Democracy and/or Voluntary Slavery

Democracy and/or Voluntary Slavery. Twenty Five Theses

1. It should be a truism that democracy, the rule of the people, cannot exist without the actual people, not their supposed representatives, ruling.

2. The ability to (self-) rule is not predicated on skills or knowledge but on character.

3. The people cannot rule without being people who are of independent mind and behaviour, inwardly free and self-active, i.e. people who refuse to be mere followers.

4. Voluntary slavery, the blind belief in leaders, is inversely proportional to independence of mind and behaviour, i.e. strength of character.

5. Strength of character, or lack of it, is often developed in response to the traumatic experience of abuse, disconfirmation or non-validation, especially in the character-forming stages of infancy and early childhood.

6. The potentials for voluntary slavery and strength of character are both equally present in human nature across time, genders, classes and cultures.

7. Even a slave can be inwardly free while a formally free person can inwardly be a slave.

8. Although external conditions have a determining influence on which of these two human potentials will be the dominant one on a cultural level, the individual is always, in principle, free to choose between the two no matter what the external conditions.

9. Leaders need followers and followers need leaders: they mutually reinforce each other in stultifying positive feedback loops that can never lead to freedom.

10. The only ‘good’ leaders are those anti-authoritarian ones who work to get rid of themselves by helping facilitate the emergence of inner freedom and self-activity in their fellow citizens.

11. The evolution of human psycho-history can be read as a spiralling double movement of progression and regression in which there is continual conflict within and between people between the forces of authoritarianism and anti-authoritarianism, voluntary slavery and freedom, infantile dependence and adult independence.

12. In the broadest of brush strokes, the evolutionary spiral of human psycho-history can be read as a double movement of individuation and globalisation developing from pre-modern, tribal ‘collective self’ through modern, industrial, competitive ‘ego’ to post-modern ‘self-in-relationship’.

13. Each of these stages is neither ‘better’ nor ‘worse’ but both necessary and inherently ambivalent: tribal self is both warm and supportive and narrow and xenophobic; modern ego is both independent and inner-directed and competitive and alienated; post-modern self-in-relationship is both relational and flexible and narcissistic and other-directed.

14. The majority of the world’s people now adhere to the pre-modern (collective self) and modern (competitive ego) stages of individuation.

15. The positive side of post-modern ‘self-in-relationship’ is the emerging potential overcoming of the great historical separations between self and other: individual and collective, tribe and stranger, humanity and nature, city and country, male and female, secular and sacred, ego and Self.

16. ‘Self-in-relationship’ is inherently self-active, non-hierarchical and democratic since it is the same communication of, and with, difference within the individual that pertains externally within the workings of a truly democratic society.

17. At the present historical moment majorities in most countries seem to be clinging, or restricting themselves, to their narrow self-definitions as voluntary slaves and passive consumers of political, military and economic spectacles made by and for the ruling elites.

18. At the same time, disillusionment with the alienating spectacle of representative democracy has reached all time highs in many countries and international surveys have found people generally becoming more critical of hierarchical organizations and less accepting of authority in all areas including family, workplace and politics.

19. The dominant (both social democratic and neoliberal) discourse of the ruling elites and their media seeks to maintain their hegemony and keep people in their place as voluntary slaves by distracting from or blocking their listening to their own internal and free potential. The two chief means used here are the stick of fear and the carrot of bread-and-circuses.

20. Like the switch from the 1950s to the 1960s in the West, or from the 1980s to 1990s in Eastern Europe, this hegemony can change at the drop of a historical hat when complex objective and subjective conditions shift into the configuration of a new zeitgeist of radical dissent, disobedience and democratisation.

21. Grassroots, direct democracy is learned by doing it, often in fighting for one’s perceived interests and/or in resistance to perceived moral failures of the ruling elites.

22. The ruling elites have morally failed on all fronts and our own survival interests are now manifestly threatened by them on all fronts.

23. The power of the ruling elites over us is largely a function of our continuing belief in, and obedience to, them, i.e. our own voluntary slavery.

24. Mass consent and legitimacy make up the ruling elites’ Achilles Heel.

25. Reality is inherently surprising. Stay tuned.

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~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on November 30, 2010.

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