The present system almost locks people out of feeling able to be powerful, have a voice that can be heard and paid attention to. People like me need a forum where we can express our views, learn from others and join together to make a difference. I worked as a social worker involved in writing and delivering parenting courses, and I was very struck by just how powerless ordinary people felt–even if this was the Local authority (eg parents with children in care (looked after) usually felt very powerless in the face of Social Work reports. I used to encourage them to write their own reports–which used to impress the Children’s Panel (Scotland’s equivalent to Magistrates Courts), and it built parents’ confidence as well. The process of delivering parenting courses should engage parents’ own expertise as well as offering a forum where they can learn from each other, and from course material and trying things out. It can also act as a way in to Adult or further education. There has been a lot of dis-empowering of parents through Child Protection and juvenile justice, which, while very necessary if we are going to have a system protecting children needs to engage with parents much better than at present–it has got to a situation where social work see their “clients” as “them”, when they are “us”. I’m not trying to excuse abuse–just that the present system (which came in around the time trades unions were neutered, all adds up to council estates becoming alienated from mainstream society–and that’s one reason we have had Brexit (and Trump).
The RDM can play a vital role in stimulating and supporting debate around how to develop a functioning democratic system that works for people and planet.
Transforming our democracy into one that truly represents the genuine interests of our people is a huge priority.
I live in rural France and I have a foot-hold in Essex UK, but am there only very occasionally. Any structure that is open, inclusive, encourages free and autonomous participation, is non-hierarchical and maintains a vigorous self-critique will be a valuable element in a new, equitable and self-sustaining society. Any such structure should have a well-developed ethos that doesn’t rely on organisational cliches, of which democracy may be one and capitalism may be another. Attachment to or aversion from either of these labels is likely to be a hindrance.
France encourages, supports and celebrates community structures and networks at a local, departmental, regional and national level, with a lot of emphasis on culture and the arts. These two dimensions of social life are levelling and sharing. RDM in whatever form it evolves to become, might take a leaf from this book. I think republicanism should have a higher profile: the monarchy perpetuates a pernicious class system and the myth of social mobility, ‘climbing the ladder of success’ and ‘meritocracy’, rule by the cleverest (however they may be defined).
There is an evident tendency towards fascism throughout the entire world in which personal rights and liberties are increasingly curtailled or taken away entirely for the profit or further empowerment of a handful of oligarchs. This phenomenon is the source of or a major contributor to many social ills; to name a few, increased disparity between socio-economic classes and increasing poverty, advancing decay of the education system, and the acceleration of environmental degradation which both adversely impacts human health and the economy. In order for there to be an equitable distribution of wealth – in order for there to be a flourishing intellectual life among the people – in order for citizens to be directly in charge of the landscape and resources which rightfully is there own and directly impacts the health of themselves and their progeny, there must be a healthy democracy in place, one in which the people are the champions of politic process and policy rather than powerless by-standers. That is why I think movements like RDM are needed – true democracies are needed in all parts of the world, and I want to do my small part in helping to build them.
Active Citizenship i.e. authentic/real democracy underpins the sustainability of our communities and the planet as a whole. Real Authentic Democracy (RAD-I-Call) should be a, not so radical but, logical movement that is progressed through society with the utmost urgency. Other than personal, day to day well being, I cant think of anything more pressing!
I am so fed up with the childish actions of people who we have elected to govern us and the way that corporations can bully institutions into doing their bidding regardless of the consequences to people and the natural world. I believe in the concept of governance where people from all walks of life come together to debate and determine what kind of world we want to be part of. The issues we face today are too important to be left to a few people who think that the survival of their parties are more important than people, communities and the environment.
As a mother, teacher and woman I want to be part of a shift that will see a brighter future for our Earth.
Peter A says:
Democracy has lost its meaning in our current society. It is the interests of the big global corporations and the banks that drive the policies of government. So we get a top-down set of policies and commands that do not answer the needs of ordinary people; higher productivity, lower wages, unemployment and all the things that come with austerity. The only possible way of transforming this society into one where the power is vested in the people themselves is through building a mass movement from the bottom up, and that has to come from new forms of democratic participation of the majority. People are contemptuous of establishment politics and the vested interests that determine policy. They are receptive to the ideas of new forms of democracy as was seen in Scotland last year. And ideas of giving power to the people are contained within, for example, the fight of the Hillsborough families for real justice, the strikes against the government by the junior hospital doctors and even Leicester City`s football triumph. Unlocking the power of the people through democratic participation…
5 questions for democracy
It’s time to look out for ourselves and each other, and to build the social and economic landscape anew, because our elected politicians are unwilling and unable to act on behalf of the working majority. The Tory government feels bold enough to bring its unelected, unaccountable corporate cronies into Whitehall to steer policy, and this has to be a warning to us that democracy means nothing to the friends of the 1 per cent. Why is Douglas Gurr, CEO Amazon China now a non-executive director of the DWP?
Remember Tony Benn’s five questions for democracy?
- “What power have you got?”
- “Where did you get it from?”
- “In whose interests do you use it?”
- “To whom are you accountable?”
- “How do we get rid of you?”
