cj#1084> re-2: getting to the ‘democratic renaissance’

2000-04-14

Richard Moore

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Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2000 15:10:13 -0700 (PDT)
From: Joe Ferguson <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: cj#1083> re: How do we get to this 'democratic renaissance'?
To: •••@••.•••

I agree that it is not one perfect system of running things that
we need, but maybe we do need a unifying system of principles.

I think it is the lost art of being able to act on principle
that we need.  I say 'lost art' because of the way the U.S.
government works these days (as perverted by corporate power)
that no corporate crime goes punished unless there is a specific
law written to very specifically say "this act is illegal."  No
principle in say, a constitution, is usable to get a conviction.

The idea of principles is that you can keep them fairly concise.
If you have to spell everything out, you need infinite verbage to
cover the infinite possibilities.

I think it may be cool to try to compose some kind of statement of
principle that could be a guide for the movement/revolution.

The Alliance for Democracy (AFD) has a good mission statement, but
it is sort of negatively formulated around ending corporate domination
of politics, media, culture, etc.  I think people need a concise
statement of how we _should_ live together.  I think it should cover 
rights as well as responsibilities since, for example, once we have 
justice in the world, everybody would have to curtail the exponential 
growth of the population, because nobody's going to feel very secure 
if that's not accomplished.

I have this theory that reasonable people generally want the same
kinds of things -- to live and raise their children in a non-toxic
and non-violent world -- so that I think it may actually be doable
to distill a system of universal principles down to a memorizable
length, even with input from all over the world.  I guess I'm
crazy ...

- Joe

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Dear Joe,

I like your theory - or might we raise it to the level of an
observation - that we all 'generally want the same things'. 
Its something we all know inside, but we forget, and it needs
saying.

As for 'universal principles', I posted something called the
"Sullivan Princples", arising I think from Seattle, which was
bringing together environmental and economic concerns into a
common platform.  This was good because it was finding common
ground and helping develop a movement community.  But one can
go too far in this direction, particularly at this point in
the development of the movement.

You used the phrase 'acting from principle'.  To me that is
not the same as 'acting from _a principle'.  If you emphasize
the _content of principles, then you're talking about systems
of belief and ideologies.  To me, 'acting from principle' is
more a matter of 'integrity' - it means doing the right thing
at the right time and with the right intentions.  And to do
this requires the totality of our knowledge and sensibilitiess.

Did you see Spike Lee's film "Do The Right Thing?"  The
dramatic moment happens just after the cops have chocked a
black kid to death and taken him away in a squad car - leaving
a white shopkeeper to fend for himself surrounded by a group
of understandably angry blacks.  There's a moment of tense
silence, and it seems apparent that the unfortunate dude is done
for. At that moment the main character (played by Lee) steps
forward and starts smashing up the guy's shop.  The energy of
the crowd shifts to vandalism and the shopkeeper is spared.  

Out of the unique circumstances of that moment Lee's character
was able to find the 'right thing' to save a life - and I think
Spike's message is that the 'right thing' cannot be reduced to a
forumla.

best regards,
rkm

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Delivered-To: moderator for •••@••.•••
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2000 21:50:40 -0500
From: Chris Granner <•••@••.•••>
X-Accept-Language: en
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: cj#1083> re: How do we get to this 'democratic renaissance'?

> Diana and Jeff Jewell wrote:

> As to any offense taken by Marxist analysts, while it must
> be acknowledged that they've never rejected democracy, it
> should also be recognized by one and all that communism as
> it has been known in the real world has never had the
> confidence or commitment to actually try real democracy [at
> least not on a national scale].

It's not quite a national scale, but: The people of the small,
lovely South Indian state of Kerela have, since 1957,
democratically rejected, and then democratically reinstated, a
communist government not once but 3 separate times.  An
article in the Atlantic Monthly a year or so ago outlines some
of the difficulties faced by the people of Kerela: the
struggle between the urge to embrace the material prosperity
and promise of jobs offered by the west, and the insistence of
the very powerful and well-supported local labor unions on
maintaining local control over such things as wages (the
secret envy of the rest of India), benefits (Kerela has, among
other things, a 90% literacy rate), and production procedures
(such as organic farming practices and local ownership
requirements).  The people haven't "committed" to communism --
far from it; the "verdict," if you will, is still out -- but
the process is relentlessly democratic.  That Kerela's
"sustainability" coalition (if I may take the liberty of
calling them) can maintain such relative success in the late
20th Century is nothing short of remarkable.

I haven't been to Cuba, and I keep looking around for
corroboration of this site's claim of Cuba's democratic
process (which sounds great by the way).  I've been to Kerela
-- albeit when I was quite young, many moons ago.  I hope to
go back some day, and I hope it's as beautiful and charming as
when I was there last.

I wonder -- if most of us lived in a place like Kerela, with
the kinds of social and environmental benefits they seem to
enjoy, would WE vote to allow foriegners in to take over our
industries and livelyhoods?  As Peter Drucker would ask, if
Globalization didn't exist, would we feel the need to invent
it?

May you be Happy, Healthy, Safe & Serene,

-cg

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Dear Chris,

Thanks for a very informative message, and I like the way you frame
the question about globalization.  For one thing, it helps illustrate
how far our societies are from anything resembling democracies.  Would
we invent globalization?.... how about "Would we invent 30,000 nuclear 
warheads?", or "Would we invent plannned unemployment?", or "Would we
turn health care over to profit seekers?"

Kerela offers a postive answer... "Here's what we would invent!"

thanks again,
rkm

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Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
email: •••@••.••• 
CDR website: http://cyberjournal.org
cyberjournal archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/
book in progress: http://cyberjournal.org/cdr/gri.html

                A community will evolve only when
                the people control their means of communication.
                        -- Frantz Fanon

                Capitalism is not the same as free
                enterprise - it is a very specialized
                ideology which holds the accumulation
                of wealth as the only economic value,
                and which demands that such economics
                dominate all other societal values.
                        -- rkm

Permission for non-commercial republishing hereby granted - BUT 
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