Discussion Questions for Reading Groups

Here are some of the discussion questions that reading groups and individual readers have proposed. Please add your own!
  • Which arguments don’t you find convincing in the texts? Make counterarguments!
  • What examples from your local experience illustrate the difference between anarchistic and democratic models for decision-making and action?
  • How can we use the word “democracy” to inform our conversations around our use of language?
  • In what ways are your personal relationships democratic? In what ways are they anarchistic?
  • Does this text (or series) offer anything new or of interest when it comes to how to live? Does it suggest ideas for new ways of living, within the world as it is and in a future world?
  • In a society that has championed democratic principles as the sacrosanct foundation of freedom itself, it can be very difficult to make a case for anarchistic organizing. Can you think of any examples of people making anarchistic values more comprehensible and convincing than democratic principles?
  • Is there more than one stateless alternative to democracy? Can you identify multiple irreconcilable stateless alternatives to it?
  • Arguably, democracy has spread around the world because it is an effective means of binding people together in formations that concentrate power, regardless of whether this is in the best interests of any the individual participants. Following Foucault, we can say that democracy is not just oppressive, it is productive. We can critique democracy on purely ethical grounds, but this does not equip us to supersede it or to defend ourselves against democratic states or projects. Are there examples of decentralized and autonomous networks that have been more efficient or more powerful than democratic institutions?
  • In what ways do the new social relations we see emerging in the age of social media already fulfill the demand for direct democracy that is just now appearing in the political sphere? In what ways are these relations already post-democratic? Insofar as they are post-democratic, are they all we would want from an alternative to democracy, or are they repressive or exclusive in other ways?
  • David Graeber’s “There Never Was a West” (https://anth1001.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/graeber_never-was-a-west.pdf) is one of the most compelling articulations of how an anarchist might embrace the language of democracy. Compare and contrast it with the arguments and historiography of the texts in the CrimethInc. series.