DEMOCRACY & NATURE: The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, vol. 5, no. 2, (July 1999)

A response to

Michael Levin’s review article

printable version



I would like first to express my gratitude to Michael Levin for his accurate, fair, as well as penetrative analysis of the issues involved in the project for an inclusive democracy, which, of course, constitutes the journal’s raison d’ etre. I believe that his thorough analysis will contribute significantly to the dialogue on this project, a dialogue which I think is crucially important in today’s conditions of total degradation of what used to be the Left and of the bankruptcy of the European Green movement —a movement, whose criminal co-operation in the latest NATO barbarity simply confirmed its full integration into the status quo and its self-negation as part of a broader liberatory movement. It is therefore in this light that the following comments should be seen, since their only aim is to engage in a constructive dialogue on the project for an inclusive democracy —an aim obviously shared by my reviewer as his final remarks make abundantly clear (’it is, hopefully, clear that the criticisms offered are made from within the spirit of the enterprise, with which your reviewer is very much in agreement’). Needless to add that readers are most welcome to take part in this dialogue with their valuable comments.

The first comment I would like to make refers to Levin’s description of the  connection between the two parts of the book. Thus, as my reviewer points out:

(for Fotopoulos) only a  new structure of life based on different principles would meet the needs of justice and survival… (he) could have set himself a more limited, easier and less controversial task, that of  delineating  our current condition. That would have been a service in itself and the part of the book that deals with it (Part 1) is clear and enlightening. However, our author has a political project,  that of  fulfilling the democratic ideal that the west nominally professes’.

Although my reviewer is of course right in stressing that the project for an inclusive democracy proposed by the second part of book involves the creation of a new structure of life, I am concerned that the above presentation may give a false impression of the connection between the first and the second parts of the book. The aim of the book is not just to contrast the irrationality of the present order with the project for an inclusive democracy, seen as a kind of a new utopia to be added to the long list of libertarian utopias. As I stressed in the book :

A liberatory project is not a utopia if it is based on today's reality. And today's reality is summed up by an unprecedented crisis of the `growth economy', a crisis which engulfs all societal realms (political, economic, social, cultural) as well as the Society-Nature relationship. Furthermore, a liberatory project is not a utopia, if it expresses the discontent of significant social sectors and their, explicit or implicit, contesting of existing society. Today, the main political, economic and social institutions on which the present concentration of power is founded are increasingly contested. (TID, p. 346)

I therefore think that it is in this light that the reader of the book should see the second part of the book (which describes the ID project) with respect to the first part (which attempts to analyse the present multidimensional crisis). The main aim of the first part of the book is to show that the collapse of ‘actually existing socialism’ (that confirmed the failure of the socialist movement to achieve a synthesis of the demands for autonomy and equality), the parallel degradation of socialdemocracy into an integral part of the neoliberal consensus, and the consequent universalisation of the market economy, have in fact intensified the crisis which began about two centuries ago, when the system of the market economy and representative democracy were established. The establishment of the market economy in particular was instrumental in creating the present huge concentration of power, currently accelerated by globalisation.  It is therefore the concentration of power which is shown to be the fundamental cause of the present multi-dimensional crisis: political, economic, social and ecological.

In this problematique, the inclusive democracy project should be seen as a project aiming at the negation of concentration of power -- in other words, as a project whose fundamental objective is the equal distribution of power among citizens: at the political level, through direct democracy, at the economic level through economic democracy, (a new form of economic organisation beyond the failed systems of the market economy and central planning), as well as at the broader social level. Therefore, the project for an inclusive democracy, far from being one more  ‘utopia’ may, perhaps, be the only realistic way out of the chronic crisis, which today has been generalised. Furthermore, it represents a synthesis, but also the transcendence, of the two great historical traditions, the socialist and the democratic one, as well as of the radical trends within the green, feminist and autonomist movements.

