Orla O’Brian

  A Few Words About 
  Direct Democracy

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
-Paul Jacob;
-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 distrusts.

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 democracies.

If you care for grass-roots democracy, it matters that you work
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 for today?

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 and apathy.




Check: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/2/17/democracy_uprising_in_the_usa_noam


A. Orr on "Autonarchy"

A. Orr, Politics Without


Citoyens du monde

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Démocratie directe (blog)

Beyond Resistance: Direct 
Democracy: An Alternative

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Movement for Direct Democracy
Thoughts on Strategy

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Plutocracy against democracy blog

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Direct Democracy Movement

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Direct democracy Demonstrations 
in Greece

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Direct Democracy in Greece 
& the 2011 Referendum


The Syntagma experiment: 
democracy from the bottom up 

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Joseph Beuys / Organization 
for Direct Democracy 
by Referendum

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Sharon Beder, The Corporate
Assault on Democracy

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K21 (Stuttgart)

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"people of the world, rise up"
Aufruf von K21 zur Demo am 15.Okt.
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Echte Demokratie jetzt

Echte Demokratie jetzt
Aufruf zur Demo am 15. Okt.

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Democracy real YA!

Occupy Wall Street 



                                                                                                 go back to URBAN DEMOCRACY issue  # 7