GENUINE DEMOCRACY: WHAT IS IT?
[Note: This is what is required government-wise to abolish class inequality and prevent it from re-emerging. If you have a better idea how government should be in order to prevent class inequality, write to us and we will publish your opinion with our comment.]
[Please read "How Can Abuse of Power Be Prevented?"]
[Please read "What Makes a Government Legitimate?"]
Genuine democracy is what is described in the section titled "Voluntary Federation" in the page titled "Egalitarianism: What Is It?" It is best referred to as voluntary federation of local assemblies of egalitarians. The following is only a brief summary.
Two key aspects of genuine democracy (a.k.a. voluntary federation) are:
1) It is a democracy of egalitarians. Egalitarians are those people who have the egalitarian values of no-rich-and-no-poor equality and mutual aid and fairness [discussed here], regardless of whether they call themselves an egalitarian or have even heard of that word; in most communities the vast majority of people are egalitarians.
A genuine democracy is not a "democracy of ALL the people" because it denies anti-egalitarians--people who clearly want to keep or re-create class inequality--the right to do that and to participate in the government for that purpose. Note that in today's so-called "democracy of ALL the people" those who want to abolish class inequality are denied the right to do that and to participate (with any success, that is) for that purpose. This is discussed further here.
In real life, governments are organizations that are used for a purpose, just as fire departments are organizations that are used for a purpose. And just as fire departments do not employ arsonists because the purpose of the fire department is to prevent or extinguish fires, not to start fires; likewise egalitarian governments do not give a voice to people who are well known advocates of anti-egalitarian values (e.g., class inequality) because the purpose of an egalitarian government is to shape society by egalitarian values, not by anti-egalitarian values.
2) Only local assemblies of egalitarians in the local community where they live or work can make laws that people in that local community must obey. No higher governmental body can do this. In other words, such local assemblies are sovereign*. A "local community" is a region (perhaps the size of a USA zip code area, for example) large enough to make sense but small enough so that all the egalitarians in the local community who wish to participate in a local assembly meeting can do so, possibly in a large room as people do at large conventions. All egalitarians in the local community, and only they, have the right to participate as equals in local assembly meetings and democratically determine laws and policies, how they will be enforced, and who will be delegated related authority. The reason for this is discussed here. Some historical background on this question is given here.
Order on a larger scale is achieved by voluntary federation of local assemblies, not by a central national or global authority that everybody must obey whether they want to or not (as is the case today.) In voluntary federation, delegates from two or more (typically very many) local assemblies of egalitarians craft proposals (not laws!) that the local assemblies implement only if they wish to do so.
Yes, there is order on a very large scale!
Voluntary federation is just as capable of creating order on a very large--even global--scale as is top-down control based on a commanding central authority; some real-life evidence for this even today is presented here. In fact, voluntary federation of egalitarians (excluding anti-egalitarians!) is even more able to create order on a large scale than any attempt to create large scale order by anti-egalitarians whether by voluntary federation of anti-egalitarians or by some top-down central law-making governmental body. Why is this? It's because egalitarians value mutual aid, not selfish competition; mutual aid is the basis of any positive large scale order, whereas selfish competition undermines it.
Egalitarians are not bossed around by far-away authorities
With voluntary federation of local assemblies, there is no central (national, or world) government making laws that everybody must obey whether they want to or not. Even if the central government's laws were the result of some kind of one-person-one-vote process, it would unfortunately mean that people in, say Wyoming, would be voting about what laws people in, say, South Carolina or California or Massachusetts would have to obey, and vice versa, which is not sensible.
Egalitarians should only have to obey laws that they are able to make in person and as equals with the other egalitarians who will have to obey those laws. This means the law-making body can only make laws for a LOCAL COMMUNITY that is small enough to permit all the egalitarians in it who want to participate in making the laws to meet together face-to-face to do so. The local assembly of egalitarians is the sovereign authority. It can use electronic means to get input from people who don't attend its meetings, but these are only to provide the local assembly information about the views of others.
