An Anarchist Critique Of Democracy

The issue of whether democracy, whether representative or direct, is harmonious with Anarchist social goals, is perhaps the most controversial issue in Anarchist theory. The Audio Anarchy Radio show chimed in with a show against democracy of all types. Here is the transcript.

So at heart, we are against democracy because its very existence maintains this division that we’re seeking to abolish. Democracy does nothing but maintain the existence of alienated power, since it requires that our desires be separate from our power to act, and any attempts to engage in that system will only serve to reproduce it. Democracies of any type make decisions via elections, the very essence of which transfers one’s will, thought, autonomy, and freedom to an outside power. It makes no difference whether one transfers that power to an elected representative or to an elusive majority. The point is that it’s no longer your own. Democracy has given it to the majority. You have been alienated from your capacity to determine the conditions of your existence in free cooperation with those around you.

There is an important distinction here. Parties are political in their claim to represent the interests of others. This is a claim to alienated power, because when someone takes power with a claim to represent me, I am separated from my own freedom to act. In this sense, anarchists are anti-political. We are not interested in a different claim to alienated power, in a different leadership, in another form of representation, in a regime change, or in anything that merely shuffles around the makeup of alienated power. Any time someone claims to represent you or to be your liberatory force, that should be a definite red flag. We are anti-political because we are interested in the self-organization of the power of individuals. This tension towards self-organization is completely orthogonal to democracy in any of its various forms.

4 thoughts on “An Anarchist Critique Of Democracy

  1. David Gendron August 4, 2010 at 14:32

    This issue is not controversial for me. It’s controversial for statists who believe in the mediocracy-dictatorship false dichotomy.

    Thank you for the link! :)

  2. David Gendron August 4, 2010 at 14:36

    Oops, I forgot that I suggest myself this link in my blog! ;)

  3. Erich Kofmel August 5, 2010 at 16:43

    On this, check out my blog, the “Anti-Democracy Agenda”:


  4. LoneSword7878 June 15, 2014 at 08:36

    Don’t forget to add free speech to that list.

    Everyone needs to quit appealing to the popularity scale. Just because something is deemed “unpopular” doesn’t make it any more deserving of attention. That paternalistic sense of logic needs to die a cold and heartless death.

    Anyway, I think that once you think about it, free speech has nothing to do with anything ever.

    Did we ever really need it for anything else except to criticize to government?

    I hate how everyone romanticizes how dialogue and compromise can solve everything an the notion is more sinister than idealistic. If you demand or require that two opposing forces, let us say me and you know what for example, become buddies, you deny those people their autonomy and freedom of association and ultimately achieve social conformity. You will have forced people to give up their being of themselves and their ability to fight their own battles. Then again, I once said that if one side is hellbent on keeping another down, then that side doesn’t deserve to be themselves.

    This guy here considers it cultural fetishizing.

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