Direct democracy

CAHWT – inspiring people to demand participatory democracy

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At a public meeting of the Campaign Against Home and Water Taxes (CAHWT) in Kildare last month, a query was raised from a woman anxious about the upcoming local elections. She explained her complete frustration with the austerity policies of the Fine Gael-Labour Government, and described her despair at not having the power to challenge policies that were ravaging her community, stating there “really is no one legitimate left to vote for.”

Building Democracy: All Cork Delegate Meeting Against the Household Tax

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The Campaign Against the Household and Water Tax (CAHWT) is on the cusp of a very significant victory – as indicated by the recent announcement that less than 20% of households in the Republic had registered with the Government to pay the new unjust tax.  This low level of compliance with Government orders is clear evidence that the Campaign has managed to tap into a rich seam of discontent.  Admittedly these are early days and the struggle has a while to go yet, but nonetheless it is an important and notable success.

Occupy Movement, the Zapatista's and the General Assemblies

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The General Assemblies of the Occupy movement are creating a global experience in Direct Democracy.  But this model did not come from nowhere - among other sources of influence is the Zapatista rebellion of southern Mexico, soon to enter its 18th year. Over almost two decades hundreds of rebel communities in Chiapas have used a General Assembly model to decide on how all aspects of life in the liberated zone will be organised.  Despite their different circumstances to those faced by the majoity of the Occupy camps (in urban built up locations) there is still much that can be learnt from that experience.

This piece written for the Irish Mexico Group by a WSM member a few years after the start of that rebellion looks at how the Zapatistas organise themselves in great detail, what some of the problems they had faced are and how they overcame them.  It also looks further into the history of General Assemblies and Direct Democracy in Mexico and around the globe. [Note: This long text is also available as a PDF file in a number of different formats suitable for distribution]

What kind of democracy for the Arab world?

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In a previous article, I said that the events shaking the Arab world today are as relevant as those that shook the world in 1989 [1]. Not only can parallels be made on the extent and depth of discontent over a vast geographical area, but also because this whirlwind of popular fury places a question mark over a particular geopolitical architecture that was hitherto believed to be as strong as steel. In this case, these long-standing dictatorships were fed, promoted and installed by the geo-strategic interests of the USA (and its junior partner, the EU) in an area of critical concern as far as oil is concerned. In 1989 the political consequences of the demonstrations were deep and long-lasting - the fall of "real socialist" regimes not only meant the fall of a few unpleasant bureaucratic dictatorships, but because of the relative weakness of a truly libertarian and revolutionary Left, represented the fall of a set of political values and horizons that were incorrectly associated with the Soviet bloc, and the overwhelming rise of neo-liberalism as the unquestioned system in the economic, political, values and ideological field.

Freedom, Democracy and Republicanism

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For decades they sold the concept of ‘freedom’ and talked about a ‘socialist republic’ but now, with Martin McGuinness chuckling around the world with Ian Paisley, it’s clear that Sinn Fein’s concept of ‘freedom’ and their supposed vision of a ‘32-County Socialist Republic’ was at best an illusion.

The Zapatistas and direct democracy

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On January 1st 1994, a rebel army called the Emiliano Zapata Liberation Front (EZLN) rose against the Mexican government in Chiapas, Mexico. Workers Solidarity contributor Andrew Flood has been researching the life of ordinary people in the Zapatista area. Below he writes about some of his findings

Review: Grassroots Democracy

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Democracy has broken out in a range of countries in recent years - Guatemala, S. Korea and Argentina to name but a few. But, what is the reality? Kevin Doyle looks at a book that takes a more critical eye.

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