Submitted by ziq in AnarchistFAQ (edited )

A re-edit of /u/zoom_zip's edit of my w/democracy wiki

This article paraphrases parts from the essay "Do Anarchist's Support Democracy?" by ziq

Democracy is derived from the Greek demokratia.

demos - "the people" + kratia - "power, rule".

It means "To be ruled by the people".

Contrast this with the etymology of the word Anarchy. From the Greek anarchos meaning "To have no ruler".

If the definition of the word 'democracy' is "Rule by the People", and the definition of the word 'Anarchy' is "To have no ruler", then the answer to the question "Do Anarchist's Support Democracy?" would logically be no. Anarchists are against all authority, even authority imposed by a majority of voters.

Of course, it's not always that simple. Some anarchists do choose to engage with electoral voting, believing that a "lesser of two evils" approach is worth the trip to the ballot box. But, this is not the same as believing that democracy works or that it's a form of anarchy.

Others (social anarchists) might claim that what we have now isn't "real" democracy. Most working systems of democracy in the world today are 'representative', where the people elect an individual to represent them in government. Some people instead advocate for a return to the 'direct democracy' of ancient Greece, where the intermediary is removed and power is given directly to civilians to make decisions by voting directly on each government policy.

In short, these two forms of democracy are a difference between rule by political proxies or rule by the majority group of voters. However you window dress it, all democratic systems are ways to rule people - something all anarchists oppose by definition.

But, more than this, democracy separates us; pitting the majority against the minority. Many of us - including you - might live in a democracy, and might find that those outside of the ruling class continue to be exploited, living in perpetual servitude. We have never been granted the freedom and liberty that our rulers promise democracy will grant us.

Yet, because we are given the opportunity to take part in the political process by way of democracy, we are lead to believe we have a say in the governing of our lives. As long as we believe that the ballot box is the solution to our problems, we remain passive and alienated, never taking control control of our own fates.

Anarchy rejects this authority of the majority over the minority. Anarchy rejects the authority of any group over any other group. Anarchy is about upholding each individual's autonomy and dismantling the authority forced on us by oppressive actors.

Democracy is a hierarchy of coercive power. What happens when the minority disagrees with the majority? They are either forced to conform, or forced to leave. Democracy either promotes or enables the marginalization of minority groups while putting the onus on them to 'speak up, be heard, and vote for change'. "Power to the people", means "Power to the most powerful group of people". The more power the majority group has, the less power the marginalized minority groups have.

Finally, democracy has proven endlessly throughout history that it enables the authority of brutal power hierarchies starting from its inception in ancient Greece; where only free land-owning men were allowed to participate in the direct democracy system. Democracy is responsible for some of the worst atrocities in history. More than we could list here. But, to scratch the surface:

  • Funneling wealth to the ruling class leaving billions in poverty
  • The Armenian genocide
  • US Oil wars
  • South African Apartheid
  • Palestinian Apartheid
  • Prison states
  • The democratically empowered Nazi genocide
  • The US carpet bombing of Vietnam
  • Guatemalan death squads
  • Slavery in the USA (representative democracy) and in ancient Greece (direct democracy)
  • and more

Democracy is a tool that maintains the tyrannical capitalist status quo.

So do anarchists support democracy?

Anarchy is the opposition to authority. It is taking a stand against every form of oppression. It is the quest to limit suffering and free people from those who rule them. Anarchy is against all rulers, including democratic ones. Anarchy and democracy are incompatible.



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ziq OP wrote (edited )

we still need to implement elements from other democracy essays like crimethinc's if someone wants to do that. even direct quotes would be fine

essays are linked at the bottom of w/democracy