Democracy Won't Save You

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login date: 2022-06-07

God, the State, Society, Humanity, etc., etc. have their own cause for themselves. If I don’t want to subjugate myself God’s cause, I am a “sinner”. If I don’t want to submit to the State, Society, Humanity, I am a “wicked man”, a “criminal”, a “delinquent”. “Sacred”! This is the most monstrous and terrible phantom before which all have trembled up to now. Here is the old, harsh tablet that the new human beings must shatter! --- Renzo Nevatore, Cry of Rebellion

In leftist circles, democracy is often used as a synonym for all that is good and egalitarian in the world. It is used as a magic word that will somehow turn everything it touches consensual and non-exploitative, that benefits everyone and ends oppression, something which all of society should be patterned off of. Anarchists, especially those of a communist bent, although they should ostensibly be opposed to the sort of bureaucratic socialism that leftism is usually associated with, often fall into this trap as well, treating "democracy" as a magical solution that, no matter what the form or the application, will automatically make anything better, a morally good sacred idea which should be shoehorned into every situation. This is how you end up with "anarchists" pushing for community councils delegating jobs and resources by majoritarian democratic vote, and calling anything they like "democratic." I want to push back on both of these usages, however. I think that not all democracy is equal, and that sometimes it can be a force for harm. This is something I mentioned very briefly in my individualist anarchism essay, but I think it bears more thorough examination.

Furthermore, I think responding to the democratic myths of, especially leftist, but also neoliberal, statists, is worthwhile, because illustrating to them how their favorite sacred ideal isn't perfect and can fail people in very significant ways is a good way to free up their minds for accepting the anarchist position.

Borrowed from Crimetheinc

Like many things in the real world, democracy manifests along a spectrum. Democracy may only rarely be found in the purely small, specific, and situational manner that I believe most embodies anarchist egalitarian ideals - "democracy as tool" -, and not all instances of democracy that do not fully uphold those ideals might fall into the same traps and dangers as fully reified large scale democracy. Nevertheless, I think exploring these two extreme ends of the spectrum should give us a good idea of what, exactly, we want to look for in a healthy application of democracy, and what pitfalls, traps, dangers, and harms might become more likely as we move away from that ideal.

Democracy As Cooperative Tool

There is a crucial difference between democracy understood in as a useful tool, and democracy understood as a sacred ideal. The first way uses democracy to help solve the particular conflicts which might arise over how to achieve particular goals shared between multiple people, or how to make decisions concerning certain material objects which multiple people rely on, use, or occupy, such as a house several people live in, or factory machinery. It arises because several people with somewhat conflicting interests all have their autonomy and interests bound up in something common, so that any decision concerning that thing effects the others in a way that would constitute an unconscionable subordination of their interests if done without their input. In such a situation, those involved need a way to resolve their disagreements, and voting on it is often viewed as a fair-enough way to do it, even if imperfect.

Democracy-as-tool only arises if this possibility for dispute is at least somewhat persistent, instead of a simple one-off which could be decided in any number of other ways (such as drawing straws, or debate); yet, it must be targeted to solve a specific problem and about a particular thing. In other words, it must only make decisions concerning actions that actually effect others. For instance, if we're talking about factory machinery, if someone were to use the machinery but was careful to repair any damage, perform maintenance, and leave everything as they found it, and not actually prevent anyone who also wanted to use the machinery from using it, that wouldn't effect anyone else, so it is not a proper subject of possible conflict resolution. Furthermore, democracy-as-tool, to remain as such, must not include any more people than those who are actually party to the conflict, effected by the decisions that are made concerning the specific issue at hand.

If these principles are violated, and democracies become large, organized affairs that persist for longer than the problem they were designed to solve actually exists, which dictate rules and regulations for things that don't actually effect others, the association starts to become reified.

Thus, there three properties that typically identify democracy when it is used as a tool are that it is small, specific, and situational.

