The Multidimensional Crisis and Inclusive Democracy, Takis Fotopoulos (2005)
The transition to an Inclusive Democracy
The limitations of lifestyle and direct action strategies
The immediate problem facing the proponents of an inclusive democracy today is the design of a transitional strategy that would lead to a situation where the democratic project becomes the dominant social paradigm. In this chapter, a proposal is made for a political and economic strategy that will create the institutional framework for an inclusive democracy. This strategy involves a new kind of politics and the parallel gradual shifting of economic resources (labour, capital, land) away from the market economy.
As we saw in ch. 4 traditional politics has entered a stage of serious crisis, as the accelerating internationalisation of the market economy is met by the continuous decline of representative “democracy”. At the same time, the pipe dreams of some parts of the “left” for a democratisation of the civil society are doomed. The internationalisation of the market economy is being inevitably followed by the internationalisation of the civil society and competition would surely impose the least common denominator standards as far as social and ecological controls on markets is concerned.
If we set therefore aside the approaches which take for granted the existing institutional framework of the market economy and representative “democracy”, like the various versions of the “civil societarian approach”, the main approaches today which aim at a radical social change are the life-style and direct action strategies proposed by some radical currents within the Green and the libertarian movements. As I discussed elsewhere the limitations of both these movements, I will only summarise briefly the argument.
I will describe as life-style activists all those engaged in activities involving the creation of alternative political and economic institutions for their own sake, in the hope that they will bring about social change “by example” and the corresponding change in values, rather than as stepping stones for the building of a new antisystemic movement with a clear vision about a future society and a strategy to reach it.
Of course, the motivation to build alternative institutions within the existing institutional framework is correct. Particularly so if we take into account that the major problem of any antisystemic strategy, (i.e. a strategy aiming to replace the system of the market economy and representative “democracy” with new democratic institutions) is the uneven development of consciousness among the population. In other words, if we take into account the fact that systemic changes in the past had always taken place within an environment in which only a minority of the population had already broken with the dominant social paradigm, allowing various elites to use the revolutionary outcome in order to create new heteronomous forms of society.
The crucial issue therefore is how a systemic change, which presupposes a rupture with the past both at the subjective level of consciousness and at the institutional level, could be brought about by a majority of the population, “from below”, so that a democratic abolition of power structures could become feasible.
One way to achieve a systemic change may be a “life-style” strategy. However, this approach is, by itself, utterly ineffective in bringing about such a change. Although helpful in creating an alternative culture among small sections of the population and, at the same time, morale boosting for activists who wish to see an immediate change in their lives, this approach does not have any chance of success, in the context of today’s huge concentration of power, to create the democratic majority needed for systemic social change. The projects suggested by this strategy may be too easily marginalized, or absorbed into the existing power structure (as has happened many times in the past) while their effect on the socialisation process is minimal ―if not nil. Furthermore, life-style strategies, by usually concentrating on single issues, which are not part of a comprehensive political program for social transformation, do not help in creating the “anti-systemic” consciousness required for a systemic change. Finally, systemic social change can never be achieved outside the main political and social arena. The elimination of the present power structures and relations can neither be achieved “by setting an example”, nor through education and persuasion. A power base is needed to destroy power. And, to my mind, the only way in which an approach aiming at a power base could be consistent with the aims of the democratic project would be through the development of a comprehensive program for the radical transformation of local political and economic structures.
Similar arguments could be used to criticise the various forms of direct action with respect to their capability of creating an alternative consciousness. The anti-globalisation “movement”, for instance, which is the main form of direct action today, athough much more politicised and radicalised than many lifestyle activities, still suffers from similar deficiencies. Thus, first, the heterogeneous nature of the various groups participating in it, which range from reformist groups (NGOs, mainstream Greens, trade unions and others) to revolutionary antisystemic currents, could hardly characterise the antiglobalisers a “movement”. Second, the fact that most of the activists involved in this movement do not have any clear anti-systemic goals makes it even harder to classify it as an anti-systemic movement. It is obvious that the aim of most participants is not to advance a systemic change but rather to “resist” globalisation in the (vain) hope of forcing the introduction of effective social controls over the internationalised market economy for the protection of the environment and labour. The activities therefore of the anti-globalisation movement, like those of lifestyle activists, have no chance of functioning as transitional strategies for systemic change, unless they become an integral part of a programmatic political mass movement for systemic change. At most, the anti-globalisation movement can function as a kind of “resistance movement” to globalisation and bring about some sort of reforms ―but never systemic change. But, a resistance movement can never create the anti-systemic consciousness required for systemic change since, by its nature, it has to work on a consensus platform, which would necessarily express the lowest common denominator of the demands of the various activists taking part in it. This means that it is more than likely, given the present structure of this movement, that its political platform will be a reformist one.
