Which Groups Are (or Are Not) Allowed to Vote in Councils During a Revolution?

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ultraviolet's picture
ultraviolet
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Nov 8 2011 00:07
Which Groups Are (or Are Not) Allowed to Vote in Councils During a Revolution?

When it comes to the nature of democracy during a revolution, there is one thing which I am utterly confused about. This may seem like a stupid question but I hope I don’t get made fun of for asking it!

As we know, the new power will not be a State (elected oligarchy) but a federation of councils (direct democracy) – neighborhood and village councils, worker councils, and during revolutionary war militia councils.

My question is, who do you think should be allowed to vote in the neighborhood councils during a revolution? Here are the groups in question and my opinion on whether or not they should get to vote (and I also say how confident I am about each opinion):

Workers, landless peasants
= Very confident YES

Landowning peasants and the self-employed (own land / a business but don’t employ anyone, although family may work with them)
= Very confident YES

Former petite bourgeoisie, managers, capitalists, landlords who voluntarily gave up their privileged position (gave up ownership of their business or their management status, decided to stop collecting rent)
= Confident YES (my confidence is rooted in their voluntary cooperation)

Former PB, managers, capitalists, landlords who did not give up their privileged position voluntarily (they had to be expropriated and/or forced down from their position)
= Somewhat confident YES

Current PB, managers, capitalists, landlords
= ambivalent/unconfident YES

I suspect many people are going to be appalled that I think all these groups should be allowed to vote in neighborhood councils. After all, many of these are class enemies! My reasoning for such broad inclusion is that:

1) These groups will be a tiny minority so there’s no real danger in letting them have a vote.

2) Our goal is to eliminate class, and this means absorbing former members of the ruling class into society, including allowing them democratic participation. So the question isn’t whether the former ruling class should be allowed to vote in community councils, but whether it’s appropriate to allow this before class has been entirely abolished and the revolution won. I believe this is appropriate, due to reason number 1 above. Furthermore, once capitalists, etc. have been expropriated or voluntarily given up their productive property, they have technically joined the proletariat. Is it not unjust to continue to deny them democracy?

3) Of course some of the groups (the last on the list) are not former ruling class members but current ones. My reasoning for including them goes back to reason number 1, the lack of danger due to their being a tiny minority. But as I mentioned above, part of me thinks current PB, managers, capitalists, and landlords should not be included since they are still exploiting or oppressing others. This is the group I’m most ambivalent about.

4) Deny democracy to some, and people in other nations will hear about it, and will assume we are not much better than Leninist or Maoist regimes of the past. Many people will already be prone to suspicion of the revolution due to a lifetime of anti-commie propaganda, and if we deny some people voting rights, this will fuel those views... and they will be less likely to rise up in their own revolutions. (Remember, revolutionary consciousness spreads unevenly, and although the region having a revolution will be very radicalized, this will not be the case worldwide.) So I think the potential risk of giving these groups democratic inclusion (which is very small, due to their very small size) is far less than the risk of not including them. It's good propaganda to the world to give everyone their democratic rights.

I have ambivalence about my current opinions, which is why I posted this question – to get other views that will possibly reveal flaws in my own views. So please don’t shit on me for my opinions...

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Nov 8 2011 20:28

Hi Jim. I disagree that we can avoid this dilemma because neighborhood assemblies/councils by definition include all people living in that neighborhood, and most neighborhoods are a mix in terms of class. Mainly working class neighborhoods, even the poorer ones, have petite bourgeoisie living in them. And upper middle income neighborhoods have a mix of high income workers, PB, managers, and moderately wealthy capitalists. Even the uber rich neighborhoods have some of the poorest workers living in them, if you count live-in nannies. With the exception of government subsidized housing complexes, I can't think of a neighborhood in my city which is 100% homogeneous in terms of class. So either the neighborhood assemblies are all inclusive or we have to make a conscious decision about which neighborhood residents are excluded.

Oh, and I forgot to mention cops, who tend to live in working class neighborhoods.

sawa
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Nov 8 2011 21:42

If this is post revolution surely class will be abolished.
I presume you mean in a revolutionary situation then surely only those who are working class as we are powerful enough not to have to include bourgeoisie, although think for most cases petite bourgeoisie count as part of the working class. Neighbourhood assemblies as they are now are different to those in a revolutionary situation as Tommy Ascaso says such are shaped by struggle.
I'm not sure our societies should be structured in a way as some sort of PR exercise towards regions which are still capitalist. Capitalist regions will not tell the truth about those on the brink of revolution particularly, being nice doesn't make us more powerful.