In the following sections, I will discuss why each of these properties are so critical to democracy remaining a useful and benign force for liberation.

Democracy-As-Tool: Small

Why must democracies specifically remain small?

First of all, because as the size of a decision-making group grows, consensus democracy - which is the only way to properly balance the interests of everyone equally, protecting each person's autonomy and preventing subjugation - becomes less and less practical. Instead of focusing on being inclusive, hearing out as many points of view as possible and trying to integrate everything as much as possible, majoritarian (and representative) democracy will begin to take over, as people give up caring about the minority in favor of practicality and rapidity of decision-making. Now, sure, even consensus decision-making is imperfect - this is why individual, autonomous, stygmergic action is by far the superior option and should be preferred as much as possible - nevertheless, majoritarian democracy is a categorically different beast. Majoritarian democracy inherently completely subjugates the interests of the minority to those of the majority, constituting essentially a form of mob rule that can often be achieved through simple force in cases where community defense and decentralized power aren't a thing. Majoritarian democracy has the effect of sacrificing a small minority of people in order to serve the interests - including stability and order - of the majority.

Second, because when the size of a democratic decision-making body grows beyond the size absolutely necessary to consider the interests of those directly effected by its decisions, it automatically becomes a form of absentee authority and governance, and begins enacting the fundamental principle of authoritarianism: controlling how other people live their lives and exercise their autonomy purely for the sake of doing so, instead of in self-defense or in compromise with them.

[no title] by Constant

To clarify what I mean here, let me first make a distinction between two kinds of interests:

  1. **autonomous interests: ** interests that don't inherently require the subjugation of anyone else; that just concern your own exercise of self-determination and autonomy, which includes your own person and the things you use, occupy, or otherwise depend on for that autonomy. Defending these interests may require other people to change their behaviors to accommodate you - such as not harming you or entering your house or stealing your possessions - but they fundamentally do not require those things, only for you to be left alone.
  2. **despotic interests: ** interests that inherently require not just the cooperation, but the involuntary subjugation of others, that you gain by controlling how other people live their lives directly, or through threatening to take away the things they depend on for autonomy and self-determination. This kind always requires violence that is clearly not in self-defense, but instead in defense of the privilege that you gain from exploiting others.

The classic paradigmatic case of this distinction is that between the occupant of a house and their landlord. If no one else is using a house, it's a direct extension of the autonomy and self-determination of the occupant, something they have an interest in because they need a roof over their head and somewhere to live. Meanwhile, all the landlord gets out of owning a house is the ability to extract rent, which they can do because they are enabled by the state to violently evict the actual occupant of the house. While the occupant's interest in their house are autonomous, because they only require the respect and non-interference of others, and have to do with exercising and maintaining their self-determination as an individual, the landlord's interests are despotic, as they have no real interest in the house itself, since they do not use it and it is not an extension of their autonomy, they only have an interest in what they can gain by controlling the living conditions of someone else.

Another way to examine this distinction is by putting it in terms of authority or subjugation: while the occupant of the house only needs others to recognize and respect their interests as equally important, and so if they all also have places to live, to respect their desire for privacy in their dwelling place, and any limitation of the autonomy of others required by these interests is only in the assertion of the equality of these interests, to make sure they are represented at all, the landlord's interests are asserted to the exclusion of the interests of the occupant, who must rely on the landlord's whims, and indicate special privilege which comes at a cost to the interests of the occupant.

Ultimately, this is about who has control over your life: you - self-determination, autonomy - or someone else - domination and authority -, but trying to strictly delineate every relationship into either one or the other is a fool's errand. These definitions aren't a list of necessary and sufficient conditions, an essentialist taxonomy - instead they are accounts of the social and phenomenological aspects that make these two kinds of relationships importantly different to one's subjective experience of being in such relationships. We assess which of these an actual relationship is more like not by analyzing some essence embedded inside it, but by ascertaining its family resemblance. Furthermore, these are merely two poles on a "spectrum of human relations, which can be more or less despotic or autonomous.