Finally, one should not forget the parameters set by the institutional framework. Given that the neoliberal consensus and the present form of globalisation are not just policy changes, as most in the Left assume, but a structural change imposed by the internationalisation of the market economy, the basic elements of neoliberal globalisation and particularly the crucial elements of open and flexible markets will never go away within the present institutional framework. A market economy today can only be an internationalised one, given that the growth (and therefore profitability) of the TNCs, which control the world market economy, depends on their enlarging their markets worldwide. However, as long as the market economy has to be an internationalised one, markets have to be as open and as flexible as possible. This means that, as long as the system of the market economy and representative democracy reproduces itself, all that reforms (“from above”, or “from below”) can achieve today is temporary victories and reversible social conquests, not unlike those achieved during the period of the social democratic consensus that are now being systematically dismantled.
A strategy for the transition to a confederal inclusive democracy
To my mind, the only realistic approach in creating a new society, beyond the market economy and statist forms of organisation, is a political strategy that comprises the gradual involvement of increasing numbers of people in a new kind of politics and the parallel shifting of economic resources (labour, capital, land) away from the market economy. The aim of such a transitional strategy should be to create changes in the institutional framework and value systems that, after a period of tension between the new institutions and the state, would, at some stage, replace the market economy, statist democracy, as well as the social paradigm “justifying” them, with an inclusive democracy and a new democratic paradigm respectively.
But, what sort of strategy can ensure the transition toward an inclusive democracy? In particular, what sort of action and political organisation can be part of the democratic project? A general guiding principle in selecting an appropriate transitional strategy is consistency between means and ends. Obviously, a strategy aiming at an inclusive democracy cannot be achieved through the use of oligarchic political practices, or individualistic activities.
Thus, as regards, first, the significance of collective action in the form of class conflicts between the victims of the internationalised market economy and the ruling elites, I think there should be no hesitation in supporting all those struggles which can assist in making clear the repressive nature of statist democracy and the market economy. However, the systemic nature of the causes of such conflicts should be stressed and this task can obviously not be left to the bureaucratic leaderships of trade unions and other traditional organisations. This is the task of workplace assemblies that could confederate and take part in such struggles, as part of a broader democratic movement which is based on demoi and their confederal structures.
Next, is the question of the significance of direct action and activities like Community Economic Development projects, self-managed factories, housing associations, LETS schemes, communes, self-managed farms and so on. It is obvious that such activities cannot lead, by themselves, to radical social change. On the other hand, the same activities are necessary and desirable parts of a comprehensive political strategy, where contesting local elections represents the culmination of grassroots action. This is because contesting local elections does provide the most effective means to massively publicise a programme for an inclusive democracy, as well as the opportunity to initiate its immediate implementation on a significant social scale. In other words, contesting local elections is not just an educational exercise but also an expression of the belief that it is only at the local level that direct and economic democracy can be founded today. Therefore, participation in local elections is also a strategy to gain power, in order to dismantle it immediately, by substituting the decision-taking role of the assemblies for that of the local authorities, the day after the election was won. Finally, contesting local elections gives the chance to start changing society from below, which is the only democratic strategy, as against the statist approaches, which aim to change society from above through the conquest of state power, and the “civil society” approaches, which do not aim to a systemic change at all. It is because the demos is the fundamental social and economic unit of a future democratic society that we have to start from the local level to change society.
The immediate objective should therefore be the creation, from below, of “popular bases of political and economic power”, that is, the establishment of local public realms of direct and economic democracy which, at some stage, will confederate in order to create the conditions for the establishment of a new society. To my mind, this approach offers the most realistic strategy today to tackle here and now the fundamental social, economic and ecological problems we face and at the same time to dismantle the existing power structures. A political programme based on the commitment to create institutions of an inclusive democracy will eventually capture the imagination of the majority of the population, which now suffers from the effects of the political and economic concentration of power.
