Internal Democracy is First Priority

part of Post-ISO Reflections: Essays and proposals on democracy and organization

Internal debate in an organization is not a distraction.  There may be things going on in the greater political world which warrant attention.  However, democracy is actually more important than those.  Socialism should really be imagined as a massively-expanded form of democracy.  This means democracy is not a side issue, but the first issue, actually taking priority over everything else.  This includes internal democracy in your own organization – this too deserves priority as the first issue, because ourselves having a working knowledge of democratic process is key to being able to spread it.

Sometimes “prefiguring” or practicing a better form of social organization is not possible without a transition of power.  For example, communes might not work very well until everything is turned into a commune, ie until socialism is established at least nationally if not regionally or globally.

However, though socialism cannot be practiced by a socialist group, democracy can.  In fact it’s necessary that we practice it.  If we seek to democratize the other groups we work with, we actually need to know democratic process so we can teach it and spread it.  If we don’t know how to raise proposals from the floor with a chance of them actually being heard and carrying the floor, then how can we expect anyone else to behave similarly?  How can we tell them to do something we don’t even know how to do?  How do we tell people to establish democracy in their workplaces if our own is clumsy and we don’t have a very good grasp on procedure for actually bringing issues to a clear, crisp, and fair vote?  Of course the best education in something is to learn it by attempting it.

One thought on “Internal Democracy is First Priority

  1. Mostly agree. I think some groups can spend way too much time debating their rules every single week. Things like time limits on speeches or number of times to speak in any one meeting. Once those things are agreed, give it at least a few months before they get revisited. Part of the tedium with Occupy was its obsession with procedure.

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