A STRUCTURE OF THE NEXT POLITICAL REVOLUTION|
Federal Information News SyndicateSaturday July 4, 1998 (Updated Saturday, 30 September 2006)
Communicating the emerging philosophy of the Global Information-Age
A STRUCTURE OF THE NEXT POLITICAL REVOLUTION:
The end of capitalism & triumph of democracy!
By Vigdor Schreibman
Our worthy ancestors have overthrown the Pharaohs of Egypt, the Church of heavenly Earth, the Feudal Lords and Monarchs of Europe, the slave plantations of America, Global Colonialists, Fascist Dictators of Western Europe, Latin America, South Africa, the Philippine Islands, Indonesia, and Japan, and the Communist Dictators of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. All fell by the unvanquishable power of the People! Now we await the transformation of savage Capitalism, which is written in its self-destructive structure.
Hieronymus Bosch. The Creation. c. 1504-1510.
Grisaille on panel. (220 v. 97 cm).
Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. In the collection at Olga's Gallery.
If we give attention to the history of civilization, perhaps, we can learn from the forces of evolution and revolution, which lead from the ancient Pharaohs of Egypt to the post- modern global corporate CEOs and the history now being made. Politics are changing in character again and again but the compelling question remains the same: "shall the change be without plan or method, or is this the guiding moment?" 1
In prehistoric animism everything was fundamentally settled by the heavens, turning like a great wheel of life and death, in a cyclical mode with neither beginnings nor ends. As Henri- Charles Puech says of Greek thought in his seminal book, Man and Time: "No event is unique, nothing is enacted but once...; every event has been enacted, is enacted, and will be enacted perpetually; the same individuals have appeared, appear, and will appear at every turn of the circle."2
Then, a century or two after the beginning of the second millennium B.C., according to the narrative of Genesis in the first book of the Torah, the Jews heard the voice of God,
from the land,
from your kindred,
from your father's house,
to the land that I will let you see.
I will make a great nation of you
and will give-you-blessing
and will make your name great.3
The momentous shift embraced by this biblical command was from a world in which everything was settled to a world in which everything was open to change. Going forth out of bondage from the land of the Pharaohs of Egypt, the Jews were to find, says author Thomas Cahill, "a new way of thinking and experiencing, a new way of understanding and feeling the world, so much so that it may be said with some justice that theirs is the only new idea that human beings have ever had."4
Nevertheless, while the Jews "went forth," this journey was without a plan or method for the betterment of humankind. In addition, more than three millennium were to pass before fundamental reform of the dogmatic religious and institutional order of Christianity was set in motion. Church ideas were influenced by the teachings of the celebrated Greco-Egyptian mathematician, astronomer, and geographer Ptolemy, (Claudius Ptolemaeus, fl. 2d cent. A.D.). Ptolemy represented the earth (a globe in form) as stationary in the center of the universe, with sun, moon, and stars revolving about it in circular orbits and at a uniform rate.5 The Church envisioned itself as the spiritual authority of this heavenly center of the universe. The Judeo-Christian ethic remained unconvincing during this period of more than three millennium.
Ptolemy's universe and Christian dogma, arising out of it, were profoundly challenged with the publication in 1543, by Nicholas Copernicus, the Polish father of modern Astronomy, of "De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium," (On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres).6 The Copernicus revolution of heavenly spheres was based on deductive reason alone, however, which was slow to be acted upon. A scientific revolution in astrological knowledge, which also marked the beginning of science itself, had to await the publication in 1632, by Italian astronomer and physicist, Galileo Galilei, of his book, "Dialogue on the Two Systems of the World." All the previous work, all the observations, theory, and fighting against dogmatic concepts were brought together by Galileo.7
The Catholic Pope reigning at the time of publication of Galileo's masterpiece (Urban VIII), was insulted by Galileo's findings. The threat this work reflected upon the power of the Church, was significant and the situation brought Galileo before the Inquisition on charges of heresy. He was forced (under threat of death by burning!) to renounce any views that were at variance with the Ptolemy findings of the Earth as the center of the universe.8
Galileo's greatness was finally admitted, in 1979, by Pope John Paul II, and the Church also later expressed regret for the suffering that was caused to Galileo, "from men and organizations within the Church ... insufficiently informed of the legitimate autonomy of science." This reconsideration of the case of Galileo was at the occasion of the one-hundredth anniversary of Albert Einstein's birthday. A commission was appointed at that time to reinvestigate the 350-year-old case of Galileo, which recognized, "the profound harmony that can exist between the truths of science and the truths of faith."9
The medieval feudal organization in Western Europe (A.D. 476-1450), and the mercantile economic systems of the following period (A.D. 1500-1800), were marked by religious wars and State action controlling the economy of the major trading nations.10 Meanwhile, the bloody struggle for supremacy in the Church and between the latter and the English Monarch, which had engulfed the world since prehistory, undermined both the authority of the Church and the Monarch.