Crying in Chains by Margaret Blanchfield

How does this relate to democracy? Well, I think that engaging in consensus-based decision-making with all those that are effected by some decision is a clear case of attempting to represent the autonomous interests of all those involved. The purpose is to ensure that the actions of others don't harm the people who are effected by them, and that everyone's interests are considered equally and represented fairly in whatever decision is made.

As soon as we introduce people that are not directly effected by the outcome of a decision to the decision-making process, however, we begin to run into problems. First of all, knowledge, and incentive problems begin to show up, since these new people won't have much tacit knowledge of the matter at hand, nor have much of an incentive to learn about it or engage in the decision-making process, and, most importantly, they won't be subject to the outcomes they cause in any case. More importantly, however, it subjects those who actually have their autonomy and self-determination bound up in something to the wishes of those who otherwise would not be effected by their decisions at all. In other words, it opens up the opportunity for people to extend their despotic interests by controlling things that do not effect them and do not factor into their own personal autonomy and self-determination but do effect others'. Imagine, for instance, that suddenly your neighbors across the street had an equal say in what you did to maintain your house as those who live with you in your house do. What possible interest could they actually have in that, except to control you? What interest could they have in it except a despotic one?

Of course, the relationship of an absentee voter and the rest of the voting body is not precisely the same as that between an absentee landlord and a tenant - to insist that it was would be absurd. In fact, it's quite less severe, as long as most of the people involved remain local to the problem. But the principle is the same, and as the number of such "absentee voters" grows, so, too, does the despotism.

Democracy-As-Tool: Specific and Situational

Similar problems face any democratic decision-making process that begins to metastasize beyond it's original problem and situation. Once such a decision-making arrangement begins to exist outside the context within which it evolved, it begins to become reified of necessity. No longer is it a specific behavior perpetuated by specific people who are motivated by the existence of a specific problem; in order for it to be possible to uproot it from the problem it was supposed to solve, the question it was the answer to, it must cease to become a solution, an answer, and become instead a thing in its own right, which raises its own questions. It has to become, in essence, self-contained in order for being removed from its environment to become possible at all. Thus, it becomes an "organization" with a life of its own, which maintains itself as different people join and leave, gets its own name and institutionalizes itself. It becomes a thing quite apart from the people that actually compose it, somehow, by the process that all collectivities do this by, a sort of social epiphenomena that creates corporate forms, and begins to seek the perpetuation of itself. Suddenly, people start to serve it, instead of it serving people.

Letter to my Son by Asger Jorn

As a result of this process, it will begin to assert itself in all sorts of situations where the people that compose it are not effected, but are merely exercising the power of authority and control over others. After all, now that it is a self-contained, reified entity, it has no original problem to solve - it must go in search of a new one.

It is crucial that the parties to any decision-making process which begins to become such a collectivity make the conscious choice, and accompanying effort, to destroy it before it begins to wreak real havoc. Otherwise it will turn into the exact sort of Socialist Office of Circumlocutions that most Marxist-Leninist organizations, and even some anarchist ones, tend to become - huge bureaucratic dinosaurs bent on self-perpetuation in the name of preserving the collectivity which everyone must sacrifice in the name of. This commitment to destroying collectivities before they become Organizations must be part of the cultural, conscious leveling mechanisms that any anarchist society must employ, just as egalitarian societies before them did, to maintain liberty.

Democracy as Reified Entity

From this discussion, we might begin to see why democracy, when taken in the modern sense as an organizing principle used to unify an entire society, might be problematic. It gives people far away from personal, relational, group, and local matters which are best solved between the interested and effected parties control over them - it gives people control over other people simply for the sake of control, instead of for the sake of having input to prevent others from trampling over one's autonomy. Thus a group spread out over all of the country decides to enforce certain rules of trade, or marriage, or health, or anything else, on the country as a whole - on people that they will never see, in situations that will never, ever effect them. It allows people to leverage this centralized decision-making power to exercise control over others not to protect their personal interests in their own autonomy, but to further interests that inherently require the subjugation of other people - the furthering of certain projects by taxes, for instance. Instead of protecting the interests of people where conflicts of interest may arise, this reified form of democracy actually facilitates the destruction of interests.

