Deciding for Ourselves

Deciding for Ourselves

The Promise of Direct Democracy

Cindy Milstein


  • Description
  • Author
  • Info
  • Reviews


This book addresses the general sense of hopelessness that many are feeling these days about the inadequacy of existing political and economic systems to deal with the crises we face. Deciding for Ourselves doesn’t simply offer theoretical solutions, Milstein has located concrete, on-the-ground social experiments around the world and solicited writing from their founders and participants outlining what has and hasn’t worked.

Although not recent enough to be a comp title, the collection of essays by Murray Bookchin, published posthumously by Verso in 2015, The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy is the closest predecessor to Cindy's book. Cindy was a student of Bookchin and is consciously carrying on his legacy, by locating and promoting actually existing examples of ordinary people creating directly decomrcatic institutions and cultures in the shadows and interstices of decidedly undemocratic situations.

Bookchin's idea have been adopted and put into practice by Kurdish people in Rojava and other places (you may have seen newspaper accounts of anarchists heading over to northern Syria to fight with the Kurds). Cindy's book covers Rojava and much more including:

  • San Francisco Cherán, an indigenous municipality in the Mexican state of Michoacán that drove armed loggers and corrupt police officals from their lands and have established their own forms of indigenous governance that replaced state and federal authorities.
  • Christiania, a "free city" within Copenhagen, where abandoned military barracks have been squatted since the 1960s by a commutiny of artists, left-wing radicals, and dreamers who have declared their autonomy from the capitalist ncity around them, with its own constitution, consensus-based democratic structure, and unique blend of urban and village-based community life.
  • In Greece, the occupied factory VioMe and the refugee and migranthousing occupation known as Notara 26.
  • And more!