Category Archives: governance

“The re-election of Hungary’s authoritarian prime minister disproves everything we thought we knew about democracy.”

“Until recently, many political scientists believed that there was a certain set of countries in which democracy was safe. … The recent election in Hungary is the latest piece of evidence that this theory has always been dangerously naïve.”

David Graeber: ” Why are world leaders backing this brutal attack against Kurdish Afrin?”

Afrin‘s “inhabitants had taken advantage of their peace and stability to develop the democratic principles embraced throughout the majority Kurdish regions of north Syria, known as Rojava. Local decisions were devolved to neighbourhood assemblies in which everyone could participate; other parts of Rojava insisted on strict gender parity, with every office having co-chairs, male and female, in Afrin, two-thirds of public offices are held by women. Today, this democratic experiment is the object of an entirely unprovoked attack”

Bronwen Everill: “Demarginalizing West Africa in the Age of Revolutions”

‘It is true that the West African Age of Revolutions did not inspire specifically democratic change in the polities that were “revolutionized”, and that the revolutions’ relationships with the practices of the slave trade and slavery were complicated. But if not all of these revolutions were democratic, then maybe it wasn’t an age of democratic revolutions at all, which makes the particular cases of democratic revolution interesting in different ways.’

James C. Scott interviewed on “Most Resistance does not Speak its Name”

“France after the revolution was a great emancipatory state, but prior to it, the state only had access to the population through the different parliaments and different estates of the feudal order. Once the revolution occurred, the state for the first time had direct access to every citizen. That was the birth of citizenship, and that made possible the total mobilization of the population under Napoleon. So you had organization and mobilization of total war and emancipation being linked integrally to the achievements of the French Revolution.”

Yavor Tarinski: “City, Municipality, Commons: Rebel Cities in the Neoliberal Age”

“Concepts like libertarian municipalism, which are essentially direct-democratic, could be of great use in our efforts at regaining our right to the city. I.e. notions that are rooted in the historic clash over power between the municipality and the nation state. Unlike statecraft, predisposed to bureaucratic centralization and hierarchy, cities tend to empower local populaces, creating citizens, actively involved in public affairs.”

Suzy Killmister: “Taking the Measure of Autonomy: A Four-Dimensional Theory of Self-Governance” (2017)

“Her view centers on the idea that there are several dimensions to autonomy, and while they are related, one may fall short in one but not the others. The result is a nuanced theory of autonomy that illuminates how the concept applies in a range of domains and to a range of agents.”

“Mexico’s Zapatista rebels, 24 years on and defiant in mountain strongholds”

‘Today the Zapatistas, who have never disarmed, claim to control much of the state of Chiapas. “There are 50,000 families, or nearly 300,000 people in 55 municipalities. Their rules of ‘good government’ involve giving their time several days a week to the community, sharing food, helping to teach the young, and organising,” says Heredia. “They are autonomous,” he adds. “Most villages are in the mountains and the great Lacandon forest. They have their own system of education, health, justice, government and security. They are still poor but they train their own teachers and doctors, and some have their own currency. The Mexican government mostly leaves them alone.”’

“Jacob Zuma Resigns as South Africa’s President”

“Initially Mr. Zuma’s presidency inspired hope in millions of South Africans, especially the poorest. But, tainted by numerous accusations of misconduct, he came to symbolize the corruption that flourished during his time in office. Influence peddling in his administration was so widespread, according to the nation’s former public protector, that it became a form of state capture in which Mr. Zuma’s business partners or friends influenced government decisions in their personal interest. Now, his departure as president leaves South Africa with a disillusioned electorate, a weakened economy and a tarnished image in the rest of Africa.”

“The world’s most progressive democracy is being born. Don’t let it get strangled.”

“So why should we care about this latest development in the Syrian war? Because Afrin, along with the cantons of Euphrates and Jazira, is experimenting with a form of bottom-up, direct democracy that is arguably more progressive than any other system in the West.”

Haleh Esfandiari: “Reform or Revolution? Iran’s Path to Democracy”

“Iran has often seemed to be on the brink of democracy. During the twentieth century, the country experienced three major political upheavals: … [They] all constituted a reaction to corruption, misrule, and autocracy. They all reflected the spread of literacy, the rising expectations of a growing middle class, and the impatience of a wealthy business community with official mismanagement. They were all characterized by an aspiration for some form of democratic government. Yet each time, that aspiration was disappointed. … In Democracy in Iran, Misagh Parsa examines why the forces of repression have always gained the upper hand over Iran’s democratic impulses and how democracy might eventually emerge in Iran. “