The Anachronism of "Representative Democracy" and the Immediate Need for Democratic Renewal
On the occasion of its 35th anniversary, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) or CPC(M-L), essays the state of the society and the movement in the context of the offensive of US president George W. Bush and his ilk.
(February 2005) -- The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) is organzing the working class to establish itself at the head of a nation-building project so that it vests sovereignty in the people. This project must end the block to the progress of society posed by those who have usurped power by force and rule in the interests of a tiny minority. Nation-building will enable the people at every level of society, in every endeavour, to participate in providing the problems they face with solutions in a manner that favours them.
Crucial to nation-building is the work for the democratic renewal of the political process, to rid it of the Anglo-American imposed system called representative democracy. Today, more than ever before, representative democracy is used to marginalize the peoples, to deprive them of political power and deny them access to a political process that would permit them to have a say in the decisions made in their name. This anachronistic and reactionary system permits the most degenerate and backward elements in society to take decisions that deepen the all-sided crisis, block society's progress and pose ever-greater dangers of fascism and war.
The situation confronting the people is not merely an intensification of the anti-social offensive as a result of the neo-liberal agenda. It is the transformation of the state from social democratic arrangements in the service of monopoly capital of the post-war period to fascist arrangements in the service of the most reactionary sections of monopoly capital.
The fraudulently elected president, U.S. imperialist chieftain George W. Bush, used the occasion of his inauguration for a second term to threaten the world with more terrible consequences if the peoples refuse to elect governments on the basis of representative democracy. Using sham elections, the world is witnessing new measures to negate the people's right to self-determination, which means their very right to be. The tiny minority that rules and has usurped power by force is turning public institutions -- parliaments, courts, armed forces, public service, political parties, trade unions, cultural, social and educational institutions and even charities -- into appendages of the state to defend monopoly right. The transformation of the state from social democratic to fascist arrangements is accompanied by massive disinformation and wrecking of public opinion. For example, the U.S. imperialists applied a self-serving argument to the fraudulent elections held in Iraq:
Saddam Hussein = dictatorship = occupation
U.S. occupation = elections = democracy
Canada uses similar irrational arguments to justify its interference in the internal affairs of sovereign countries calling it a "responsibility to protect" and providing "human security."
Today, it does not matter which question is taken up by the tiny minority that has usurped power by force, it cannot find a solution. It activates the anti-human factor/anti-consciousness and for its own vainglory has embarked on a brutal path of destroying everything humankind has achieved in the past.
One of the salient features of the system of representative democracy is to criminalize all problems arising from differences in ideology, politics, culture and social forms. Far from dealing with such problems of life, they are made the target of law and order and turned into permanent problems. And by doing so, all problems are sorted out through violence. This form of democracy has become so anachronistic, no possibility is available to the working class and broad masses of the people to defend their interests within it. The only recourse for the working class and people is to overthrow representative democracy and replace it with a democracy that is consistent with the demand of the people to govern themselves and exercise control over their lives.
The right of each people to determine the kind of system they want is not merely a political point. To have proletarian internationalism, to create one human race, the precondition is the development of the thinking of all peoples within their own national conditions. This is the first step to seizing power, the kind of power that results from the claims of an oppressed class and people motivated by definite aims.
Wrecking of Public Opinion
Wrecking of public opinion and disinformation are used to deprive the people of their ability to think, find their bearings and set their own agenda. However else public opinion is defined, it must at least be spoken of in terms of what is public and what is opinion. Opinion refers to views held about issues based on personal judgment. Those views can be the expression of a general assessment, evaluation or conclusions drawn from the investigation of facts. Public refers to the concerns and relations of the people as a whole. Society has developed to a stage where it is necessary for various needs of the people to be provided socially and not individually, exemplified in the need for public health, education, infrastructure and culture, an enlightened society fit for all its members with a healthy natural and social environment.
Public opinion refers to the general feelings, attitudes and views expressed especially in respect to decision-making in the body politic. What is the relation of personal judgments (opinions) and public opinion within the polity? Is public opinion the summation of all individual and personal opinions? How does this work?
Minimally, public opinion stands in opposition to what is detrimental to the public. It concerns the public domain as distinct from the private. Those concerns relating to the people as a whole and to the general interests of society are opposed to the narrow, secretive and private concerns of those who have usurped power by force and use royal prerogative, impunity and privilege. The general interests are those that affect the whole of society -- issues of war and peace, the environment, poverty, etc.
