By David Van Reybrouck
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Extra info for Against Elections: The Case for Democracy
The last time we saw such vehement anti-parliamentarianism in Europe was between the wars. Because the First World War and the crisis of the 1920s were commonly seen as the outcome of nineteenth-century bourgeois democracy, three leaders inveighed bitterly against the parliamentary system: Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler. Nowadays it is often forgotten, but fascism and communism were originally attempts to make democracy more vital, based on the idea that if parliament was abolished, the people and their leader would be better able to converge (fascism) or the people could govern directly (communism).
The results are of great significance: The most important finding that emerges from our project is that what is shared across different types of protests, actions, campaigns and initiatives is extensive frustration with formal politics as it is currently practiced. The terms ‘angry’, ‘indignant’ or ‘disappointed’ are an expression of this frustration … German society is far less affected by austerity measures than other European societies … Yet, despite the relatively positive situation in Germany, there is a striking public display of subterranean politics in Germany just as in other European contexts.
It didn’t lead a strike (a real one, that is) or a sit-in, or a blockade of a recruitment centre, or a takeover of the dean’s office. The IWW free-speech fights of a century ago look positively Prussian by comparison. With Occupy, the horizontal culture was everything. 41 Dutch sociologist Willem Schinkel adds: ‘Occupy is in a sense the simulation of ideological resistance. ’42 Occupy demonstrates the malaise more than it suggests any remedy. Its diagnosis of representative democracy was correct, but the alternative was weak.