26 November 2012
ID Network announcement on the GADI Catalan Group
1) ID Network announcement on the GADI Catalan Group
We are very sorry to announce that the Catalan ID group is no longer part of the International ID network (see their Statement below) which has branches and individual activists in several parts of the world including Greece, the UK, the USA, Holland, Germany, Australia, Nepal, Italy and so on. We must note however that this is the first time that we have seen a particular branch demand that we adopt their own interpretation of the ID project, which they have been arrogant enough to call an alternative “conception”, and they have even gone as far as to talk about “two incompatible and irreconcilable conceptions”! This may be due to the extreme arrogance of one of its members, who has assumed the role of informal “leader” of the group (although he is unknown within the literature and activism of the international Left), and who perhaps thought that by launching a vicious and completely unprovoked personal attack on the founder of the ID antisystemic project and then by dismissing the points that Takis raised with respect to what this same de facto leader called protodemotic enterprises, as well as on the peak oil issue, without providing any rational counter-arguments, hey presto! – he had established an alternative ID conception! On top of this, when the ID network proposed sorting out these matters on the basis of democratic rationalism, which is the fundamental principle governing decision-taking in an Inclusive Democracy and any organization based on this project, the Catalan ID group resorted to the bourgeois democratic principle of “one member, one vote”, on the assumption that this would enable them to impose their views on the rest of the ID network, as they thought they held the majority. We found such views to be utterly alien to the ID project which we all strive for, as we informed them, but since they clearly had absolutely no conception of what an antisystemic project is about, they could not even understand the essence of the issue and, as revealed in their statement, they kept talking about the bourgeois liberal principle of ‘freedom of expression’, which of course has nothing to do with our political project for autonomy and self-determination, as expressed through a direct democracy at all levels, i.e. an ID.
2. ID as an antisystemic project
The fact that this group never understood what an antisystemic project actually is becomes obvious when one reads their statement. For them, ID is:
“a political project defined by general guidelines that mark its emancipatory, transitional and antisystemic character. We consider that these guidelines are expressed in the 10 theses of the “Our Aims” document (which is) the lowest common denominator shared by all the activists and Inclusive Democracy groups, (and) defines the basis of the political project and of the emancipatory movement we promote.”
However, as we explained to them an antisystemic project is much more than a set of general guidelines, or a lowest common denominator. An antisystemic project consists of three basic elements:
a. Its own analysis of History which provides an interpretation of how and why the present systemic crisis arose. This analysis can be based on ‘objective’ social laws (Marxist project) or natural laws (social ecology). However, the ID project rejects any objective historical analysis, both because such objectivity in the analysis of social development is impossible and also because such an approach could lead to dogmatism, which is alien to the ID project. In ID, the only binding principle which all members accept as axiomatic is the principle of autonomy and individual and collective self-determination, as expressed through direct democracy at all levels, i.e. an ID. Yet this alone is not enough to define an antisystemic project, and it could easily lead to our becoming a debating society, as the group that GADI have just created, the “Group of Reflection for Autonomy”, aspires to become. For us, and for every antisystemic project, the issue is not to philosophize as e.g. the Castoriadian groups on autonomy do while waiting for the ‘social imaginaries’ to change, or as the de-growth groups do on why growth is the cause of the present multidimensional crisis and on the panacea of de-growth, or as supporters of Parecon do, whose founder had some good ‘ideas’ about how a future society should be, but no analysis of history or a transitional strategy to get us from here to there!
b. The second fundamental element of an antisystemic project is the formulation of a proposal as to what a society based on the values of the project should look like, which is of course just a proposal aiming to show the feasibility and desirability of such a society and not a blueprint for it.
c. The third basic element is a transitional strategy describing how we move from here to there, which again expresses the general values of the entire project.