All these economic and political systems collapsed as the seeds of free enterprise capitalism were planted in the world based on private ownership of the means of production, in which personal profit can be acquired through investment of capital and employment of labor. Capitalism is grounded in the concept of free enterprise, which argues that government intervention in the economy should be restricted and that a free market, based on supply and demand, will ultimately maximize consumer welfare. These principles were most notably articulated in Adam Smith's treatise, The Wealth of Nations (1776),11 although, as pointed out below, Smith was not as sympathetic to unfettered capitalism and limited government as some now suggest he was.
Capitalism had existed in a limited form in the economies of all civilizations, but the joint stock company that gave rise to modern corporate business organizations, date from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Capitalism's modern importance dates at least from the Industrial Revolution that began in the eighteenth century. Capitalism replaced the spent feudal and mercantile economic systems, and filled the void left by the corrupt regimes of the Church and English Crown, while bankers, merchants, and industrialists -- the bourgeoisie -- began to displace landowners (the largest of these being the Church and Crown!) in political, economic, and social importance, particularly in Great Britain.12
The United States of America was founded under those conditions, as the foremost capitalist nation, with three principal founding Acts: Continental Congress, Declaration of Independence, in 1776,13 and the US Constitution, in 1787, augmented in 1791, by the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution).14
By those founding acts the authority of the English King over the American Colonies was terminated, and the doctrines of the Church were separated from the civil law of the State. It was the intention of the founders that the United States would be a republic, with a capitalist economic organization and democratic political organization, in which it is presumed under the Constitution that, "all power derives from the people."15
James Madison envisioned that a strategically placed minority of property owners would assert primary political power, much like the aristocrats of the old world they hoped to replace. This he assumed would be the case because in the natural course of social interaction it would be, "less probable that a majority of the whole [people] will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such motive exists it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their strength, and act in unison with each other."16 Protecting the faculties of acquiring property was accepted, according to Madison, as "the first object of government."17 Nevertheless, Madison also expressed the view that, "It is essential to such a government, that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government, the honorable title of republic.18 (accent in original).
Expressing a more egalitarian vision of republican government, Thomas Jefferson stressed his aspiration for "popular control pushed to the maximum of its practical exercise."19 This meant that in local affairs, which Jefferson described as "elementary republics of the wards," he espoused the idea that, "every citizen should be an active part in government." At county, state and national levels, Jefferson expressed the view that, "recourse must be to the representative principle, but responsiveness to the will of the people was essential in all cases."20
The shifting sentiments regarding minority and majority rule expressed by Madison and Jefferson, were not static. Madison radically changed his mind about government of the majority, as chronicled by Robert A. Dahl, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Yale University in his fascinating examination of the question: "How Democratic Is the American Constitution?" 31-37 (2001). At age 36, when Madison arrived in Philadelphia in 1787, fear of the majority informed his ideas about constitutional government, which was designed to check popular majorities. In 1821, at seventy, Madison would have turned sharply in the other direction. The mature and experienced Madison, of 1821, would have done more to facilitate majority rule. By the time Madison was 82, in 1833, he was a fully confirmed advocate of "the will of the majority" as the "vital principle of republican government." Nevertheless, Democracy in America after more than two centuries, brings into serious question the choice between minority and majority rule. This choice underscores the contest between winners and loosers, all but disregarding the pursuit of truth and equal justice, while missing the spectacular opportunity offered by meaningful dialogue facilitated by technology to overcome debilitating human constraints and facilitate the most dynamic, integrative princple in human relations. I discuss this opportunity later in this essay.