* Sir Mark Allen and Jack Straw are not being prosecuted by the CPS for their part in the rendition and torture of Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his wife
* Douglas Gurr, CEO Amazon China, is now a non-executive director at the DWP
* Dr. Robert Nowill, ex Technology and Development Director at GCHQ has been appointed to the ‘independent’ review panel headed by David Anderson, QC to look at the bulk powers of the Investigatory Powers Bill
*There is no power of recall relating to Members of Parliament/government ministers
*There are no restrictions governing the revolving door between ex-government ministers/officials and appointments to the private and corporate sector
*Our education system has just been sold off to private enterprise Academy Trusts, including one owned by the former co-founder of Carphone Warehouse. Read the list of trustees for yourselves.
Penny W says:
Bring activists into the debate
So, I’ve been thinking about a focus on this thing called democracy. and whether it’s the hook to hang a way out of all this crap. As part of this, me and my son who lives here (at his suggestion) went to a meeting about the future of democracy organised by Melbourne City Council. I went with enormous cynicism (power is never given stuff), but hoped that Oz might be different from UK. No it’s not! It was filled with not-for-profit policy nerds, and good intentioned civil servants. The only thing that brought it alive were the contributions from community activists working on real issues: refugees, fracking etc. which left me concluding, for myself, that this is the hook that makes a difference. Not a conceptual framework of democracy. But to shape what is needed on a macro level from real issues. From substance comes form. From action comes structures. From concrete concerns comes organising.
I did wonder whether, as part of your next initiative, an explicit focus on bringing activists into the debate might have legs – i.e. what do we conclude about our future governance arrangements from the struggles they are involved in: around health, social care, housing, benefits, employment, planning, climate change etc.
Sweep away the cobwebs
I fervently support the aims of the Real Democracy Movement. I believe we need to sweep away a few cobwebs, including the monarchy and the House of Lords, so that we can get back to the bone structure of our much ailing democracy. This is a personal view. The Romani movement globally is starting on a democratic transition – introduction of electronic voting, grass-roots democracy that will increase legitimacy, accountability and political clout, while providing a collective mandate and people’s voice that may eventually lay claim to a people’s sovereignty. That, I believe, puts us in the same camp. I already am active as a member of the Corbyn Labour Party and Momentum, picketing with the junior doctors, watching for a chance to help bring the banks, the City, the big corporations, under democratic control, and where useful into nationalisation.
Political system change
We all know the real intentions of Agenda 21. Current political, economic and educations systems, under capitalist doctrines, are stealthily creeping forward with this terrifying programme under our very noses. It is evidenced in many ways, though the most obvious is the deliberate intensifying of wealth concentration – simultaneously with increasing, austerity-caused poverty and numbers of half-starved people forced to use food banks. Political system change is the only effective solution, via the ballot box and/or peaceful revolution. Communication is vital, and the RDM gives us a glimmer of hope in that regard. It is a little step in the right direction, though hopefully with an eventual massive social impact.
Less democratic by the hour
I support the Real Democracy Movement as the term “democracy” has become meaningless when used by Western governments who, by their actions, become less democratic by the hour.
We can regain democracy
The concept of “democracy” shields those without power from total exploitation and domination by those who possess it. Increasingly, power is dissipating away from civil society by the continuous erosion of democracy. It won’t be given back. The cavalry is not coming. To regain lost ground requires that we exercise democracy, not talk about it, dream about it or hold out the begging bowl. We were able to achieve universal suffrage, split the atom, abolish legal slavery and land men on the moon. We can regain democracy too, via the most effective tools we posses; our ingenuity, our concern for each other, and the ballot box.
Learn from the post-war period
Thinking about whether and why we need a new political movement means thinking not only about the very existence of a new movement but also about the nature of it. The last mass political movement that had any kind of longevity was the alter-globalisation movement. That aimed to bring activists from across the world together in developing autonomous solutions to the problems facing humanity. While it piled pressure on governments, one of its aims was to collectively create alternatives to capitalism and the state in the here and now. While laudable in its aims, this strategy ultimately failed. Neoliberalism and neo-conservatism showed how capital and the state can circumvent protest and destroy experiments in autonomous living. If the strategy of the alter-globalisation movement is bust, what should a new political movement look like?
On the one hand, there is certainly something important in the attempts to create alternative social structures that are independent of the state and capital. On the other hand, the state might need to be reconsidered as a potential ally of a new political movement. One of the most successful political movements was the post-war movement for social democracy. It involved the state implementing progressive legislation, but it was only possible because of a mass political movement (in the form of trade unions) that held the state to account and pushed it in progressive directions. Of course we can’t go back to the heydays of social democracy, but any successful political movement will have to learn from that era and find a way of influencing policy while avoiding being co-opted by the state.
Change is long over due. The Global neoliberal system is driving us towards a global catastrophe of epic proportions. A perfect storm of climate change and resource depletion leading to a breakdown of our civilisation as we know it is what we face if we don’t urgently challenge the status quo.
Is needed hugely, world wide over. I feel it will also help people realise/remember that each person needs to stand up to be counted … each person needs to get involved to help create real and positive change. Many people have been willing to pass the buck onto others ie politicians who really do not put individuals, families, communities and couples first.
The time is ripe for a Real Democracy Movement throughout the British Isles. It has already kicked off throughout the Middle East, parts of Europe, Turkey, South America – now for us to get in on the act.