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Arendt’s Cases of Council Democracy

December 12, 2019

Hanifi Baris (Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, CISRUL)



The seminar will present the results of the first stage of research for a Leverhulme project on “Council democracy as a mode of autonomy: a comparative approach”. The project will focus on experiments of council democracy launched by Kurdish movements in Turkey and Syria, and two indigenous movements, the Zapatistas and the town of Cheran, in Mexico. These movements appear to explore new political possibilities with their emphasis on direct and semi-direct political participation, and rejection of nationalism and national sovereignty, although some form of community sovereignty seems to be invoked. The movements seem to experiment with an alternative form of government that echo Arendt’s arguments about the council system. In his first presentation, Hanifi will summarize Arendt’s arguments on council democracy with special attention to the cases on which she appeared to draw: the town meetings of the American Revolution and local councils of the French Revolution, the soviets of the Russian Revolution, the kibbutzim, Judah Leon Magnes’s vision of Mediterranean confederated states, and Hungarian worker councils of 1956.


December 12, 2019
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Hanifi Barış

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