Thus, once the institutions of inclusive democracy begin to be installed, and people, for the first time in their lives, start obtaining real power to determine their own fate, then the gradual erosion of the dominant social paradigm and of the present institutional framework will be set in motion. A new popular power base will be created. Town by town, city by city, region by region will be taken away from the effective control of the market economy and statist forms of organisation (national or international), their political and economic structures being replaced by the confederations of democratically run communities. A dual power in tension with the statist forms of organisation will be created. Of course, at some stage, the transnational elite as well as the local elites and their supporters, who will surely object to the idea of their privileges being gradually eroded, after they have exhausted subtler means of control (mass media, economic violence etc.), may be tempted to use physical violence to protect their privileges, as they have always done in the past. But, by then, an alternative social paradigm will have become hegemonic and the break in the socialisation process ―the precondition for a change in the institution of society― will have occurred. The legitimacy of today’s “democracy” will have been lost. At that stage, the majority of the people could be expected to be prepared to counter state violence in order to defend the new political and economic structures. Once citizens have tasted a real democracy, no amount of physical or economic violence will be enough to persuade them to return to pseudo-democratic forms of organisation.
The significance of local elections
Contesting local elections does provide the most effective means to massively publicise a programme for an inclusive democracy, as well as the opportunity to initiate its immediate implementation on a significant social scale. In other words, contesting local elections is not just an educational exercise but also an expression of the belief that it is only at the local level that direct and economic democracy can be founded today, although of course local inclusive democracies have to be confederated to ensure the transition to a confederal democracy. It is because the demos is the fundamental social and economic unit of a future democratic society that we have to start from the local level to change society. Therefore, participation in local elections is an important part of the strategy to gain power, in order to dismantle it immediately afterwards, by substituting the decision-taking role of the assemblies for that of the local authorities, the day after the election has been won. Furthermore, contesting local elections gives the chance to start changing society from below, something that is the only democratic strategy, as against the statist approaches that aim to change society from above through the conquest of state power, and the “civil society” approaches that do not aim at a systemic change at all.
However, the main aim of direct action, as well as of the participation in local elections, is not just the conquest of power but the rupture of the socialisation process and therefore the creation of a democratic majority “from below”, which will legitimise the new structures of inclusive democracy. Given this aim, it is obvious that participation in national elections is a singularly inappropriate means to this end, since, even if the movement for an inclusive democracy does win a national election, this will inevitably set in motion a process of “revolution from above”. This is because the rupture in the socialisation process can only be gradual and in continuous interaction with the phased implementation of the program for the inclusive democracy, which, for the reasons mentioned above, should always start at the local level. On the other hand, an attempt to implement the new project through the conquest of power at the national level does not offer any opportunity for such an interaction between theory and practice and for the required homogenisation of consciousness with respect to the need for systemic change.
If there is one lesson History taught us, this is that the basic cause of failure of previous, revolutionary or reformist, attempts aiming at a systemic change was exactly the significant unevenness in the level of consciousness, in other words, the fact that all past revolutions had taken place in an environment where only a minority of the population had broken with the dominant social paradigm. This gave the golden opportunity to various elites to turn one section of the people against another (e.g. Chile), or led to the development of authoritarian structures for the protection of the revolution (e.g. French or Russian revolutions), frustrating any attempt for the creation of structures of equal distribution of power. However, for a revolution, to be truly successful, a rupture with the past is presupposed, both at the subjective level of consciousness and at the institutional level. Still, when a revolution in the past was “from above”, it had a good chance to achieve its first aim, to abolish state power and establish its own power, but, exactly because it was a revolution from above, with its own hierarchical structures etc, it had no chance to change the dominant social paradigm but only formally, i.e. at the level of the official (compulsory) ideology. On the other hand, although the revolution from below has always been the correct approach to convert people democratically to the new social paradigm, it suffered in the past from the fact that the uneven development of consciousness among the population did not allow revolutionaries to achieve even their very first aim of abolishing state power. Therefore, the major problem with systemic change has always been how it could be brought about, from below, but by a majority of the population, so that a democratic abolition of power structures could become feasible. It is hoped that the ID strategy does offer a solution to this crucial problem.
