Representative versus Participatory Democracy in Canada: Role of Citizen Activism

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Protrucio Protrucio's picture
Representative versus Participatory Democracy in Canada: Role of Citizen Activism

It seems as if Canada is more of a representative democracy than a participatory one. How can citizen activism effect social change in Canada? I would like to discuss this with other rabble rousers!

JAnne Davies (protrucio)

NDPP

I would say neither..

and the whole nine yards.

Fidel

Maybe something like Change.org with online petitions and protest central? I think FB and those other social sites are good, but they can be great distractions for many people at the same time.

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

Rabble.ca columnist Murray Dobbin writes that "Public access to information about what the government is doing is at the heart of democratic accountability". Whether Canada's democratic system is characterized as being a participatory democracy or a representative democracy, public access to information is key to the whole process.

JAnne Davies (protrucio)

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Proposal for a Participatory Socialist International

We, the undersigned, endorse the idea of a new International and urge that its creation include assessing, refining, augmenting, and then implementing as many of the following points as the International’s participants themselves, after due deliberation, decide mutually agreeable.........

http://www.zcommunications.org/newinternational.htm

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Workers’ Control

Venezuela: Workers’ control to solve power problems

Following nation-wide assemblies involving more than 10,000 electricity workers to collectively discuss solutions to the sector's problems, 600 delegates gathered in Carcasas on April 8-9......

http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/5294

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Bolivia nationalises Swiss smelter plant

AFP, May 3 - A day after taking over three power companies, President Evo Morales on Sunday nationalised an antimony smelter plant owned by Sinchi Wayra, a subsidiary of Swiss commodities and raw-materials supplier Glencore, an official said.

"From here on, the Vinto-Antimonio plant reverts to state ownership," Minister of the Presidency Oscar Coca said. He said Morales had signed the nationalisation decree.

Located in the western, Andean department of Oruro, the smelter plant began as state owned but was privatised in two successive steps in 1999 and 2001 and bought by US firm Allied Deals.

It was sold in 2002 to former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada, who in turn resold it to Sinchi Wayra in 2005.

"Over the past few years, the plant became productively idle, was practically headed for dismantling and attracted no investment, giving rise to conditions detrimental to this government's policies," Coca said.

Other Glencore assets in Bolivia were nationalised in 2007.

The smelter's nationalisation follows that of three, privately-owned French, British and Bolivian power companies on Saturday, and the announcement of negotiations for the takeover of a fourth one, also Bolivian-owned, in 120 days.

Since coming to office in January 2006, Morales has nationalised oil and gas companies, telecommunications and a tin foundry, in his expanding socialist agenda emulating his closest leftist ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

http://boliviarising.blogspot.com/2010/05/bolivia-nationalises-swiss-sme...

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

The First Socialist International of the 21st Century
By Julio Chavez and Kiraz Janicke and Frederico Fuentes

Source: Venezuelanalysis.com
Wednesday, April 28, 2010

During the recently concluded five-month extraordinary congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Kiraz Janicke & Federico Fuentes had the opportunity to discuss President Hugo Chavez’s proposal to form a Fifth Socialist International, with Julio Chavez, a delegate to the PSUV congress and a member of the congress’s international committee, which is charged with drafting a specific plan of action to form a new socialist international.
 
The proposal that President Hugo Chavez made regarding the formation of a Fifth Socialist International has attracted a lot of attention at a global level. I'm interested in your point of view, as a delegate and member of the International Committee of the Congress of the PSUV, why propose a 5th International and what is the importance of this proposal?

I believe that the proposal launched by the President Hugo Chávez, to raise at this time a global debate on historical relevance of the need to call on all parties, movements and leftist and anti-imperialist currents of the world to have a full discussion, is based on the characterization and in-depth analysis of the crisis of global capitalism. This leads unquestionably to the conclusion that the only way to overcome the cyclical crisis of world capitalism is, in fact, by proposing a model or a path that is completely different from the neo-liberal model, the predatory model, of capitalism. There is no other alternative than the path of transition to socialism.

http://www.zcommunications.org/the-first-socialist-international-of-the-...

