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The last vestiges of democracy can only be found at the decentralized state level...
A Menace to Society
Anarchism is often confused with the term chaos or destruction. Most people, institutionalized through vertically aligned state educations, have been taught incorrectly that the political philosophy of anarchism means no government, no society, just chaos, war, violence, and destruction. Even the F.B.I. uses this incoherent definition when describing "anarchistic groups" that they deem as a "threat" to our national security. In reality, anarchism is a variety of political, social, and economic philosophies that center on a few key fundamentals that easily dispels the notion that anarchism means chaos or without laws, rules, or even governing bodies.
While it is true that there are numerous anarchistic authors throughout history who explicitly write about abolishing the state, government, rulers, etc... their replacement for those managing institutions, while vastly different in structure and justification, are nonetheless managing councils, cannons, voluntary associations of self-management, etc... While some anarchist authors have described the alternatives to what they mostly call the state and or governing bodies, most are unfamiliar with these writings, and even fewer people understand how these anarchistic alternative governing structures would be formed or how they would operate.
If you have a society, that society will have a managing component, which is what makes it a society instead of a loosely associated group of people. Since we realize the amazing benefits living within managed societies provide our citizens, moving away from societal structures is not in the cards, not even for anarchists. However, this does not mean all societies need to have the same structure of top down governance, and in fact, reversing this top-down system of governance is priority number one for most anarchists.
The destruction of the centralized vertically aligned institutions of unjustified governing authority, along with vertically aligned and exploitative economic structures are something almost all anarchists share in. What does the destruction of the centralized vertically aligned institution of unjustified governing authority even mean?
Well, it's simple, instead of setting up a governing body where there is a vertically aligned authority structure (e.g. Supreme Court, Congress, President), that is centralized at the federal level and without democratic justificatoin, we would reverse that and make it a horizontally aligned authority structure, that has its authority derived from the citizens of that society on the local level, which is decentralized so those governing institutions represent the specific area that the governing body will be managing.
This is in stark contrast to how our federalist system is designed now, where a super-super-minority group of a few citizens, far removed from the area they are governing over have absolute power with little input from the citizens being impacted by that governance. Decentralizing our governing institutions will ensure that a super-super-minority using their undemocratically derived "authority" from ruling over the rest of us, as our current governing structures are organized to do now, especially here in America. As Peter Kropotkin stated, "...the instructive power of the people themselves who aimed at developing institutions of common law in order to protect them from the power-seeking minority."
In a horizontally aligned structure, we all rule together in decentralized governing bodies, and anyone assigned to represent us along with their decisions, are subject to recall by the people living under that governance. For instance, in Switzerland they have a pseudo-horizontal structure, since it can be vertical in times of war I don't consider it a true horizontal structure. But with that said, if their representative government creates a law, that they do not like, if they have the numbers, they can recall those laws directly via elections through direct democratic initiatives.
James Madison opposed direct democracy, he in error, believed that the more people you have, the less they will be able to manage and govern themselves, and instead believed that a super-super-minority of people would do a better job at governing over the masses from a centralized authority structure known as the federal government. We now have over two centuries worth of data that shows that belief was incorrect, and we are now ruled over instead of governed, and we are ruled over by an oligarchy, who neither represents the people nor are accountable for the governing and managing decisions they make to those people for the most part.
The last vestiges of democracy can only be found at the decentralized state level with statewide ballot initiatives that are actually democratic in nature. This is how our country has been able to make significant changes that oppose the centralized decisions of our federal government on numerous issues from gay marriage to marijuana legalization.
Anarchists wish to empower that type of governance, and by working within the system to decentralized the power and return governance back to the people at a local level, is the goal of anarchism. I think most people would prefer to have a direct role in determining which laws they will have to live by, especially in their own neighborhoods, cities, counties, and states.
If you look at the data, statewide ballot initiatives have a higher voter turnout, up to 2% more according to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, because the voter understands they have a direct role, unlike the disconnect they experience with federal lawmakers who are vastly untouchable from the public, except in elections every 2-4 years.
Anarchism is nothing to be afraid of or something to shun, it is actually very American, and is the only way I see to increase democracy and to increase self-governance, something our society is in desperate need of.
Do you believe if we put it to a statewide ballot whether or not to overturn Citizens United that it wouldn't be struck down in the majority of our states? Now compare that to how the Senate treated the issue, comprised of centralized corporate interests, they voted to strike down a measure to overturn Citizens United without any input from our citizens.
No doubt you see the disconnect there, and that is a great sign, perhaps you have a little more anarchism running through your veins than you actually realize - hopefully you will embrace it and become part of the solution our country desperately needs.
Claude Morton, Column Editor: Claude Morton is an independent contributor, who mostly writes articles on politics, Veganism, philosophy, or local events. Claude has contributed to a variety of print and online outlets including Yahoo!, MovieMaker Magazine, and the Ann Arbor News. From Claude; I’m in the 1%, no, not that 1%. I’m a vegan, indie filmmaker, libertarian socialist, and a pacifist. I champion freedom as much as equality, and love discussing solutions about our country’s biggest dilemmas. ... (more...)