Individuals and collectives need to be able to harmonize their conflicting interests with the general interests of society. For this to occur the people must have the right to assemble, speak, take stands and do other things, which are all public needs. Public rights must be guaranteed through public law that allows for governance of the people by the people and for the people in opposition to the claims of cliques representing narrow self-interest, big business and their supporters, who are today's wreckers of society and public opinion.
Everything known by humans, the achievements and results of class struggle and struggles for production and scientific experimentation (including culture) belong to and are of the public, as are all the experiences gained by the people participating politically.
Public opinion is connected to the right to conscience and enlightenment. The very existence of public opinion and the right to conscience are under threat from the wrecking activities of the Bush regime and others who direct their wrecking at anything public. Wrecking is directed at all the personalities of the enlightenment and the achievements of the natural and social sciences. Wrecking is directed at the legacies and traditions of the people resisting oppression and fighting for democracy and independence.
Disinformation is a weapon used by the wreckers. The purpose of disinformation is to destroy public opinion, leaving all the public treasures vulnerable to the onslaught of the wreckers. An atmosphere of medievalism is created replacing public opinion. Wrecking takes place to prevent new form being provided for the new content. A new form would unleash an energy that would be a great advantage to the people.
If the energy of the people, the result of their modern productive power, is expropriated in the service of the tiny minority of usurpers, the new content will not have its appropriate form. The energy as collective intelligence must be used to create new forms. Otherwise, the energy of the people resulting from the modern productive power is a destructive force used against the new content. To resist the dis-informing, this new content must be in-formed. The people who are the essence of this new content require this information, which is an aspect of public life. Wrecking takes aim at the new content and new form, destroying both with disinformation, destroying the informing energy. Just as modern science was developed first against creationism and other medieval notions, this contemporary wrecking and disinformation must be rejected. Public opinion must be created that overcomes the medieval atmosphere of the wreckers. A modern enlightened public opinion is needed. Such a public opinion will expose in clear relief the power of informed world public opinion in opposition to the disinforming wreckers.
The Negation of Direct Experience
Direct experience involves active participation in or exposure to events, things or phenomena. Direct experience results in knowledge and skills due to the involvement in what happens. Awareness is created from involvement, contact and the resulting knowledge. The awareness is of the past and the result of what has happened. The awareness is of a beginning and end. Direct experience is an objective phenomenon with a beginning and end, past and present existing as part of an integral whole. Calling experience direct emphasizes that it exists in itself. That experience actually exists means it can be indicated with accuracy and precision. But this indication or naming of the experience is not the concrete content of the experience itself, which is conditioned by and expresses its historical period. Direct experience exists on the basis of its immediate interconnections, without somebody or something intervening; no mediation or intervention can alter the fact of its existence. But the very fact of the interconnections and development of its concrete content conditioned by its time and space makes knowing direct experience, like any other knowledge of phenomena, relative, and in need of investigation and analysis.
Based on the way people produce and reproduce what is needed for life, they enter into definite relations with one another and with nature. They produce food, clothing, shelter and other things considered necessary. They also produce social relations, society and other features of human interaction. Needs for all these things are produced and reproduced with the continuous creation of new needs. By engaging in class struggle and struggles for production, culture and scientific experimentation, people directly experience their conditions of life and take up problems for solution. Direct experience in this sense is connected to the satisfaction of human needs and to the underlying human relations locally, nationally and internationally.
Direct experience is based on definite interconnections with nature and society and is expressed by people's interests and passions. Individuals and collectives in their relation to nature and society express those interests and passions. The interconnections, passions and relations really exist. Their reality means they are social and natural matter. All of this reality is reflected on the human brain and all of this creates awareness. The consciousness people have of all these connections and changes exists objectively. Because of this existence, direct experience becomes the basis of transforming consciousness into matter and matter into consciousness.
Public opinion is developed from the direct experience of individuals in their collectives and society in general. Public opinion pertains especially to the polity and questions of decision-making. Public opinion is the expression given to the general attitude and feeling around particular issues of concern. Issues of general concern stand in relation to the interests of individuals, collectives and society, all of which are filled with contradictions. Within the polity the conflict among all the contending interests is expressed as the conflict of the popular will and the legal will.
The negation of direct experience is based on the destruction of public opinion. The negation of direct historical experience includes annihilation of the consciousness that objectively exists in the form of laws, governance, political wisdom and common sense. This negation is directed against a consciousness of the past and present.
Civil Death: Infamy and the Assault on the Inviolability of Direct Experience
Direct experience of an individual, collective or society, involves participation in activities or events resulting in knowledge and skills. The awareness of this involvement and the sum of things that have happened, past acts, affects and other phenomena are taken as an integral whole. The connections of everybody with everything else and the sharing and caring of which humans are capable make direct experience not simply part of reality but inviolable. The direct experience of actual historical circumstance is inviolable because, in spite of all mediating factors, this experience is simultaneously connected to and dependent on everything else within its own time and space.