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

The First Socialist International of the 21st Century
By Julio Chavez and Kiraz Janicke and Frederico Fuentes

Quote:
I repeat, it must become an organization that is permanent in nature, that is able to summon all the parties of the Left, social movements, prominent individuals and historical currents of thought, and not just specifically those raising the historical project of socialism, but that anti-imperialism should be the common element that brings us all together.

Of course we don’t just want one more event, one more conference. We’re not just making this call to open a discussion, a debate, to produce a document, but to actually set minimum agreements, a minimum transition program, a policy of developing in all the five continents, based on the analysis of the current situation, a characterization of each particular region, to consider expeditiously the transition towards a model that overcomes the contradictions of capital and labour.

http://www.zcommunications.org/the-first-socialist-international-of-the-...

Jacob Richter

The stuff on the new International belongs in another thread.

Cueball Cueball's picture

A new one? How many do we have now?

Jacob Richter

I didn't say the material had to go to a new thread.  They could have easily gone to my earlier threads on the subject.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Jacob Richter wrote:

I didn't say the material had to go to a new thread.  They could have easily gone to my earlier threads on the subject.

 

..do you have a link?

Jacob Richter
epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..thanks. my intention to post on this thread was to provide various projects that are connected to participatory democracy. this includes the new international. the link you provided doesn't seem to include other projects.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Building Socialism from Below: The Role of the Communes in Venezuela  
Written by Jeffery R. Webber and Susan Spronk
 
Tuesday, 15 June 2010 11:57
Source: Socialist Project

quote:

What is the main aim of the comunas?

The aims of the comunas are diverse, and take different forms. Before the comuna existed there were all kinds of community organizations where people would participate looking for solutions to their problems; their neighborhood association, the municipal government, etc. The goal of the comunas is to build on these processes and consolidate them by organizing on the basis of territory where people live.

For us the comuna is a territorial space, but also a political space where the aim is to build socialism on a permanent basis, where the people take charge of their own education and political formation. We teach about “convivencia” (living together well) and elaborate a plan for a particular territory. What is new about the process is that the people are also elaborating their own plan of formation.

The people are very creative; the most advanced work with the other neighbors in this process to create a permanent space of formation. Civil servants, working for the state, who went to these spaces, quickly learned that the people were elaborating their own plan by and for themselves....

http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/2544-building-so...

milo204

I think canada should be participatory...the reason the right wing agenda gets so much play?  they actually organize and go out and vote for somebody, so their interests are tended to, or they are at least led to believe so by the media.

 

There aren't really any parties that represent my views, but hell, i'd rather have an ndp government than these out of control extremists we have in office now.  At least that would be something to build with. 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

milo204 wrote:

I think canada should be participatory...the reason the right wing agenda gets so much play?  they actually organize and go out and vote for somebody, so their interests are tended to, or they are at least led to believe so by the media.

 

There aren't really any parties that represent my views, but hell, i'd rather have an ndp government than these out of control extremists we have in office now.  At least that would be something to build with. 

 

..the longer i live the more i understand chomsky's claim that all governments are illegitimate. i believe that as long as we give our power away to others we will never be satisfied with the results. all power needs to be decentralized to a grass roots level or at least i see it that way. the closest thing i see as producing that result is participatory democracy. i understand it in theory but also i'm in constant search of real life examples of what that would look like..and the depth we need to go to achieve it.

..yes the ndp are better than the cons or libs but that isn't participatory democracy. i've been waiting and working for the ndp to transformation most of my adult life. what i find is that the ndp is moving farther and farther away as the capitalist crisis intensifies.

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

Epaulo13....history seems to exemplify the temporal truth that those who have the power to collect taxes and the policing power use weapons dictate the course of Nations,provinces, localities and communities. If the power elites don't like what the communitas are doing then they are in danger of being crushed....although.... maybe the role of international law could intervene somehow... but often so called international agencies like the UN do little to change or challenge the status quo; I am thinking of Columbia, Sudan and Congo for example.

