Yawn! That is the predicted response, and understandably given the conditioning from the press, and certain members of our movement:
“I’d rather discuss beating the Tories than who said what in Russia/France/Chile/Greece in 1905/1917/1968/1973/2015 etc”
“Don’t get mixed up with those paper sellers they’re just a bunch of Trots”
“History is dead”
The thing is if you look back at and study history you can see how social trends develop, cultures rise and fall, classes become politically active, and revolutions occur. You can see why different movements succeed or fail and how democracy develops and matures, and the different forms of democracy.
I hated history at school, and probably still would, but reading from those who took part it comes alive: James Connolly, Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxembourg, Clara Zetkin and others.
Bourgeois (1%) democracy is granted grudgingly from above to prevent revolution from below. The ability to vote has been given very recently to non-white (Canada 1960; Australia 1962; USA 1965; South Africa 1994) people and women (Belgium 1948; Greece 1952; Switzerland 1990). It allows us to periodically elect MPs who make laws on our behalf and hold the government to account. Parliament has however been weakened by a tendency to use secondary legislation and minimise debate. It is no coincidence that such weakening of even bourgeois democracy coincides with a widening of the gap between rich and poor and a rolling back of the post-war reforms to the extent that even the NHS is being privatised in front of our very eyes. Atomisation submits individuals to an incessant barrage of anti-worker propaganda through mainstream media and renders them powerless to find the truth, unable to hear the experiences of their brothers and sisters around the country til it is too late.
Workers’ democracy on the other hand is organic, living, borne of the struggle. It is a recognition of what has served the movement and it grows from the grassroots up. Workers’ democracy involves learning the truth from discussing our shared experiences, and hopefully arriving at a decision agreed at by most but in any event decided upon democratically. Leadership arises, and accountability. New activists are supported in learning but are also valued for what they bring. Trust and solidarity are promoted.
Some people are put off but that is due to long boring reports which are better submitted in writing, circulated electronically. Resolutions should also be circulated in advance to allow them to be read – they are often long but should include a description of the situation the resolution is aimed at addressing, a statement of what the writer believes will be the group opinion and a proposed solution. Activity must be discussed and responsibilities clearly delegated.
Worker’s democracy, rooted in the struggle, informed by history, and focused on the goal of a socialist society is never boring or irrelevant until hijacked by bureaucrats or careerists.