In the case of the ID project, such fundamental values are not expressed by any social or natural “laws” that we may have discovered, but by a rational analysis, which is based on the fundamental principle of autonomy, of the power structures and relations that were dominant throughout History and within society. Such an analysis is provided by TID and its author has explicitly stated that he would accept any alternative antisystemic project consisting of the above elements, which could be shown (through rational analysis) to provide a better historical explanation and better proposals for a new society on the basis of this principle. This means that the brief statement OUR AIMS<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>, (like e.g. the Communist Manifesto), simply aims to provide a very elementary summary of the basic aims which are consistent with our project, and that the analysis and the descriptions of the ID society and the transitional strategy should be found in the ID publications (ie. the brochures published by the ID network, TID and the articles expressing the ID project in our theoretical journal). This implies that no local ID group like the Catalan one can have “analytical, theoretical or strategic differences” which are incompatible with the axiom of autonomy as interpreted by the ID project (otherwise, of course, we can no longer talk about people belonging to an organization sharing the same project, but merely a debating society). The issue then is who defines this compatibility and how it is defined. The answer that we give to this crucial question is that we should, initially, examine the ID publications to find out whether an answer has already been given within them, since, by definition, when someone joins an organization based on a specific antisystemic project, it is assumed that s/he agrees with the project and not just with a 2-page summary of it! This, of course, does not mean that there are no issues which perhaps are not covered by the ID publications, or which could perhaps be given a different explanation. However, for this to happen it is necessary to establish a democratic mechanism which would be permanent and which would ensure (with increased majorities and quorum) that such issues are decided, in case of a dispute, in such a way that the decision would express the views of the vast majority of the network. In fact, we suggested such a mechanism but it was rejected by the Catalan group in favor of the liberal bourgeois principle mentioned above.
To sum up, it is a blatant lie and a distortion that there are, or could be, two incompatible and irreconcilable conceptions of ID. The ID project was defined long ago, after a long process comprising more than a decade of consideration, discussions and so on, and it fully meets the criteria for an antisystemic project mentioned above. On the other hand, the Catalan group, which was formed a couple of years ago or so, quickly decided that it needed to revise the ID project as it had been known since the 1990s, in favor of what GADI considered their “right” to choose ŕ la carte which particular ID principles and values they were committed to and which they were not, instead of proceeding to create a concrete and fully developed alternative project. In fact, even when they attempted to develop alternative “conceptions”, they simply developed different views on a couple of issues, which are in profound incompatibility with the ID project. This is for instance the liberal “democratic” principle of ‘one member, one vote’ which they suggested for decision-taking, or the ludicrous principle that the editorial committee of the journal needed to be “supervised by the entire body of the members of the International Network” in order to be ‘democratic’ —presumably to secure the implementation of the liberal bourgeois principle of ‘freedom of expression’ they mention. Apparently, they have never heard of the genuine democratic principle of delegation, or that the members of the Journal’s Edit. Committee function as delegates for the entire network: it was the network who appointed those wishing to be editors (indeed we repeatedly invited members of the Catalan group to serve as members of the editorial group and they refused), and it is the network who could recall them when the case could be made in a general assembly that an editor had violated his/her terms of reference. Equally it is a blatant lie aiming to defame the ID project that, “once the «correct» vision about an issue is established, the International Network doesn’t allow that any activist or group holds publicly an alternative or contrary vision”, and it constitutes a dishonest distortion of our position above on how the compatibility of various views with the ID project is assessed.
3. Other issues of content
Even more important was the Catalan group’s view on ‘proto-demotic enterprises’ which they tried to impose on the ID network, and which is completely incompatible with the ID project. Thus, they publicly supported the principle – through talks and articles – that an ID group could start what they called a proto-demotic enterprise, even if this did not follow the taking over of local power by a movement adopting the ID project. So, as long as a group adopting the ID project could find the money to start a private business (either because one of its members was the owner of a property that could be used for this purpose or because the group could secure a bank loan), and claim that it was part of a movement for ID, it could start any capitalist business which it declared to be proto-demotic, in blatant violation of the ID transitional strategy.
In summary, when the Catalan group states that, “in our conception it is not necessary that all the groups and activists of Inclusive Democracy promote exactly the same vision about every concrete issue”, again, they have no clue as to what an antisystemic project like ID is, which implies compatibility with a set of values and principles expressing the principle of autonomy and self-determination and not just one or another view, or “vision”. For instance, they could not, as members of the ID Network, express a view in favor of the pseudo-rebels who, with the help of the criminals of NATO, proceeded to carry out a massacre in Libya, and who are now doing the same in Syria and may repeat it tomorrow in Iran, because this is utterly incompatible with the principle of self-determination (the “saviors” of the Libyan and Syrian peoples never asked the peoples themselves what they wanted but just proceeded to bring about ‘regime change’). The same applies to their view on the energy crisis and the peak oil point which, as we explained to them both by email and via the journal<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> is incompatible with the ID analysis.
