We all agree that our socio-economic systems are wrong.
They are not appropriate, you can see all around us injustices growing. First phase: “to become indignant”.
But we do not all agree on the interpretation and remedies to problems.
Some people think that things may get better by existing institutions including the elections (the reformists – those people usually do not invest in social movements), others are convinced that the political system itself must be questioned and that it can be only changed from the outside – they are the revolutionaries.
DESCRIPTION OF CURRENTLY DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENTS
Recent popular movements of so-called “the outraged” and the American penchant Occupy are revolutionary because they question the legitimacy of our political systems (including the lack of democracy) and refuse to insert their struggles. It seems to me that broadly the European indignants criticize first delegation of power and political oligarchy while the American movement puts more into question the links between economic and political oligarchy.
Both criticisms meet but critic of the delegation of power is deeper as it explains the link between the oligarchies. It says that if our political system benefits private interests, it is due to a lack of popular control (this is the lack of control by the people and the terms of our political systems that allow capitalists to seize ( Corruption, conflicts of interest)). There are the fact – total freedom of representatives – and the result – corruption and conflicts of interest.
In certain countries (including Israel) it appears that popular movements are still at the level of outrage and demand for social justice without significant democratic will. I do not therefore consider these movements as revolutionary.
WHAT STRATEGY FOR THESE MOVEMENTS?
We can see several different views and strategies in the popular movements.
Some protesters believe that nothing concrete should be claimed only to create debate and occupy public space. This is not a sustainable vision, without concrete horizon people may get bored by stagnation. That does not answer specifically the question “how to cope? Practice without theory, without strategy, without long term vision is perhaps not sufficient.
Also, some other protesters offer long lists of demands on the social and economic as well as on the political and societal. “Universal income” “minimum wage increase” “consideration of the blank vote .”
These lists may perhaps bring people together around common ideas (and hence also divide), but they do not answer the crucial question: what do we do, concretely, how our claims may emerge?
Why do we need a list of demands – health, school, work or the environment – if we do not have the power? Do people who write such lists think that governments will listen to them (although they contain goes against the interests of the political and economic classes)
This is like writing laws without having legislative power, and the problem is there.
The people – and thus the great popular movements – has not the political power in our societies, so it is forced to accept the established institutions and participate, or to challenge them without offering alternatives on organization of power (the proposals on health and the school are not alternatives, but laws) or to challenge them whilst offering a practical solution to the power structure (case study below).
WHO HAS THE POWER, WHAT IS THE POWER?
Political power is THE primordial power in our “advanced” societies. It is primordial to the one of religion or finance. Many people think that the bankers and finance have got the real power, this is false.
Power is based on the authority conferred by the trust – If a state is found without trust and legitimacy from its people then no one obeys and the state has no more power. Now ask yourself the question: Who has the most power, finance, or politics?
This is politics: politics (even under the current regime which is not democratic) is more legitimate simply because it emanates – to some degree – of the popular will. Imagine the scene: tomorrow States began to make war (I bet it will not happen in our regimes) to finance: the bankers bristle and mobilize all their power to counteract the state. Will the people in its majority support banks or politicians?
It will of course support the politics because finance has no democratic legitimacy.
That is why the politics has real power, if he decides something and is supported by a large majority then nothing (not even money) can stop it.
We can now understand that if the finance and economics have a lot of power (influence), it is because the links between economic elites and political elites. If banks may have as much power to appear stronger than politics, it is because the politicians have allowed it. Politicians have given everything to the economic and financial oligarchies (it is normal because the basic political and economic classes are similar – and still are). If they wanted, politicians could start all over because they have real power. It is obvious, politicians do not want to take the authority granted to the oligarchy.
Politics makes the rules of society, it organize the city. This is the basis of the power structure, It is the real power (the power to allocate the power), so if the people want a change that does not come, he must have a tactic to seize political power.
HOW TO GIVE POWER TO THE PEOPLE?
A revolution is truly successful if the power (political and therefore economic) came under the control of revolutionaries (in this instance true democrats, people who want a true democracy). The revolutionaries can and should perhaps address the economy to reach the policy, but a revolution cannot be based only on the questioning of economics.
It must first be said that a revolution can be done only if change is carried by a reasonably large share of the population. Without popular support, the claims can never be realized.
For the revolution to emerge, we must delegitimize the existing system to take away the real power (the people’s trust) but also, and it seems to me very important, propose and build a concrete alternative that describes the organization of power (if we stay in the unexpected that can be very dangerous and repulse many people) to ensure the the real power that we will have will be democratically distributed.
Recent popular movements can be described as democratic, they emphasize direct democracy and popular legitimacy, their members will want to live (so to establish) a true democracy. This is a revolutionary political program (power to the people) as currently people do not have the power (elections are not democratic – Greeks knew it well). The highlighting of popular sovereignty by organizing into Popular Assemblies is perhaps not sufficient to ensure a democratic victory .