Thus, once the institutions of Inclusive Democracy begin to be installed, and people, for the first time in their lives, start obtaining real power to determine their own fate, then the gradual erosion of the dominant social paradigm and of the present institutional framework will be set in motion. A new popular power base will be created. Town by town, city by city, region by region will be taken away from the effective control of the market economy and statist forms of organisation (national or international), their political and economic structures being replaced by the confederations of democratically run communities. An alternative social paradigm will become hegemonic and the break in the socialisation process ―the precondition for a change in the institution of society― will follow. A dual power in tension with the statist forms of organisation will be created which ultimately may or may not lead to confrontation with the ruling elites depending on the balance of power that would have developed by then. Clearly, the greater the appeal of the new institutions to citizens the smaller the chance that the ruling elites will resort to violence to restore the power of the state and the market economy institutions, on which their own power rests.
The need for a new type of movement
Today, as I attempted to show elsewhere, we face the end of “traditional” antisystemic movements: the issue is not anymore to challenge one form of power or another but to challenge power itself, in the sense of its unequal distribution that constitutes the basis of heteronomy. In other words, what is needed today is a new type of antisystemic movement which should challenge heteronomy itself, rather than simply various forms of heteronomy, as used to be the case in “traditional” antisystemic movements challenging the unequal distribution of economic power (statist socialist movements), political power (libertarian socialist), or social power (feminist etc) as the basis of all other forms of power. Therefore, the issue is to challenge the inequality in the distribution of every form of power, in other words, power relations and structures themselves.
It is this collapse of the traditional antisystemic movements which raises the need for a new type of antisystemic movement. A second reason which is related to the first one and justifies further the need for such a movement is the fact that today we face not simply the end of the traditional antisystemic movements but also of traditional Marxist class divisions. However, the fact that we face today the end of class politics does not mean that there is no “system” anymore as such, or “class divisions” for that matter. What it does mean is that today we face new “class divisions”. Thus, in the ID problematique, the phasing out of economic classes in the Marxist sense simply signifies the death of traditional class divisions and the birth of new “holistic” class divisions, i.e. divisions which are located into the power structures of the socio-economic system itself and not just to some aspects of it, like economic relations alone, or alternatively gender relations, identity politics, values and so on. In other words, the present social divisions between dominant and subordinate social groups in the political sphere (professional politicians versus the rest of citizenry), the economic sphere (company owners, directors, managers versus workers, clerks etc) and the broader social sphere (men versus women, blacks versus whites, ethnic majorities versus minorities and so on) are based on institutional structures that reproduce an unequal distribution of power and on the corresponding cultures and ideologies, (i.e. the “dominant social paradigm”).
In today’s society, the main structures which institutionalise the unequal distribution of power are the market economy and representative democracy, although other structures which institutionalise the unequal distribution of power between sexes, races, ethnicities etc cannot just be “reduced” to these two main structures. So, the replacement of these structures by institutions securing the equal distribution of political, economic and social power within an inclusive democracy is the necessary condition (though not the sufficient one) for the creation of a new culture that would eliminate the unequal distribution of power between all human beings, irrespective of sex, race, ethnicity etc. Therefore, the attempt by Greens, feminists and other supporters of the politics of difference and identity to change culture and values first, as a way of changing some of the existing power structures, (rather than being engaged in a fight to replace all the structures which reproduce the unequal distribution of power and, within this struggle, create the values that would support the new structures), is doomed to marginalisation and failure, with (at best) some reforms being achieved on the way.
It is therefore clear that, although it is not meaningful to talk anymore about monolithic class divisions, this does not rule out the possibility that, when the social groups which belong to the emancipatory subject as defined below develop a shared consciousness about the values and institutions which create and reproduce structures of unequal distribution of power, they may unite, primarily, not against the dominant social groups as such but against the hierarchical institutional framework and those defending it. The unifying element which may unite members of the subordinate social groups around a liberatory project like the ID project is their exclusion from various forms of power—an exclusion which is founded on the unequal distribution of power that today’s institutions and the corresponding values establish. This brings us to the crucial question facing any transitional strategy: the “identity” of the emancipatory subject or as it used to be called the “revolutionary subject”.