Also what about George Orwell's critique of socialism in Brave New World. Socialist systems have spawned elitist groups who more often than not take more than others. The socialist elites are on top the others are below. We saw this in Russia since the turn of the century and we have seen it elsewhere.

I agree though capitalism does not work and is in crisis.

Thanks for your posts!

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

What about GMO crops in South America, India, Canada and Africa? Please see: http://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/3676  Here is a quote from that article.

"Poor Mexico – so far from God and so close to the United States!” Porfirio Diaz, the iron-fisted Mexican general, famously quipped. To the peasant corn farmers and green activists who protested in the streets after the Mexican government reversed its ban on growing genetically modified foods and approved experimental planting of gene-spliced corn crops in the north of the country, it must seem like the United States draws ever closer."

I am raising the issue of GMO crops because of the relationship between corporate capitalism and national governments in relation to participatory democracy vesus representative democracy.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..Protrucio, it is possible that we can survive the current state of the world but i don't think it a sure thing. the solutions would need to be drastic. things like a real green world rather than just another financial opportunity to accumulate more wealth for a few. a transformation to socialism but which one. in my mind that should be determined by participatory democracy.
..in the centre of all this is structure. the linear structure permeates every aspect of our lives. governments, economies, unions, families, sports it's everywhere. some of this structure is natural but for the most part it prevents us from participating in our lives in a holistic way. i believe that this is  the world needs to go. we need to replace this structure and i'm quite pleased to see what is happening in venezuela and boliva. i'm pleased by the  “convivencia” (living together well) movement. it is showing the world a way out of the trouble we are in. right now the slow/local food movements is where i place energies as part of "convivencia". i believe this to be participatory democracy and in sync with the world. i could use more of that in my life.

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

I learned something about Base Communities in Brazil from a a woman who was involved with a Base Community in Brazil in the 1990's. Initially the Roman Catholic Church had supported these. Part of the thinking behind these communities was Paulo Freire's book "Pedagogy of the Opressed" Are the "convivencia" related to Base Communities in any way I wonder. There may be some emergent communities in Toronto that are somewhat like the "convivencia". I am going to look into the idea of participatory democracy at grassroots local community levels further. Certainly hierarical or types of vertical-linear organizational mangement structures do not seem to foster participatory democratic approaches.

 

oldgoat

I've moved this from "the Prairies" section to "Activism"

Caissa

Prorucio wrote: Also what about George Orwell's critique of socialism in Brave New World.

 

Caissa wonders if anyone has told Huxley that Orwell wrote Brave New world.

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

Poor sad dumb Protrucio meant ANIMAL FARM!!!!!!Thank you for the correction.Cool

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Brazilian Union Assists in Land Takeovers, Showing Power of a Good Example  

Written by Jane Slaughter   
Monday, 21 June 2010 10:13

quote:
In 2004, this group waited till the police were busy downtown with Carnaval, Brazil’s Mardi Gras. They brought tents and took over a big vacant piece of land next to a highway, owned by a millionaire, who was letting it sit idle, hoping to speculate on it.

And slowly, they built houses. They “borrowed” electricity and water from the utility companies. And a few weeks ago they won a court ruling: electricity and water are basic human rights. The companies may not shut them off. Earlier, they’d won a court ruling legalizing their settlement. Each house has an address, like Street 9, Area B, #2.

Pinheirinho is self-governing, and the residents have created many rules. Parents are required to see that their children go to school, and I saw many mothers walking their kids home. Drugs are not allowed. If a man beats his wife, he’s thrown out. If she asks that he come back, OK, but if it happens again, the whole family must leave.

http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/2551-brazilian-u...

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Beyond the Franchise
What Toronto Tells Us About Our Lust for Leaders

By DAVID Ker THOMSON

What part of the “leaders” of the twenty most democratic nations getting together and kicking the crap out of the locals did we fail to understand?  Were they unclear on some point?

