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Here I present a simple moral argument for the case that our current form of Western democracy is contrary to progressivism. Here I present the strong version that representative democracy is incommensurable with progressivism. Although, I think a weaker version could be made which states that it is not the form but the particulars of extant representative democracy which are inconsistent with the morality of progressivism but still commensurable. In the version presented here, the argument is a call for radicalism.

My argument is influenced by The Founders, Habermas, Keynes, Zizek, Badiou, Lakoff, and like everything I write--Marx.

I say that politics is a system for the production and distribution of rules for governance. This subsumes public administration, policy, and law. At the heart of politics is The Public. The Public consists of public spaces, resources, citizens, and ideas.

The cornerstone and basic element of The Public is mutual aid and care between individuals. The U.S. Constitution begins with the words, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union… promote the general welfare”.

The Union is constituted by individuals working towards a more perfect Union by cooperating to care for one another’s natural human welfare in general, which is the common welfare. This is the historical foundation of The Public in the United States. It is the beginning of the document which establishes the basic rules for the U.S. political system. It was created in and quite appropriate for an agrarian society, but industrial capitalism has since emerged within the same politico-legal framework.

The Public is the foundation of society. It contains within itself rights which form the basis for individual liberties. Resting on the foundation of The Public and enabled by the existence of The Public is the sphere of private life. The exercise of individual liberties emerges from this sphere of private life.

Within the sphere of private life is the capitalist economy. Capitalism is a social technology which exists in the present place and time. It is comprised of households and private enterprise. Economic resources flow back-and-forth between households and private enterprise, and this flow is economic activity.

Households and businesses exchange factors of production, with households supplying labor and private enterprise supplying capital. They also interact in consumer society, with enterprises supplying products and households supplying the profits which their labors enabled.

Flows of monetary capital must continue or capitalism collapses. For flows to continue, perpetual economic growth is required. Capitalism is a perpetual motion machine.

When capital flows are no longer sufficient for internal maintenance, capitalism must draw resources from The Public. If it draws too much from The Public, then The Public is not robust enough to support private life. Recall that capitalism exists within the sphere of private life. Therefore, capitalism can be a self-destructive force. This is what is currently occurring in the U.S. The American nation is on the verge of social collapse.

Citizens can overcome the hurdle of capitalism. However, parliamentary or representative democracy blocks citizens from overcoming capitalism. Our political system, legislative democracy, blocks us from overcoming the hurdle of liberal capitalism.

Legislative democracy is composed of the electoral process, voting mechanics, identity politics/political correctness, the mass media, public legitimacy, and the base of money. Since money is the base of legislative democracy and capitalists have most of the nation’s money, legislative democracy will serve the interests of the capitalists.

The moral basis of progressivism is the same cornerstone and basic element of The Public, mutual aid and care between individuals. In order to legitimate the act of drawing down the resources of The Public, capitalists must undermine the morality of mutual aid, cooperative care, and community union. Representative democracy empowers capitalism, and capitalism is fundamentally incommensurable with progressivism. Therefore, representative democracy is anti-progressive.

The goal of progressives should be to change the issues which make up the composition of legislative democracy into a system which is not fundamentally incommensurable with progressive morality. The political system must first be changed, and then capitalism can be eliminated and the harms it causes the world can be ended.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (0+ / 0-)

    There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

    by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:12:02 PM PDT

  •  In the famous words of GW Bush: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coffeetalk, johnny wurster, JGibson

    "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:30:16 PM PDT

    •  If this were a dictatorship of the proletariat, it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pete Cortez

      would be a heck of a lot easier.

      There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

      by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:34:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Who speaks for the proles? (0+ / 0-)
      •  And the proletariat's will... (0+ / 0-)

        ....would be expressed how, exactly?

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:01:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How are the voters' wills being expressed now? (0+ / 0-)

          There are many schemes for the establishment of an ecosystem of committees with some representation and some without. Anton Panekoek established an elaborate scheme for this. The best answer, is for the proletariat to choose for themselves, at the time, how their will is going to be expressed. The global communications technoloy and other IT which has been developed by corporations could actually be used to empower worker's councils or other proletarian organizations to communicate and aggregate demands for resources and other things which were unavailable to the soviets. Both central planning and diffuse local planning by citizens/workers have never been more possible.

          There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

          by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:18:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Dictators dictate; they do not do. (0+ / 0-)

      Idealists are convinced that having an idea is sufficient; that as soon as the idea is conceived the deed is done.  That's how come Dubya announced mission accomplished when it hadn't even been started.  It's what he said should be and it was -- just like when God said "let there be light."

      It's not just politicians that think that way.  ExxonMobil keeps running ads that claim "all it takes is the idea."

      Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage"

      People to Wall Street, "let our money go."

      by hannah on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:09:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Politics is about the interests of the polis, (0+ / 0-)

    the people. Governance is only necessary, if one presumes that people are unruly and must be manipulated and controlled.  That prejudice happens to serve the interests of people who are into manipulation of other people, mostly because they are unable to control themselves.

    People who cannot control themselves should not be elected to public office to serve the people.  They do not know how to serve. So, there's a problem about what's to be done with them?  

    Representative democracy is fine, if the representative agents are competent to carry out the directives of the polis.  If all they can do is talk a good game, we are in trouble -- as is now the case. Congress, in particular, is overflowing with incompetents.  But, they're in state legislatures, as well. They believe that the best defense against someone finding out how incompetent they are is to go on offense.  So, they're offending every segment of the population they can think of.

    The low approval rating of Congress is not a happenstance.  The people are not stupid.  If the political parties don't recognize that the people they sponsor are incompetent, then the demise of the parties is nigh.

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage"

    People to Wall Street, "let our money go."

    by hannah on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:02:22 PM PDT

    •  hanna, I think you are a good example of someone (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      who believes the particulars of our form of representative democracy is the source of the problem and that my general statement in the strong version is really a contingent statement.

      There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. -Vannevar Bush 1945

      by Nathan Jaco on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:21:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Our government is a Constitutional (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prof Haley, grollen, Nathan Jaco

    Republic where rights of the minority are supposed to be protected against tyrannical rule by the majority.  

    I don't think  Democracy is anti-progressive so much that our government is no longer working properly.  We have Governors making their own laws, gimmicks being used by Congress to keep laws from being enacted, and an almost out of control Supreme Court.  The normal checks and balances are not functioning.  

    We also have no controls over the blatant lies, hate, and fear spewed by faux and rushbo.  Most people are not getting the truth to make sound judgements and decisions.

    "It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." President Barack Obama 3/24/09

    by sfcouple on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:11:37 PM PDT

  •  Econ isn't your strong suit, I see. (0+ / 0-)
    For flows to continue, perpetual economic growth is required.
    As long as the population continues to grow, the economy must grow, otherwise we'll be doing worse off.
  •  Uh, history isn't your strong suit either. (0+ / 0-)

    Representative democracy has been a lot more successful than direct democracies ever were.  That doesn't mean some advanced version of the latter with new forms of accountability couldn't work, but the Occupy movement failed to articulate them and get the public on board - they preferred to become inward-looking and obscure, and keep the ideas exotic and inaccessible so they could feel important and avoid being "co-opted" by the public.  

    Furthermore, you don't get democracy by rejecting capitalism completely, you get bureaucracy - a Hobbesian leviathan state that always winds down into stagnation.   China has grown only because it sucks in economic value from outside its own borders, promiscuously stealing intellectual property and manipulating markets to bleed the rest of the world.  It's a vampire state, and if it had to stand on its own two feet, it would collapse into hot chaos.

    "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

    by Troubadour on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:55:35 PM PDT

  •  No, not really (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nathan Jaco

    We just happen to live in an unusual period in world history.  

    The Agrarian Age and its last bit the Industrial Age are behind us in the U.S.A except for an overhang of people raised in it and its forms.  Yes, Marxism is obsolete here too.  The great break in time is 1968 or so, though it was earlier (early 60s) in the more advanced parts of the country and as late as 1980 in the backwaters.

    We've spent 40-some years essentially arguing and letting go of the old order in pieces.  And similarly, in piecemeal elements, learning and then accepting the various responsibilities and competences and worldviews and forms the next Age requires.

    But we do have this overhang of people more comfortable with the way things were prior to 1968.  And if we're intellectually honest, yes, the burden of proof is on us post-68ers to make the case for the reforms and changes of order we want.  The result has been an era in which the conservative side has had a majority and fought the reforms sought, but they shrink with time and in 2018 or so (1968+50 years) will probably become the minority.

    Great, enduring reforms start with increased justice in social rights and institutions.  These then drive a change in political realities and rights and institutions.  And this then drives change in economic realities and rights and institutions.  Conservatives have been pushed back on social realities but the process hasn't run down to economic reforms of similar magnitude.  At present liberals are taking their social leverage and conservatives their economic forms of it to push the intermediate, government, into their hands.

    I don't see how this is wrong; when popular majority tips then pretty much everything else tips with it.  I don't buy that money buys elections; need is what drives voting.  We've had the closest thing to government by poor people in the form of Obama.  Now we're as a country probably going to give government over to the wealthiest with a squeaker 51% victory and about as skeptical of them as we'll ever be.  Frankly, this is the way to discredit them: give them the power they want most and watch them fail to deliver on the results they claim they can.  And take their hash of a party down with them.

    The Old Order is dying.  When it collapses in 6-8-10 years we're going to wonder at what an imperious opponent it was  and a harsh teacher and why we believed in its immortality.    


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