The posts since then have argued that -
- few (if any) societies can any longer claim to be democratic
- we need, very loudly, to be exposing such claims to be the falsehoods they are
- a better vision of democracy needs to be articulated
- pressure groups should coalesce around the demand for citizen juries – initially at a municipal level to demonstrate their benefits
- political parties no longer serve any useful purpose
- we should be insisting that governments start focusing on the big issues - which governments currently seem incapable of even attempting to deal with
- using citizen juries
- governments, in other words, should govern
So let me try to pull the posts together by questioning the way the media has placed the issue of political polarisation on the agenda. It’s clear that social media have increased the rancour of the tone of conversations - - certainly since Twitter started in 2006.
· The “mixed economy” which existed from 1950-1980 was an effective system for the West.
· It worked because power was diffused. Each type of power – economic (companies/banks etc), political (citizens and workers) and legal/admin/military (the state) – balanced the other. None was dominant.
· deindustrialisation has, however, now undermined the power which working class people were able to exercise in that period through votes and unions
· a thought system has developed which justifies corporate greed and the privileging (through tax breaks and favourable legislation) of the large international company
· All political parties and most media have been captured by that thought system which now rules the world
· People have, as a result, become cynical and apathetic
· Privatisation is a disaster – inflicting costs on the public and transferring wealth to the few
· Two elements of the “balanced system” (Political and legal power) are now supine before the third (corporate and media power). The balance is broken and the dominant power ruthless in its exploitation of its new freedom
· It is very difficult to see a “countervailing power” which would make these corporate elites pull back from the disasters they are inflicting on us
· Social protest is marginalized - not least by the combination of the media and an Orwellian “security state” ready to act against “dissidence”
· But the beliefs which lie at the dark heart of the neo-liberal project need more detailed exposure
· as well as its continued efforts to undermine what little is left of state power
· We need to be willing to express more vehemently the arguments against privatisation - existing and proposed
· to feel less ashamed about arguing for “the commons” and for things like cooperatives and social enterprise (inasmuch as such endeavours are allowed)
We are so swamped with books these days that someone like me can offer only what catches his eye. But the OECD, Lakoff and Tarrow are significant sources which should be taken seriously!
Catching the Deliberative Wave (OECD 2020) Executive summary of recent important book Innovate Citizen Participation and new democratic institutions - catching the Deliberative Wave
Creating Freedom – the lottery of birth, the illusion of consent, the fight for freedom Raoul Martinez (2016) Fascinating book which starts from the proposition that the current failure of our social systems must lead us to question our foundational beliefs
Can Democracy be Saved? - participation, deliberation and social movements; Donatella Della Porta (2013) Too much of the discussion on democracy is conducted by anglo-saxon political scientists. Here an Italian sociologist makes the connection to the social movement literature