mass movements around the world have challenged austerity and authoritarianism with expressions of real democracy. For more than forty years, Murray Bookchin developed these democratic aspirations into a new left politics based on popular assemblies, influencing a wide range of political thinkers and social movements.
With a foreword by the best-selling author of The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin, The Next Revolution brings together Bookchin’s essays on freedom and direct democracy for the first time, offering a bold political vision that can move us from protest to social transformation.
elimination of any organized social life whatever. While the state is the instrument by which an oppressive and exploitative class regulates and coercively controls the behavior of an exploited class by a ruling class, a government—or better still, a polity—is an ensemble of institutions designed to deal with the problems of consociational life in an orderly and hopefully fair manner. Every institutionalized association that constitutes a system for handling public affairs—with or without the
as the 1960s. As to “alternatives” that offer us New Age or mystical ecological solutions, what could be more naïve than to believe that a society whose very metabolism is based on growth, production for its own sake, hierarchy, classes, domination, and exploitation could be changed simply by moral suasion, individual action, or a primitivism that essentially views technology as a curse and that focuses variously on demographic growth and personal modes of consumption as primary issues? We must
loose, almost minimal system of coercion, at other times extending further into an ever-growing apparatus, and finally, in this century in particular, acquiring totalitarian control over every aspect of human existence—an apparatus that was only too familiar thousands of years ago in Asia and even in Indian America in pre-Columbian times. The classical Athenian state was only partially statist; it constituted a fraternity, often riven by class conflicts, of select citizens who collectively
European claim to be the beacon of civilization for the world. Yet if the Left universally scorned the civilizatory claims of imperialists at the end of the last century, it generally regarded nationalism as an arguable issue. The “national question,” to use the traditional phrase in which such discussions were cast, was subject to serious disputes, certainly as far as tactics were involved. But by general agreement, leftists did not regard nationalism, culminating in the creation of
half-century, capitalism has managed not only to avoid a chronic economic crisis of the kind Marx expected but also to control crises that potentially had a highly explosive character. As a system, capitalism is one of the most unstable economies in history and hence is always unpredictable. But equally uncertain is the traditional radical notion that it must slip with unfailing regularity into periodic crises as well as chronic ones. The general population in Europe and the United States has