People's Assemblies Network

declaration drafts

Project 2012 / Campaign for Real Democracy (CRD) 2009 Draft Statement:

Peoples Assemblies and the world we believe they can bring about ~
VALUES:
Equality – each person is able to speak and be listened to – there is no elite platform
Difference – we learn from each other’s perspectives; we may disagree, but we listen to one another respectfully and our views become refined through the experience
Solidarity – we are together because we believe in the existence of a common agenda. In spite of our differences, we pursue and find consensus over ideas and shared actions
Sharing – we believe in a society in which sharing and co-operation triumph over competition. We freely share food and other gifts at our meetings
Secularity and Spirituality – we respect and are happy to learn from different belief systems
Ecology – we believe in a new, really democratic society with a very low/zero carbon footprint
Self-determination – we struggle for a new kind of freedom based on community, nurturing, true individuality, and vice versa – “It takes a village to bring up a child”

DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES:

(1) Peoples Assemblies make decisions horizontally
(2) Peoples Assemblies are interested to learn about, try out and embody new democratic practices

CORE AIMS:

(1) Real Democracy – PAs should find ways to campaign for a really ecological, democratic society at local, national and global levels
(2) Decentralisation – to bring this about, sovereignty should be vested at the neighbourhood / community / workplace / study place level
(3) Internationalism – PA communities link up in solidarity and support across the world
(4) Ideals – we are interested to bring about a world based on a Reclaimation of the Commons, Truth, Peace, Sustainability, Justice and Compassion above all things and we are willing to fight non-violently to this end
(5) Peoples Assembly movement – to bring these aims about we are calling for a movement based on the idea of Peoples Assemblies

IDEOLOGY:

(1) Local and democratic, not private or state led provision of public services (the real third way)
(2) Genuinely democratic, people powered globalisation. Not capitalist or state-led, but civil society led globalisation (the real third “world” or international). As both means and end, but also a way of forcing the nation states to work together for the good of all
(3) A new appropriate political economy to match.

8 Comments

  1. Pingback: People's Assemblies » International Proposal

    • In India we are promoting the empowerment of people, people are sovereign, they make all the decisions, the elected members are subject to recall, accountable and answerable to the assembly of the people called SABHA OR SAMITI, these traditions are and peoples organisations are at least 4500 years old.

      The Lok Raj has been in action with participation of the majority of the Indian people last month and has won major victory against the Parliamentarian political establishment, and forced these privileged section to agree to pass a bill for prosecuting authority called LOKPAL independent of Government control.

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  7. I am attracted to the idea of direct democracy. Libya, in theory, was run by a direct democracy called the Jamahiriya.

    I have a practical question. How can a direct democracy, with people’s congresses, work in a country like the U.S. For instance, the idea of community has virtually vanished in most of America.

    America is a commuter society. The sense of belonging to a local community virtually doesn’t exist. Just about everyone operates as an individual, and life is very fluid.

    One year, for instance, someone will live in a certain area. But the next year, due to the need for a job change, that person will have moved to another area of the city, or even to another state, such as from Illinois to California.

    The ability to think AS A PEOPLE has been stripped away, over the centuries. I do not know whether this was done conspiratorially, or just “happened” as a consequences of social change.

    I can understand that direct democracy, and the authority of the people, could exist in rural areas where people have homes and are not commuters; where life is stable. But I cannot envision a form of direct democracy in a place where people are always on the move, AND the notion of community, or of thinking AS a community, does not even exist.

    In the apartment building I live in, no one visits each other. Only when people happen to see each other, going down or up stairs, or outside in the courtway, will people speak: “Hi,” and that’s it.

    My neighbor downstairs was evicted. I didn’t even learn about this until I saw him walking down the street. After he told me he was evicted, I said, “Man, why didn’t you TELL me! I could have loaned you the money.” But the reality was that, although we were friendly, in passing, we had not established a relationship as members of the APARTMENT building, let alone the surrounding community.

    Here is another issue: The only way that direct democracy can work is that the people be REQUIRED to participate. Otherwise, it will not work. Look at American, so-called “democracy.” It doesn’t work. The turnout for elections is always very low. So, what you end up with is something that Muammar Gaddafi talked about: a DICTATORSHIP where the those whose candidate won–even if only 35% voted for him–will have THEIR desires met due to the fact that voter turnout was low. So, you can have a situation where 40% of the nation is deciding things for the entire nation. This is something that Gaddafi rightly ridiculed.

    But, on the other hand, the SAME THING can happen with a direct democracy. And it is even MORE important for people to participate in a direct democracy than a “representative democracy”–or perhaps just AS important.

    The criticism that I have read about direct democracy is that it can work only in tribal societies, such as Libya, or in smaller societies. But when it comes to large countries, such as the U.S., it can’t work. I am not saying that I agree with that claim, but that’s the argument.

    But, maybe that argument holds only for MODERN, urban societies. But, what about India. Well, India is modernizing. But my guess is that India is still perhaps 80% rural and traditional. Does that mean that direct democracy would have a better chance in India, a large country, due to India having a better sense of community?

    OR, maybe nations should simply not BECOME so large. Maybe that is the lesson of history: Keep the nations small. Maybe direct democracy would work in the U.S. if the U.S. were broken up into different nations [?] I don’t know.

    Well, these are some of the things that I think about. I certainly know that the current systems are CORRUPT, UNWORKABLE, etc. But any new system would require participation by the people. That means that there would have to be fines, imprisonment, or some form of punishment for those who do not participate. I think that some European nations require that the citizens vote. Of course, there is no perfect system, even direct democracy. But direct democracy sounds better than others.

    Thank you for reading this note. I look forward to your comments and observations.

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