If the sovereign authority were not a local community body but rather a central government body then egalitarians would be required to obey a governmental body in which they were unable physically (face to face) to participate as an equal with all other egalitarians who would be required to obey its laws. THIS IS A RECIPE FOR ENABLING AN OPPRESSIVE SET OF PEOPLE TO IMPOSE THEIR WILL ON EGALITARIANS BY CONTROLLING THE SOVEREIGN CENTRAL GOVERNMENTAL BODY WITH BRIBES OR THREAT OF VIOLENCE OR DECEIT.
This genuine democracy is what determines what is "reasonable" or not, especially in connection with the egalitarian economy based on the principle of "From each according to reasonable ability, to each according to need or reasonable desire with scarce things equitably rationed according to need."
Democracy "On the Job"
Within an economic enterprise (including, in this context, organizations such as a school or hospital, as well as non-economic neighborhood associations, etc.) at the local community level, the workers (or members) are all formally equals, although some may provide leadership based on respect for their greater experience, knowledge, integrity or commitment to the purpose of the enterprise. All of the workers democratically determine all of the policies relating to the enterprise, consistent with all policies and decisions and laws of the local assembly. Among other things, the workers of the enterprise decide how, exactly, they will democratically make decisions (majority rule, consensus, elected "officers" or otherwise), who is or may become a member of the enterprise or organization and the general and individual-specific conditions of their membership, and all decisions formerly considered the responsibility of "management" consistent with the laws and policies determined by the community's Local Assembly.
Economic enterprises use voluntary federation with other enterprises, both within the same local community and beyond it with those in other local communities, to cooperate and coordinate as they wish, as long as whatever is done in a given local community is consistent with its local assembly's laws and policies.
A worker in any enterprise is always free to quit working for the enterprise and look for a different way of "contributing reasonably according to ability."
What prevents the majority from oppressing the minority?
If a local assembly by majority vote decides to oppress other people or do anything that violates the principles of egalitarianism, then the egalitarians in other local assemblies have every right to:
1) declare that the majority who voted for oppressing people are not true egalitarians, and
2) use whatever force (including violence) is required to stop the oppression (and to use militias for that purpose as discussed here.)
Real Life Examples
To read about how voluntary federation (but not of egalitarians) is used to create order on a large scale in real life today very successfully, even on a global scale, click here.
Some evidence that what we have today is, despite all the trappings of "representative democracy," actually a dictatorship of the rich (a plutocracy) is presented here.
Is Voluntary Federation Anarchism?
Voluntary federation of egalitarians, as described above, has two purposes: 1. create social order that is desired by egalitarians on as large a scale as mutually agreed upon; 2. prevent anti-egalitarians from imposing, or re-imposing, class inequality with its consequent oppression, by using whatever means necessary including, when necessary, force and violence.
When there are a large number of anti-egalitarians who are trying to impose class inequality by all means at their disposal including violence, then voluntary federation of egalitarians will quite possibly rely on violence or its credible threat to defend egalitarian principles.
At the other end of the spectrum of possibilities, when there are virtually no anti-egalitarians, then voluntary federation of egalitarians will rely on virtually no violence or its credible threat and only rely on moral nonviolent persuasion. In this latter case, voluntary federation of egalitarians may be described as anarchy, meaning the absence of a state (with state defined as the organization that has a monopoly of violence or its credible threat within a given region.) But this anarchy is conditional on there being no anti-egalitarians present, which is quite different from unconditional anarchy which makes no sense for the reason discussed here.
* Anybody proposing a system of government cannot--logically at least--avoid stating what exact body of government is sovereign for people in a given region. It is not sufficient to say simply, "The people are sovereign," or something vague like that because this doesn't answer the question: "If such and such a governmental body enacts a law, do people have to obey it and will they rightly be forced to obey it even if unwillingly?"