situation (Conventional paradgim): Industrial democracy
The conventional paradigm is about gaining and wielding power. In fact,
power is often misused. There is an ongoing erosion of democracy
“Corporate influence and lobbyists’ clout run the U.S.
government....Market research (polling) all too often takes the place
of principled problem solving; appealing lies take the place of uncomfortable
truths; backroom deals take the place of public debate.” Democracy
Matters, Cornel West
Judges make decisions that do not reflect the popular will or history
Corruption in government
“The essence of politics...is communication. In today’s
world, however, the ability to communicate requires access to mass media
and this costs millions and millions of dollars....Those who can provide
the money inevitably stand for special interests that do not correspond
to the needs of the people as a whole. When a very small minority controls
access to the means of communication, the politician is obliged to please
one or another of these small groups – banks, for example, or
large business interests of various kinds. So today, more than ever,
the problem of democracy is how to save the people if they don’t
or won’t pay to be saved. The laws that now restrict the amount
of money politicians can get are of no help as long as there are no
laws that restrict the cost of television time. In sum [Jerry Brown]
concluded, democracy in America depends upon bribery. The term ‘bribery’
describes three-quarters of the activities of all politicians in the
US. ‘Democracy depends on control of money.’” Money
& the Meaning of Life, Needleman, 255
questions: Understanding democracy
What is freedom?
What are the elements of democracy (in politics, culture, economy and
What kind of culture and ethics is necessary for democracy?
What are the functions of government? Education, spiritual life, commercial
vitality, cultural stimulation and value....
Do we have 'economic democracy'?
What is the nature of our actual freedom?
Facilitation vs. domination
“Leaders have no business doing what they’re doing
today (making policies and instituting them). Rather, what we need is
leaders who are facilitators of social dialogue. Restoring innocence
involves removing the cruel distinction between inferiority and superiority.”
Mark Clark, Bioneers 2004.
“We were told that salvation would be found in the domination
of a single system. The new model seeks to dismantle power.’ The
kind of power we are seeing should be criminal and unnecessary. What
is happening now is decentralized, universal and singular and unique.”
Paul Hawken, Bioneers 2004
Earth democracy, Radical democracy, and Advanced democracy
Earth democracy, Radical democracy, and Advanced democracy.
Political reform: Elections, public forums, citizen committees, etc.
Strengthen civil society and reclaiming the commons.
Protect the commons
Expand democratic forums
Create forums for the exploration of a diversity of views about
key political issues and controversies. Begin at our school, but bring
these forums to the poor, the marginalized, and the dispossessed. Address
the multi-faceted nature of democracy: our full scope of action depends
on economic freedom, cultural autonomy, and a human-scale urban setting.
Restoring the spirit of democracy and 'political virtue'
“Montesquieu taught us that the spirit of democracy is
political virtue, which he defined as patriotism. In a democracy, it
must be remembered, patriotism means the love that binds a people together,
not the misplaced love of the institutions that dominate the people.
Authoritarian patriotism is a resigning of one’s will, right of
choice, and need to understand to the authority; its emotional base
is gratitude for having been liberated from the burden of democratic
responsibility.” Radical Democracy, Douglas Lummis, 37
It is the vitality and depth of people participating in ways that actually
matter. “America is becoming a nation of emphatically private
citizens—customers and clients who find it difficult to express
coherent, common interests through collective political action. In fact,
Americans have sacrificed something of citizenship itself. Proper citizens
have a collective identity. That is precisely what has been lost in
the era of personal democracy.” Downsizing Democracy, Crenson,
Democracy is eroding. What will we do about this?
Corruption in government. Find items explored
in the 'Corruption Box' of Alaska Humanity News, and other political
situations which have at least the appearance of corruption. Add your
own items by signing onto the
Humanity News site.
Address the excessive and unfair influence of corporations
“Corporate influence and lobbyists’ clout run the
U.S. government.” Democracy Matters, Cornel West, 35
Increasing foreign aid
“Only 0.2% of the U.S. GNP goes to foreign aid—by
this measure America ranks last out of the 22 wealthiest countries in
the world.” Democracy Matters, Cornel West, 117
Restoring political power
The citizen must be ready and able, when his time comes, to
deliberate with his fellows, listen and be listened to, take responsibility
for what he says and does….Deprived permanently of power, whether
at national or local levels, he is deprived also of this sense of himself.”
Spheres of Justice, Michael Walzer, 310