One Reply to “Video: Murray Bookchin “The Forms of Freedom” San Francisco, 1985”

  1. Not wishing to challenge Murray Bookchin’s enthusiasm for ‘communes’, I do want to challenge the historical perspective presented in these videos.
    In Athens the members of the city democracy were the elite: no women, no commoners, no labourers, no slaves.And of course, the elite would vote for themselves.
    The formation of communes in France starting 1789 was an act of revolutionary resistance to the Crown and the aristocrats. Many communes wanted to organise their municipal guards for protection from the Royalist forces. With the National Convention dominated by different groups at different times, the communes found themselves in conflict with the Royalists, the Catholic Church, as well as the parties of government. During the period of Jacobin dominance, the communes were deprived of any power and became agents of the government to register births, deaths and marriages. These functions had been done by the Church and priests in the church before 1794. The communes remained in conflict with the Church.’Direct democracy’ was not part of local communes in France.
    The soviets , or workers’ councils, in Russia in 1905 were conceived as direct democracy, with worker elected delegates.County soviets elected the delegates for the National Soviet. The soviet councils were developed at a time of increasing violence by the Royalists on the one hand and the Revolutionaries on the other. These Civil Wars were followed by the First World War. The workers and their families would have been much more concerned about survival than ideology during this period of continuous war. Even the wars were over, the communist party was not happy to hand over power to the soviets. Matters were arranged so as to guarantee that the soviet councils always represented the policies of the Communist Party. The soviets were agents of the Government; direct democracy was not part of the local soviets in Russia.
    Furthermore,the people in Europe 1939 to 1945 onwards, were more involved in getting through ‘austerity’and rebuilding their families and getting paid work. In the UK the government was bankrupt and hoping for aid from the USA. Communities in Europe had to get over the acts of civil annihilation carried out by National Socialism in Germany, in Italy.
    The evidence suggests that the ideal of government by commune was held as part of social conflict and not in times of peace. Always the central government made sure the local government, whether communes or soviets or municipalities, did as they were told.

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