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Melancholy of R...
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Nov 8 2011 22:11

I'm afraid to ask what class I am and what would happen to me in your revolution.

Alexander Roxwell
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Nov 8 2011 23:43
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
We don't start community assemblies by going into an area and inviting everyone, they have to emerge through struggle. You're worrying too much about trying to create a scientifically perfect anarchist society in the future from where we are now and ignoring the dynamic that creates an anarchist society.

I do think some of the questions that are asked here forget that the class struggle will proceed on its own energy without asking for our input. We can, and should try to push it so that the workers will win the battle but we can't sit in an armchair beforehand and say what we will "permit" and what we will not "permit." Even the Bolsheviks did not do that.

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Nov 8 2011 23:58

Surely the first job of all is dissolving the classes after which the ex-boss is just another voice among its new peers.

radicalgraffiti
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Nov 9 2011 13:16
Melancholy of Resistance wrote:
I'm afraid to ask what class I am and what would happen to me in your revolution.

do you own a business? if not your probably working class

if you haven't read this you should http://libcom.org/library/class-class-struggle-introduction

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Nov 9 2011 14:12
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
We don't start community assemblies by going into an area and inviting everyone, they have to emerge through struggle. You're worrying too much about trying to create a scientifically perfect anarchist society in the future from where we are now and ignoring the dynamic that creates an anarchist society.

I agree they emerge through struggle, but once they grow big and the revolution is underway, antirevolutionaries who weren't involved before, including capitalists, may recognize that these councils are the new organs of political power, and start showing up to meetings of the neighborhood councils.

Alexander Roxwell wrote:

I do think some of the questions that are asked here forget that the class struggle will proceed on its own energy without asking for our input. We can, and should try to push it so that the workers will win the battle but we can't sit in an armchair beforehand and say what we will "permit" and what we will not "permit." Even the Bolsheviks did not do that.

True but I'm wondering what should be argued for when the time comes. Also it's a relevant question for now because when having conversations with nonanarchists and trying to persuade them of anarchist politics, I've been asked this question and didn't know what to say.

radicalgraffiti
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Nov 9 2011 15:36
ultraviolet wrote:
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
We don't start community assemblies by going into an area and inviting everyone, they have to emerge through struggle. You're worrying too much about trying to create a scientifically perfect anarchist society in the future from where we are now and ignoring the dynamic that creates an anarchist society.

I agree they emerge through struggle, but once they grow big and the revolution is underway, antirevolutionaries who weren't involved before, including capitalists, may recognize that these councils are the new organs of political power, and start showing up to meetings of the neighborhood councils.

i don't see why those councils would let people who are still capitalists join, or facists and others actively opposing the revolution, it's be like letting bosses, and people scabbing come to union meetings in the middle of dispute.

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Nov 9 2011 19:18

everybody can vote in the councils, even children, who is to say there are even going to be councils to start votes in anyways, councils are bourgeois forms of organization, or can be at least, as a political formality of order, because councils generate institutionalism and institutions are hives for the molecular congestion of power; furthermore , furthermore, furtherrore, voting is just a way of giving an opinion, and we don't necessarily need opinions.... we need onions though, to feed the children. But let me be serious; society is like a passage on a boat, and what do you do when some people tear off the wood of the boat to make and start their own rafts?

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Nov 9 2011 19:50
brown spaghetti wrote:
furthermore , furthermore, furtherrore, voting is just a way of giving an opinion, and we don't necessarily need opinions.... we need onions though, to feed the children.

"We don't necessarily need opinions"? That sounds... I don't know, vanguardist. I would argue to the contrary; opinions shape a community. To deem them unnecessary is counter-productive, in my opinion. (Ha!)

brown spaghetti wrote:
But let me be serious; society is like a passage on a boat, and what do you do when some people tear off the wood of the boat to make and start their own rafts?

This sounds like people have to bow down before an abstract power, a great collective without which "life is impossible". Good to know your earlier statements in the post made it clear you dislike "congestion[s] of power", so I assume you don't mean to beat down those who oppose "society".

Sorry if I seem petty-minded, those two point just stood out...