My second comment refers to Levin’s discussion of the concept of democracy, which is obviously based on a very different stand to mine on the conception of democracy in general and the Athenian democracy in particular. Of course, he is perfectly entitled to have a different stand to mine provided, however, that the implicit or explicit assumptions involved in this stand are made clear so that readers can draw their own conclusions. Thus, Levin starts this discussion by assuming (incorrectly) that I want “a return to the ancient Greek understanding of the concept, which is fair enough in the sense that the word does derive from them, though he does not sufficiently integrate his awareness that the Greeks left out of their democracy those not qualifying for citizenship, 'women, slaves, immigrants”.

However, as  statements like the following one make clear, I see the classical conception of democracy as inadequate and therefore not as a model for today’s conditions but just as a sperm for the development of a new conception of democracy:

The final failure, therefore, of Athenian democracy was not due, as it is usually asserted by its critics, to the innate contradictions of democracy itself but, on the contrary, to the fact that the Athenian democracy never matured to become an inclusive democracy (TID, p. 194).

In fact, one of the basic aims of the section on the classical Athenian democracy was to show that it was not inclusive in two senses: first, because it did not include all residents and, second, because it did not include  all realms of public life, as is stressed in the following extract:

A fruitful, perhaps, way to begin the discussion on a new conception of democracy may be to distinguish between the two main societal realms, the public and the private, to which we may add an "ecological realm", defined as the sphere of the relations between the natural and the social worlds. The public realm in this book, contrary to the practice of many supporters of the republican or democratic project (Arendt, Castoriadis, Bookchin et al) includes not just the political realm, but also the economic realm as well as a ‘social’ realm, in other words, any area of human activity where decisions can be taken collectively and democratically (TID, p. 206)

It is therefore clear that the classical definition is only my starting point in defining a new conception of inclusive democracy. Furthermore, my recognition that Pericles had an understanding of ‘the merely formal character of political rights when they are not accompanied by social and economic rights’ could hardly be taken as implying that a demand for an inclusive democracy had already been made by Pericles. As I stressed in the book, Pericles’s concern was to create the preconditions for political democracy, which, however, is only one component of inclusive democracy (TID, p. 192).  

But, let us see in more detail where my  disagreement with  Levin lies with regards to his stand on the conception of democracy. To start with, the mere fact that there are many definitions of democracy does not make democracy ‘an essentially contested concept’ as Levin points out. The statement therefore he makes, following ‘most academics in the social sciences’, that ‘one cannot say precisely which definition is right and which is wrong’ is, to my mind, false both ‘positively and ‘normatively’.

On the positive side, It is possible to derive a criterion which we may use in distinguishing between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ definitions of democracy. This criterion is derived from the Greek etymology of the word and the way in which the Athenian democracy was structured, as people’s self-government. On the basis of this criterion, we may decide that any definition which does not involve direct self-government of the people is not a proper definition. Therefore, as I attempted to show in chapter 5, there is only one form of democracy at the political level, and that is the direct exercise of sovereignty by the people themselves --a form of societal institution which rejects any form of ‘ruling’ and institutionalises the equal sharing of political power among all citizens. On this, as well as on the fact that the Athenian democracy was not ‘a kind of rule’, every libertarian thinker (apart from those of the individualistic trend inspired by the liberal tradition like Susan Brown) and every supporter of the autonomy/democracy tradition  agrees: from April Carter to Murray Bookchin and from Hannah Arendt to Cornelius Castoriadis.  Therefore, the modern concepts of democracy, like liberal democracy (which Castoriadis aptly called ‘liberal oligarchy’), third world democracy, or Soviet democracy are rejectable not  because they hardly have any relation to the classical Greek conception but because they have no relation at all to any conception of democracy as self-government of the people and as such constitute an abuse of the word.