The liberatory subject today
All antisystemic strategies in the past were based on the assumption that the revolutionary subject is identified with the proletariat, although in the last century several variations of this approach were suggested to include in the revolutionary subject peasants and later on students. However, the “systemic changes” that marked the shift from statist modernity to neoliberal modernity and the associated class structure changes, as well as the parallel ideological crisis, meant the end of traditional class divisions, as I mentioned above ―although not the end of class divisions as such― as social-liberals suggest. Still, some in the radical Left, despite the obvious systemic changes, insist on reproducing the myth of the revolutionary working class, usually by redefining it in sometimes tautological ways. At the same time, writers on the libertarian Left like Bookchin and Castoriadis moved to a position according to which, in defining the emancipatory subject, we have to abandon any “objective criteria” and assume that the whole of the population (“the people”) is just open-or closed-to a revolutionary outlook. Finally, postmodernists replace class divisions with identity differences and substitute fragmentation and difference for the “political system”. This has inevitably led to a situation where the systemic unity of capitalism, or its very existence as a social system, is denied and “instead of the universalist aspirations of socialism and the integrative politics of the struggle against class exploitation, we have a plurality of essentially disconnected particular struggles which ends in a submission to capitalism”.
In the ID problematique, what we need today is a new paradigm which, while recognising the different identities of the social groups which constitute various sub-totalities (women, ethnic minorities etc), at the same time acknowledges the existence of an overall socio-economic system that secures the concentration of power at the hands of various elites and dominant social groups within society as a whole. Such a paradigm is the Inclusive Democracy paradigm which does respond to the present multiplicity of social relations (gender, ethnicity, race, and so on) with complex concepts of equality in the distribution of all forms of power that acknowledge people’s different needs and experiences. In fact, the main problem in emancipatory politics today is how all the social groups, which potentially form the basis of a new emancipatory subject, would be united by a common worldview, a common paradigm, which sees the ultimate cause of the present multidimensional crisis in the present structures that secure the concentration of power at all levels, as well as the corresponding value systems. In this problematique, given the broad perspective of the project for an inclusive democracy, a new movement aiming at an inclusive democracy should appeal to almost all sections of society, apart of course from the dominant social groups, i.e. the ruling elites and the overclass.
Thus, the economic democracy component of the ID project should primarily appeal to the main victims of the internationalised market economy, i.e. the underclass and the marginalized (the unemployed, blue collar workers, low-waged white collar workers, part-timers, occasional workers, farmers who are phased out because of the expansion of agribusiness), as well as the students, the prospective members of the professional middle classes, who see their dreams for job security disappearing fast in the “flexible” labour markets being built. It should also appeal to a significant part of the new middle class which, unable to join the “overclass”, lives under conditions of constant insecurity, particularly in countries of the South as the Argentinian crisis showed.
The political democracy component of the ID project should appeal to all those who are presently involved in local, single-issue movements for the lack of anything better. As even the theoreticians of social-liberalism recognise, although confidence in professional politicians and government institutions is in drastic decline, the decay of parliamentary politics is not the same thing as depoliticisation. This is obvious by the parallel growth of new social movements, NGOs, citizens’ initiatives etc. No wonder that the “small group movement” (i.e. small numbers of people meeting regularly to promote their common interest) is thriving with 40 percent of the population in the USA —some 75 million Americans— belonging to at least one small group, while in the UK self-help and environmental groups have in recent years expanded rapidly. Although this celebrated expansion of the “civil society” is concentrated in the new middle class, still, this is an indication of a thirst for a genuine democracy in which everybody counts in the decision-taking process. Furthermore, given that the scope for citizen participation is presently restricted to single issues, it is not surprising that it is single issue movements and organisations which flourish. In other words, one may argue that the expansion of the small group movement indicates, in fact, a move from pseudo-democracy at the national level ―in which the system of representation nullifies collective participation― to pseudo-democracy at the local level ―in which important political and economic decisions are still left to the political and economic elites but at the same time, in a kind of “sub-politics”, citizen bodies in the “active” civil society claim a right to take decisions on side issues, or local issues.
Finally, the ecological component of the ID project, as well as the one related to “democracy at the social realm”, should appeal to all those concerned about the effects of concentration of power on the environment and to those oppressed by the patriarchal and other hierarchical structures in today’s society.