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Nov 9 2011 20:18

There's nothing wrong with a vanguard because that's a natural "consequence" of a social movement: some people have sharper consciousness and energy and there at form a vanguard. It becomes "wrong" when that vanguard distinguishes itself as a vanguard, ideally of course the vanguard should be the giant bulk of the working class, the slower dimension of society being pulled by its gravity of revolution, naturally. Opinions are the fuel of vanguardism, ritualized vanguardism... when an opinion becomes crystallized into ideology and absorbs the collectivity and weighs it down...... anyways I don't know what I'm talking about I'm just talking I'm just talking yak yak yak caw caw caw
Anyways I'm talking about commune-ism we should build our own little arks cause society can go fuck itself I don't want to live in this commune so I'll go live in that commune or wait I didn't mean to say the word fuck hehe he

radicalgraffiti
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Nov 9 2011 20:35

bs reads like a troll more than anything

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Nov 9 2011 20:59
brown spaghetti wrote:
There's nothing wrong with a vanguard because that's a natural "consequence" of a social movement: some people have sharper consciousness and energy and there at form a vanguard. It becomes "wrong" when that vanguard distinguishes itself as a vanguard, ideally of course the vanguard should be the giant bulk of the working class, the slower dimension of society being pulled by its gravity of revolution, naturally.

I think this features a good question, what differentiates us from vanguards like Leninists?

Well... for one, we don't try to speak on behalf of a class in general. We are more like multiplicators trying to spread "our consciousness", but contrary to vanguards we ideally do not elevate us above the masses but aim at self-emancipation, something vanguards do not (they are treating people like cattle, not individuals). They are trying to establish itself as the new ruling class, we try to abolish classes.

I can understand why one would see a "minority with a sharper consciousness" as vanguard, but I would argue that "real" vanguardism shows itself as patronizing instead of self-emancipatory.

brown spaghetti wrote:
Opinions are the fuel of vanguardism, ritualized vanguardism... when an opinion becomes crystallized into ideology and absorbs the collectivity and weighs it down......

I agree with the latter part, but saying opinions are the fuel of vanguardism is mistaking causes for effects. It depends on the context...

brown spaghetti wrote:
Anyways I'm talking about commune-ism we should build our own little arks cause society can go fuck itself I don't want to live in this commune so I'll go live in that commune or wait I didn't mean to say the word fuck hehe he

I think some people would call you "lifestylist" for that smile
(I don't like that word much myself...)

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Nov 9 2011 21:41

yeah, word, yeah, I mean as you know a revolution is supposed to be the affirmation of the commune as a new political unit and I would just say we should separate ourselves from society and communes when they take on that abstract collective power..... not that I want to shun society or anything or anything

radicalgraffiti wrote:
bs reads like a troll more than anything

I'm reading you like a french ham

Bedlamist
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Nov 11 2011 03:50

If someone is still de facto rich, i.e. still has an overly disproportionate share of things people want or need, you'd have to be cautious that s/he didn't buy the votes or support of others.

Imagine a guy who has oodles of toothbrushes (need) and chocolate (want) stashed away.

If he shares everything around voluntarily or gets expropriated and then the stuff gets put into the common kitty I'd say he's become functionally equal to anybody else, he no longer has his carrot and/or stick.

Until then, someone who refuses to share to that extent has by that become cut off from the community, which I'd prefer to be a collective of some kind. (What did the "Makhnovists" do with hoarders?)

But if someone has already become functionally equivalent then I'd vote they get a vote and a voice. "Former people" are still people; I'd bet Donald Trump isn't always full of shit about everything.

Bedlamist
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Nov 11 2011 04:02
brown spaghetti wrote:
There's nothing wrong with a vanguard because that's a natural "consequence" of a social movement: some people have sharper consciousness and energy and there at form a vanguard.

Teachers yes, rulers no.

When building a barn it's natural to put trained carpenters in charge of the process, but building a community is or should be different: once the barn is built the carpenters' supervision is over, but a "vanguard" in charge of the community is a ruling class.

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ultraviolet
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Nov 19 2011 09:00

Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who gave a (genuine) response to this question! smile I tend to agree with what has been said above, that if someone is still exploiting labor then it isn't unfair to ban them from the democratic organs of society. Essentially they are outlaws, as far as we're concerned... they are violating rights... so we don't need to include them. I do strongly feel we must include ex-capitalists (etc.) though... I think we agree on that?