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Building Power to Change the WorldThe Political Thought of the German Council Movements$
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James Muldoon

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198856627

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198856627.001.0001

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Freedom as Collective Self-Determination

Freedom as Collective Self-Determination

(p.52) 2 Freedom as Collective Self-Determination
Building Power to Change the World

James Muldoon

Oxford University Press

This chapter proposes that Anton Pannekoek espoused a particular conception of freedom that is distinct from both the dominant liberal and republican views of liberty. Pannekoek understood political freedom as a political community’s ongoing struggle against forces of domination and the experimentation with new practices and structures of governance. I call this view of liberty ‘freedom as collective self-determination’. Pannekoek shared the concerns of republican political theorists for combatting structures of domination and the influence of foreign powers. Yet in contrast to most neo-Roman republicans, he identified the bureaucratic state and free market economic relations as two of the principal sources of domination in modern society. He also believed that democratic participation was essential rather than auxiliary to a proper understanding of freedom. To be free, for Pannekoek, meant to actively participate in a political community, to play some direct role in shaping its laws and character; and to influence the direction of its ongoing transformation. This was a conception in which freedom must be exercised rather than enjoyed as a state or condition. This view of freedom contributes an important perspective to our understanding of freedom understood as a practice and constant struggle, which is obscured by purely negative accounts.

Keywords:   freedom, liberty, collective self-determination, autonomy, domination, Anton Pannekoek

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