Now is the summer of our discontent

from ‘What does Democracy Look Like?’:

“These new democratic forms do not ask governments to be more democratic. They are inherently outside the framework of institutional power. Democracy is not possible as long as it is linked to a form of exchange based on hierarchy, inequality, oppression and exploitation. People cannot be physically or emotionally free as long as capitalist hierarchies and structures determine those things that are most fundamental to our work and lives. Capitalism and democracy are incompatible. This is not to oppose reforms, but it does mean, for example, that instead of proposing legislation or getting behind a candidate who is against foreclosures (as one is supposed to do in a representative “democracy”), the movement disrupts foreclosures and occupies people’s homes so they are not evicted. In Greece, hospitals are being occupied so that people do not have to pay the newly imposed cost of healthcare. Sometimes these actions change laws or modify rules, but the point is to create new ways of relating—not looking to institutional power but instead creating power.

The creation of this power does not accept the value system of capitalism, where the market determines the worth of a person’s house or health. The movement refuses to participate in that logic. Our logic, grounded in prefigurative forms of democracy, is to take care of one another. This is a different value system, one based on solidarity and real democracy. These relations break with capitalist production and create new values. The movement accumulates not capital or surplus but affect and networks of solidarity and friendship. This new value is seen on the subjective level, in the change in people and their relationships with one another, but also concretely, in new ways of surviving and helping others survive based on these relationships.”