We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What is Socialism?

by Philip Locker from Socialist Alternative.

Have you noticed that all political-economic systems advocate "democracy"? It is the most used and abused word in the lexicon of Western countries. That is because humanity yearns for it and have struggled for it for thousands of years. Rarely do the advocates make any effort to define what they mean by the word. The writer of this article does.
Socialism would mean a massive expansion of democracy. Instead of simply voting for representatives every few years, while the real decisions are made behind the scenes in corporate boardrooms, socialist democracy would bring collective decision making into the day-to-day functioning of every workplace, neighborhood, school and university. Elected workplace committees would replace bosses. Neighborhood, workplace, and school councils, holding regular meetings, would send representatives to expanded city and regional councils. In turn, such regional councils would elect national representatives.
In contrast to this description are the implied descriptions of capitalist spokespeople that democracy is voting in elections. Because capitalist ruling classes have learned how to hold elections in which they select who gets to run for office, they strongly equate elections with democracy. But, of course, we know better.