The Second Greatest Lie: An Anarchist Critique Of Democracy

In the United States it is coming up to the midterm elections. Tis the season we register to vote! Miserable canvassers surround my daily trips to run errands, asking me to register with a fake enthusiastic tone. Everyday I register to vote. Today, I am a member of the “Libertarian party” whatever that means. Yesterday I was a Democrat, tomorrow I think I will be a Republican!

 

Representative democracy in America is a joke. Many anarchist critiques exist of this specific node of apparatus control, and I am happy they do! We all know representative democracy is a lie, but what about democracy itself?

Many anarchist preach the politic of “direct democracy” to take the place of representative democracy. There is no specific definition of what this means, besides that it is “direct” and allegedly comes from the individual’s choice, rather than the coercive nature of hierarchy. This translates to many different theories, from workers deciding on delegates to represent them (direct representative democracy?), to individuals in a community deciding what happens to the social infrastructure of their everyday lives. It gets decidedly more complicated when we reach the field of how we tally votes and individual decisions, and their influence on the overall decision. Do we only accept a pure consensus? Or can we fall back on a majority decision if pushed? Continue reading

The Militarisation of Israeli Society

In the second blog from Nikki Ray in our series about life under Israeli occupation, Nikki dicusses the many ways in which Israeli society has become militarised, and how this affects both the occupied and the occupiers.

Only 2 countries in the world have compulsory military service for both men and women[1]. Israel is one of them. Few countries in the world have military service so intertwined with a feeling of national identity as in Israel. As a student mentioned, whilst we were recently being hosted by a Reform Synagogue in Haifa, ‘without the army Israel would not exist’. Her statement is true. The Haganah, an underground Zionist military unit fought to maintain Jewish settlements by suppressing Arab revolts with force between 1920 and 1948[2]. This was during the British Mandate period of Palestine before an Israeli state existed. When Israel was granted statehood in 1948 the Haganah became the Israeli army (or the ‘Israeli Defence Force’). This militarisation filters through to many elements of daily life. For example when a young person is serving as a teacher for their national service they have to wear their green army uniform[3], normalising the military within schools from an early age. Teenagers in their military uniforms can be seen frequently in cities such as Tel Aviv and Haifa, as wearing their uniforms entitles them to have free public transport, or entry into a museum or art gallery. As one of the Rabbis at the Reform Synagogue said, ‘I want peace, but I also want my children to do their military service’. To me, peace and the military are contradictory forces; peace cannot be gained through violence. The military is inherently violent.

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The Free Market Fraud

Despite the world-wide recession the success of the free market fraud continues. Its latest manifestation is the attack on the NHS. This is claimed to be opening up the NHS to competition, which is supposed to increase efficiency but in reality is just siphoning public money to the private sector. We have already seen this with the privatisation of gas, electric and water. Rather than cutting bills, handing natural monopolies over to the private sector has resulted in bills increasing at more than the rate of inflation. This is the exact opposite of what was supposed to have happened but don’t worry, the privatised companies are making huge profits (at our expense). The railways are the most glaring example. We now have the most expensive fares in Europe, the tax payers’ subsidy to the railways has doubled and the railway companies are making huge profits. John Major (the prime minister who privatised the railways) should not be able to appear in public without being continually asked about this. Privatisation of

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Knit for Freedom!!

Inequality… in a road network?

Nikki Ray, from London, has been serving as a human rights monitor in the West Bank for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. She has been writing about her first hand experiences and how Palestinians are affected every day by the Israeli occupation Palestine. Freedom is glad to be collaborating with Nikki to bring her accounts of life in Palestine to our site.

Recently the British Parliament made a historic vote, with the majority of 274 votes to 12, to recognise a Palestinian state. The vote was a symbolic one but affirmed the need for a Palestinian state whilst Israel is still occupying Palestine in the West Bank and blockading Gaza.

Whilst serving as a human rights monitor in the West Bank with EAPPI I have seen first hand the oppressive polices of the Israeli occupation which are present in ever aspect of daily life for Palestinians, including the road network.

My team based in Yanoun recently visited Beitin, a village of 2,500 people located about 2 kilometres east of the edge of Ramallah. Like many other villages we have visited in the West Bank Beitin experiences similar problems of settler violence from neighbouring illegal Israeli settlements and incursions into the village by the Israeli army. However unlike many of the other villages we cover Beitin highlights the inequalities present in the road network through the West Bank. Continue reading

Notes From the US: October/ September

 

Education

No-one ever got taller by being measured. In schools, the only tests that help are the ones that

offer guidance on what’s next, not ‘summative’ ones that merely record children’s progress. Last month in Florida a kindergarten (5-year-old children) teacher took a stand by refusing to administer the state-mandated standardised test to her pupils. In Gainesville, Florida 59-year-old Susan Bowles explained how the FAIR assessment (computerised for the first time in 2014) is difficult to administer, unfairly tests 5-year-olds’ computer abilities, and eats up hours and hours of critical classroom time. Bowles wrote on her own FaceBook page content that was then copied elsewhere within her local and the wider educator communities:

“This assessment is given one-on-one. It is recommended that both teacher and child wear headphones during this test. Someone has forgotten there are other five year olds in our care. There is no provision from the state for money for additional staff to help with the other children in the classroom while this testing is going on. A certified teacher has to give the test. If you estimate that it takes approximately 45 minutes per child to give this test and we have 18 students, the time it takes to give this test is 13½ instructional hours. If you look at the schedule, a rough estimate would be that it requires about one full week of instructional time to test all of the children.” Continue reading

Interview with The Restarts

Our Music editor Tim Forster brings us another great interview, this time with left-wing punk band The Restarts!

Photo by Joschi Herczeg

Where would you place The Restarts politically? You started in the mid 1990s, has your politics changed over… Continue reading

Oliver Law & The Spanish Civil War

Oliver Law

On July 19 1936, General Franco, with the backing of Hitler and Mussolini, led a coup against the democratically elected Government of Spain. It kick started the Spanish civil war which saw a viscous fight between right wing… Continue reading

An Anarchist Perspective on UKIP

Photo: Geoff Pugh

Like many on the Left I was very troubled and puzzled by the UK Independence Party’s (UKIP) strong showing in the Local and European elections, and then alarmed again by their doing so well in the 9-10-14 by-elections. Were these protest… Continue reading

From The Land of Proudhon

 

Social revolution is a term associated with anarchism. The ideological background is that a political revolution does not extend much beyond redecoration or reoccupation of institutional dominance. This is precisely what anarchists contest. The question is: to remain in the social struggle, even if it is the wrong direction as in Spain in 1938? Many anarchists would not have the heart to give up the fight. Dealing with the process towards the lost revolution is the book of Daniel Aïache , La révolution défaite , Les groupements révolutionnaires parisiens face à la révolution espagnole (The Lost Revolution , Parisian Revolutionary Groups With Regard to the Spanish Revolution , Paris, 2013).

 

What type of organization did Bakunin have in mind for the struggle for social change? He drew the lines in his ” Revolutionary Catechism ” (not to be confused with the ” Catechism of the Revolutionary” by Serge Netchaïev ). Revolutionary catechism is one of the two chapters of Bakunin’s Principles and Organization of the International Revolutionary Society (1866). The French edition (Éditions du Chat Ivre, 2013) is accompanied by a comprehensive introduction of the French philosopher and anarchist, Jean-Christophe Angaut. Continue reading