Concretely , how can revolutionnaries build democratic revolution?
-There are several possibilities:
1. Popular Assemblies (PA) multiply and take over
People’s movements are composed of People’s Assemblies ( similar to PA). These PA have currently no “real political power”, which is held by institutions. Strong involvement of the population in the PA could allow a situation where PA could organize the revolution.
2. The popular movement claims a truly democratic system.
The movement is mature and has found a truly democratic political regime (this implies a consensus on a precise constitution). The movement has a constitution (how to organize the government (or the non-governement) and society) that will allow democracy.
3. The popular movement highlights one tool: the Constituent Assembly.
The movement does not put forward a constitution but the previous step. The movement offers a practical process that will enable the development of a democratic constitution. For this, the movement must advance terms for the CA to avoid CA to become a tool of the oligarchy.
Thus the draw ( need to define the terms) could allow an accurate representation of the people; the movement may decide to set a deadline at the CA; The assembly may be national or regional; we can imagine for example the creation of two CAs that would be in “competition” and enrich each other; one can imagine that the AC could be open to participation of anybody. Once the constitution written, one could imagine setting up a referendum to make people vote on each article (the constitution is a list of items) to ensure democracy.
In all cases, the establishment of a political system (organization way) stable will be preceded by the establishment of a constitution. A constitution is a text that defines the terms of the power distribution between men (who decides? how? For who?). Without a constitution, unless a general maturity and awareness on the uniqueness of particular interests (anarchism), it is inconceivable to imagine a stable political system. If we want a steady democracy, it is necessary to prevent abuses and to respect the process that allow popular sovereignty. There is no other method that the drafting of a constitution.
3 POSSIBILITIES: WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE?
It must first be emphasized that in all cases the protest and construction movement is organized in a democratic way through PA. In all cases success can only provide withlegitimization of PA and capacity to obtain the real power (the trust of citizens).
Concrete possibilities of revolution by takeover have each advantages and disadvantages.
Indeed the takeover by the AP without a concrete organization project is very vague and unpredictable (PAs are volatile and easily manipulated – see the fate of the Soviets, it takes a very energetic work and broad participation that the people may not want) . In addition it requires a decentralization that is perhaps not desirable because the reactionary power can deploy anti-democratic forces. Moreover, decentralization may not be compatible with existing networks and infrastructure, and decentralization may be too innovative regarding to the sense of nationalism (more by habit than by ideology) widespread.
The following two proposals do not suppress the interest of an popular movement organization by the direct democracy (with Popular Assemblies), because it allows the participation of more, the practice of a new kind of organization and it allows experience that may enrich the discussions on the constitution (in CA or in the movement directly).
The highlighting of a constitution, therefore of a detailed democratic political model unanimously accepted would be the simplest and most direct way to achieve a real democracy (once the the popular assemblies and the People knock over existing institutions, they set upthe new system). However it remains to find this constitution and to agree on it. So I encourage people to work on a democratic constitution.
Actually the Constituent Assembly can transfer the work of building a democratic constitution to a group of people who will devote full time (imagine compensation). However, the terms of the CA must be predefined, but it seems much less problematic than are the terms of the constitution (less complicated).
I think we should try to anticipate as much as possible to maximize the chances of success, and to fight the “we do not know where we go”, which is most often harmful. I am not saying that we should eradicate spontaneity: the stages of the revolution will surely be spontaneous, but more an important part of the protesters will have one goal and one clear strategy (which must also always be challenged), more the democratic revolution will be likely to succeed .
Though, it remains a relatively important problem relative to the highlighting of a Constituent Assembly. The claim of a set terms CA will never be promoted and implemented by existing institutions, because it undermines the political-economic class. The CA may either be established before the overthrow of the state (how to organize it (and pay for it?) without the media-political-economic power?) or whether to be set up once the state has been overthrown (in which case we must consider a provisional revolutionary “government”(way of organization) installed until the new constitution is ready and set up).
WHAT ABOUT ARAB UPRISING?
I have not spoken before of the democratic movement who aim to get out of dictatorial regimes, or in any case to get out regimes even less democratic than Western political systems. I have not spoken as it appears that the fight for freedom goes through several stages: from dictatorship, kingdom to elected oligarchy or representative democracy to real democracy. It seems that the elites and oligarchies have succeeded in fooling the protesters and in setting up regimes like Western’s ones, so future citizens, in particularfrom Arab countries, will face the same problems as citizens of “democratic” countries. The protesters of all sorts of regimes are invited to discuss and to use this text for theirdemocratic struggle. And I will only be delighted to see a pure oligarchic regime beingtransformed without any intermediate step into a real democracy.