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They Can't Represent Us!: Reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy

How the new global movements are putting forward a radical conception of democracy.
Mass protest movements in disparate places such as Greece, Argentina, and the United States ultimately share an agenda—to raise the question of what democracy should mean. These horizontalist movements, including Occupy, exercise and claim participatory democracy as the ground of revolutionary social change today.

Written by two international activist intellectuals and based on extensive interviews with movement participants in Spain, Venezuela, Argentina, across the United States, and elsewhere, this book is an expansive portrait of the assemblies, direct democracy forums, and organizational forms championed by the new movements, as well as an analytical history of direct and participatory democracy from ancient Athens to Zuccotti Park. The new movements put forward the idea that liberal democracy is not democratic, nor was it ever.

Reviews

  • “This book is written as a clear-eyed study of what the great popular uprisings of 2011, from Greece and Spain to Egypt to Occupy Wall Street have in common, and what movements in Latin American preceded them. But it might as well be a manifesto, a pamphlet like Common Sense or The Rights of Man or The Communist Manifesto, because it announces the failure of the centuries-long experiment of representative democracy and defines some of the characteristics of these direct democracies that have arisen in the ruins. It's a fierce book, a hopeful book, a brilliant book, and a necessary book, in this age when libraries are also arsenals of direct democracy.”
  • “The most substantial and comprehensive work on workers’ control and self-management today.”
  • “The movements documented in this volume succeeded in shutting cities down through tremendous shows of force. And when you shut down a city, you can actually stop capital accumulation … Until we start building a truly democratic society, we will continue to see our good ideas co-opted by capital.”
  • “Sitrin and Azzellini not only analyze what activists are doing but also let us hear what activists are thinking. The multitude of voices they gather here demonstrate the extraordinary wealth of theorizing in movements, particularly regarding democracy, and how activists engage creatively with political concepts and problems that are both abstract and concrete. This book clarifies some of the primary challenges facing movements today and helps us see paths beyond them.”
  • “... it's inspiring stuff, politically and intellectually, while the personal accounts vividly bring to life what it is like to be a part of what Sitrin calls 'everyday revolutions”

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