Democracy in tribal communities

Lecture by Jan Sowa

The contemporary parliamentary-democratic regimes with their inclusive political rights and the participation of all citizens in power are often regarded as one of the most important achievements of modernity, and thus a proof of our supremacy over dark and unenlightened past. Contrary to this belief, however, there are numerous theories and anthropological studies which indicate that the anti-hierarchical, egalitarian and democratic organization of power is a very old invention of humanity. Democracy seems to be rather an eternal practice of mankind, the exception of which are the states that appeared in the history of humanity relatively not long time ago, because just after the Neolithic revolution; their history constitutes only 10% of the history of Homo sapiens. Following up on from such classic anthropologies as Pierre Clastres, James C. Scott and Marshall Sahlins, we will examine how could have it looked like – and it looks today – democracy in tribal communities.