Metropolis George Grosz

There are a myriad of fundamental problems with democracy.

First and foremost, there is the free rider problem: each person's vote makes very little difference in the overall outcome, especially since if you vote with a minority your vote will mean absolutely nothing, so it isn't going to be worth it to put much effort into researching the best candidates or laws to vote for. Conversely, in a reified large-scale democracy where - as opposed to a small, temporary, fluid democracy concerned with only one thing - you are making decisions on a myriad of subjects, that will interfere with the highly individual and very diverse lives of millions of people spread out across a large spacial area, so the amount of research you would have to do to be properly informed on every subject is astronomical. It's much easier to trust the words of dishonest politicians, pundits, and demagogues, especially when you're busy actually living your life! Thus, the amount of research you should do is extremely high, but your incentive to actually do it is extremely low, leading inevitably to a mass of ignorant and apathetic voters.

All the cultural pressure to "get out and vote," telling people that "every vote matters" won't solve this fundamental problem: even if voting itself is easy enough to do to assuage social pressure, properly researching every policy topic and deciding which candidate to choose based on informed decisions is simply too great a time investment, and not something the people around you can really verify so social pressure doesn't really apply.

Second, there's an incentive problem: most of the policies politicians suggest won't even directly effect most voters, so they have little reason to overcome the rational ignorance and apathy that majoritarian democracy leads them to when it is only other people that will bear the cost. Conservative male voters will never be effected by abortion laws or transgender health care bans, so they vote based on ""traditional values" and lower taxes, for example. And rationally so.

Third, a fundamental problem with any kind of large scale, reified democracy is that it fundamentally limits our choices. There are a fixed number of bills to vote on, a fixed number of candidates on our sheets, selected by some obscure bureaucrat following some arbitrary rule. Our horizons are fundamentally limited by the imagination and interests of the powerful and those that serve them, the bounds of what's possible restricted to whatever options they deem safe, sensible, and likely to be voted on. In direct democracies, the laws that we vote on are not written by us, or in service of us, but suggestions that politicians came up with to offer to us. How could it be otherwise? Even if most people had the time to write properly written and researched draft laws, how could a democratic system ever hope to sift through all of them?

Representative Democracy

Representative democracy cannot save us either. If we don't have the time or incentive to research the controversies and problems that need to be solved and draft policies ourselves, what reason is there to think we'll have the time and incentive to monitor the policies and actions of those we elect as "representatives" in enough detail to actually hold them substantially accountable? How would we even begin to really get all that information? Even if we could, the only thing we could do is not elect them again; they'll still have had their stint in power. Thus, once elected, they are largely free to do whatever they please behind closed doors because no one will actually read the legislation they pass or truly hold them accountable for keeping their promises. As long as they appear to parrot the right talking points to their base, they are free to maintain the status quo and gather power for themselves and their station because few will spend the time to look more deeply into the subjects and policies they propose. People, quite rationally, go along with whatever the demagogue who most echos what they want to hear says.

Not only that, but you need a lot of money and, most especially, free time to run for office. Working people, marginalized people, even the middle class, don't have that kind of time. Thus, the pool of who, practically, can actually run for office is limited to a very specific class of people - who will have different interests from the people who elected them. Moreover, those who have the most time to spend on campaigning and the most money to spend on ads will typically be the ones to win - thus, as competition takes hold and does what it is wont to do, heightening specializations, we end up with a whole class of rich career politicians that represent nearly our only choices. Even when we have an option that isn't a career politician, it's someone who has been close with that class for a long time, who tends to be rich and share those interests. Thus representative democracy necessarily leads to an elective aristocracy, usually in service to the oligarchy of rich, famous, and powerful people.