The scheme for existence that evolved from prehistory brought forth: first, liberation of the spirit of humankind to "go forth"; and second, establishment of scientific knowledge as the basis for a valid worldview free from irrational religious dogma. However, the journey forth must be disciplined to be sustainable, we are not born free, as Benjamin R. Barber writes:
In real life, as every parent knows, children are born fragile, born needy, born ignorant, born uninformed, born weak, born foolish, born dependent -- born in chains. We acquire our freedom over time, if at all. Embedded in families, clans, communities, and nations, we must learn to be free ... citizens have to be made.21
Moreover, knowledge itself, derived from science and technology can increase the power of organizations, divide the citizenry into haves and have-nots, and may be used to betray and destroy, or it may be used to bring us long life. But even in this regard, as Sigmond Freud acknowledged, "what good to us is a long life if it is difficult and barren of joys, and if it is so full of misery that we can only welcome death as a deliverer?"22
Missing from those two fundamental innovations in human civilization has been any plan or method formulated by and giving concrete substance and direction to the collective will of the People. This is the vital source of our wisdom. Nor did the founders of the United States say, in the absence of a plan and method sanctioned by the Constitution, how the "essential" conditions for republican government that they envisioned, would actually be secured. President Lincoln tried to explain these weaknesses in the governing structures of the United States in these wholly unconvincing terms: "the compromises of the Constitution were a natural struggling of the flesh, unable to live up to the pure spirit of the nation's Idea."23 The severe gaps in the plan for the America civilization were palpable. They are now destroying the nation!
Indeed, the shortcomings of capitalism were recounted even before the Copernicus, "Revolution of Heavenly Spheres" (1543), and Galileo's, "Dialogue on the Two Systems of the World" (1632). Sir Thomas More offered sharp criticism in Utopia, a slim, humorous book published in 1516. Among the grievances advanced by More, were the capitalist practices, which cause unemployment, barbarous punishments for theft, the conversion of arable land to pasture, the unequal distribution of property, and the unhappy state of society.24 More's arguments were the precursors of the continuing stream of grievances against savage capitalism during American history, which I have summarized previously.25
Adam Smith recognized the critical role of civil authority in organizing its powers as a stabilizing force to assure the happiness of the People. In his treatise on "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" (1759), Smith reasoned that, "The character of men, as well as the contrivances of art, or the institutions of civil government, may be fitted to promote or to disturb the happiness of the individual and of the society." And he admonished that, "The fatal effects of bad government arise from nothing, but that it does not sufficiently guard against the mischiefs which human wickedness occasion to."26
In the late 20th-century and early 21st century we have experienced the very mischiefs that Smith predicted of corrupt government and big business working hand in hand to defeat the democratic aspirations of the People. This is the realization of the decadent vision of "market fundamentalism" described by various well regarded authors: See e.g., Joseph E. Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, The Roaring Nineties 302-303 (2003); Arianna Huffington Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption are Undermining America (2003); and Kevin Phillips, Wealth and Democracy (2002), This condition is once again leading to the day when, as Lincoln foretold, the "money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."27 Indeed, George Gilder, a prominent contemporary commentator on telecommunications, urged members of Congress -- successfully it now appears -- to open the way for a new Robber Baron era and make way for the "monster models" of the telecommunications industry.28
A democratic sentiment expressing the will of the people has not been heard from in the last half century as an organized movement. The Democratic Party leader Lyndon Johnson was the politician of the "left" who invented the political financing mechanism now in general use: taking money from corporations to pay for the political campaigns of candidates, paid back with public resources by elected officials at a rate of 1000 to 1!29
Since the administration of President Ronald Reagan, the corrupt political mismanagement of the public affairs of the nation following the Johnson doctrine has involved many trillions of dollars. This included e.g.30:
the $2 trillion GNP shortfall from David Stockman's supply side cabal and "rosy scenario" tax give away;
the $2.3 trillion 1980s arms buildup to counter the Soviet Union's non-existing plan "to gain military superiority over the West";
the $400 billion S&L deregulation bailout;
the $300 billion information technology boondoggle;
the telecommunications reform contract of 1996 with 100 American corporations, for a new Robber Baron era.