This is not a failure of democracy.  This is democracy doing exactly what it is supposed to do, which is to take power from the people and send it elsewhere.  Democracy makes people think they are most authentic precisely at the moment when they are the least: when they are conferring their power on a proxy.

Because we are raised from the womb to believe in democracy and leaders, in some daddy person who can tell us what to do if we “elect” him, we have obscured the essential fact of our life together: there is nothing worth doing for which we need leaders.

Tell me this: how can we be free if we have leaders?  That’s not even a paradox.  It’s just a simple contradiction....

http://www.counterpunch.org/thomson07092010.html

Bushfire

We almost took a step toward more participation with the referendum on proportional representation in 2008.  At least with that system people's views would be represented a bit more than they are now.  It got completely shot down and I think it's because people didn't believe that it would have really worked.  People were worried about the governments just arguing more and being less effective if the power was more equally divided between the political parties. 

The ticket to getting more participation in democracy is education.  There are a lot of politically apathetic people out there who choose to live in a bubble and have no idea that the system isn't working.  There's a common belief that someone needs to be in power, whether one person or one political party-  it's an idea fed to us by the current system- and people don't think there's a better alternative.  If we build a large-scale culture that promotes community and equality instead of the one- leader- many- followers system it would become more popular to believe in participatory democracy.  I don't think the average conservative or even liberal believe that all the members of a community could have equal power and still function effectively.  I believe we need to promote participatory democracy until enough people believe in it and then it can become a political party or a piece of legislation or a referendum or something that will influence the current system.  So far its a long hard struggle against the prevailing beliefs. 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Beyond the Franchise
What Toronto Tells Us About Our Lust for Leaders

By DAVID Ker THOMSON

quote:
Food, shelter, curiosity

For our part, we have named our own world.  Food, shelter, and curiosity.  What else do we need?  Is it a leader I need to grow better turnips on my roof?  I have a PhD in early American literature from Princeton, but the real question is, are you impressed with my turnips?  Good turnips emerge from good communities that are here, now, for food, shelter, and curiosity.  Children growing up in such communities will have seen a thousand turnips and have come to their own conclusions without some dull-witted leader telling them how to do it.  And such communities have always known how to live with external aggressors, to disappear into cracks and emerge again to find and create food.  We do it every day here in the Humber watershed, with the vicious aggressor state called Canada sitting squat upon us.  

The belief that it is naïve to think we don’t need leaders is itself naïve.  Precisely to the extent that we crave democracy and the daddy stick we are all abused children, likely to replicate the daddy stick in the next generation.  Democracy now!—ga ga, goo goo.

People getting beat up by democracy and then saying we need more and better democracy—it boggles the mind.  Why would you consent to relinquish your power to your neighbor, let alone send it away to distant, belligerent watersheds known for their long, long histories of destruction?

People who vote for lesser evil quickly forget that, in doing so, they have voted for evil.  Didn’t even Hannah Arendt say something like that?

http://www.counterpunch.org/thomson07092010.html

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

OK. What about private property and  debt-money, empire ssues? Land and places for growing can always be confiscated.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGTBkNJ8ZWI

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Why Participatory Economics?

July 2010

By Michael Albert

Michael Albert's ZSpace Page

Markets subjugate ecology, abominate personality, breed poverty, and require gross inequality. War, what is it good for? Not people. Capitalism? It makes accumulation the goal of life and caring a token of failure. But, another world is possible nearly everyone replies. Really, what is it? We want the world and we want it now. Yes, but kind of world do you prefer?

Well, when I am asked that question about economics—and it is a good question about culture and kinship, and polity too—I answer, what I want is the fourth of four currently available options.

The first, capitalism, combines private ownership, remuneration for property, power, and, to a degree, output, corporate divisions of labor, and markets in ways primarily benefiting the capitalist class.

The second and the third, centrally planned and market (20th century) socialism combine markets or central planning with public or state ownership, remuneration for power, and, to a degree, for output, and corporate divisions of labor which primarily benefit a coordinator class of planners, managers, and others similarly empowered in the economy.

