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selver wrote

Consensus is not democracy. Different systems with different assumptions. You can define consensus as a form of democracy, but calling it democracy erases what's anarchist about it. Ie. respect for individual consent. Even activist groups that nominally run on some form of democracy generally imply consensus where the majority opinion is not held as the final word, whereas democracy implies the minority submitting to majority opinion, that the majority opinion is vested with some authority. If you ask 99% of people what democracy is, they are not going to say it's consensus. The history of democracy is what implies democracy = majority rule, it has never been associated with consensus, so I really don't understand the desire to try to salvage the word.

You're right total consensus is not always possible, but that is what should be aimed for, not a vague sense of democracy that could mean just about anything. If one falls short of consensus, there are other anarchist concepts to fall back on, like free association.

The opinion of one anarchist wouldn't be the final word, but the opinion of every anarchist I can think of seems to imply that it's a general principle among anarchists.

Do you think anarchists invented this concept?

No? Still a useful phrase.

It's not misanthropic. It's just being clear about what being radically anti-authority means.


kittybecca wrote (edited )

I guess where we arrive at a philosophical difference is that you judge democracy as a form of authority, whereas I judge it as a broad movement away from authority, where the less hierarchy it involves, the more democratic it also is.

I view anarchism as perfect democracy, where people are masters of themselves. Democracy was an attempt to abolish autocracy out of a distrust of authority and a genuine desire (for most participants in the revolutions, who primarily were NOT members of the bourgeoisie) to take control over their own lives; anarchy merely takes this a step further.

Judging the history of democracy by various reactions and failures is like judging the history of communism by the same thing. You don't need to throw the word communism out to advance the spirit of the communist revolutions, nor do you need to throw the word democracy out to advance the spirit of the democratic revolutions, largely fought by proles from the very beginning even if the primary beneficiaries were the bourgeoisie.

I see anarchism as a radical form of the spirit of '89, the most complete form of what democracy has always claimed to be about: liberty, equality, etc.. That's not an attempt to salvage democracy for me; it comes naturally rather than being a series of mental gymnastics. It might require mental gymnastics for you to come to the same conclusions, but people's brains are wired differently. I think you just think about things in very different terms than I do.

Edit: Imagine the anarchist movement failing to achieve its promises and creating yet more forms of hierarchy and authority in the future; would that mean we should throw the word anarchism out?

I realize people say democracy and liberalism work as intended, but the reality isn't that simple. Things work the way they do because various power struggles resulted in things being this way. These power struggles ended the way they did because democracy was insufficient to deliver its promises. From the beginning, democracy promised liberty, self-government, self-mastery, etc., but it was unable to deliver its promises because of the fundamental contradiction between the liberal concepts of individual rights and capital, the latter of which undermined the former. Aristocrats systematically weakened democracy, and this effort was there from the very beginning; this doesn't mean most of the early democrats weren't genuinely trying to create a society of freedom and self-mastery.