With such a limited pool of choices, all from the same inbred, interrelated, colluding class, do we really have the option to choose someone who will truly act in our interests? Or do we have an oligopoly to choose from, just like we have in the economy - a few huge options that are all fundamentally similar and essentially automatically cartelize just by the nature of their socioeconomic position.

Democracy and Marginalization

By its very nature, reified democracy puts all of the power in society in the hands of the majority or plurality in that society; ultimately, whether you have direct democracy or representative, first past the post voting or ranked choice, proportional representation or winner takes all, it is those who make up the largest section of society that will have ultimate authority. This puts marginalized people forever on a knife's edge: we are forced to appeal to the sympathy and higher moral feelings of the majority and hope that in their lord-like authority over our lives, which has the power to crush and erase us just as much as the power to lend aid, they choose to do the latter. This places the marginalized and oppressed perpetually on our knees, begging those who benefit from our oppression, who have little interest in our liberation, for permission to live. Even when we win, it is not solid or permanent, and neither does it represent true liberation, because it was not an expression of our equality, autonomy, and power: it was alms granted by an authority over us.

This means that we cannot rely on reified democracy to protect the interests of the marginalized in society, because it all depends on the whims of others. Defenders of the sacred "democratic ideal" will argue that if only democracy were more perfect - more representative of the majority, more responsive to the "will of the people" - it would be better, we could trust the majority to take care of us, but the reinforcement of marginalization is an inherent problem with democracy. It can only be exacerbated by making the majority even more powerful. Marginalized people are marginalized as a product of our different experiences and interests: the axes of oppression are constituted by the different experiences and needs that we have from the many. If everyone votes in their interests, marginalized people must remain marginalized, and why should we expect them to do otherwise? The majority cannot deeply care about our needs - for them, ignorance and apathy is rational, because the issues that threaten to crush us are abstract discussions to them, things that happen far away, mostly to people they don't even know. Often, they don't even know why we need what we need, why it matters to us, or even what we need, and they fundamentally will never understand, because we have fundamentally different experiences. At best, for them, voting to help us is an exercise of charity, something they do to feel better about themselves - but how strong of a motivator is that, really? Can we truly rely on the majority of people to feel that way? The people that make up ""the majority", like everyone else, are necessarily caught up in their own needs and struggles. How can we rely on them to overcome their rational ignorance concerning what we need, and the free rider problem concerning voting, just to help us, when they can barely do so for matters that directly effect them?

Guardians of the sacred democratic ideal will argue that if only the marginalized were able to clearly make their case before "the people," the majority would be swayed by their case and choose to vote to help them, but if any view is utopian, it is this one. Voting is not a matter of objective rationality. Morality is not an objective thing that you can demonstrate logically or scientifically: each person's morality is shaped by their culture, lives, experiences, and interests. Tolerance of queer people is just something that benefits us, and that some allies have come to like either because they know queer people or because they like it aesthetically. There is no rational argument that will convince a bigot to stop being a bigot, that will establish tolerance as the ultimate principle of morality, or that will convince people to care about issues that don't really effect them. The best we can do is appeal to their empathy, as opposed to their own interests and rational apathy.

Even if morality were something that could be used to objectively prove that everyone should care about the plight of the marginalized, since when did we expect pure dialectical rationality to win out among the majority? Again, it is utopian to think that people will be more interested in abstract argument, in rationality, in philosophy, in being "morally right," than their own interests and the rhetoric and tribalism of demagogues. Rational arguments don't have any inherent metaphysical power that ensures that they must "win" with the majority of people. Everyone votes for their own interests or in favor of their own sacred ideals.

