Democracy Now!

By John Stang

The OWS movement has a similar ring to the Green Party or the Libertarian Movement, bringing democracy back to the people.  This means letting communities decide and finding a way to ways to let people have legitimate control of the political system that is not hampered by corporate interests.  Anne Applebaum comments about the problems with protesting democracy:

Of course these international protests do have a few things in common, both with one another and with the anti-globalization movement that preceded them. They are similar in their lack of focus, in their inchoate nature, and above all in their refusal to engage with existing democratic institutions. In New York, marchers chanted, “This is what democracy looks like,” but actually, this isn’t what democracy looks like. This is what freedom of speech looks like. Democracy looks a lot more boring. Democracy requires institutions, elections, political parties, rules, laws, a judiciary and many unglamorous, time-consuming activities, none of which are nearly as much fun as camping out in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral or chanting slogans on the Rue Saint-Martin in Paris.

She continues:

Unlike the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, to whom the London and New York protesters openly (and ridiculously) compare themselves, we have democratic institutions in the Western world. They are designed to reflect, at least crudely, the desire for political change within a given nation. But they cannot cope with the desire for global political change, nor can they control things that happen outside their borders. Although I still believe in globalization’s economic and spiritual benefits — along with open borders, freedom of movement and free trade — globalization has clearly begun to undermine the legitimacy of Western democracies.

Institutions, institutions, institutions – those are what the protesters want to reform.  Getting inside the institution to change it hardly makes for easy change.  Slow, painstaking procedures like the filibuster in the senate is an example of this problem in action that needs to be reformed, but by being a member of the senate, you will not be likely to change it.  See what happened when they did try at the beginning of the year.  Outside movements make more a direct impact than those who are on the inside.  It relates the problem more to the people and vents frustrations in a more public manner.  The OWS movement, I would argue is doing what Applebaum suggests, it recognizes that we do live in a democratic society, but the institutions are letting us down and not serving the people.  Corporate finance for them is the link that is creating that disconnect, you can argue others cause it to, but corporate greed and malice is the most obvious.

Is democracy messy?  Yes  Will it ever be perfect? hardly so.  Can major improvement be made to make it stronger?  Absolutely!

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Filed under democracy, Occupy Wall Street

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