Public thievery and chicanery of the American establishment have soared during the Administration of George W. Bush. For example, higher payroll taxes increased revenue for the Social Security Trust Fund during the Clinton years, but this revenue was placed in the Government's General Fund, where it could be "borrowed" by the Government to pay down the burgeoning national debt inherited from the Reagan years, resulting ultimately in a huge budget surplus. When George W. Bush came into office, he immediately raided the trillion dollar Trust Fund that produced the budget surplus. This was simply given away as a trillion dollar tax break for the super rich, leaving the Trust Fund hanging on thin weeds. Bush then tried to explain with another pack of false and misleading statements, in his State of the Union address, on February 2, 2005, backed up by an army of Republican Party spin doctors, how the Social Security Trust Fund disappeared. This was intended to "lay the groundwork for defaulting on almost two trillion dollars worth of US Treasury bonds" that were dedicated to assure liquidity of the Social Security Trust Fund.
All the talk in Bush's moribund Social Security reform plan was about the expected bankruptcy of the Fund: "The fact is Social Security will go broke when our young workers get ready to retire.." What was covered-up by the Bush cabal and the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, with their deaf-dumb-and-blind-media-supporters, was the truth about the great Trust Fund robbery: the indubitable fact is that the trillion dollar budget surplus that was given away as a tax break for the super rich was all derived from the stolen Trust Fund revenue that without a rollback of the trillion dollar tax giveaway the Government is now unwilling or unable to repay .
The Supreme Court of the United States, in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978), granted constitutional protection for campaign financing by corporations under the First Amendment and opened the door for wealthy corporations to grab control over the main channels of political discourse by cable, radio and television through an unregulated "soft-money" loophole that has led to, "a meltdown of the campaign finance system," according to a 1998 Senate Committee Report. This situation has severed the election of the United States Government from its root: wealth was specificly debated and rejected as the basis for organizing the American government, to secure the supreme role of the people as the vital core of the election of a national legislature and establishment of the Constitution, at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. William Peters, A More Perfect Union 32, 41-46 (1987). Twenty-five years after the Supreme Court deceded First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, with the nation engulfed by deeply disturbing examples of corruption or the appearance of corruption related to campaign contributions, the US Congress has sought to plug the soft-money loophole, and regulate "electioneering communication" (i.e., cable, broadcast, or satellite communication), by approval of The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), 116 Stat. 81, (a.k.a., the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law), upheld in the main in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, 540 U.S. 93, 129-130, 224 (2003). Title I regulates the use of soft money by political parties, officeholders, and candidates; Title II primarily prohibits corporations and unions from using general treasury funds for communications that are intended to, or have the effect of, influencing federal election outcomes. The Court expressed the conviction that Congress has the power as a matter of self-protection, "to confine the ill-effects of aggregated wealth on our political system," with the caveat that they were "under no illusion that BCRA will be the last congressional statement on the matter."
The lack of will and ability to maintain sustainable life on the Planet has also produced The Tree of Biospheric Destruction. Complementing the meltdown in political and business morality, and the collapse of ecological sustainability, during the period of the past half-century following the end of World War II, the United States has more and more engaged in wars of aggression and a return to barbarity in foreign relations.
Photograph of Nobel laureate Harold Pintor 2005
Courtesy of Nobelprize.org
In the Nobel lecture given by Nobel laureate Harold Pinter with regard to the 2005 Nobel prize for literature, Pinter made dramatic and terrifying reference to the deplorable existential state in the United States. This is what he said: "The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them."
This monstrous development pattern of the United States has not reached its nadir. The worst is yet to come. The economic delusions of capitalism -- going from bubble to bubble -- have always had their ups and downs since the origin of capitalist stock markets. Kevin Phillips explains in American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (2006),
The evidence of the last four centuries is that financial innovation and intensity regularly breed debt-and-credit crises, burst bubbles, and the like. In his still unsurpassed 1978 study, Manias, Panics, and Crashes, Charles Kindleberger listed two dozen between 1920 and 1974-1975. Their parenthood was principally Dutch, British, and (later) American, because these nationalities dominated global finance, central banking, markets, and trade during those years. The first modern financial mania collapsed in 1720 (the South Seas bubble) and the most recent, the high-tech (Nasdaq) bubble, splattered between 2000 and 2002. K. Phillips, American Theocracy at 286.