This brings us to the ‘normative’ side of the discussion. As I stressed in the last chapter of the book,  the concepts we use and the interpretations we adopt with respect to social phenomena is a matter of choice —a choice, which is always in consistency with the social ‘paradigm’ we endorse, i.e. the way of seeing social reality. Thus, my conviction  in the rightness (from the normative viewpoint) of the concept of inclusive democracy is not based on any kind of ‘objective’ interpretation of social evolution (Marx) or natural evolution (Bookchin), but on a deliberate choice. Likewise, the orthodox social scientists’ belief in the rightness of the concept of representative democracy is not based on any ‘objective’ type of analysis but on a different choice. In other words, in both cases, the choice of definitions is based on a primary choice of social paradigm.

My choice of the inclusive democracy definition is based on the explicit adoption of the autonomy paradigm and on the implied analysis about the type of institutional framework which may secure autonomy, i.e. freedom. By the same token, if most academics in the social sciences use a concept of democracy which is totally incompatible with the autonomy paradigm this is simply because, implicitly or explicitly, they adopt a different social paradigm than that of autonomy. In other words, the reason why ‘most academics in the social sciences’, which Levin follows, regard democracy as an 'essentially contested concept, whose meaning has altered over time’ is because they adopt, explicitly or implicitly, what I called the dominant social paradigm (i.e. the system of beliefs, ideas and the corresponding values which is associated with the dominant political and economic institutions, namely representative democracy which passes as a kind of democracy and the market economy which, correspondingly, passes as a kind of economic democracy ).

But, as I stressed in the last chapter of the book, the fact that we cannot justify ‘objectively’ the liberatory project does not mean that we have to abandon any idea of it and  fall into a kind of post-modernist conformism, where everything is contestable and nothing can be shown to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. So, even if we assume (wrongly) that the concept of democracy is contestable, this is not the issue. The real issue is which is our primary choice of social paradigm. The libertarian criterion for choosing a social paradigm is whether it secures human liberation. Once this axiomatic choice has been made then one can say precisely which definition of democracy is right and which is wrong. It is not difficult to show, for instance, that liberal democracy does not secure human liberation and it is therefore ‘wrong’ . By the same token, it could be argued that the definition of inclusive democracy is the ‘right’ one to adopt —unless it can be shown conclusively that an institutional framework based on it cannot secure human liberation.

Another point I would like to dispute is Levin’s statement that Greek democracy was ‘a form of rule by the largest class of citizens in a society based on slavery’. I think that one should not confuse the scope of citizenship with the institutional framework itself. The fact that those qualifying as citizens were exercising a kind of rule over those not qualifying as such is well known. But, this fact does not negate the democratic character of the institutions themselves. To give a couple of concrete examples, the 19th century U.S. ‘democracy’ did not recognise equal rights for the majority of the population (women and slaves), while today’s Israeli regime does not recognise in practice equal rights for a significant part of the population (Israeli Arabs).  But, of the three cases mentioned, it was only in Athens that those qualifying as citizens enjoyed full political democracy, whereas the same cannot be said about either male white Americans in the last century, or Israeli Jews today. It is for these reasons that as I pointed out in the book:

I would argue that Athens was a mix of non-statist and statist democracy. It was non-statist as regards the citizen body, which was ‘ruled’ by nobody and whose members shared power equally among themselves, and statist as regards those not qualifying as full citizens (women, slaves, immigrants), over whom the demos wielded power.

However, Levin has misgivings not only about the ‘right’ definition of democracy but also about the feasibility of democracy itself, although he qualifies his doubts about feasibility with the statement that “all of this should serve as a warning to later opponents of hierarchy; It's not that the attempt should be abandoned but that we should be aware of what we are up against, given the uneven distribution of intelligence, aptitude, ambition and position”. But, when he comes to substantiate his doubts, he does not attempt to assess the feasibility or desirability of the concrete model of confederal inclusive democracy proposed in the book and prefers to rely instead on generalisations derived from sociological or historical studies. Still, my aim in devoting an entire chapter to a model of inclusive democracy was, exactly, to show the feasibility of such an alternative method of economic organisation of society, given the utter failure of both the market economy and central planning to meet human needs. This aim becomes evident from the very first paragraph of this chapter:

Even though it is up to the citizens’ assemblies of the future to design the form an inclusive democracy will take, I think that it is important to demonstrate that such a form of society is not only necessary, as I tried to show in the first part of the book, but feasible as well. This is particularly important today when the self-style ‘left’ has abandoned any vision of a society that is not based on the market economy and liberal ‘democracy’, which they take for granted, and dismiss any alternative visions as “utopian” (in the negative sense of the word) (TID, p. 224).

