Power from Below: Power, Democracy and Socialist Theory
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This dissertation reframes socialist theory through the concept of power. The goal of this reconceptualization is to overcome the main limits of Marxism on issues of usefulness for activists, of accessibility for ordinary people, of the integration of feminist and anti-racist perspectives, and on its relationship to democracy. By building upon the implicit theory of power within the works of contemporary Marxists, such as Ellen Meiksins Wood, Alex Callinicos and G.E.M. De Ste. Croix, this dissertation proposes a new set of concepts that seeks to overcome these limits. By reframing Marxism through a theory of power, we can deepen our criticism of modern societies: the problem is not limited to exploitation, but more broadly tied to inequalities of social power. It allows an understanding of each phenomenon in their specificities, and linking them back to their commonalities, their effect on power inequalities. From there it also unlocks a more precise way of defining the social alternative around the principle of radical democracy. This theory of power can provide tools to analyze inequalities of power in small organization, just as well as the societal scale. Since this theory of power slightly decenters Marxism from the traditional materialist definitions, this dissertation also looks at the question of consciousness and the role of ideas. It proposes to think these questions with the principles of the primacy of practice and the centrality of trust.