Similarly indicative of the same extreme arrogance shown by the ‘leader’ of the Catalan group is the fact that, under the cover of pseudo-‘democracy’, it is argued in their statement that the work of Takis Fotopoulos on the one hand, and the Inclusive Democracy movement on the other, should be two closely related but clearly differentiated things:
“We consider, then, that a clear distinction should be drawn between the Inclusive Democracy project (defined in the “Our Aims” document, as we have mentioned) and the opinions, proposals and justifications related with this project and political movement, whether they are exposed by Takis Fotopoulos or by any other person”.
However, to mention just one historical example, as far as we know no member of the social ecology/communalism project (developed by the anarchist Murray Bookchin) ever thought of making a similar proposal with respect to Bookchin’s own views! Obviously, when we talk about an antisystemic project and movement (unlike the kind of debating society mentioned above) we cannot differentiate between the views of the founder(s) of such a project and the views of its movement’s members—without implying of course that a revision of some views, even those of the founder, should be forbidden in any way, just because they are the founder’s views, as long as the democratic procedures mentioned above are adhered to.
Finally, the Catalan group’s arguments that “unfortunately we have found very negative and antidemocratic attitudes in the International Network”, and that “we consider that these attitudes are antagonistic to the values we promote”, amount to something of a joke, in view of what was said above.
Last, but not least, it is characteristic of their real attitude towards the ID project that when they discuss their future as a political group, free of the ID ‘corset’, what they dream of is to “begin the outlining of a truly democratic and ecological social building”. In other words, in the middle of a complete restructuring of societies according to the New World Order, as expressed through neoliberal globalization, all they talk about is true democracy (presumably like the one suggested by the indignados or the “Occupy Wall St” activists) and ecological social building. This, as though the main problem for the peoples today (and we are not just talking about the middle classes) is not their own problem of survival but the survival of the planet, and not the creation of self-reliant societies and economies – outside the institutional expressions of neoliberal globalization like the EU - which is the precondition for any ID today, but just “a truly democratic and ecological social building”, presumably like the one dreamed of by de-growth middle-class academics!
The International Network for Inclusive Democracy
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> see The Aims of Inclusive Democracy http://www.inclusivedemocracy.org/index.html
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>Takis Fotopoulos, “Disaster theories and the crisis: the peak oil case, The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, Vol. 7, No. 2/3 (Summer/Autumn 2011): http://www.inclusivedemocracy.org/journal/index.htm
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2) GADI Statement
We stop the political intervention and we focus in self-education, reflection and refounding during one year
GADI Catalunya statement
From GADI Catalunya we have always understood politics as a fundamental dimension of human existence. This dimension refers to the deliberative and decisive activity of the citizenship about the public sphere issues. Politics, thus, is a question that concerns and affects all of us: the way we organize and the direction that we take as a society. The political activity of GADI Catalunya, in its two years and a half of existence, consisted in the promotion of the Inclusive Democracy project through the creation of reflection, study, deliberation and debate processes. Our ultimate goal has been to catalyze an emancipatory transitional movement towards a new society based on direct democracy, economic democracy, democracy at the social level and ecological democracy. We think that it is absolutely necessary and desirable to keep on developing this work. However, after a series of exchanges with the International Network of Inclusive Democracy and after some months of reflection and deliberation, we find convenient to cease our political intervention as a group during a certain time, ceasing the promotion of the creation of a new emancipatory movement based on the Inclusive Democracy project. In this statement we explain the reasons that brings us to take this decision as well as the form that our activity will take during the next year.
Two incompatible and irreconcilable conceptions
The decision that we announce through this statement is due to our realization in the last months of the fact that the conception of the Inclusive Democracy project in which we believe, that one that GADI Catalunya has always sustained and promoted, differs substantially, in some fundamental issues, from the conception that the International Network of Inclusive Democracy heralds (1), to the extent that they are incompatible and irreconcilable conceptions.