The last bubble burst gave birth to a new phenomenon, significantly enlarging prospects for the ultimate global financial meltdown. We now have the "serial bubble" new bubbles deliberately pumped up to forestall the crash of old bubbles. There is now the credit bubble, the mortgage finance bubble, the hedge-fund bubble, and the systemic liquidity (money-supply) bubble, explains Phillips, infra at 284. American financial innovation has established the monster capitalist delusion: ever expanding credit for everyone, the new financial services colossus, all produced on freshly printed paper managed by the central bankers, virtually without new value building fundamentals! Appropriately enough, Duncan MacDonald, a lawyer for the most pernicious Citibank, told The New York Times in 2004, "I didn't imagine that some day we might have ended up creating a Frankinstein." The New York Times, Nov 21, 2004.
These monstrous conditions are the natural outcomes, on the one hand, of the bizarre and terrifying leadership style that is inherent to the attempt by Republicans and conservative Christians, well documented in American Theocracy at Ch. 7, to destroy the constitutional separation of Church and State by an integration of politics, radical religion, oil, and unrestrained borrowed money. Over and over again Americans have experienced the resulting politics of unreason that attends the Administration of George W. Bush, particularly with regard to the disastrous Global Warming problem and War and Peace in the Middle East. Mr. Bush appears unable to apply the principles of reason about any vital issues, brushing aside all criticism and advice of Democratic adversaries, Intelligence Agencies, Republican friends, and allies alike. This behavior may be understood as a function of the poignant nature of religious consciousness, which
springs from some internal source of self-knowledge, which acknowledges no superior, bows to no authority, yields to no demonstration, and is governed by no law; it ignores reason, defies argument, and is unaccountable and irresponsible to all human tests and standards; it is a law unto itself, and its scrupples, and its teachings are not amenable to human tribunals, but rests alone with its possessor and his God. See e.g., People v. Stuart, 7 Cal. 141, 143 (Cal. 1857); Miller v. Miller, 41 A. 277, 280 (Pa. 1899).
In the technological civilization there is a high degreee of change in relevant knowledge. Much of what we believe is stupid or obsoledge, placing a special premium on avoiding irrational dogma that cannot be sustained in practice, through an emphasis on development of creative intelligence. Religious and economic fundamentalism are disastrous for the technological civilization. This may be explained by the extant Frankinstein syndrome: the dismissal of how things really and truly are described by modern knowledge and science, in an Adminstration described by Bob Woodward, in his third Bush book, Denial of Reality (Simon & Schuster, September 30, 2006) as "clueless, dishonest, and dysfunctional." The last historical parallel for this situation, writes Kevin Phillips, "was in the early seventeenth century when the papacy, with the agreement of inquisitional Spain, disciplined the astronomer Galileo for saying that the sun, not the earth, was the center of our solar system. American Theocracy at xv.
These monstrous conditions are the natural outcomes, on the other hand, when citizens of a very great democracy delegate to their Government, immense power for public decision-making, without well defined purposes and responsibilities that solidly serve democratic sustainability. The dire threat posed by such conditions was especially recognized by two of the greatest political leaders of the United States: the first Democrat Thomas Jefferson, and the first Republican Abraham Lincoln.
This form of irresponsible government is a symptom of the chronic failure to encourage and facilitated effective democratic public participation in the civic affairs of the nation, and from the great historical failure to produce any plan or method giving concrete substance and direction to the social life of the nation guided by the collective will of the people. On the contrary, the plan for existence that has governed public affairs during the past two centuries, other than short-term housekeeping by the state and federal legislatures, has largely evolved by the same process of natural selection based on power and serendipity that is the governing evolutionary method of plants and animals.
