Only Those Without Democracy and Freedom Need To Be Told They Have Them


In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack we have been inundated with reminders from our 'leaders' of how glorious our society, our civilisation, is. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity - these are the principles which supposedly animate our political life.

But only those who aren't free, and don't live in a democratic society, need to be told they are free and live in a democratic society. To those who are free, it is obvious. Billionaire Denis O'Brien knows he is free. We, au contraire, have to be convinced. And real democracy is a way of life, it is not something hard to spot.

We want a society where liberty, equality, and solidarity, aren't just words, but are the ubiquitous and palpable features of every day life - that is to say anarchism.

In our society, Democracy is like a marble statue in an art gallery. It is dead and motionless, put on a pedestal, you view and admire it, then go home and don't take it with you. The professionals will curate it - return to your plebeian wont.

We are far more used to being sanctimoniously told by politicians and journalists that we live in a democracy than we are used to spontaneously feeling that we live in one. It's a great soundbite, but what does it even mean?

Unfortunately the word has come to describe top-down aristocratic parliamentary systems, with no mandate, no recall of politicians, and infrequent participation reduced to merely choosing rulers and ratifying pre-made proposals. While Ireland is democratic compared to North Korea, that's not much to be proud of.

Somewhere strangers are making decisions that shape your life, and you're not invited. Over there somewhere, in that castle called Leinster House perhaps. But remember that it's your fault you're apathetic. Reportedly it's of the utmost importance which professional liar you select to rule over you.

And this is not to mention that our economic system is anathema to workplace democracy. With private property comes private tyranny, a strict division of order-makers and order-takers. 'Just quit' doesn't cut it when a minority class monopolises the means of subsistence.

And this leads on to freedom. The more free time we have to freer we are, but there's no method in capitalism for us to come together and decide we want to work less (like the 15 hour work week Keynes promised us almost 100 years ago). The inhuman logic of the market determines our fate. The machine does what it does, and what we want doesn't seem to figure.

We can't be free under wage slavery, renting ourselves like parts of a machine so others can make a profit. Even though there is enough for all to live a decent life, we sacrifice our individuality chasing money to keep the bills at bay.