Nor is the solution - as the neo-reactionaries would have it - to return to aristocracy or oligarchy or monarchy: these merely create an entirely new problem, granting absolute power to those who are already powerful in society and perpetuating it. The reason democracy seems better than aristocracy or monarchy is directly tied up with its fatal oppressive flaw - it makes most people in society happy. But just because it makes society more stable by serving the interests of most people, so that there is no longer any revolutionary fervor, so that fewer people are ground beneath the heel of the state, does not mean we must accept it. Why should we accept our sacrifice on the alter of the sacred democratic ideal just so that ""the majority" can rest comfortably? Why must we remain permanent second class citizens, serfs of the lordship of Numbers? There are other ways than simply rule by many or rule by few.

Democracy, Society, and Progress

As we have seen, therefore, when democracy is taken as a sacred idea, and democratic decision-making processes are allowed to be reified into their own entities to which people must sacrifice, it becomes particularly harmful. The ultimate example of this, large scale national majoritarian democracy, is particularly damaging, especially to the marginalized - a form of redistributing the benefits of society, sacrificing the few on the altar of the many. To prevent this, we must strive to view democratic decision-making as one tool among many, not a moral ideal, and one that must be kept as small, specific, and situational as possible.

I recognize that sometimes the perfect ideal of democracy that I put forward in the first half of this essay - based around Stirner's union of egoists - may never be perfectly achieved. But it can form the basis of a conscious, intentional practice of practical anarchism in social situations: intentional leveling mechanisms, intentional choices to move closer to it. Just as we see such social and structural mechanisms ingrained in every fiber of every long-lasting egalitarian society we find, anarchists must also ingrain a commitment to egalitarianism and individual autonomy into their theory and practice.

For an example of how this might pan out, let's look at situations where the ideal of democracy must often be compromised. In situations where a democratically organized decision-making group must be maintained over extended periods of time and over fairly large scales - for instance, in industrial production - it must remain always predicated on the actual need for that group to exist. Furthermore, where consensus cannot be reached but a decision still needs to be made, which is more likely to happen as the size of a decision-making body grows larger, majoritarian democracy can sometimes be used as a fall-back secondary line of defense - but, crucially, that decision making procedure must itself be agreed to by all beforehand, not forced on them as in the case of a national democracy, and disassociation must remain a viable, accepted, and supported option for those that believe they are being taken advantage of by the majority's decision. In such cases of large-scale democratic decision-making, decentralization and compartmentalization are good options as well: disassociation will naturally lead to people separating into groups based on affinity, common purpose and goals, etc; these groups can then federate together in a bottom-up non-hierarchical manner as a means of organizing on a larger scale.

More generally, what is the alternative to democratic government of society which does not screw marginalized people over? The only way to ensure that one's interests are protected is to destroy the power and authority of those who could suppress them and oppress you - destroy the state, be it democratic or not, which is the fulcrum by which the power of our oppressors is wielded. Instead of kneeling, appealing to those who have placed themselves in authority over us, instead of taking the position of serfs appealing to a lord, we must entirely reject the principle of authority and seize the power to defend ourselves from oppression. The only guarantee is decentralization, distribution of power, so that each person holds in their hands the power to fight for their own autonomy. We cannot rest on our laurels, we cannot wait for the arc of history to bend our way, we cannot bow before the will of the people. Instead we must be ready to defend ourselves and our communities: not to wage an offensive war - a coup or revolution - but to protect ourselves. We must develop our capacities for community self-defense and dual power, defending ourselves and our own and supporting each other as well. We cannot rely on anyone else to do it.

In this alternative anarchist world that I envision, composed of small, specific, situational democracies and fluid non-hierarchical associations built around serving various community needs as the people actually need them, and local conflict resolution between the actual people involved in any conflict, all defended by "community mutual self-defense associations composed of part-time members of the community and accountable to everyone, there is little room for the sort of unifying entity (the democratic state) that makes "society" what it is today.

