Richard Moore

Dear friends,

Many thanks to all of your who gave feedback on previous
drafts.  Your inputs forced me to start anew.  I hope this
is closer to the mark.

all the best,



How is it that elites are running the world when the most
powerful nations claim to be democracies?  Not only are
these nations officially called democracies, but most of
their citizens believe it to be true.  Clearly democracy and
elite rule cannot exist at the same time.  Something in this
scenario doesn't make sense.

The answer to this dilemma is that what we call democracy is
not really democracy.  We have been taught to believe that
choosing between competing candidates is what democracy is
all about.  It isn't.  Who decides who the candidates are?
Who finances their campaigns?  Whose interests do candidates
really serve once they are elected? These are the kinds of
questions that need to be answered if we want to begin to
understand what democracy is about.

If a candidate wants to get elected, funds are needed to
run a campaign.  A candidate who is wealthy - or who has
access to the wealth of others - is able to run a more
impressive campaign.  Therefore wealthy people are able to
influence elections to their own advantage - and therefore a
political system based on competing candidates is ideally
suited to corruption by wealthy interests.  That is the

Two thousand years ago, in the ancient Roman Republic, most
modern forms of political corruption were already well
known.  Voting-district boundaries were manipulated to favor
one constituency over another.  Candidates lied to get
votes, bribed voters, and sought the favor of wealthy
interests. Astronomical sums were spent on campaigns.  Then
as now, democracy was the rhetoric - and rule by elites was
the reality.  And then as now, the ultimate outcome was a
society ruled by tyranny while the people were distracted by
bread and circuses.  Today, candidates for major offices are
selected and funded by elites, groomed by public-relations
consultants, and then sold to the voters like a new brand of
blue jeans.  This is not democracy.

Even if candidates sincerely want to represent the wishes of
their constituencies - how could they know what those wishes
were?  If most people participate in politics only by
occasional voting, then how are their wishes to be known?
And if those people are lied to by the media, then how could
their wishes be relevant to their own self-interest or the
interest of their families and communities?  How could such
a system possibly lead to a democratic result?  It cannot
and it does not.  Again we are faced with dual-agenda
propaganda.  The public reality is democracy; the hidden
reality is elite rule.

In order to understand how a genuine version of democracy
might work, let us consider the "excess democracy" that
frightened elites in the late 1960s and caused them to respond
with their neoliberal assault on democratic institutions.
If elites were worried, then perhaps we the people were on
to something useful.  That "excess democracy" took the form
of massive grass-roots movements.  These movements did not
overthrow governments, nor did they exercise power directly
- but they were powerful instruments of democracy

Such movements spread information without depending on
mass-media channels.  They acted as vehicles of public
education by means of teach-ins, and speeches at mass
rallies.  They reflected public opinion and they helped form
public opinion.  They served as forums where people could
discuss and develop their common interests - and where they
could pursue those interests collaboratively.  By means of
such movements people became politically active instead of
politically passive.  In the face of such movements, our
official democratic institutions were forced to live up to
their best purposes - reflecting popular will.  For a
few dramatic years, these movements made democracy somewhat
of a reality.  For elites this was a threat; for we the
people it was a glimmer of hope - genuine democracy is
perhaps possible.

Historically there have been many previous mass movements:
for better working conditions, union recognition, votes for
women, the abolition of slavery, and others.  Some of these
movements were much larger than those of the sixties and
achieved even more dramatic results.  One of the largest in
the USA was the Agrarian Populist movement at the beginning
of the twentieth century.  That movement was directed
against capitalist elites - especially the big East Coast
banks.  The Populists succeeded in electing officials at
many levels of government and came very close to getting
their candidate elected to the U.S. Presidency.