These primitive patterns of human civilization are expressed in the idea that the body and mind of human beings have been subjected to the Darwinian conception of a "mechanistic, mindless, purposeless evolution." B.H. Banathy, Guided Evolution of Society 205 (2000), quoting H. Bergson, Creative Evolution (1907/1983). However, the generalized declarations that inform the Darwinian conception of evolution have been criticized as incomplete by many scientists and philosophers. Banathy, infra, at ch. 7.
One critical analysis especially stands out, that of Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914), the early 20th-century American philosopher and polymath, reviewed in, Father V.G. Potter, On Norms & Ideals 171-178. Peirce argued that human beings are "capable of a very high degree of self-control"; but this control, Peirce indicates, may be a double-edged sword:
Man has evolved to a point where he now can cooperate in the process of evolution itself, since he can deliberately control his own actions and influence the community of which he is a member. He may choose to further as best he can the growth of concrete reasonableness in the world and so fulfill himself, or he may decide to act perversely and so succeed in destroying himself.... Man needs norms to guide his deliberate conduct and those norms he finds in and through the universe which he knows and experiences. Peirce, infra, at 202-203.
Youthful Portrait of Mary Parker Follett 2002
Cornelia P. Atchley, artist.
Critical analysis of the organizational requirements of a democratic system of governance was first articulated early in the 20th century, when Mary Parker Follett wrote her classic book, "The New State" (1918).31 Follett, was one of the first management scientists.32 Her work was ignored for much of the 20th century but she is now regarded as a "prophet of management," by the foremost management authorities.33 In The New State, Follett observed that "'Representative government,' party organization, majority rule, with all their excrescences, are dead wood." She also condemed in the following words the failure of the United States to take the promise of democracy seriously, a failure that is yet to be remedied!
We have not yet tried democracy. Party or "interests" govern us with some fiction of the "consent of the governed," which we say means democracy. We have not even a conception of what democracy means. That conception is yet to be forged out of the crude ore of life.... Direct government as at present generally understood is a mere phantom of democracy. Democracy is not a sum in addition. Democracy is not brute numbers; it is a genuine union of true individuals. The question before the American people today is -- How is that genuine union to be attained, how is the true individual to be discovered?34
The attainment of "genuine union," and discovery of the "true individual," Follett wrote, should be based upon the following ideas (among others):
(D)emocracy transcends time and space, it can never be understood except as a spiritual force. Majority rule rests on numbers; democracy rests on the well-grounded assumption that society is neither a collection of units nor an organism but a network of human relations. Democracy is not worked out at the polling-booths; it is the bringing forth of a genuine collective will, one to which every single being must contribute the whole of his [or her] complex life, as one which every single being must express the whole of at one point. Thus the essence of democracy is creating. The technique of democracy is group organization.35
The activity which produces the true individual is at the same time interweaving him [or her] and others into a real whole. A genuine whole has creative force.... The power of our corporations depends upon this capability of men [and women] to interknit themselves into such genuine relations that a new personality is thereby evolved. This is the "real personality" of modern legal theory.36
Individuality is the capacity for union. The measure of individuality is the depth and breath of true relation. I am an individual not as far as I am apart, but as far as I am a part of other men [and women]. Evil is nonrelation.37
We cannot, however, mould our lives each by himself; but within every individual is the power of joining himself [or herself] fundamentally and vitally to other lives, and out of this vital union comes the creative power. Revelation, if we want it to be continuous, must be through the community bond. No individual can change the disorder and iniquity of this world. No chaotic mass of men and women can do it. Conscious group creation is to be the social and political force of the future.38
Representation is not the main fact of political life; the main concern of politics is modes of association. We do not want the rule of the many or the few; we must find that method of political procedure by which majority and minority ideas may be so closely interwoven that we are truly ruled by the will of the whole. We shall have democracy only when we learn to produce this will through group association -- when young men [and women] are no longer lectured to on democracy, but when they are made into the stuff of democracy.39
The revolution in political structure espoused by Follett, placed the individual citizen at the center of authority (or workers in a position of shared authority with capital), as a means of making decisions of public and private organizations responsible to the whole society. This is the democratic alternative to the original Madisonian formula for a strategically placed minority of property owners to assert primary political power, to serve mainly themselves (similar to the Soviet formula for rule from the top by command of raw power alone).
