DEMOCRACY & NATURE: The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, Vol. 9, No. 3 (November 2003)
I will start this editorial, as doctors always do, with the good news. The good news is that the Inclusive Democracy (ID) project —the project for a new type of democracy extending to the political, the economic, the social and the ecological realms — is six years old. It was in 1997 that the term ‘inclusive democracy’ began to be used in this journal, which had, by then, changed its name from Society & Nature to Democracy & Nature —and to which the subtitle ‘The International journal of Inclusive Democracy’ was added a couple of years later. It was also in 1997 that the original English edition of Towards An Inclusive Democracy was published, to be followed by the Italian, Greek, French, Spanish and German editions of it, to date — remarkably, with no publicity at all, in the time honoured tradition of radical Left publications. Since then, this project has led to a rich dialogue on the matter, both in this journal and in journals and books all over the world. It has led also to the further development of the project itself, mainly in the pages of this journal, as Alexandros Gezerlis, who co-edited this special issue on the ID project, shows in his significant and comprehensive Introduction.
However, although the ID project was developed into its present form in 1997, theoretical work on the project had in fact begun much earlier, since the appearance of Society & Nature, the precursor of D&N, in 1992. The very first issue of Society & Nature declared in the editorial that ‘our ambition is to initiate an urgently needed dialogue on the crucial question of developing a new liberatory social project, at a moment in History when the Left has abandoned this traditional role.’ The same editorial specified that the new project should be seen as the outcome of a synthesis of the democratic, libertarian socialist and radical green traditions. Since then, a wide- ranging and very fruitful dialogue has followed in the pages of this journal, in which libertarians and state-socialists of every persuasion, as well as green thinkers and activists have taken part. It was out of this theoretical work and the fruitful dialogue which developed in Society & Nature between 1992 and 1997 that the ID project was born.
The contributors to the present critical assessment of the ID project offer significant insights with reference to the various editions of Towards An Inclusive Democracy. Their contributions consist, mainly, of extended and updated versions of reviews on the ID project that have been published in journals other than the present one. Thus, David Freeman, Michael Levin and Arran Gare are three of the most important reviewers of the ID project and their contributions offer significant food for thought. Their reviews have been chosen not only because of their importance but also because they could initiate a rich discussion on the ID project, particularly since they express very different political viewpoints, from the social democratic to the libertarian ones. The topics they deal with include the feasibility of Inclusive Democracy, the nature of the present crisis, the ID transitional strategy and the issue of compatibility of the ID and autonomy projects to social democracy. Serge Latouche and Jean-Claude Richard offer two equally significant contributions on the French edition of the book, from opposite sides of the political spectrum which examine the desirability of the ID project, as well as the relationship of radical democracy to inclusive democracy. Takis Nikolopoulos’s review has been chosen from many reviews written for the Greek edition because of its insightful analysis of some of the crucial issues raised by the ID project with particular reference to its relationship to the civil society approach. Finally, the reviewers of the Latin American edition of the ID book, having to face an even harsher form of neoliberal globalisation than those in the North (USA, Europe, Japan, Australia), are perhaps in a better position to assess the need for a new liberatory project. Thus, Guido Galafassi, Jorge Camil and Rafael Sposito offer a ‘first hand’ account of the significance of a new liberatory project like the ID project for the Latin American area, including the relevance of ID ideas to the present Argentinian situation. Unfortunately, it was not possible to present reviews of the Italian edition and the German edition, which has only just been published.
In my contribution (Takis Fotopoulos) to this debate, apart from a rejoinder at the end of it, I have attempted to compare and contrast the ID project with the Parecon model, so that people can make up their minds about the real merits and flaws of the two projects on the basis of real arguments rather than marketing and sophisticated publicity which have lately, since the publication of Empire, invaded even the space of radical Left publications.
In the Dialogue section, Dario Padovan continues the discussion, which began in the last issue, on the various dimensions of authoritarianism and provides an excellent analysis of the way in which the bio-political mechanisms functioned during the era of totalitarian states, and how similar mechanisms have been informally established in today’s liberal ‘democracies’. Thus, old biopolitics, in the pre-war period, either turned to racism, or sought to improve the social body and to relieve it of the economic and social burdens of future disease and degeneracy by acting upon the reproductive capacities of individuals. On the other hand, the new biopolitics are manifested in the preventative policies of penal repression and criminalisation of the poor and deviants being introduced — the new ‘risk groups’ — as well as in the opening of a ‘backdoor to eugenics’, as the author calls it, which the new genetics, prenatal screening etc might lead to. No wonder that in the era of neoliberal globalisation genetic policies are being suggested, instead of social, educational, family and environmental policies. A very interesting analogy that Padovan develops is that between the old biopolitical concept of ‘population’ and today’s fashionable concept of the ‘multitude’. As the author aptly observes, the sociological culture underlying fascism distinguished between the concepts of “people” and of “population”, removing connections and analogies between the two. This was not accidental given that the concept of people denotes something intentional, subjective, an entity endowed with a political will and inalienable rights whereas the population is, instead, an object, a body without a head, an organism ruled by biological and social predictable rules. In other words, the concept of population denoted the multitude, “a sociological and biological organic mass, a whole group of individuals with no particular qualification or specific feature, whose priority is renewability and functions as an economic resource”. Ironically enough, as Padovan stresses, the concept of multitude, with its biopolitical connotations, was recently brought back into fashion by the authors of a self-declared radical best seller!
Finally, the bad news. We are sorry to announce that Democracy & Nature will have to suspend its publication for two years after this issue, in search of a new editor and a new publisher. The problem with the editorship is not a new one since, long ago, I had expressed my wish to other members of the Editorial Board to cease functioning as the editor of this important journal at the end of this year, after a long period of service extending over thirteen years. On the other hand, the problem with the publisher was indeed a new one, although it should perhaps have been foreseen. The uncompromising stand of D&N with respect to the New World Order was in obvious incompatibility with the neoliberal/social-liberal/reformist Left consensus prevailing in academia, which, nowadays, determines the survival or otherwise of any theoretical journal that has to rely on publishers’ commercial considerations for its survival. It is not accidental anyway that the only radical political journals of the Left that still survive today are basically those relying on their own financial resources.
On this sad occasion, I would wish to thank all those subscribers and contributors who have honoured the journal all these years and encouraged it in so many ways and also ask them to watch our website at www.democracynature.org/ for further news about possible re-publication in 2006. Until then, la lutte continue and, hopefully, au revoir.
Takis Fotopoulos, Editor