Although government leaders typically claim credit for
democratic reforms implemented while they are in office, it
has always been mass movements which have actually been
responsible for achieving those reforms.  Elected
governments respond to external pressures, and mass
movements are the means by which the people are able to
exert pressure.  Mass movements have been the source of
whatever genuine democracy the West has experienced.  By
understanding how movements have succeeded - and how they
have failed - we can hope to create the conditions for a
permanent version of genuine democracy: an era of DEMOCRATIC

The sad fact is that democratic mass movements seem to arise
only OCCASIONALLY.  Sometimes they arise when people are
especially threatened, and sometimes when people feel
especially confident.  Sometimes movements are beaten down
and fail utterly.  Sometimes, as with today's environmental
movement - they become a seemingly permanent part of the
political landscape - but they lose their initial fire and
effectiveness.  In most cases movements are defeated by
their own success: as soon as they achieve some degree of
reform, they lose their energy and die out.

Meanwhile, elites exert a CONSTANT pressure on elected
officials.  Please excuse my choice of metaphor, but
democratic movements can be compared to the story of the
Three Little Pigs.  When people have risen up in their mass
movements they have built houses of straw.  Their reforms
have lasted for a while, but eventually the elite Big Bad
Wolf has always come along and blown them down.  If we want
democracy to last, we must build a house of brick.  We must
establish vibrant, ongoing mass movements that compel our
democratic institutions to respond to popular will on an
ongoing basis.

In early December 1999 a ministerial meeting of the World
Trade Organization was held in Seattle Washington.
Activists from around the world, from many different
"causes", and across social divisions, all gathered in
opposition to the WTO - the central symbol of the global
regime.  Television viewers worldwide were aware of the
street demonstrations, the violent response of the
authorities, and the fact that the WTO process was
temporarily stalled.  But these were not the strategically
significant events.  Of STRATEGIC significance was the fact
that an embryonic movement became aware of itself and
accelerated a collaborative movement-building process.  It
was in the street demonstrations that a visceral feeling of
MOVEMENT SELF AWARENESS arose; it was in the less dramatic
classes and discussion groups that the COLLABORATIVE PROCESS
gathered momentum.

If new-world-order global tyranny is to be overcome, this
beginning spark of a democratic mass movement may represent
our last and best hope.  In order to succeed, this movement
must learn from the successes and failures of past movements
and it must aim to become a permanent political force. If we
fail in these objectives - and the elite global regime is
allowed to consolidate its power - then we are unlikely to
get another chance.  Like the Germans after 1933, we will
find that our democratic options have been taken away from
us.  And in our case, there will be no one left to come to
our rescue.

In closing, permit me to list those lessons which - in my
humble opinion - are of greatest importance to the success
of a movement for a democratic renaissance.

    * Capitalism cannot be reformed.  In its earlier stages,
    compromise between capitalism and democracy was to some
    extent possible.  But capitalism is like a cancer and it has
    now reached its terminal state.  Perhaps humanity has
    benefitted from capitalism.  So be it.  But capitalism has
    now passed its sell-by date.

    * Contrary to Marxist thinking, ending capitalism does not
    mean ending private property, free enterprise, or commerce.
    Those things have existed for thousands of years while
    capitalism in its modern form is only a few centuries old.
    Ending capitalism has to do with ending absentee ownership
    and non-liability ownership.  The corporation is a powerful,
    amoral robot and it must be left behind so that humanity can
    survive and prosper.

    * Mass-media propaganda is the key to elite control.  Ending
    corporations and capitalism will go a long way toward
    alleviating this evil.  But any kind of centralized
    information control is anathema to democracy.

    * Economics must be sustainable.  The alternative is poverty
    and instability for future generations.

    * Rather than a decision-making process, democracy is more a
    collaborative, consensus-based process.  Voting is an
    attempt to avoid thinking through problems.

    * Democracy must be locally based.  Tyranny by a majority is
    still tyranny.  Better a little local injustice than a
    centralized regime.  Local variations of all sorts are healthy
    and natural - within the boudns of peaceful collaboration.

    * These kinds of fundamental changes must occur globally if
    they are to survive.  The energy of a global movement
    against elite tyranny can be used to establish a lasting,
    livable, peaceful world.

    * Lasting peace requires that all nations be approximately
    the same size and power, and that armaments be reduced to
    minimal levels - for use only in maintaining peace.

    * Sovereignty must be distributed.  All systems fail
    sometimes and the failure of world government could lead to
    tyranny for everyone.

    * The movement itself must be peaceful and democratic.

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