I therefore find unhelpful the omission of any critical assessment of the economic democracy proposal, particularly so when, as far as I know, there is no other proposal at the moment (apart from the proposal for ‘participatory planning’ of Albert & Hahnel, which is only a variation of the usual socialist planning proposals) for an alternative economic organisation. However, such a proposal is a basic requirement for the development of any movement that wishes to replace the present universal market economy.

But, let us come to the general doubts of my reviewer about the feasibility of the project. He refers first to Robert Michels:

who produced what has become a classic of Political Sociology, Political Parties, revealingly sub-titled A Sociological Examination of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy.  Here, to be cryptic, he concluded that organisation produces  oligarchy. Any organisation pursuing particular ends would elevate administrators who gain or claim expertise in their particular niche and so become indispensable to the organisation.

It is obvious, however, that any attempt to generalise about the relationship of organisation to oligarchy, which emanates from present experience, is irrelevant. As the proposal for an inclusive democracy involves a complete restructuring of society, where ‘experts’ who are in charge of drafting the economic plans will have no more political, economic or social power than an ‘expert’ in, say, farming, ship building, carpentry or shoe making, it is hard to see why THIS sort of organisation will produce oligarchy.

The same applies with respect to Theodor Roszak’ reservations which emanate from the intellectual demands that political involvement in the complex societies of today entail. It is obvious, however that Roszak bases his argument on a society in which division of labour and specialisation, in the pursuit of the highest degree of economic efficiency (defined along narrow technico-economic criteria), have reached absurd dimensions. In an alternative society, in which efficiency will be defined very differently so that all needs (not just the needs for physical survival) of all citizens are satisfied, the role of the ‘experts’ will be very different from their present role. This does not mean that specialised knowledge will not be needed anymore. But, such knowledge, given the institutional framework of inclusive democracy which precludes any institutional inequality in the distribution of power, cannot be the basis for a new hierarchical structure. As April Carter has noted[1] we should always distinguish between authority based on special knowledge and authority based on special status in a social hierarchy. The former is inevitable and desirable, while the latter is avoidable and non-desirable.

Furthermore, the point that Levin makes (‘Fotopoulos rejects what he calls the 'myth of the "experts" and imagines that a modern industrial state can operate without them and that even economic decisions can be 'taken by the citizen body collectively and without representation’) should not be read out of context. And the context is provided in the description of the economic model which was ignored by my reviewer. There, it is described how assemblies would only have to select, from a range of draft plans which specify alternative ways of allocating resources, the one most consistent with the collectively decided objectives. Planners would have to spell out clearly the implications of each plan and citizens would not need to be experts in economics to understand these implications!

Finally, one may dispute Levin’s account of the reasons why Lenin quickly  abandoned the idea of the democratic procedures envisaged in State and Revolution:

Lenin abandoned State and Revolution for the tasks of actual revolution. He soon found that economic understanding and administrative ability  were less widespread than he had assumed.

However, the problem was not only that the adverse ‘objective’ conditions prevailing at the time made such a democratic experiment almost impossible (civil war, on top of economic backwardness, lack of any democratic tradition among the vast majority of the population etc).  Lenin’s and Trotsky’s stand on the ‘cumbersome mechanism of democratic institutions’, so powerfully criticised by Rosa Luxeburg on her assessment of the Russian revolution[2], played an even more important role. But, their stand,  as I pointed out in ch 5, is fully consistent with the Marxist-Leninist worldview, in the context of which a non-statist conception of democracy is inconceivable, both at the transitional stage leading to communism and at the higher phase of communist society (TID 196-99). So, if the Russian revolution has taught us a lesson it is that if a revolution is organised, and then its program carried out, through a minority, it is bound to end up with new hierarchical structures rather than with a society in which concentration of power has been abolished. To my mind, this  fact  played a much more important role in the failure of democracy in the Russian revolution than the inadequacy of economic understanding and administrative ability mentioned by Levin.  