The fourth, participatory economics (parecon for short) combines social ownership, self-managing workers and consumers councils, remuneration for duration, intensity, and onerousness of work, balanced job complexes (that apportion labor so each job has roughly the same empowerment effects as all other jobs), and participatory planning where workers and consumers cooperatively negotiate economic outcomes with no class divisions.

I advocate participatory economics because it transcends capitalism and also market and centrally planned socialism by establishing core institutions that promote solidarity, equity of circumstance and income, diversity, participatory self management, classlessness, and efficiency in meeting human needs and developing human potentials. Here are more detailed reasons.....

http://www.zcommunications.org/why-participatory-economics-by-michael-al...

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Venezuelan National Workers Union Calls for Greater Worker Control
By James Suggett

Source: Venezuelanalysis.com
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mérida, July 19th 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s principal union federation, the National Union of Workers (UNETE), recently circulated a document calling for broader nationalizations, a revolutionary labor law, and a radical shift toward a democratic, worker-led management model to stave off state bureaucracy.

The statement was released earlier this month and coincided with a series of worker assemblies and worker education programs initiated by unions in state-owned and private companies, indicating that the movement for worker control – and the clash between the bureaucracy and the rank-and-file in the Bolivarian Revolution – is alive and well.

The statement is directed at “the working people of Venezuela,” and aims to be “a draft in order to continue discussion” and “not a definitive document.” It includes a total of 21 policy proposals by UNETE and other worker, peasant, and indigenous organizations.

Chief among the proposals is the full nationalization of the banking and finance sectors and of all foreign commerce related to essential foods, the gradual reduction of the sales tax, and a national re-adjustment of wages and prices in accordance with real costs of living and production.

The statement also demands the passage of a “Revolutionary Labor Law” before the National Assembly elections in September, and says a Ministry for Worker Control and Social Production should be created and directed by worker councils......

http://www.zcommunications.org/venezuelan-national-workers-union-calls-f...

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Venezuelan National Workers Union Calls for Greater Worker Control
By James Suggett

Source: Venezuelanalysis.com
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quote:
Other proposals include a national maximum wage or salary, reduction of the work day, and the passage of an Industrial Transformation Law that guarantees the transfer of idle companies and land to worker or peasant collectives. The document also advocates measures to protect both peasants and workers from hired killings which have taken the lives of more than 220 peasant leaders and 100 worker organizers in recent years, and the prioritization of the demarcation of ancestral indigenous lands over the interests of transnational mining companies. 

The national coordinators of UNETE, who authored the document, frame these proposals in the context of a “structural crisis of the capitalist system” that has “opened up enormous opportunities for true political alternatives [that are] consequently classist, revolutionary, anti-capitalist, and socialist.” They call on “all exploited peoples of the world” to join the struggle for this new system.

UNETE praises the Venezuelan state for making many well-conceived efforts to guarantee food security, bring strategic industries under national control, and put a halt to speculation in financial markets, but says these efforts have been damaged by “bureaucratism, indolence, and corruption of functionaries who act like a fifth column... in the entire structure of a bourgeois state that refuses to die.”....

http://www.zcommunications.org/venezuelan-national-workers-union-calls-f...

Protrucio Protrucio's picture
trippie

how about we start by opposing class divisions. That would mean getting rid of Capitalism.

 

There has never been any kind of Socialism/communism so I gues we could start there. Just remember Social Democracy is not Socialism. Hving planned economies and nationalizing all industry but still maintaining class structure is not Socialism.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..getting rid of capitalism is process. i'm not talking about theory but real process that exists in our societies today. what is happening in latin america is a real time look at what a process looks like that has the makings of a participatory democracy. the process in canada is much more difficult for me to see and understand even though i trust it is alive and well. so i look for movements such as local food that are being built and may/will eventually replace corporate dominance in the now and not some time after the revolution.  
..txs for the link protrucio. i'll check it out when i get a chance.

