Papadimitriou, Tasos, Saunders, Clare and Rootes, Christopher
Democracy and the London European Social Forum
At ECPR 35th Joint Sessions of Workshops.
07 - 12 May 2007.
Full text not available from this repository.
The issue of democracy is fundamental for the global justice movement, both as a focal point of its critique of the current political-economic configuration of power, and as a principle of its internal organisation. Popular demands for democracy increasingly move beyond the liberal representative model to more radical conceptions that include greater insistence on personal autonomy, individual control over life choices, and direct participation in key decisions which affect people’s lives based on decentralized networks, rejection of leadership and hierarchy, and respect of diversity and subjectivity. Social Forums have recently emerged as important arenas of the global civil society where different notions of ‘another world’ are articulated, challenged and contested. The London European Social Forum was greatly identified with the conflict between ‘vertical’ organisations – that largely adhere to a model of representative democracy and operate within a relatively predetermined set of structures and processes that are firmly oriented towards effective results – and ‘horizontal’ networks of activists that follow more deliberative forms of democracy that that emphasise inclusiveness and quality of communication. This paper, after a brief theoretical discussion of different models of democracy, examines the conceptions and practices employed at the ESF, its preparatory process and the autonomous events that took place in opposition to it, and argues that, contrary to most accounts that have pointed at a democratic deficit, it was precisely this adherence to different models of democracy that consisted the principal source of the conflict.
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