Yes, we can!
We, the people – the North American revolutionaries
of 1776 said when they referred to themselves and all the colonists who
joined the uprising against the king in London. Against the ruler.
On the one hand, the people – on the other
hand those who rule the people. Who cheat it, exploit it,
carry out measures the populace rejects, level unjust taxes.
Or collect taxes in an unjust way, taxing the poor overly
and almost exempting corporations. For instance.
Today, in Spain, where thousands, no tens of thousands
take to the streets in Madrid, where similar numbers fill the Catalonia
Square in Barcelona, where people join the movement for more democracy
(for real democracy, yes!) in many cities, we hear the assembled
pronounce that they want to express the indignation and the grievances
of “the people.” They – these large numbers of young and old citizens who
fill the central squares of the cities so that no inch of the pavement
seems to remains empty – are party of the citizenry, part of the people.
And they invite all the people to join the debate about the problems of
the countries. The cause du peuple, die sache des volkes,
the true cause of the people is what they have at heart.
They are awake, committed, indignant, but at the same time constructive
– hoping to bring about positive change, No, not they alone, all by themselves,
but together with you and me. With all the people – you, too, whether you
agree with them or not. They don’t pretend to have all the answers, the
recipes. They are just ready to reflect problems, to identify the
tasks ahead of us. And AMONG THEIR PRIMARY CONCERNS ARE THE DEFICIENCIES
OF HE PRESENT DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM. A system of representation by a caste
or “ class” of professional politicians who give us the tacit impression
that they don’t want to be disturbed and molested and plagued and nauseated
by the ordinary citizens and their desire to be heard, their quest
to have a real say in public affairs. In matters, after all, that concern
every one of us directly.
There are those among the “orthodox left” who resent that
the “indignant” protesters in the street express their suspicions with
regard to all politicians and all political
There are the supporters of the two big political parties,
the Conservatives and the Social Democrats who feel they are the main targets
There are the old, fascist believers in General Franco’s
dictatorship who only see “chaos and anarchy “ threatening the country.
Anarchism, to them, is everything that doesn’t identify with their militarist
conception of “law and order.”
The orthodox left even resents the use of the word “people:”
Those who desire emancipation, should speak of “class”, they think. These
critics may well assume that all these people in the street lack “class
consciousness.” And indeed, the protesters try to be inclusive: they don’t
want to exclude anyone. They don’t want to speak for every one: THEY WANT
EVERY ONE TO SPEAK.
And they know that today, the majority of the people has
not learned to speak in public. That the powers that be don’t
want the ordinary people to be awake and committed and really concerned
citizens, speaking in public and demanding to be heard in public. For instance,
But shouldn’t we make it clear that public debates should
be broadcast on television? And if they let you, the shop steward,
the salesman, the typist, the girl working in a supermarket, speak on television,
it should not just be for 20 televised seconds, in a statement selected
and edited by a journalist who knows how to suppress what the “rulers”
don’t like to hear in the “mass” media. The media that speak to the “masses”
– and almost never let us, the “masses,” be heard…
Yes, it matters to be inclusive. Some of those in the
movement, and outside the movement – “orthodox” Leftists very often – never
learned that in practice. The squabble about programs. About “a correct
undertanding” of “theory”: they know how to split. Even among themselves.
And still we need their knowledge, their input, their contribution. Perhaps
they can learn from some of us how to listen to others. How to be more
As for the dedicated conservative Christians among the
ordinary citizens who support the Conservatives (the Partido Popular; a
self-proclaimed people’s party), the people in the street will perhaps
like to point out to them that many dedicated Christians, among them members
of Justitia y Paz, have joined them and indeed are very active and committed
participants in the Democracy Movement.
Perhaps ordinary Christians active in the PP should also
be inspired by the movement and put pressure on the PP leadership to make
their party more faithful to the example of Jesus, rather than faithful
followers of neo-liberal dogma?
And quite generally, do not ordinary members of the two
big parties (but also of other parties) have every reason to push for internal
democracy in their parties – which is conspicuously lacking?
In other words, in many ways, all of us should share a
concern about a conspicious lack of democracy.
In other words, there is no need to antagonize each other.
Of course, all the critics of the Democracy real,
ya! movement are part of the people, too. If they are not
part of the rulers, the self-proclaimed “elite” that appropriates everything:
the decisive control over the productive wealth of the country and the
decisive political influence (or power). It is these people who do not
want to share power. To release their hold on it. To see you and me empowered.
We can learn from each other. We, the people. We can listen
to each other. No one possesses the “absolute truth.” No human soul is
The critics of the democracy movement share perhaps one
basic conviction: THAT THE PEOPLE IS IMMATURE. That it needs a guardian
or guardians. That without guardianship or tutelage, it will only cause
Well, at the core of it is the skeptical assumption
that man is fundamentally evil. No, evil or stupid. Or both. And this permanently,
in a fairly static and unchangable way. It is an anthropological assumptions
that in the West is rooted in the old Christian myth or dogma of “original
sin,” the first sin of Adam and Eve that is passed on from generation
If that were so, if we, the people are permanently and
intrinsically incapable of governing ourselves, of participating truly
and fully in the decision-making processes that affect our very existence,
our daily lives, to which strange race do our masters, today’s governing
politicians (and their ‘experts’) belong if they – as an “elite”, as masters
– may consider themselves fit to rule? Isn’t this poor arrogance? And to
what strange race do the decision-makers in the executive offices of Lehman
Bros., of J.P. Morgan, of the Santander Bank, of UBS and Deutsche Bank
belong, if they don’t want us to meddle in their affairs, if they are infallible
and we are “stupid,” if they just want us to pay for the cost of the financial
crisis they have caused but don’t want democratic transparency and democratic
control of what they are doing?
This does not mean that “the masses can’t err.” But perhaps,
to some extent, as long as they don’t opt for fascism and genocide, they
have the “right to err” when they engage in democratic debate and democratic
We should trust ourselves and our neighbors. We should
never lose that amount of skepticism which is instilled in us by a knowledge
of the crimes humans have committed, as rulers and ruled, throughout history.
Man, indeed, is capable of being stupid, selfish, cruel.
And he is capable of being friendly, of being altruistic,
of even sacrificing his life trying to save lives.
We see it every day. It is not a myth.
We should have trust in the democratic desire of more
and more people to actively participate in the democratic process, and
to help solve the problems humanity and the planet faces today.
And yet, monarchs, an entire aristocracy, the ecclesiastical
hierarchy of the Catholic Church, all have considered themselves able rulers,
guardians and shepherds of the stupid sheep, the people.
ALL OF THEM HAVE RESENTED DEMOCRATIZATION – AND THEIR
“HEIRS” STILL DO.
If we have flaws, if man is all but perfect, we all share
THERE IS NO INTRINSIC REASON TO LIMIT THE SAY OF THE PEOPLE
IN PUBLIC AFFAIRS TO THE RIGHT TO VOTE EVERY FOUR YEARS, WITHOUT BEING
ABLE TO HAVE ANY DIRECT INFLUENCE ON THE DECISIONS THEIR “DELEGATES” WILL
Let’s change it!
Yes, we can.