Political systems

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vijayjohn
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Political systems

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-10-20, 3:30

I've seen a few people over the years talk here about what kinds of political systems they favor or would like to see more of, and I've seen a lot of talk about how some political systems don't seem to (or no political systems seem to) really work. However, I've also noticed that we only ever seem to talk about certain kinds of political systems, so I thought maybe we could use this thread to take a step back and look at all the different kinds of systems that actually exist (or have existed). I've been curious for a while as to whether it's possible to combine some of the advantages of different systems, in particular, whether it's possible to improve democracy using aspects of systems we don't usually pay much attention to.

Here's just my own vague understanding of three kinds of political systems I haven't seen much (or any) discussion of so far, just to get started:

Panchayat systems. This is the oldest system of local government in South Asia, basically made up of village and community councils. My understanding of the way this system works is that basically, an individual or a representative of a village or town can voice a concern in a public forum headed by the village elders, who moderate the resulting discussion (as they believe is needed). Each panchayat has a leader who takes the discussion into account to come to a decision meant to resolve the issue. In India today, this is the lowest-level form of administration that exists, and the leader is elected by popular vote; affirmative action (known in Indian English as "reservations") also plays a role in determining the leader. Roma have a legal system that is similar in many ways.

Amazonian hunter-gatherer systems. My understanding of the way this works is that in some Amazonian societies, while there may be a person known in European languages as a cacique or chieftain, this person is not necessarily a leader or authority (maybe they're just the oldest person in the village or something, I'm not sure). These societies are relatively egalitarian ones where everyone in the community has a say, and all decisions are made by consensus; this is possible in large part because Amazonian communities tend to be small in size. Food is shared with the entire community, and the entire village may be invited to share it at the cacique or chieftain's house.

The Iroquois League. This is apparently another form of local government by consensus that I've always been very poor at understanding. As I understand it, it is basically a confederation of tribes (the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee tribes, to be more precise) where each tribe is represented by a certain number of chiefs. Women traditionally have considerable power in the League.

What do you think about looking at these and/or other alternative political systems? What are your views on the systems themselves? Are there other kinds of political systems you're familiar with and would like to talk about? Do you think it's a good idea to look for ways to incorporate the advantages of such systems into some of the biggest systems (e.g. democratic or communist states), or are there ways that some of the biggest systems could be modified in ways that you find more feasible?
Last edited by vijayjohn on 2017-10-20, 6:52, edited 1 time in total.

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md0
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Re: Political systems

Postby md0 » 2017-10-20, 5:56

There was a series on the Iroquois confederacy on Youtube, I think by 'Extra Credits History'.

Another similar system was early kibbutz, zionist collectives in pre-Israeli State Palestine.

I think the main parallels in all those groups are:
* consensus democracy, or at least direct majoritarian democracy
* community-based, small in size
* free association and confederalism

An optional for would be community-ownership of resources and production, which is not as straight forward because most examples are pre-industrial and that makes quite a difference.

The EZLN in Chiapas, Mexico is definitely basing its political system of those traditions, and late Bookchin's Communalism and Libertarian Municipalism look like formalisations and industrial/post-industrial updates to those traditional systems.
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vijayjohn
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Re: Political systems

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-10-20, 15:32

Thanks! I took a look at a few YouTube vids on the Iroquois Confederacy. I know embarrassingly little about Zapatistas/Neozapatismo for someone who has probably done research (and taken a seminar) with one before.


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