Coming now to the transitional policy which Levin rightly characterises as ‘usually the weakest part of the projects for social reform’, my reviewer asks the following question, referring also to the Russian revolution which took place in the midst of a crisis:

for Fotopoulos the opportunity of transformation occurs  because the system is in crisis.  However we must note that a crisis does not always lead to a desirable solution. At this moment Russia is in crisis. This provides, I suppose, a moment of opportunity, but who would bet on a favourable outcome ?

Of course, the reply to this question is obvious: no one would bet on the favourable outcome of a crisis and History is full of examples where serious crises led not just to unfavourable outcomes but to tragedies, like the rise of fascism and national socialism in the interwar period. But, as I mentioned above, the reason I devoted the entire first part of the book to the analysis of the present multi-dimensional crisis was not just in order to show the existence of an ‘opportunity of transformation’. My aim was to show the systemic nature of this crisis, and in particular the fact that the ultimate cause of it is the huge concentration of power created by the present political and economic structures. The present crisis, as I mentioned in ch 4, is differentiated from past crises both in terms of its scale and its nature, given in particular the addition of the ecological aspect of it:

It is precisely the universal character of this crisis that constitutes the determining factor differentiating it from other crises in the past, while, simultaneously, it calls into question practically every structure and “signification” that supports contemporary hierarchical societies in East and West, North and South. Thus, the present crisis calls into question not just the political, economic, social and ecological structures that came into being with the rise of the market economy, but also the actual values that have sustained these structures and particularly the post-Enlightenment meaning of Progress and its partial identification with growth (TID, p. 140)

It is therefore obvious that the crisis which began about two centuries ago, when the system of the market economy and representative democracy were established, has, in the past twenty years or so, intensified, as it has led to the present huge concentration of economic power and the related ecological dimension. Furthermore, the Inclusive Democracy project, which proposes the equal distribution of power, is suggested as the only long term solution to this chronic and constantly worsening crisis. So, the crisis, far from being seen as a just an opportunity of transformation, provides, in effect, the rationale for the inclusive democracy project.                 

Levin then points out that “Fotopoulos wants 'the development of a similar mass consciousness about the failure of "actually existing capitalism" to the one that led to the collapse of "actually existing socialism” and he finds a problem in the fact  that the collapse of socialism occurred in the context of a real alternative whereas nothing so concrete now exists as an alternative to prevailing capitalism. But, no one denies that the lack of a real alternative to the universalised market economy does create an additional difficulty in the development of an alternative consciousness and this is exactly why the transitional strategy proposed in the book aims at the gradual establishment of alternative institutions to the market economy. It is within the process of establishing such alternative institutions, as part of a comprehensive program for the creation of an inclusive democracy, that the conditions for the development of an alternative consciousness can be created. As I put it elsewhere:[3]

The ID political strategy comprises the gradual involvement of increasing numbers of people in a new kind of politics and the parallel shifting of economic resources (labour, capital, land) away from the market economy. The aim of such a transitional strategy should be to create changes in the institutional framework, as well as to value systems, which, after a period of tension between the new institutions and the state, would, at some stage, replace the market economy, statist democracy, and the social paradigm “justifying” them, with an inclusive democracy and a new democratic paradigm respectively. The immediate objective should be the creation, from below, of ‘popular bases of political and economic power’, that is, the establishment of local public realms of direct and economic democracy which will confederate in order to create the conditions for the establishment of a new society. Contesting local elections (the only form of elections which is not incompatible with the aims of the ID project) could provide the chance to put into effect such a program on a massive social scale, although other forms of establishing new types of social organisation should not be neglected, as long as they are part of a program which explicitly aims at systemic change

Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that the socialist revolutionaries  before the Russian revolution also faced the  problem of the lack of a real alternative to  the capitalist system, which was universal by the beginning of this century. This fact did not of course prevent the creation of an alternative consciousness among  various avant gardes, which led to the Russian revolution and to significant revolutionary activity in other countries. To my mind, the real problem of any revolutionary strategy is the uneven development of consciousness among the population -- in other words, the fact that a revolution, which assumes a rupture with the past, both at the subjective level of consciousness and at the institutional level, takes place in an environment in which only a minority of the population has broken with the dominant social paradigm. But, as I tried to show elsewhere,[4] the gradualist but not reformist character of the ID strategy has a much better chance of solving this major problem of every strategy for systemic change attempted so far.

In this light, I think that the following statement about the ID strategy is obviously inaccurate:

Once again we can say that we have been here before. At the demise of communism in East Germany some of the type of people that Fotopoulos favours were at the forefront of opposition: radical democrats, democratic socialists, and environmentalists. Their moment came... and went. They were swept aside by those with more economic power.

Although the social groups and classes on which such a strategy would be based are clearly the ones that the internationalised market economy has already created and it is true that certain categories of activists that might take part in such a movement would not be different from the ones described by Levin, still, what matters is not just the social structure of the members of such a movement. Important as it is, the ‘social agency’ is only one part of the equation. The other part is the political project that the social agency adopts and the strategy implied by it. After all, it was the same working class which supported in this century revolutionary socialist movements but also reformist social democratic movements, as well as fascist, nationalist and racist movements. It is well known that the radical democrats, democratic socialists, and environmentalists who took part in the struggle against ‘communism’ in East Germany did not share a common vision about a future society, in the form of a comprehensive political project, nor did they share a common strategy. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that the social paradigm that was hegemonic in East Germany (and everywhere in Eastern Europe) at the time, i.e. the one shared by the vast majority of the population, was  based on liberal democracy, human rights and its complement, a ‘free’ market, and not a new comprehensive type of democracy that would replace what pass as political and economic democracy in the West. I therefore think that we should be careful in our comparisons before we derive conclusions of the “we have been here before” type.

Finally, as regards the important issue of the opposition that any radical proposals are bound to produce, no one, least of all myself, underestimates —as Levin himself recognises— the extent of the powerful backlash that would be unleashed against the inclusive democracy movement once it begins to make real inroads into popular beliefs. As I stressed in ch 7:

nobody should have any illusions that the implementation of a transitional strategy to economic democracy will not receive a hard time from the elites controlling the state machine and the market economy. However, as long as the level of consciousness of a majority in the population has been raised to adopt the principles included in a program for an inclusive democracy, and the majority of the population has every interest to support such a program today I think that the above proposals are perfectly feasible, although of course there may be significant local variations from country to country and from area to area, depending on local conditions.(TID, pp. 299-300) 

This is why the project of establishing alternative sources of information, not as a kind of life-style effort but as an integral part of the transitional strategy, is of crucial importance, as I stressed elsewhere.[5] However, one should not confuse the various stages of the transitional period. Levin, for instance, asks: ‘What would be the reaction to the attempt to 'expropriate' such 'privately owned big enterprises'(p.298) as MacDonalds, Coca-Cola  and Shell ?’ But, as it is made evident in the sentence from which my reviewer quotes, such actions would only come about at the end of a long  process which marks the transition to an inclusive democracy:

At the end of this process, the demotic enterprises would control the community’s economy and would be integrated into the confederation of communities, which could then buy or expropriate privately-owned big enterprises (TID, p.298).

