The crucial point at present is that by creating a political order in which equals rule themselves by way of representative and accountable government, democracy sets the conditions under which we can pursue other valuable things. In freeing us from the dominating gaze of omni- present politics which characterises authoritarian orders, democracy supplies social conditions in which we can devote our individual and collective lives, at least in part, to projects and ambitions other than politics. In other words, because we are political equals, we can build relationships beyond our political roles and see one another as something in addition to political actors. As equal authors of a shared political order, we can exercise authorship of our nonpolitical lives by cultivating valuable relationships with others – relationships of creativity, support, fidelity, love, and care that have little if anything to do with politics.
In a previous post, I refer to this whole process as conviviality instead of anarchy even though the ideas converge. Anarchy conjures up too many discordant messages and that is why I select Illich's term, conviviality. The term conviviality suggests a more positive of non-political, cordial, friendly social and cultural tradition.
Nonetheless the anarchist tradition does have intellectual merit. A journal article entitled Beyond Electoralism: Reflections on anarchy, populism, and the crisis of electoral politics is a good example of research in the anarchist tradition. In the first article they write that Schneider (2017) argues:
The bulk of anarchist tradition has sought for people to be better organised in their everyday lives—while they work, where they live, how they manage disagreements. This type of power emanates from below, and it is shared. Anarchists aspire to a kind of world in which the Donald Trumps among us can shout all they want but nobody has the need for flocking to them. Real, daily democracy does not leave much room for quite so much greatness.’ (emphasis added)
This basic model of local control, to the extent possible, is also referred to as subsidiarity. Conviviality is different than subsidiarity. Subisidiarity is more of a governance principle that means, to the extent possible, a higher order of government should not impose itself on the prerogatives of a lower order. Conviviality actually begins from below and the only reason there is a higher order is through consent of that community and not the other way around. The political movement of conviviality is from the particular to the universal rather than the reverse. Politically, this means that the overarching order needs to be broken apart and divested so that the local community can thrive. This is not so radical as it sounds. Thomas Jefferson argued similarly.
What this looks like in practice is difficult to programmatically assert and sketch out as there will be varying and diverse forms that organically grow. This organic process, as in natural ecology, provides inherent organization principles that keep people together. As we grow and evolve our consciousness increases and we co-construct the principles and the tools that will help us. The key point is the tools (medicine, education, etc) should be deployed as close to the people as possible as opposed to enshrined in big institutional bodies that invariably become involved with capitalist and neo-liberal ideologies.
A concrete example of the foregoing is from Democracy Now, A People’s Vaccine? Drugmakers Set to Profit from COVID Vaccines Made with Publicly Funded Research. Big pharma currently profiteers from these developments instead of ensuring that these technologies (vaccine and therapeutics) are accessible and available to people from below. A good quote below from Amy Goodman illustrates the point:
Last week, drug giants Pfizer and Moderna reported their vaccines are almost 95% effective. The new vaccine manufactured by Oxford-AstraZeneca could be easier to distribute than the others because it does not have to be stored at ultra-freezing temperatures. It could also be cheaper because AstraZeneca has pledged not to make a profit on it during the pandemic, and agreed to price doses at about $2.50 each. The Associated Press reports Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20 a dose, while Moderna’s is $15 to $25, based on the companies’ agreements to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government. As many as 14 billion vaccine doses would be required to immunize everyone worldwide.
Corporate watchdog Public Citizen says the vaccines belong to the people, as Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines relied heavily on discoveries from research funded by taxpayers, who actually paid twice, when the Trump administration also gave Moderna an additional $1.5 billion to secure doses in advance.
To be continued...