- Capitalism and Alternatives -

The Democracy Discussion

Posted by: Krasny ( Internationale, All Countries... ) on January 13, 19100 at 11:41:17:

In Reply to: Yes, and? posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on January 12, 19100 at 16:48:31:

[thread snipped - K Said:]

: : *That's one thing you have to hand to the Founding Fathers: the relatively peaceful transition of political power and the seperation of powers. This is what has come to be seen as 'democracy.'

: SDF: When in fact it's a limitation on democratic power, to protect the elites from the rest of us, it's all explained in Hamilton, Madison, and Jay's THE FEDERALIST PAPERS.

*I disagree. At least *insofar* as the seperation of powers and the peaceful transition of power goes. I believe having a constitutionally recognized independant judiciary is a good thing and has served to limit the power of the executive and legislative branches and has overseen the peaceful transfer of power for the most part... understand, I'm not saying it is 'democracy fulfilled'; it's what people have come to see in this country *as* democracy and I would say that it works pretty well - for a political-economic paradigm whose ultimate aim is the domination of one class over all others... which is why it must be overturned (same for me BTW once there is a "worker's state". States are all about the suppression of one class by another.) but let's not throw the baby (seperation of powers in a civil government) out with the bath water here. This concept will prove equally useful and beneficial in any socialist government *and* it will arguably be even more important than it is now.* --K

: : However, democracy as a national political process (where the choices are between candidates from one or the other wing of the single corporate party - the Republocrats) is very different from democracy fullfilled.

: SDF: Define "democracy fulfilled," the way you are using it here. "My party wins the election" is one definition, what's another?

*I was trying to draw a distinction between democracy as an ossified political process (which in the case of the US I believe is more akin to 'democratic oligarchy') and democracy as a social movement: vital, intense, and 'on the move' as it were. Please be patient... I've only been writing in English for 20 some odd years or so...:)* --K

: :
: : Social movements (labor, civil rights, peace, etc.) are IMO the best possible expression of democratic sentiment. People need to perceive that there's something to push up against.

: SDF: Groovy. My question really wanted to address HOW social movements occur, though, HOW we actually have expressions of democratic sentiment in the world. So we continue reading:

*Actually, if I may suggest... that single line, "People need to perceive that there's something to push up against" is it for me. It's all about perceptions. When African Americans decided to sit at those lunch counters and march on Selma and had the police dogs and fire hoses turned on them and the rest of the country saw this, finally, the nation *as a whole* 'got it.' So too today, I can describe (unfortunately) the abuses suffered by immigrants in the fields in this country today: the barbed wire enclosures, rapes, deaths and disease caused by no potable water, no toilets, pesticides dumped on workers while they are in the fields (this happened 18 times in 1999 alone and affected hundreds of workers with no access to health care)... but the *fact is* unless and until those workers are prepared to do more than light candles to Cesar Chavez and put their own plight in the spotlight, no one else is really going to get it. So... I would say that agitation is the most important work for the garnering of a social movement... great work, but the pay sucks.* --K

: : Yet in a country like the US where a middle class exists which has the 'freedom' to consume goods and services, own homes, and pro-create, that isn't likely to come about on its own.

: SDF: True. So what will allow a social movement to come about? Sure, people protest and march and write letters, but they don't do so "naturally," and it isn't necessarily effective. The "combination of workers" isn't necessarily or naturally or automatically "revolutionary," to borrow a turn of phrase from the MANIFESTO.

: So how is a social movement produced? This is the reason why I framed my questions in terms of the "democratic life of the people".

: Thanks for responding, Krasny.

*No worries mate. I guess I believe it is unrealistic to think that others are going to get off their arses and get a movement going if those who have the most to gain/lose are not prepared to lead the way by example and show a willingness to take risks. I know it's what is holding back the labour movement in the US today.* All the best --K

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