So, to sum it up, it is necessary that the new political organisation is founded on the broadest political base possible. To my mind, this means a broad spectrum of radical activists, involving antiglobalisation activists, radical ecologists, supporters of the autonomy project, libertarian socialists, radical feminists, libertarian leftists and every other activist that adopts the democratic project. The ID project should appeal to all those radical activists given its broad social appeal to the vast majority of the population. Thus, the following social groups could potentially be the basis of a new “liberatory subject” for systemic change:
the victims of the market economy system in its present internationalised form, i.e. the unemployed, low-waged, farmers under extinction, occasionally employed etc;
those citizens, particularly in the “middle groups”, who are alienated by the present statecraft which passes as “politics” and already claim a right of self-determination through the various local community groups;
workers, clerks etc who are exploited and alienated by the hierarchical structures at the workplace;
women, who are alienated by the hierarchical structures both at home and the workplace and yearn for a democratised family based on equality, mutual respect, autonomy, sharing of decision-making and responsibilities, emotional and sexual equality;
ethnic or racial minorities, which are alienated by a discriminatory “statist” democracy that divides the population into first and second class citizens;
all those concerned about the destruction of the environment and the accelerating deterioration in the quality of life, who are presently organised in reformist ecological movements, marginalized eco-communes etc.
There is no doubt that several of these groups may see at the moment their goals as conflicting with those of other groups (middle groups vis-à-vis the groups of the victims of the internationalised market economy and so on). However, as I mentioned above, the ID project does offer a common paradigm consisting of an analysis of the causes of the present multidimensional crisisin terms of the present structures that secure the unequal distribution of power and the corresponding values, as well as the ends and means that would lead us to an alternative society. Therefore, the fight to build a movement inspired by this paradigm, which to be successful has to become an international movement, is urgent as well as imperative, so that the various social groups which form the new liberatory subject could function as the catalyst for a new society that would reintegrate society with polity and the economy, humans and Nature.
A new type of Politics
Old politics is doomed, as the accelerating internationalisation of the market economy is met by the continuous decline of representative “democracy”. The impotency of the state to effectively control the market forces, in order to tackle the fundamental problems of massive unemployment, poverty, rising concentration of income and wealth and the continuing destruction of the environment, has led to massive political apathy and cynicism, particularly among the underclass and the marginalized. As a result, all parties today compete for the vote of the middle classes which, effectively, determine the political process. At the same time, the pipe dreams of some parts of the “left” for a democratisation of the civil society are, also, doomed. As I mentioned above, the internationalisation of the market economy is being inevitably followed by the internationalisation of the civil society. In other words, competition imposes the least common denominator standards as far as social and ecological controls on markets is concerned. Therefore, that type of civil society is bound to prevail which is consistent with the degree of marketisation that characterises the most competitive parts of the global economy.
It is therefore clear that we need a new type of politics which would comprise the creation of local inclusive democracies, i.e. the creation of a new public realm that would involve citizens as citizens taking decisions on broad political, economic and social matters within the institutional framework of demotic assemblies; citizens as workers taking decisions on the running of demotic enterprises within the institutional framework of workplace assemblies; citizens as students taking decisions on the running of colleges and schools etc. This new Politics requires a new type of political organisation which will play the role of the catalyst for its emergence. So, what form should this new political organisation take and how can we go about to create it?
A new type of political organisation
It is clear that the new type of political organisation should itself mirror the desired structure of society. This would not be the usual political party, but a form of “democracy in action”, which would undertake various forms of intervention at the local level, always as part of a comprehensive program for social transformation aiming at the eventual change of each local authority into an inclusive democracy. These forms of intervention should extend to every area of the broadly defined above public realm and could involve:
At the political level, the creation of “shadow” political institutions based on direct democracy, (neighbourhood assemblies, etc) as well as various forms of direct action (marches, rallies, teach-ins and civil disobedience) against the existing political institutions and their activities;
At the economic level, the establishment of a “demotic” sector, (i.e. a sector involving demotic production and distribution units which are owned and controlled collectively by the citizens, demotic welfare etc) as well as various forms of direct action (strikes, occupations etc) against the existing economic institutions and their activities;
At the social level, the creation of self-management institutions in the workplace, the place of education etc, as well as participating in struggles for worker’s democracy, household democracy, democracy in the educational institutions and so on;
At the ecological level, the establishment of ecologically sound production and consumption units, as well as direct action against the corporate destruction of Nature;
At the cultural level, activities aiming at the creation of a community-controlled art (in place of the presently elite-controlled art activities) and alternative media activities that will help in making the value system which is consistent with an inclusive democracy the hegemonic culture in society.
The following is a general description of the steps that might be taken in building an ID organisation, although of course the concrete form that this procedure will take in practice will crucially depend on local conditions and practices.
