Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Private property" is inseparable from plutocracy

Here's something to think about: pretty much every human ever in the history of humans has had personal belongings, things that belonged to that person and/or their immediate family – cooking utensils, gardening tools, weapons, clothing, jewelry – the stuff of everyday life. And here's what the plutocrats can't comprehend – people generally don't need a concept of "private property" to have some basic respect for other people's personal effects. Just being a member of a community of people who know each other is good enough almost all the time!

But when you hear plutocrats and their toadies talk sanctimoniously about "private property," they are not really talking about things like your phone, or your car, or the stuff in your house, or even your house. They are talking about private ownership of things out in public – public things – things like oil under the ocean, forests in the mountains, the radio spectrum, money (which is public debt and public power). That's the "private property" they're worried about protecting from democracy – the private ownership of public things – not Joe Citizen's bigscreen tv. 

The modern Enlightenment concept of "private property" was only required when people started claiming things that weren't their personal belongings – like vast countrysides, ports, forests, resources buried underground – and asserting the dual right to exclude others and to use the "property" in their own, individually-determined self-interest. Only when people start claiming dominion over public things do the grabbers have to come up with rationalizations, learned assertions (backed by the force and law of the Nation-State) that this idea of "private property" (enabling the private to control the public) is some kind of "natural law" that the public has no choice but to bow down to. Obviously, the elites have no moral authority to deny that the basic right of democracy includes the right to abolish the current regime and institute new ways of organizing life that would not have to include the capitalist plutocracy concept of "private property." Of course, if you have the force and law of the Nation-State on your side, you don't necessarily need moral authority to impose your will on the public. But no matter how powerful the controlling elites become, the public, the people – the human beings who make up a society – always have the ultimate right and ability to demand and enact democracy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Democracy People ...

... the five-step path:

At birth, every human being is equally deserving of respect and equally deserving of a society where she or he can live a good life.

Good citizens and decent people live by the following principle of morality and freedom: do unto others as you would have them do unto you, or your children or mother or whoever you care most about in the world. The golden rule demonstrates that morality ("the way a person should act") is SOCIAL; it's about how you treat other people and the extent to which you consider how your actions will affect other people. *

With golden rule-morality as the starting point, the ideal political form is what can be called "true democracy," which is to say that people govern themselves – any governing is by and for the people being governed in any particular situation. Wouldn't you want the opportunity to participate in any decision that affects you? The golden rule demands we extend that right to all. And that is true democracy. **

Within the open-honest-thoughtful discussions that make up the political process of true democracy, good citizens and decent people will consider the good of everyone affected by the decision to be made, as called for by the golden rule. If people try to argue for a course of action based on selfish-interest, good citizens and decent people will recognize and critique such positions as anti-democratic.

Live and let live; look kindly on people, both generally and specifically; feel free to find and create ways to be happy and enjoy life any way you can without hurting or infringing on others.

* In other words, morality is not a code laying down specific "don't dos" and "do dos" in order to be a good person. If you personally want to also live by some code of ethics with strict rules of what you can and cannot do, that's your business, you are free to do so as long as it does not interfere with anyone else. (See Step 5.) We have the right to expect people to act morally, but good citizens and decent people do not try to impose their particular ethical code on anybody else who does not choose to live that particular way.

** Fundamental respect for our fellow humans, and the consequent application of the golden rule, means that decisions in true democracy are not determined by 51-to-49 votes; they are decided through open, honest, thoughtful discussions aimed at consensus on what is in the group interest, and if no consensus can be reached, when about 2/3 of the people agree on a course of action, the other third should accept the democratic decision and go along, or else break away. (See Step 5.)