Democratizing Abolition


When abolitionists discuss remedies for past and present injustices, they are frequently met with apparently pragmatic objections to the viability of such bold remedies in U.S. legislatures and courts held captive by reactionary forces. Previous movements have seen their lesser reforms dashed by the white supremacist capitalist order that retains its grip on power in America. While such objectors contend that abolitionists should not ask for so much justice, abolitionists should in fact demand significantly more.

Remedying our country’s history of subordination will not be complete without establishing abolition democracy. While our classical conception of a liberal republic asks us to strike a balance between liberty and security—as if more of one requires less of the other—an abolition democracy acknowledges that people are not free if they are insecure in their necessities. Reconstructing American society into this life- and democracy-affirming order will come only with great effort and cooperation. This Article examines the shortcomings of past attempts at liberation and proposes strategies informed by their lessons. This blueprint for such a transformation calls on us to democratize abolition and inject it into all aspects of our society.