The first step in building such an organisation might be to initiate a meeting of a number of people in a particular area who are interested in the ID project with the aim to create a study group for the discussion of this project and in particular of the aims of the international ID network (see below). If general agreement with the principles of the ID network is confirmed then the group could come in contact with the cells of the ID network in the same country and also in other countries for the exchange of information, news etc. After a series of meetings between the people involved, and as a result of discussions on the matter, the group could formulate a minimum program expressing the basic goals, means and strategy of the local ID group The group should also formulate its organisational structure along non-hierarchical lines, as well as its decision-taking process on the basis of direct democracy principles.
The next step might be the publication of a local newsletter, or in the case of big cities a local magazine, in which this minimum program would be published, as well as comments on local or national/international news from the ID perspective and brief theoretical texts on the goals, means, strategy of the ID project. News on relevant, local or not, activities should get particular prominence. At this stage, the ID group could begin getting involved in the organisation of public meetings in which issues of particular concern to the local people (economic, ecological, social etc) are discussed. All these issues should be introduced by members of the group who express the ID angle and full discussions with local citizens should follow.
As the number of people involved in the ID group grows, it may start taking part in local struggles (or even initiate such struggles on various issues of concern for the establishment of an ID) and also ―in alliance with similar groups from other areas― in struggles on regional, national or international issues. With this aim, the group should liaise with similar local groups in the same region, country and other countries to form confederations of autonomous ID groups (at the regional, national and international levels) with the aim to coordinate the political activity of the groups involved. The creation of an ID electronic newsletter might play a significant role in this process. Alliances with other radical groups of the Left should also be encouraged on specific issues (e.g. to replace the present European Union of capitalists with a European Community of peoples) on which a consensus view on the demands to be raised could be reached.
Finally, once a sufficient number of activists has joined the group so that it can take the form of an ID political organisation (with organisational structure and decision-taking process similar to the ones of the original group) the ID organisation may start expanding its activities and be involved in the creation of local institutions of political, and economic democracy as well as democracy in the social realm (workplace, educational place etc), cultural activities etc —see below. At the same time the ID organisation should start contesting local elections, Initially, with an educational aim, i.e. to familiarise citizens on a significant social scale about the ID project. Once however the ID organisation has won the elections in a particular area it should start implementing the transitional program for the building of an inclusive democracy. Needless to add that in all these stages the activists in the ID movement function not as “party cadres” but as catalysts for the setting up of the new institutions. In other words, their commitment is to the democratic institutions themselves and not to the political organisation.
 For a detailed description of this strategy, see TID, Ch. 7.
 See Fotopoulos, “The End of Traditional Antisystemic Movements and the Need for A New Type of Antisystemic Movement Today”, Democracy & Nature, Vol. 7, No. 3 (November 2001).
 See T. Fotopoulos, “Class Divisions Today: the Inclusive Democracy Approach”, Democracy & Nature, Vol. 6, No. 2 (July 2000).
 See e.g. Mao Tse-Tung, “Report of an investigation of the peasant movement in Hunan” (March 1927) in Selected Readings from the works of Mao Tse-Tung (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1967).
 See for instance Ernest Mandel, “The new vanguard” in Tariq Ali’s (ed) The New Revolutionaries (New York: William Morrow & Co., 1969).
 See Fotopoulos, “The End of Traditional Antisystemic Movements”.
 See, for instance, Anthony Giddens, The Third Way (Oxford: Polity Press, 1998).
 See e.g. Erik Olin Wright, Classes, (London: Verso, 1985/1997) and D. Ames Curtis, “On the Bookchin/Biehl resignations and the creation of a new liberatory project”, Democracy & Nature, Vol. 5, No. 1 (March 1999), pp. 163-74.
 Murray Bookchin, Post-scarcity anarchism, (London: Wildwood House, 1974), p. 191.
 C. Castoriadis’ introductory interview in The Castoriadis Reader, edited by David Ames Curtis, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997), pp.26-27.
 Ellen Meiksins Wood, Democracy Against Capitalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 262.
 See Anthony Giddens, The Third Way, pp. 80-81.
 See Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, chs 5-7; see also Murray Bookchin, “The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism”, Anarchist Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 1993), pp. 3-24.
 A perfect example of such a formulation of the basic ID principles is given in the text prepared by the Athens group which publishes a magazine under the title “Periektiki Dimokratia” (Inclusive Democracy); this text is repeated on every issue of the magazine.