Written By: Bill - Date published: 11:21 am, December 30th, 2013 - 165 comments
Categories: community democracy, democracy under attack, democratic participation, political alternatives, Politics, social democracy, vision - Tags: capitalism vs democracy, democracy, participation
How about if I was to have a right to meaningfully engage in processes of decision making, roughly to the extent that potential decisions flowing from any deliberations would impact me? And of course, you’d get to exercise the same level of deliberative power for discussions or proposals that would affect you. A simple ‘rule of thumb’ would suffice for determining any individual’s appropriate levels of input, no? So, if something had nothing to do with you (or me) and would not impact on you (or me), then it follows that we would have no right to participate in any deliberations or discussion around that decision.
Pretty simple this democracy malarkey, then - fairly basic and doesn’t require any fancy or extra-ordinary intellectual prowess ‘to get’ or to put into practice.
But just to labour the point of how simple it all is, here’s some examples of how democracy works. I get to decide what shoes I wear today…not you…not the guy next door; just me. The people of a community affected or possibly impacted by some proposal for a new building in their locale get to raise any issues they may have concerning its construction and decide on what happens …not some stranger in some far off location… not some bureaucrat mired in a world of rules and regulations; just them. On larger and broader impacts, such as a coal fired power station or a nuclear power plant being built in our environment, then we all get input insofar as such propositions would, if brought to fruition, affect us all in one way or another. ( note - examples of this last type would be almost unthinkable in a democracy and never see the light of day. But I’ll leave it there.)
Obviously (but I’m going to spell it out anyway), democratic participation can’t be geared along the lines of some appeal to traditional forms of authority. That would be insanely counterproductive in a democracy.
So, based on that, we can state that in a democracy I can have no right to seek to confer on any other, any right to exercise power over you. Likewise, you simply cannot and do not have any right to impose on me any exercise of power by any third party either. None.
If we did assume such a right, then we’d be creating external authorities that’d take advantage of an implicit right to exercise power over people who may have had no say, or only an inconsequential say, in not only who exercises power but on how they exercise power and on how much power they can exercise.
And that brings us back to the present where any ‘rule of thumb’ for determining individual levels of participation in deciding upon matters that affect us has been effectively amputated. As a result, we are subjected to power, as opposed to being the rightful and democratically empowered wielders of power…
Now, if you believe that our social democratic system of governance has any democratic credentials at all, then would you please answer me this – “Where exactly is the democracy in this ‘social democracy’ that appears to be neither socialist nor democratic?”
That’s not some piece of bullshit I’m putting out there just to piss you off on the back of a reasonably held assumption that if you’re reading this, then there’s a fair chance that you’re a social democrat. It’s a question that deserves attention. Just consider the likes of Russell Brand or Jeremy Paxman who, privileged celebrities that they are, echoed commonly held sentiments when they, each in their own way and to differing extents, decried the state of ‘social democratic’ governance. Stupidly and dangerously though, they – well, Russel Brand in particular – shut the door on democracy as a potential basis for future governance.
It was an odd thing to do. See, I know that we and those who preside over us and our society jump up and down and shout about democracy often enough. But we simply don’t have any.
Regardless, neither Brand nor Paxman, nor any number of disenchanted fellow travellers it seems, can perceive that obvious reality and so call for democracy to be rejected – meaning that they can only be advocating for some form of authoritarianism. What they should really be calling for ( and probably would if they engaged their brains for a second) is a rejection of this social democratic governance system that masquerades as democracy as well as insisting that we shift to democratic means of governance.
Like I said at the top of the post, democracy isn’t a difficult concept to grasp and it doesn’t require specialist knowledge or years of education to be practiced – in fact, illiterate and uneducated people can ‘do’ democracy just as well as the most scholarly…it’s a great leveller in that respect. Which leads me to wonder then, why aren’t people (like you?) who claim to align themselves with democratic ideas and ideals insisting on it at every turn and railing against all the non-democratic and anti-democratic systems and structures that stand so obviously behind this thin façade called social democracy?