DIRECT DEMOCRACY is a cover for many political goals
ON THE RIGHT…, we get for instance www.directdemocracyuk.com,
the site of the Liberal Democrats in Britain. Or www.realdemocracy.com
- a U.S. site.
Here you find references and links to
-F.A.Hayek (an early pioneer of extreme neo-liberal,
marked-driven economic policies and “rugged individualism” of the kind
which exacerbated the Great Depression) and to the
-Radicals for Capitalism.
And on the SO-CALLED (I.E. AUTHORITARIAN) “LEFT” you find
a curious site like www.directdemocracy4u.org
(Stalinists or neo-Stalinists?) and a few more, probably.
Both camps seek to manipulate people, I think. They usually
seek to use referendums and initiatives for their own purpose.
The Stalinists are a curiosity and wield little influence.
Of more importance is that the “proponents” of direct democracy among the
distrusted political elite that wields power in the political arena are
getting more numerous. We find them among both major parties in states
of the U.S. like California. Among Tories and Liberal Democrats in Britain.
And even people in Sarkozy’s and Angela Merkel’s camp are tending in this
direction. In Germany and internationally, the Bertelsmann Foundation is
actively supporting “direct democracy light” – harmless, watered-down versions
of citizens’ participation that are intended to integrate the people again
into the present political system that the vast majority overwhelmingly
It is obvious that the intention of the political elite
is to limit “direct democracy” to referendums and initiatives. These
are instruments which they seem to think will not veer out of their control
as long as they (or, at any rate, their laws, then the courts and the Constitution)
will define the limits of popular sovereignty.
They will draw up the rules in order to make them just
as toothless instruments of the expression of the needs and wishes of the
common people as the election process has become in contemporary Western
If you care for grass-roots democracy, it matters that
for solutions that will not depend on (or be restricted
by) laws passed by the political representatives of the elites. Or on courts
staffed by judges nominated by the same political representatives of the
elites. Or on a constitution drawn up by the elite with the implicit purpose
of limiting the rights of the people to devise everything anew: this time
not from the top downwards (the so-called top-down approach that reflects
the hierarchical, stratified structure not only of society at large but
of its political sphere).
Instead, in our assemblies, once they are attended by
the overwhelming majority in each community, we can make it happen from
the bottom to no top at all. Because a ruling “top” can be replaced by
many linked assemblies of the people debating themselves, thinking themselves,
finding out what their priorities are. Reflecting things for a time, and
then casting, each woman and each man, their vote in meetings.
WE, the people, will find out in our deliberations what
we want. And how we want it to work, and what instruments are required.
We will find out and debate and devise ways to safeguard
a good society. If the “elites” were incapable of attaining it, perhaps
we, the people, trusting in each other’s basic decency and good will, can
finally attain what today exists in name only: A civil and peaceful society.
A society without the cut-throat competition in labor markets that at present
creates division among the common folks. A society that overcomes the present
turmoil of markets. The destructive neglect of the environment. The contempt
for the value of human lives. And thus the chaos of wars we are perpetually
drawn into. How often, since 1945!!! Because our governments did
nothing to avoid, or everything to start, armed conflict.
Yes, a well-ordered, free and solidary society might become
possible. A society that is better than what we have got. Devoid of many
constraints that needlessly are imposed on the people today. Of our own
free will, we shall be imposing constraints on anything destructive and
harmful to the environment and the well-being and happiness of the people.
Moral constraints above all. An inner sense of shame and the sisterly bonds
to those who like you and me long for a better way of living together will
keep each one of us from needing to be reigned in by too many laws.
We need no specialists for what is essential. We can write
the laws, and they will be understandable to us, the people; they will
express our longings and our needs. And they will not comprise one hundred
pages, or even 400, as is the case with some acts of parliament today.
We can write the constitution. And as we are the 99 per
cent, we can, altogether, write it without harming the people by provisions
that limit popular sovereignty.
What brake is a Constitution put in place at the end of
the 18th century, as in the U.S., when needs have changed, when the situation
and the insight of the people demands a renovation, a new, good solution
What brake is a Supreme Court, staffed by Presidents who
were liars, deceivers, cheaters of the people, and who knew whom they could
put their trust in when they nominated another judge?
What brake can the constitutions written in Europa be
for a population that suffocates under the present political and economic
and ecological situation? And that comprehends, increasingly, the need
for fundamental democratic change.
Who – WHICH MINORITY – can truly hope to disempower the
people WHEN, unified IN OUR THIRST FOR A GENUINE VOICE THAT COUNTS IN PUBLIC
AFFAIRS, and sick of the inability and seeming unwillingness of the “political
class” to deal with the ecological crisis and to put an end to scandalous
and outrageously increasing social and economic inequality and poverty
of the many, WE THE NINETY NINE PER CENT meet together in popular
assemblies. Everywhere. In order to think about, debate and decide a new
course. A different way ahead. Into a better future, a more just, more
equal, more democratic society, made possible by ALL OF US – by a population
that finally sheds off its mental chains of compliance, subservience, obedience