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

"When we truely discover love, capitalism will not be possible and Marxism will not be necessary - Will O'Brien (Alternative Seminary)

Michael Allan Michael Allan's picture

Protrucio wrote:
... There may be some emergent communities in Toronto that are somewhat like the "convivencia". I am going to look into the idea of participatory democracy at grassroots local community levels further. Certainly hierarical or types of vertical-linear organizational mangement structures do not seem to foster participatory democratic approaches.

They say that an organization has a power structure, wheras the grassroots has a more communicative structure. Instead of being like an org chart, it's more like an open network, person to person. (It's almost like Babble, where anyone can join, reply to someone else's post, and so forth.) So the grassroots is participatory, at least.

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

Michael Allen, Would you say Facebook is grass roots?

Michael Allan Michael Allan's picture

Hi Protrucio,
I don't know too much about Facebook, so let me ask:
If Facebook and Babble were both democracies, which would be more participatory?
And why?

NDPP

Petras: Trends to Barbarism and Prospects for Socialism

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26052.htm

"...profound disgust and revulsion against all political parties."

most definitely and correctly so..

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

Good question Michael Allen. I will thiink about thiis for a while. Re: World power and global dominanace: see Amy Chua WORLD ON FIRE

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

Tolerance or opportunism-is there a difference.

Michael Allan Michael Allan's picture

Tolerance depends on mutual understanding, they say. Opportunism does not.

Where does mutual understanding come from?

NDPP

respect and consent...

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

That's worth quoting..will you sue me if I do quote you Michael Allen?  I'm serious becaue I illustrate great quotes. Here's one:

"Tolerance depends on mutual understanding, they say. Opportunism does not."

Mutual understanding comes from enlightenment; illumination; empathy.

Respect and consent.......I should think about this for a while.

I have and here is what I have come up with: What about this folks....is this crazy or what?????? http://vodpod.com/watch/2734506-youtube-what-islam-says-about-tolerance-... or what about Cat Stephen's convert to Islam: Please see: http://vodpod.com/watch/85780-a-is-for-allah-by-yusuf-islam-cat-stevens

No I am not a muslim...but what are the implications for "respect and consent" in relation to Islam?????? Just wondering.

 

 

 

 

abnormal

Protrucio wrote:

It seems as if Canada is more of a representative democracy than a participatory one.

Yeah - what part of the Westminster system don't you understand?

Different parties have different ideas about whether or not their members should be allowed to support their constituents' views as opposed to voting the party line but that's a different question.

trippie

As I will say as I always allude to...I do not consent to a Westminster (bourgeois dictatorial) Government system. It inslaves me.

All attempts to reform this system have failured.

Thus, it is my conclusion that it can not be reformed and must be replaced. ASAP I might add.

I would suggest, we replace it with some form of International Socialism that is based on the ideals the working class have of what a democracy should be.

THE END.

Michael Allan Michael Allan's picture

ADDENDUM

@Protrucio, Thank you for considering my quote. :) If you ever illustrate it, please share.

I enjoyed those videos! The 2nd says that Islam is a tolerant religion, in form. It recognizes the prophets of other faiths (Moses, Abraham, Noah, Jesus). If the faithful themselves had such an understanding (and if it were mutual) they/we might be more tolerant, in fact.

Suppose that's true. Which would be more tolerant, therefore: a representative or a participatory democracy?

 

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

I think a close look at Hitler's rise to power may provide a case in point. Apparently dictators have often created the illusion of a participatory democracy by means of the plebecite. My question is if socialism is so great and so democratic why are socialist states so often headed by dictatorships? Don't get me wrong...I can embrace the ideals of socialism but what about the practise??????

Protrucio Protrucio's picture

On the other hand so called democratic states seem to act as if they are totalitarian regimes. Representatives of non-socialist democratic states often claim to represent thier populations. There is historical evidence that they do not. Socialist states often claim to be the most truly democratic. For example please see: http://intercontinentalcry.org/san-juan-copala-under-paramilitary-contro...

How did Joseph Stalin represent himself???? Please see: http://intercontinentalcry.org/san-juan-copala-under-paramilitary-contro...

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