That does not make it impossible to have a society, however; it just means that we will have stop conflating society with the state. A real society is composed of a distributed network of people who interact with each other at least semi-regularly, who trade things and communicate and travel back and forth. It is not connected from the top down, like a tree graph, by one node up top that everyone is connected to - it is woven together like a rug, the actual ties between people connecting the whole social fabric from end to end in a chain of transitive attachment. Consider something like the internet: a huge network of decentralized local groups, all connected to the wider community not by a central authority or singular institution, but by the web of voluntary connections that they themselves make.

This sort of picture of a society as a meta-organism arising from the mutual attachments of smaller entities - communities, which are then in turn composed by friend groups and personal networks, which are then in turn composed of people - might frighten those who are too used to the modern situation in America or other developed nations. Instantly, images will be conjured up of small, rural, isolated Midwestern American townships composed largely of ignorant bigots. Without the liberal majority in the country overall - concentrated in a few cities - to control them, what might happen? This picture, however, is merely a product of an accident of history and geography. We could just as easily have a society where the majority is bigoted, and there are only a few safe enclaves of queer people, people of color, etc. Thus this effect of majoritarian democracy working to (somewhat) restrict the advances of bigotry and intolerance is hardly a necessary property of it, and, moreover, given the reasoning above, much of that usefulness is quite restricted.

In comparison, without the state, I believe minorities will be vastly better off. Most importantly, there will be no existing centralized seat of power for bigots to seize control of and wield against minority communities. In an anarchist society, power is distributed and decentralized, primarily in the hands of each individual to bargain and compromise and engage in reciprocal, mutually beneficial relations with their neighbors according to what benefits all of them; derivatively held by the diffuse social sanctions of different members of society and loose part-time associations, as well as communities that band together for mutual aid. Therefore, bigots would have to get off their couches and organize themselves, put their lives and limbs on the line, and, crucially, minority communities would in turn have much more equal power to resist. No more Reagan disarming black people trying to hold racist cops accountable. No more police being lenient on or even helping white supremacists while cracking down on leftists. Community defense is quite effective, too - there is a long-standing history of asymmetrical urban resistance and protest to draw upon here, and all that needs to be done is to make it sufficiently dangerous and risky to try to enforce the will of the bigoted majority on minority communities that it simply isn't worth it for them anymore.

Untitled #1, by David Pulphus

Finally, it should be noted that whatever sociocultural factors a defender of the democratic sacred ideal might appeal to to explain why democracy would be a positive force for justice and egalitarianism - good education, a tolerant culture, even the rationality of the mob and its susceptibility to "moral argument," laughable as that is - could just as easily, and perhaps even more justly, be claimed by an anarchist society. Thus whatever positive benefits democracy can claim, anarchism can claim them two-fold insofar as the majority has power over the minority in an anarchist society.


I put my lips to your profane ear and launch a cry. A frightening cry that will make you grow pale... So listen to it, since only by virtue of this magic cry will you vanish as rabble in order to rise up again in the flowering potential of all of your individualized members. Here is the magic cry: “The egoist has always affirmed himself with crime and, with sacrilegious hand, has pulled the sacred idols down from their pedestals. It is necessary to put an end to the sacred; or better still: the need to violate the sacred must become general. It is not a new revolution that approaches; but a mighty, impetuous, superb, shameless, conscienceless crime sounds in the thunder on the horizon. Don’t you see how already the foreboding sky grows dark and silent?”

[L]isten again...: “Put your hand on whatever you need. Take it; it is yours. This is the declaration of the war of all against all. I alone am the judge of what I want to have.” Now do you understand, oh rabble, what the crime that SOUNDS IN THE THUNDER ON THE HORIZON is? But you, oh rabble, may not yet know how to adapt yourself to the idea of eternal war, you who have cradled yourself like a poor baby in the sweet dreams of eternal peace. And who even knows how many idols you still have to worship and on whose altars you still have to sacrifice yourself! --- Renzo Novatore, Cry of Rebellion

Further Reading