Since we became GADI Catalunya we have understood Inclusive Democracy as a political project defined by general guidelines that mark its emancipatory, transitional and antisystemic character. We consider that these guidelines are expressed in the 10 thesis of the “Our Aims” document (2), which we consider the foundations that every group and activist of Inclusive Democracy in the world should support, promote and apply. In other words, for us, this document is the lowest common denominator shared by all the activists and Inclusive Democracy groups, this document is what defines the basis of the political project and of the emancipatory movement we promote. For us, the fact that they are general guidelines is not an obstacle for them to delimit some fundamental ideas which are the basis to create a new political movement clearly defined and totally distinguished from other approaches.
This general guidelines are extended and justified in the book “Towards an Inclusive Democracy” (Takis Fotopoulos, 1997) as well as in other publications. We have always understood that, even if it is expected that generally the Inclusive Democracy groups and activists have identical or very similar views about various specific issues and that they share most of the analysis exposed in Takis Fotopoulos and other comrades articles, beyond the necessarily shared general guidelines, some analytical, theoretical or strategic differences can arise between the various Groups or Inclusive Democracy Organizations of the world, or between the members of the same Group or Organization. We consider that these possible opinion differences about concrete issues are not supposed to mean any problem. In few words, in our conception it is not necessary that all the groups and activists of Inclusive Democracy promote exactly the same vision about every concrete issue.
On the contrary, for the members of the current International Network, everything that it is published in the International Journal of Inclusive Democracy (3) becomes defining of Inclusive Democracy project and, therefore, it becomes the interpretation or strategy that all the Inclusive Democracy activists need to uphold. In their own words: “When one joins the ID network he/she explicitly or implicitly agrees that TID and subsequent publications published in IJID by members of the Editorial Committee and other members of the ID network, do express an authoritative version of the ID project, as IJID is THE theoretical organ of the ID project” (4). Moreover, as they have stressed in many occasions, by this conception, if there is the case that a group or an activist of Inclusive Democracy advocates for an alternative or contrary view from the one which is published in the International Journal about some specific issue, this group or activist could be expelled from the Network since it could have been “perverting” and “distorting” the Inclusive Democracy Project.
From GADI's Catalunya point of view, the conception that the different components of the International Network advocates for is clearly anti-democratic and totally inconvenient. In first place, it is anti-democratic because it violates freedom of expression of the activists of the movement: once the “correct” vision about an issue is established, the International Network doesn't allow that any activist or group holds publicly an alternative or contrary vision. In the second place, the contents of the International Journal are exclusively decided by an Editorial Committee which is not designated neither supervised by the whole members of the International Network.(5)
However, even if a democratic procedure and structure to decide the contents of the International Journal was established, we consider that this conception remains inconvenient because it seriously hampers and, most like, makes totally impossible, the creation of a worldwide massive movement towards an inclusive democracy. The creation of this kind of movement can only be undertaken starting from some fundamental basis and general guidelines, understanding that everything that goes beyond them is always open to the deliberation and debate between the activists of the movement and that it could be the case that various groups and activists of the movement maintain different opinions about concrete issues, without this being a problem for the unity of the movement. We think that in this way it is possible to create a really massive, inclusive, alive and opened movement. We find the opposite conception, the one that the International Network members are holding, to be harmfully restrictive, undesirably exclusionary and extremely appeasing of the collective thinking as well as of the transformative experimentation. The pretension to establish an only and one “correct” vision about every specific issue and the pretension that the activists of the movement cannot publicly question it and promote an alternative one not only implies the cancellation of the basic right of freedom of expression but also means to clip the wings to the potential emergence of a massive movement of inclusive democracy, relegating eternally this political project to the merely theoretical scope.
For us, the work of Takis Fotopoulos, on the one hand, and the inclusive democracy movement, on the other, should be two closely related but clearly differentiated things. We consider, then, that a clear distinction should be drawn between the Inclusive Democracy project (defined in the “Our Aims” document, as we have mentioned) and the opinions, proposals and justifications related with this project and political movement, whether they are exposed by Takis Fotopoulos or by any other person. In this sense, we think that the International Journal should be a platform to spread ideas and opinions related with Inclusive Democracy all over the world, but in any case the published articles should have a binding character for the ID groups and become the defining basis of this project/movement.
