Book Review by James Herod (Getting Free: Creating an Association of Democratic Autonomous Neighborhoods, LucyParsonsCenter, first printing edition May 2007)

Inclusive Democracy: Takis Fotopoulos

(Towards an Inclusive Democracy: The Crisis of the Growth Economy and the Need for a New Liberatory Project, by Takis Fotopoulos. London: Cassel, 1997, 401 pages.)


I didnít discover Fotopoulos until several years after the main text of Getting Free was written. His approach is the closest to mine (or mine to his) that I have yet seen in contemporary anarchist literature. He believes in direct democracy, promotes both workplace and community assemblies, and most unusually, outlines a radical epistemology to undergird the whole thing. He describes a voucher system that would facilitate exchange within a community without relying on the market or money.

So I would like to use this opportunity to call attention to his work. In addition to Towards an Inclusive Democracy, over the past ten years or so he has written a remarkable series of lengthy essays on a variety of topics such as revolutionary strategy, post-modernism, education, parecon, ethics, and so forth. This body of work presents a vision of anarchy, the philosophy behind it, and a strategy for achieving it that are more thoroughly examined, in more detail, than by anyone else Iím familiar with. I urge everyone to study his work.

I do have a few disagreements with his approach, however. For one thing, he has not overcome the mainstream divisions of social knowledge, and is therefore always talking about economic and political spheres, as separate things, as economic democracy and political democracy. He also leaves households completely out of the picture. This is a serious oversight to my mind. He hasnít really solved (any more than I have) the problem of the circulation of goods among communities, except to say that this can be arranged through contracts. He believes in founding an international political party, not to seize power, but to agitate for his inclusive democracy vision of revolution. Fine. But wouldnít we be better off with many parties as well as artists, musicians, filmmakers, and journalists all agitating for anarchy? Should we all join one membership organization (party)? I donít think so.

Most seriously, perhaps, he believes in participating in existing local elections. He wants revolutionaries to win these local elections and then set about dismantling the electoral system that brought them to office, establishing in its stead a system of municipal assemblies. Iíve always thought that this was a dishonest approach. Weíd have to lie about our intentions in order to get elected. We couldnít come right out and say that we are going to dismantle the government once we are in power. And even if we did lie, after a case or two of this, towns would wise up and become aware of our real intentions. As I noted earlier, I donít think we can get from existing town governments to local assemblies through the electoral process. We have to strike directly for neighborhood assemblies based on direct democracy. Electing leaders through elections is definitely something that we should firmly denounce and reject.