I’m an advocate of a political philosophy known as radical democracy, meaning that I believe all human beings have the right to collectively and democratically determine what happens in their own homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, cities, towns, and nations rather than having corporations and other privately-owned entities making decisions for them. I believe that all major infrastructures within a society should be publicly owned and democratically governed, including healthcare, major corporations, banking, and local, state, national, international, and global governing bodies (for real world instances of all these entities as democratic structures, click the links).
Economically, I believe the profit-motive in capitalism needs to be used against itself to redistribute wealth to those in need. When that doesn’t happen, we get a global economy like we have now, one with nearly a billion hungry people worldwide and millions of people dying each year from curable illnesses because there is no immediate profit in feeding or curing the poor. In the U.S., our current political-economic system has resulted in 49 million Americans going hungry, a housing crisis with no end in sight, a healthcare reform effort that got stymied by two-party politics for 75 years and is still creeping along at a snail’s pace, and a decline in real wages for the average American worker in the past 50 years, all in the richest country in the world.
This is NOT to say that the profit motive could or should suddenly and irrevocably be eliminated from our planet. It is to say that we need strong governments, but also governments that are accountable to their citizens because of direct democracy, governments that will limit the power of corporate entities, especially their influence on the electoral process.
And thus, counter to the ‘eastern bloc‘ style of socialism that some think is the only model out there, a model which admittedly has used the word socialism to justify fascism; labor or socialist-or-social democracy parties are alive and well all over the world due to parliamentary structures of government in such countries as Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK. People in these countries have more individual liberty because, as citizens, they have more individual and group power to directly influence their governments, to ensure, in other words, that their governments are protecting their rights and not those of corporations or just those of wealthy individuals.
So, a better definition for modern-day democracy than the ‘eastern bloc’ model provides is something like: a society with heavy regulation of its most important infrastructures by a government made fully accountable to its people through direct democracy. This doesn’t mean that, for example, small businesses should be as heavily regulated as major corporations. Someone with a few oil pumps in Texas doesn’t need to be as heavily regulated as a company like BP, because Joe-Texan-Small-Business-Owner can’t single-handedly destroy the Gulf of Mexico.
What is missing in American politics, in other words, besides better regulation, is a multiple party system capable of electing politicians by a real majority vote, politicians who will look out for the working class (aka the statistical majority of people in America), not just the middle class (Democrats) or the rich (Republicans). And with 33% of adults under thirty now preferring socialism to capitalism, our country may be ripe for such a shift.
If so, I think the gateway into the formation of a truly left party in the U.S. (Green Party + major unions = Labor Party USA?) that has a chance of becoming a real part of the electoral process has to be election reform; the buy-in for the 2008 presidential election was estimated at half a billion dollars, with future candidates expected to raise even more thanks to the Citizens United travesty. In order for ordinary citizens to have a shot at political offices, regulations like spending limits and equal public financing for all recognized political parties are essential.
If you’d like to join me in promoting campaign finance reform in the U.S., please visit Common Cause and/or the Public Campaign Action Fund and, in general: support public financing of elections and an end to corporate funding of elections whenever and wherever you can.
Some Other Causes/Political Sites I Also Support:
Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Defenders of Wildlife
Environmental Defense Fund
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Green Party USA
Independent Media Center
International Labor Rights Forum
Save the Internet
Stop Big Media
Vittana Education Microlending