Follett's aspirations for an insurgent American democracy sought to strengthen the psychic bond between citizens, and thereby, provide a remedy for constraints on the volition of citizens, which have been imposed by capitalist propaganda. Within the existing system, "core beliefs are the product of a rigged, lopsided competition of ideas," according to Yale professor of political economy Charles E. Lindblom, and other scholars.40
Similarly, American sociologist James S. Coleman (1990) has described as, "a broadly perpetrated fiction,"41 the theory of free market capitalism, namely, the idea that economic transactions occur between individuals independent of social and ecological factors, which are disregarded by the market as mere "externalities." The game of disregarding such "externalities" allows capital to take a free ride on society, reaping maximum profit from transactions without consideration for the real costs, which are dumped on the society-at-large. In a democracy, political authority is exercised by "the will of the whole," not by the unilateral will of capital.
The struggle to bring democratic ideas into greater prominence must overcome the historical supremacy of irrational capitalism over democracy in the United States to change capitalist institutions in ways they themselves prohibit. This critical issue was discussed in, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, written by professor of history of science, Thomas S. Kuhn (1962). That book is a profoundly influential landmark of 20th-century intellectual history. In Kuhn's masterpiece he points out, "the parallel between political and scientific development should no longer be open to doubt."42
A key historical fact about the paradigm shift that defines both political and scientific revolutions, is that the new paradigm cannot build on the one that precedes it. It can only supplant it. The two, Kuhn said, were "incommensurable." Let me suggest, therefore, that a democratic political economy cannot be built upon the old capitalist system. Such a shift, said Kuhn, demands, "the destruction of the prior paradigm."42
The seeds of capitalist decay that are clearly evident in the current situation defining the Setting for decisions, disclose the deep and disquieting "values-gap" between capitalism and democracy.43 These are the prevailing conditions confirming beyond any doubt whatever that capitalism and democracy, are "incommensurable," thus setting up a classic scenario for political revolution. Compare only the key factor of "Relationships" espoused by capitalism and democacy to immediately bring into view the stunning, mutually exclusive guiding principles.44
The choice in principled "Relationships" is between capitalist "marketability," driven by an ethic of profit maximization, and democratic "sustainability," based on the advance of ecological integrity, social equity and economic prosperity as mutually reinforcing goals. President Clinton's Council on Sustainable Development stressed the interdependence of those democratic goals of ecological integrity, social equity, and economic prosperity. The Council also recommended that "sustainable development objectives must harness market forces ..."45 On the contrary, this recommendation is an example of the paralysis of the existing situation. It is necessary to harness the collective wisdom and power of the people to shift the paradigm toward the morality of democratic sustainability and overcome the morality of capitalist marketability.
New democratic relationships can only supplant the old. The goals of democratic sustainability cannot be built upon a capitalist ethic of marketability and profit maximization, which benefits the few, only democratic economic and political systems supported by "the will of the whole," can achieve such goals. The same is true of all the critical components of a Setting for decisions. Pursuit of a better future for the whole people, not narrow self-interests, must be the guiding path.
The revolution now in progress is unmistakable. This revolution is essential to the welfare of the global People. Moreover, the finite character of the ecological realities in which we exist, amid the global eco- blindness of the market system,46 have made this paradigm shift crucial to the survival of the biosphere of Planet Earth.
All of the deep and fundamental advances of human civilizations have moved toward emancipation of the natural democratic aspirations of the People: the release out of Egyptian bondage of the Jews; the rejection of religious dogma for scientific rationality; the shift from a state controlled political economy to capitalist free enterprise; and now the inescapable demand for an ethic of democratic sustainability that can guide the evolution of civilization by democratic means toward the betterment of humanity. The trail has been long and hard; the new end game is upon us.
Presently one must ask, "What are the critical strategies needed to overcome irrational capitalist fictions and, thereby, secure the supremacy of democracy? The answer to that question cannot be in doubt. There is but one power in this world that is even remotely capable of realizing such an awsome purpose, namely, the power of the people, which is unvanquishable.
