cj#248> re: society & governance (thread)

1995-08-13

Richard Moore

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Date: Mon, 31 Jul 1995 21:51:51 -0700
Originally To: "Multiple recipients of list •••@••.•••"
Sender: LECLERC YVES <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: cr-807> -- "Third sector"

On Sun, 30 Jul 1995 Vigdor Schreibman - FINS <•••@••.•••> wrote:

>   The Declaration was unique, as a political thesis.  What other prior such
> instrument do you refer to.

Jurieu, Harrington, Rousseau, Paine...

>   The conclusion (that the current systems discourages participation) is
correct, but an oversimplification.

Agreed. But if you insist, I'll quote to you the entire chapter I wrote
on the subject in "Dead-end Democracy?" -- just don't want to put
everyone to sleep about something which has become fairly obvious.

> The most fundamental motivations of human beings are two fold: a) to
> exercise one's own powers to control the environment in which one exits;
> and b) to participate in some profound way in shaping society
> significantly.

I was not talking of the motivations of individuals, but of those of
systems which frame human actions: government and the free market.
Clearly, they have a direct relationship with basic human motivations,
but are not identical to them. The dynamics of a crowd are distinct from
those of the human beings who make it up. You obviously are aware of this,
but seem reluctant to draw logical conclusions from it.

> The contemporary propaganda system has badly distorted Smith's philosophy.

This is precisely my point. But I disagree that we can correct the
situation by trying to go back in time. So do your, further down in your
message.

> When the third sector begins to
> understand how to facilitate meaningful participation, their power and
> everyone within their domain will rapidly rise and overtake the
> unilateral power system that we now live under.

I hope, not completely. I think we still need some formal government
authority, and to let the market operate in its own sphere. But I agree
that the third sector can help balance the situation and keep the other
two in their proper place. Somewhat like a new version of "checks and
balances".

If I may say so, part of the dysfunctionality of government in America is
that, rather than trying to make it better (as have a number of other
countries), you have done your best to hamper it or even make it
disappear. It seems to me quite evident that, under such circumstances,
it could hardly improve its performance and responsivity.

For instance, I have seen little or no reaction, comment or criticism of Al
Gore's "reingineering Government" proposal, published over 1 1/2 year ago.
It is far from perfect, but it certainly is worth better than total
oblivion.

> You are right about one thing, the answer lies in the third sector, but
> a different kind of third sector that we have ever seen, one that
> encourages and facilitates meaningful public participation.  This also
> requires a different form of leadership, one that gives up individual
> power to marshall the greater power of the community for the general good.

True, except that the "different kind of third sector that we have ever
seen" exists at least in part in countries that don't have the same
hang-ups as Americans do about collective and cooperative action; you
might learn something from them, rather than trying to reinvent *that*
social wheel.

You should try to get in contact with Philippe Herzog and his wife
Claude Fischer, who lead a group called "Confrontations", dedicated to
participatory ideas and creative confrontation as a "third sector"
dynamic force in France. Herzog is a communist member of the European
Parliament, but there are open-minded people from all ideologies around
the table. Phone: 33-1 49.48.11.94

I do think we are closer in our ideas than this seems to indicate.

Yves Leclerc -- <•••@••.•••>
Montreal, Quebec

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Date: Tue, 1 Aug 1995 00:00:09 -0700
Sender: •••@••.••• (John Lowry)
Subject: Re: cj#253> re: CJ agenda...

I liked Joe Ferguson's post.  It was the kind of exercize in reasoning
together I long for when I bemoan the fact that reason is a parlor game.  I
mean reason has become a parlor game, in light of the reality that we live
in a world where might still makes right.  That fact is routinely obscured
by "democratic" gesticulations in support of a grand facade.  But we know
the truth -- the man with the gold, rules.

I especially likes Joe's comments about limiting individula ownership of
wealth, as that is the basic idea behind Plan B, where one of my three
proposals is to tax, at a punitive rate, the owning of more wealth than one
person can reasonably manage.  It seems to me that if we, "the leader of the
free world," can offer a model of participatory self-governance that holds
some promise of actually working, there is no limit to the wonders that
might ensue.  I also agree that a truly comprehensive examination of our
problems might very well cause us to lose all hope, so I reiterate the old
Zionist saying I use to close my essay: "the person who does not believe in
miracles is not a realist."

John Lowry

Plan B -- http://www.mcn.org/mencomnet/community/personals/jlowryplanb.html
or,  Yahoo/Politics/Manifestos/Plan B

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Date: Wed, 9 Aug 1995 09:36:35 -0700
>From: •••@••.••• (Joe Ferguson)
>To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Cartoon Du Jour

    I don't think I've ever told the CJ readership I'm an aspiring cartoonist.
    Here's a description of an idea for an ambitious cartoon that occurred to
    me this morning.  It seems to provide a frame of reference for my difficulty
    in choosing a "side" for myself (i.e., "right" or "left").

    The cartoon depicts a huge landscape.  Far, far away, on the right is a
    fence, to the right of which are a few fat bullies and flunkies manning
    a high-tech arsenal of missiles.  Far, far to the left is another fence,
    to the left of which is a rabble of militants with cannon and small
    arms.  Most of the illustration is a vast field in the center, with
    lots of children playing all kinds of games, mothers and fathers
    feeding and protecing them, people building houses, doctors, musicians,
    artists, industrialists and environmentalists in debate, etc., etc.

    The caption reads "Those in the middle will be under fire from both sides."

    - Joe

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