Анархизм или Революционное движение ХХI века

Andrej Grubacic & David Graeber, “Anarchism, Or The Revolutionary Movement Of The Twenty-first Century”, public translation into Russian from English More about this translation.

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One reason is that the new generation is much more interested in developing new forms of practice than arguing about the finer points of ideology. The most dramatic among these have been the development of new forms of decision-making process, the beginnings, at least, of an alternate culture of democracy. The famous North American spokescouncils, where thousands of activists coordinate large-scale events by consensus, with no formal leadership structure, are only the most spectacular.

Actually, even calling these forms “new” is a little bit deceptive. One of the main inspirations for the new generation of anarchists are the Zapatista autonomous municipalities of Chiapas, based in Tzeltal or Tojolobal — speaking communities who have been using consensus process for thousands of years — only now adopted by revolutionaries to ensure that women and younger people have an equal voice. In North America, “consensus process” emerged more than anything else from the feminist movement in the ’70s, as part of a broad backlash against the macho style of leadership typical of the ’60s New Left. The idea of consensus itself was borrowed from the Quakers, who again, claim to have been inspired by the Six Nations and other Native American practices.

Consensus is often misunderstood. One often hears critics claim it would cause stifling conformity but almost never by anyone who has actually observed consensus in action, at least, as guided by trained, experienced facilitators (some recent experiments in Europe, where there is little tradition of such things, have been somewhat crude). In fact, the operating assumption is that no one could really convert another completely to their point of view, or probably should. Instead, the point of consensus process is to allow a group to decide on a common course of action. Instead of voting proposals up and down, proposals are worked and reworked, scotched or reinvented, there is a process of compromise and synthesis, until one ends up with something everyone can live with. When it comes to the final stage, actually “finding consensus”, there are two levels of possible objection: one can “stand aside”, which is to say “I don’t like this and won’t participate but I wouldn’t stop anyone else from doing it”, or “block”, which has the effect of a veto. One can only block if one feels a proposal is in violation of the fundamental principles or reasons for being of a group. One might say that the function which in the US constitution is relegated to the courts, of striking down legislative decisions that violate constitutional principles, is here relegated with anyone with the courage to actually stand up against the combined will of the group (though of course there are also ways of challenging unprincipled blocks).

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