In accordance with this statement, in GADI Catalunya we think that the role of the International Network should be to establish forms of international cooperation for the promotion and dissemination of the ID movement worldwide. As we mentioned before, we don't think that the role of the International Network is to decide and/or to control the strategy and the speech of the groups and organizations from the different regions, as the members of the International Network pretend. Of course, if it was considered convenient, the International Network could make recommendations and, if necessary, denounce or expel groups which really violate fragrantly the general guidelines set out in “Our Aims” document. However, according to our view, in any case an International Network should issue binding resolutions for groups on specific discursive and strategic issues.
Finally, we must mention that unfortunately we have found very negative and antidemocratic attitudes in the International Network. We consider that these attitudes are antagonistic to the values we promote.
In summary, crucial and fundamental disagreements exist between GADI Catalunya and the members of the International Network about the conception of Inclusive Democracy project and the definition of the functioning, functions, structure and attitudes that an International ID Network should have. These disagreements lead us to give up our adherence to the Inclusive Democracy project and to suspend our political action, entering a period of reflection and reconsideration.
We give up our adherence to the Inclusive Democracy project
Given the situation described in the previous section, we could continue the promotion of Inclusive Democracy according to our conception as a distinct conception from the one sponsored by the International Network, although in doing so, they will publicly condemn us for "spoiling" and "distorting" the Inclusive Democracy project, as their members have already announced. As we believe that the fundamental ideas of the Inclusive Democracy project, conceived in the way we explain in the previous section, are valid and extremely important to build a new liberating movement, this would be a reasonable alternative. However, since this option would mean to begin a prolonged and irresolvable public dispute, we can probably find a better solution. A dispute like this would generate confusion, perplexity and disaffection among the people interested in our approach and would substantially undermine our transformative potential. We would constantly drag the scourge of conflict and division. We should always explain that the International Network holds a conception of inclusive democracy that for us is wrong, counterproductive and inconsistent and that we have found in its members a very negative attitude. In a nutshell, to keep on the promotion of our approaches under the name of Inclusive Democracy means striving to create an emancipatory movement based on poor foundations representing these fundamental disagreements with the founder of the project and the current members of the International Network, with subsequent division into two feuding factions designated by the same name. For this reason we find it better to stop temporarily our political action and enter a period of reflection, self-education and reconsideration which surely will get positive fruits. In correspondence with this substantial change of the character and activities of our group we also change our name to become the Group of Reflection for Autonomy (GRA).
One year for reflection, self-education and rethinking
In these times of systemic decline we live in, while the credibility of the old system of domination plummets, more and more people are starting to wake up politically and we begin the outlining of a truly democratic and ecological social building.
Currently, lucid and decisive policy action is crucial. However, to undertake such a political action to undertake successfully the democratic reconstruction of society, we urgently need, above all, to sharpen our ideas, strengthen our abilities, to improve our organization and to develop really radical, emancipatory, agglutinating and multidimensional ideological and strategical basis. In the GRA we will devote to all this work during the next year. In other words, we take a break in our political action not only by the need to distinguish ourselves from the conception of Inclusive Democracy that the International Network advocates for, but we will also take advantage of this necessity as an opportunity to improve ourselves, consolidate us, develop us and strengthen us. In the fall of 2013 we will presumably return to the political action, with redoubled energies and renovated ideas.
GADI Catalunya / GRA
(1) GADI Catalunya, the members of which constituted an important part of the International Network of Inclusive Democracy, announced that they were leaving the net in January 2012. From now on, to refer to this net we will use the expression “International Network”.
(2) This document can be found in Catalan and Spanish in the headland “Project” of the section “Documents” of the page www.democraciainclusiva.org.
(3) The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy it is published approximately every four months in digital form throughout the site www.inclusivedemocracy.org/journal. From now on, to refer to this journal we will use the expression “International Journal”.
(4) Fragment taken from their last letter to GADI Catalonia, on August 1st, 2012.
(5) The contents of the Journal are established by an Editorial Committee that has not been appointed or supervised by all the members of the International Network.
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