Essay in Agonistic Assemblies. On the spatial politics of horizontality, edited by Markus Miessen, interrogated by Charlotte Malterre-Barthes (a collaborative project by Cultures of Assembly, UniLu & HARVARD GSD), Sternberg Press, 2024
By recognising that the governance systems we are calling “democratic” are in fact elected oligarchies, this opens up a path to building and transitioning to genuinely democratic institutions—to a new democratic paradigm of participation, representation by lot, and deliberation. The idea of democracy as deliberation, and democracy entailing equal rights and power, are widespread and at the heart of democratic practices in indigenous communities and many non-Western cultures as well. As Jay Griffiths wrote in Wild, “accepting that there are different ways of knowing, different ways of speaking, is the beginning of democracy.”
In this essay, we reflect on how our current spaces for democracy reflect that the institutions were in fact established with an oligarchic intention, and how new spaces for an alternative democratic paradigm could draw inspiration from historical and contemporary spaces that reflect genuinely democratic principles of openness, participation, and deliberation.
The book can be preordered directly over at Sternberg Press.
Team: Claudia Chwalisz (DemocracyNext), Amelie Klein, and Vera Sacchetti