Political representation and democracy are at odds and we need new models to organize politics without relying so heavily on elected representatives. Similarly, capitalism undermines markets, as the rich and wealthy shield their assets and make them untenable for average earners.
Elitism thus undermines both democracy and markets and we need to devise ways to limit the power of professional politicians, as well as the asset holdings of the rich so that the goods they hold can re-enter general markets.
A broad array of institutions and laws have been enacted in different places and at different times to block economic elitism and protect democratic self-rule. This book presents a number of such cases, historical as well as contemporary, where solutions to the problem of political and economic elitism have successfully been practiced. It then compares these cases systematically, to determine the common factors and hence the necessary conditions for ensuring, and protecting self-rule and equal opportunity. This book encourages the idea that alternatives to representative, capitalist democracy are possible and can be put to practice.
Acknowledgements / Introduction / 1: Preparing the Ground / Part I: Theory / 2.Beyond Political Representation / 3. Beyond Capitalism / Part II: Empirical Cases / 4. Classic and Medieval Cases / 5. Anarchism / 6. Religious Communities and Intentional Communities / 7. Native American and Indigenous Communities / 8. Contemporary Western Cases / PART III: Analysis and Synthesis / 9. Learning and Comparing / Appendix/ Bibliography
This is a provocative and wide-ranging meditation on a vital question: What would a society that embodied the vision of the left actually look like? To imagine that future, Bernd Reiter turns to the past, examining twenty-two cases where citizens were able to achieve levels of self-governance and equality that are very far from the reality in today’s elite-dominated societies.
Bernd Reiter is Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies, University of South Florida.