However, the appalling reality of American existence is actually governed at the present time by the "New Slave Masters," which is chronicled by the masterful Attorney Gerry Spence in his book, Give Me Liberty! (1998). Attorney Spence, writes:
We are taught freedom, speak freedom, exercise freedom, and yet it is all a puff in the wind if, at last, no matter how we strive at the invisible chains, we cannot set the course of our own lives. And if our nation has become only an instrument of power for those in power, if no matter how we the people try, we cannot change its course, we are only ants crawling on the deck of a vessel at sea destined for Lord knows what port. Id at 108.
It seems we are traped in a dead end. Nevertheless, whoever may be the "New Slaves," it is absolutely clear, "We the People" still retain the sovereign authority and inherent power -- now facilitated by communications via Internet -- to take possession of our own destiny and convert the "New Slave Masters" into servants of democracy. The limitations of the "New Slave Masters" are self-evident as the fallen tyrannies of all human history have demonstrated over and over again.
Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number--
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you--
Ye are many--they are few.
[Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy, 1819].
Whoever may be the "New Slaves," one must understand, "We the People" still retain the sovereign authority and inherent power, now facilitated by communications via Internet, to take possession of our own destiny. Deplorable the situation surely is, but we are not as Attorney Gerry Spence tauntingly suggests "only ants crawling on the deck of a vessel at sea destined for Lord knows what port." We have the inhereent power to convert the "New Slave Masters" into servants of democracy. This latent power is an integral part of our enlightened democratic ideals and legal doctrines: the Declaration of Independence adopted by the Continental Congress affirms, "that all men are created equal"; the presumption of the Constitution upheld by the Supreme Court under the Republican form of Government confirms, "all power derives from the people"; and President Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address irrevokably implanted within the very soul of the American civilization, the blood pledge, "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
The reawakening of those ideals requires a democratic revolution, first of all, by terminating blind consent to the status quo, one transaction at a time, and by coming to grips with the larger social and ecological disasters guaranteed by those deplorable, fragmented and solitary forms of actions. The pervasive dysfunctional structures of individual decision-making is the corrupt foundation that brings the "New Slave Masters" to power with devastating, unsustainable outcomes. In an interdependent civilization all persons directly affected by the decisions of public and private organizations must be a part of the decision-making process.
No sane and reasonable person can deny the intolerable present situation: shall individual citizens abandon the promise of democracy and the viability of the living Planet by pretending not to be bothered? There is no longer any place at rest that is defensible. Each and every citizen of democracy is needed to immediately commit ourselves to break the source-code of human bondage. This is derived from expressions of narrow self-interest in an interdependent world exacerbated by a "mechanistic and materialistic world-view." This leads "only to an exclusive interest in changing the external factors for the attainment of happiness and well-being without the slightest concern about changing one's own inner nature." The outcome is a "reserved and timiid" individual existence and a frightfully Lonely Nation with weak interconnetions. Meaningful group dialogue is the key to genuine human liberation and integrative organization, one group at a time, in our neighborhoods, cities and nation, and all across the world.
Photograph of Dr. Alexander N. Christakis
(Click image for the website of world design headquarters managed by Dr. Christakis)
Past President (2002) of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS)
We need no permission from anyone to engage fully in meaningful group dialogue, which can build up our shared ideas, establish psychic power, restore strong interconnectedness and mutual support, and at last, realize the promise of true democracy. The necessary strategy has been articulated in the seminal work of systems scientists Dr. Alexander N. Christakis with Kenneth C. Bausch. In short, "to form a more perfect Union" it is necessary to harness the collective wisdom and power of the people.
The author of this essay together with Aleco Christakis and Ken Bausch, and other concerned scientists and civic activists with a global reach have established a WebSite for LOVERS OF DEMOCRACY to coordinate those efforts.
A STRUCTURE OF THE NEXT POLITICAL REVOLUTION:
the end of capitalism & triumph of democracy!
* Vigdor Schreibman, is Editor and Publisher of the Federal Information News Syndicate (FINS), located in Washington, DC; email: email@example.com; URL: http://sunsite.utk.edu/FINS/
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3. Id., at 59.
4. Id., at 246.
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16. Parrington, infra, note 13.
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Portrait of Vigdor in blue 2001.