The same applies to his question: “and how would the state react to the gradual taking over of its fiscal powers ?”as is, again, made evident if the relevant sentence is quoted in full:

This way, community assemblies would start taking over the fiscal powers of the state, as far as their communities are concerned, although in the transitional period, until the confederation of communities replaces the state, they would also be subject to the state fiscal powers. (TID, p. 299)

In other words, what is envisaged for the transitional period is a dual taxing power--an arrangement which already exists in many countries with local authorities having the power to tax residents.

Levin then proceeds to raise some issues concerning the international ramifications and he refers to the fact that as he puts it ‘I found nothing in this book on the consequences of breaching our international obligations. Would, for example, ecologically inclined communities  still be prepared to allow 40 ton lorries along their streets ? If not, we would have broken European Union regulations’. It is, of course, true that I did not deal with such details in the book, the obvious reason being that an inclusive democracy movement would fight, together with the radical socialist Left and other movements, for the creation of an alternative Europe to the present Europe of capital and markets, which is being imposed on European peoples.  It is obvious that a first step in such a fight is the struggle to dismantle the present ‘European Union’. In the meantime, activists should of course continue using any kind of direct action to prevent 40 ton lorries from passing through our streets etc. As I stressed elsewhere,[6] the implementation of the transitional strategy for an inclusive democracy requires a new type of political organisation:

which will mirror the desired structure of society. This would not be the usual political party, but a form of ‘democracy in action’, which would undertake various collective forms of intervention at:

  • the political level (creation of ‘shadow’ political institutions based on direct democracy, neighbourhood assemblies, etc.),

  • the economic level (establishment of community units at the level of production and distribution which are collectively owned and controlled), 

  • the social level  (democracy in the workplace, the university  etc.), and 

  • the cultural level (creation of community-controlled art and media activities).

Then, Levin asks: ‘Even if we achieve sanity in one country, how would the insane world react ?  Insanely but powerfully, I expect, as the United States once did  against Allende's Chile’. However, I never suggested in the book that the conflict with the ruling elites is avoidable. As I put it :

Of course, at some stage, the ruling elites and their supporters (who will surely object to the idea of their privileges being gradually eroded) after they have exhausted subtler means of control (mass media, economic violence etc.), may be tempted to use physical violence to protect their privileges, as they have always done in the past. But, by then,  an alternative social paradigm will have become hegemonic and the break in the socialisation process the precondition for a change in the institution of society will have occurred. The legitimacy of today’s ‘democracy’ will have been lost. At that stage, the majority of the people will be prepared to counter state violence in order to defend the new political and economic structures. Once citizens have tasted a real democracy, no amount of physical or economic violence will be enough to persuade them  to return to pseudo-democratic forms of organisation. 

So, assuming that the inclusive democracy is by nature an internationalist movement (as described also in the book (see e.g. p. 285) the real issue is whether the ruling elites will resort to violence before the alternative social paradigm becomes hegemonic domestically and starts creating significant inroads into popular beliefs abroad. The traditional answer given to this question by revolutionary movements in the past was in terms of the creation of  avant-garde political or military organisations which sometimes succeeded in leading to systemic change. But, this was always at the expense of creating new hierarchical structures based on the avant-gardes themselves. Therefore, if we wish to move out of the present multi-dimensional crisis and if we think that this can only be achieved through a form of social organization which re-integrates society with economy, polity and nature, then, perhaps, the ID strategy is the only one which can move us from ‘here’ to ‘there’ —if it ever does.  The alternative is to become more and more immersed into the present barbarity.


[1] April Carter, Authority and Democracy, (Routledge, 1979) p. 13.
[2] Rosa Luxemburg, The Russian Revolution and Leninism or Marxism? (Univ. of Michigan Press, 1970).
Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Mass media, Culture, and Democracy’ , Democracy & Nature, Vol. 5, No. 1, p. 63.
[4] Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Mass media, Culture, and Democracy’, p. 62.
[5] Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Mass media, Culture, and Democracy’, p. 64.
[6] Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Mass media, Culture, and Democracy’, p. 64.