Wrecking exists by negating direct experience. A claim is made by those who have usurped power by force that direct experience emerging from class struggle, the struggles for production and scientific experimentation is not the basis for knowledge of reality. In this way wrecking destroys any common awareness of all of the achievements in those areas of direct experience. Wrecking does not consider direct experience as part of reality. It suggests reality is merely the opinions and wishes of those who have usurped power by force. They impose their views as abstractions, independent of the concrete content of reality of direct experience.
This is the heart of U.S. President George W. Bush's second term and explains the program pursued by the United States at home and abroad and by the British and other powers of Old Europe, by Canada and other countries referred to by Winston Churchill, at the inception of the Cold War, as the "fraternal association of English-speaking peoples." Bush's inaugural address, full of references to the medieval Crusades in the name of "freedom as an eternal right," presents the future as one of infamy and slavery. The heart of his attack centres on the inviolability of direct experience. He attacks the historical experience of the world's peoples and throws out all the knowledge they have gained of how the world operates. He declares that the only thing the world needs is an abstract notion of freedom as an "eternal right." According to Bush, the reason people have rights is because they are created in the image of an abstraction by an abstraction, his god. He says the people have rights if they accept direction from the "author of life" (the authority). Bush demands adherence to his "author of life" (the authority) to smash all self-consciousness and consciousness that comes from the accumulated struggles and achievements of the peoples of the world. This absolute negation of historical direct experience is advanced by Bush as a claim that his form of justice always has been, is and will always be the same. Paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, he states that those who are opposed to his freedom (enslavement) must be deprived of their freedom -- yet another expression of his warning that "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Bush is not merely acting the hypocrite speaking in abstractions while carrying out reactionary policies, nor is he simply trying to deceive the people with further lies. Bush and his mentors put forward a theological medieval worldview under modern conditions, rooted in the law of slavery and its policy of infamy.
The U.S. Constitution, which emerged from the enlightenment movement of the eighteenth century, promoted a role for conscience within the domain of public opinion, as a basis for governance to avert tyranny. White men of property were for the most part the ones to benefit. Still, the authors of the Constitution saw a particular need to destroy the power of medievalism and clericalism by removing the arbitrary power of government to infame its citizens.
The use of infamy by political or religious authorities was a central aspect of feudal rule. By means of infamy, the state could strip people of their legal personality and humanity. Those infamed were subjected to all the tortures and debasements allowed to the condition known as capitio dimunitio, or civil death. This was the position of chattel slaves. Today, under the sway of the wrecking of the tiny minority that rules and has usurped power by force, the use of infamy by government authorities has been reintroduced in full form. It has become the basis to enact laws governing all spheres of life within the United States, Britain, Canada and other countries of the so-called civilized world. It is the basis of attempts by those countries to reform the United Nations and establish the so-called New World Order in which they and they alone hold the decision-making power internationally. With civil death as a condition of life for growing numbers of the people, public opinion in the United States and elsewhere is under full attack, as is the U.S. Constitution that was supposed to guarantee public opinion within a republican form of government.
The reactionaries who have usurped power by force in the U.S. seek to impose the same civil death and wrecking of public opinion onto the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, either through local collaborators or through direct intervention into the nations and lives of those people who refuse to cooperate with the U.S. dictate. The law of slavery has begun to gain among those who have usurped power by force. The weapons of reaction in their wrecking activities include:
o ignorance (against science and enlightenment);
o incompetence (against validity in law and science and against the skills and intelligence needed for civilization);
o intolerance (racism, exceptionalism, eurocentrism and the metaphysics of Indian hating);
o infamy (civil death and the law of slavery); and,
o impunity (rule by dictate, privilege and prerogative).
Progressive people recognize the importance of the work to create a bulwark of humanity to defeat the dangers of fascism and war. To open society's path to progress requires work to elaborate and put in place a modern conception of democracy and to develop the enlightenment movement against the wrecking of public opinion and the negation of direct experience.
The immediate need is to involve the working class and people in providing themselves with a political theory that places the people at the centre stage of development. A political process based on such a theory would facilitate the people governing themselves. Now is the time to replace the brutal system of representative democracy under whose aegis all public institutions of society are being transformed into appendages of a fascist state. A form of democracy is needed which is consistent with the interests of the working class and peoples to govern themselves and exercise control over their lives.
Source: TML Daily, February 22, 2005 - No. 2 cpcml.ca
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