Majority rule in a state system of representative democracy is not adequate to the meaning of democracy. For CLP, democracy is more the principled form of political practice deployed by the people themselves. Its essential principle is that everybody counts and its practice is centred on the truth that everybody thinks.

Those who take their meaning from the state, insist that democracy means that they should give leadership to the masses – in effect that the masses must give away their political power in order to be represented. This is the basis of representative democracy and, once you are represented, you must return to your place. But a real democracy comes from a living politics when the people are not represented but present themselves; when the real issues and struggles of the life of the people are not sorted out by experts other than the people themselves; when making history and the exercise of power are not given away but remain in the minds and hands of the people. We are reminded of Peter Hallward’s discussion of the “will of the people” during the Fanon Padkos series. As Alain Badiou puts it: “politics begins when one decides not to represent the victims but to be faithful to those events during which victims politically assert themselves”.

A real democracy is a ‘bottom-up’ politics but that does not mean that anti-democratic tendencies are impossible at the grassroots. A radically-democratic and principled praxis must always be maintained through open assemblies and the possibility of rupture from below. We know that even the most militant rupture can degenerate into structures and practices of power over people and lose its real democratic heart. When democracy is thought of as putting people into structures to represent the masses, even in social movements and even if the process of electing appears democratic, it is sliding into the representative kind of democracy and easily allows leaders who trample on the people and on democracy proper. So, here too, it is not organisational form that is decisive but political principle – the axiom that everyone matters.

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