Trickle-Up Democracy

In an age of bank bailouts and corporate-sponsored candidacies, community farming and local politics can offer a reprieve from disillusionment. “I want a state legislator who will help my Community Supported Agriculture group get its land approved for something other than corn,” the author writes. Credit: Creative Commons/F Delventhal.

I know we’re not supposed to say such things, but I have lost faith in national politics. Yes, I’ll vote in the coming elections and do my part to get the less sold-out, less anti-communitarian candidate in office. But I no longer look to the top tier of centralized government to solve our problems or help us grope toward conclusions together.

For me, big government has become as abstract as the corporations that made it possible. The more I study the emergence of corporate capitalism, the more I see central government as the other side of the same coin: a booming peer-to-peer society was intentionally dismantled during the Renaissance in order to reassert the authority of the aristocracy. This was achieved by giving “chartered monopolies” the exclusive authority to do business in their industries (cronyism) and by giving central banks the exclusive authority to issue currency. All work, trade, lending, and borrowing now had to go through the central authorities. This abstracted what we think of as commerce.

We don’t buy from our neighbors anymore. We buy from the firms our neighbors may work for. We don’t create value; we serve as employees. We have no relationships with our producers. We engage instead with the brands concocted to shield us from the labor embedded in what we buy. We live in a society where laborers are disconnected from their competencies; consumers are disconnected from producers; and consumers are alienated from one another.

We are taught to look up, rather than toward one another, for solutions. Our best presidents, true believers in the corporate-government partnership, try to kick-start our economy by giving banks money in the hope that they will lend money to corporations, which will in turn open factories in depressed regions so that people can get jobs. This only creates more dependence on institutions whose true purpose is to extract value.

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Douglas Rushkoff is the author of a dozen books on media and society, including Life Inc., Program or Be Programmed, Nothing Sacred, and Media Virus. He makes documentaries for PBS Frontline, and teaches and lectures around the world.
 

Source Citation

Rushkoff, Douglas. 2012. Trickle-Up Democracy. Tikkun 27(4): 45.

tags: Economy/Poverty/Wealth, Spirituality, US Politics   
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5 Responses to Trickle-Up Democracy

  1. Evan Ravitz October 22, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Why waste more time on (anti)representative democracy? The embodiment of the “direct” democracy which Occupy and others speak of is, in somewhat crude form, in the ballot initiative process in 24 States. After 18 state legislatures failed to mandate GMO labeling, California Prop 37 looks likely to do it the first time a ballot initiative for it is tried: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Biotech-food-measure-Prop-37-on-ballot-3788811.php

    While the media focus us on the few ballot initiative failures, here in Colorado, since 1994, ballot initiatives gave us the country’s strongest ban on lobbyists giving politicians ANYTHING (Amendment 41), the country’s first Renewable Energy Mandate (37), campaign finance reform (27), increased K-12 funding (23), Background Checks at Gun Shows (22), Medical Marijuana (20), cleaner hog farms (14) and Term Limits (12). Research all US ballot issues yourself with the National Conference of State Legislatures’ database: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/legismgt/elect/dbintro.htm

    What’s needed is to get voters the info legislators, as Oregon is doing: http://healthydemocracy.org And to make it easier to get initiatives on the ballot, and to have NATIONAL ballot initiatives: http://Vote.org

    • Karl Newton November 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      I have just found this site through Reader Supported News (one of the reasons I like that service is being introduced to works like Rushkoff’s and sites like this). I live in upstate NY.
      From what I heard, the CA Prop 37 was expected to pass until a lot of last minute money swamped the scene and defeated it, which, I believe, shows how we have to expect these campaigns and quickly reveal their financial roots BEFORE the elections.

  2. Evan Ravitz October 22, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    I forgot to mention: Rabbi Lerner was the first to endorse the http://Vote.org NATIONAL ballot initiative project, later joined by leaders from Patch Adams to Howard Zinn: http://Vote.org/endorsers

  3. Stephen mills November 14, 2012 at 5:14 am

    I love this truth shared in the simplest way.

    Humanity,s Achilles heel is dependance,in the future people will take more responsibility for there own lives and not entrust corporations and governments to keep them in bondage ,like we are with energy suppliers etc.

    Localising economies is the way forward and is part of embracing tomorrow,s god that say,s you need nothing and encourages you to experience that .

    The movement of power will change from the hand,s of the select few to the hand,s of the many ,the most effective way this can happen is through decentralisation
    ,instead of creating one massive economy ,create lots of little economies all over the place.

    Thank you for this article ,you see another way for humanity to live and free us from debt slavery and poverty .

    Namaste

  4. Stephen mills November 14, 2012 at 5:25 am

    I forgot to mention Hemp is part of the solution can be grown almost any where and can be used for almost anything 50 000 product,s and counting,nothing that you can make from petroleum we can make from HEMP.

    The planet,s number ONE PLANT out of million,s and completely sustainable,you can grow it almost anywhere make the longest, toughest ,softest clothing all the paper you could ever need some of the best medicines on the planet ,plastic products ,build houses with it oh name it we can do it .

    Perfect for a planet that is fossil fuel dependent and crying out for a new model of living and being.

    When you come from oneness in everything ,it will be impossible to do the thing,s that we are doing to our Mother Earth and each other.

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