Social Structures of Direct Democracy

On the Political Economy of Equality


Neoliberalism has pushed capitalism to its limits, hollowing out global economies and lives in the process, while people have no voice. John Asimakopoulos addresses the problem with a theory to practice model that reconciles Marxism, with its diverse radical currents, and democratic theory. Social Structures of Direct Democracy develops a political economy of structural equality in large-scale society making strong empirical arguments for radical transformation. Key concepts include filling positions of political and economic authority (e.g., legislatures and corporate boards) with randomly selected citizens leaving the demos as the executive. Asimakopoulos shows that an egalitarian society leads to greater innovation, sustainable economic growth, and positive social benefits in contrast to economies based on individualism, competition, and inequality.

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John Asimakopoulos, Ph.D., is Full Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York and executive director of the Transformative Studies Institute (TSI), an educational think tank. He has advanced degrees in and has taught sociology, political science, and economics resulting in a unique interdisciplinary perspective. His students include undergraduates and graduates from diverse ethnic, economic, and educational backgrounds who have honored him for over 20 years with the highest teaching evaluations. His research is focused on social movements, critical theory, and international political economy. Asimakopoulos is author of Revolt! and The Accumulation of Freedom. He has published many journal articles, book chapters, and is editor in chief of Theory in Action, an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal focusing on scholar-activism. He is currently working with his colleagues at TSI to establish a new free and progressive university for working class students operated by scholar-activists.
Social Structures of Direct Democracy is a lucid and powerful analysis of the threat that inequality poses to any viable democracy while also providing a brilliant analysis of the mechanisms that make it so savage and unsustainable. But the book provides more than a critique of inequality, it also offers a stirring program for change at a time when democracy is under dire siege. A must read for anyone concerned about the fate of democracy in the United States.
—Henry Giroux, Director Center for Research in the Public Interest, McMaster University, Canada

“Ambitious in scope, timely in content, and rigorous in argumentation and analysis, John Asimakopoulos’ Social Structures of Direct Democracy promises to make a significant and lasting contribution to contemporary discussions in democratic theory and political economy. By combining the utopian ethical ideal of the libertarian socialist tradition with the technical precision and analytic cohesiveness of Marxism and classical political economy, Asimakopoulos offers a fresh and innovative perspective on the present and future of democracy, both political and economic, around the globe. The book deserves praise for its interdisciplinary breadth and critical depth.”
— Nathan Jun, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Midwestern State University

Social Structures of Direct Democracy will undoubtedly make an impressive and timely contribution to the literature. The excellent structure, original focus and critical content will ensure that the book enjoys a broad appeal across a range of academic disciplines, at all levels. Indeed, anyone with an interest in (engaging with) new, wonderfully alternative responses to address the current political and economic crisis should buy this book now!”
— Dr. Richard J White, Senior Lecturer in Economic Geography, Sheffield Hallam University, UK.

“John Asimakopoulos offers a provocative, sharp analysis of matters that are often discussed, but rarely understood, as shaping the larger political discourse of our day. He examines the complexities of movements as well as strategies aimed at winning victories for the working class. His words are certain to change the way you see our potential.”
— Ernesto Aguilar, Editor, Political Media Review

Foreword by Mark Zepezauer

1. Theory, Praxis, and Change
The Ragged Edge of Anarchy: Direct Democracy
Communist Anarchism
Conflict Theory
Why Capitalism Must Always Collapse
The Relationship between Change and Radicalism
Structural Limitations to Change
Insurrection versus Revolution
Does Direct Democracy Require Small-scale Societies
McDonald’s Iron Cage

2. Relations of Authority
The Fraud of Representative Democracy
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
Stealing Democracy Old School
Political Parties
A Path to Direct Democracy
Economic Authority
Political Authority

3. Material Relations
Economic Utilities of Direct Democracy
Relations of Consumption
Resource Use
What to Produce
How to Produce
Can the System Adapt?

4. Social Structure
Culture and Social Integration
Organizing Principles of Social Structure
Institutions and Socialization
Compulsion and Discipline
The Social Network: The Future that Can be Now

Conclusion: No Islands of Egalitarianism in a Sea of Inequality
Afterword by Richard Gilman-Opalsky: What Can Grow in the Graveyard for Orthodoxies?
Undergraduates and graduates, students in social sciences, academic libraries, researchers, activists, Marxists, anarchists, and anyone concerned with social theory, political philosophy, or political economy.