In 2002/3 John Jopling and I wrote
Redefining Globalisation and People-Power
This site introduces its key ideas and some associated topics
Leading the Gaian Revolution: Commonsense for Desperate Times
Gaian Democracies: Redefining Globalisation & People-Power by Roy Madron & John Jopling
From: Book 4 of "LEADING THE GAIAN REVOLUTION: COMMONSENSE FOR DESPERATE TIMES
To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln's Gettusburg Address, liberal democracies are best described as
During the 19th Century the 2-House Anglo-American model of representative government, with a Head of State who could be either hereditary (as in Britain and Prussia) or elected (as in the France, USA and much of Latin America) came to be the preferred option.
Under these constitutional arrangements, the elected, un-elected, hereditary, intellectual, commercial, mercantile, financial, military, religious and professional elites invariably endorsed Aristotle's view that, "no man can practice excellence and virtue who is living the life of a craftsman or labourer"
On that basis, every stage and phase of the policy-making and implementation process had to be dominated by what James Madison called 'the opulent. Because the opulent were wealthy and/or leisured and/or well-born, they are possessed of a moral superiority that flows from a natural excellence, independence of mind, careful rearing, and an expensive education at exclusive schools and universities.
At the same time, with a little constitutional sleight-of-hand, so-called Representative Government could be easily manpulated so as to offer a minimal measure of accountability to the unopulent majority, while being logistically feasible and politically stable regardless of population, territorial size and inadequate communications.
Provided the right to vote was also limited to, say, male Protestant property-owners over 25 years of age, representative government would be able to prevent radical attacks on the prevailing systems of class, wealth and privilege.
By the close of the 19th Century, however, many radical democrats wanted much more. They argued that democracy should be a continuing process in which the power to directly influence decisions would be extended ever more widely, to more and more groups of people who had formerly been excluded not only by their lack of wealth and social standing, but also by their gender, religion or colour of skin. As Tom Bottomore said in "ELITES AND SOCIETY", [Penguin 1966]:
Yet, somehow, at the start of the 21st Century we are assured that whether we live in New York or Nether Wallop, Bremen or Biarritz, Madrid or Moscow, Bogota or Bloemfontein, if we are allowed to vote in regular, "free and fair" elections, speak our minds in public and are free from the fear of arbitrary arrest and punishment, we are enjoying the benefits of democratic government,
Not merely in the 19th century, but twentyfive centuries ago, ordinary citizens of Athens, Sparta and Corinth, philosophers such as Protagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, statesmen and soldiers such as Pericles and Thucidydes, playwrights such as Aristophanes would be astonished at our ignorance and naivete. To them, a system of government that was in all essentials still designed to protect the opulent could not be called ‘a democracy.
• GAIAN SYSTEMS • LIBERATING LEADERSHIP • PARTICIPATORY SYSTEMS CHANGE • PAULO FREIRE'S LEARNING PRINCIPLES • SHARED PURPOSES AND PRINCIPLES • SOFT SYSTEMS •
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Roy Madron 2008