17 December 2011

The General Assembly Concept for Local Government in the U.S. (Part I--Draft_)

The Occupy Movement is providing a model of participatory democracy that has the promise to replace the government of cities and regions.   There are many stages that have to happen before this become a reality. But, this blog entry will not discuss this.  It will discuss in a possible framework of how that this can be ultimately institutionalized within the U.S. political system.  However, to arrive at how local governments will ultimately be governed by general assemblies, it is useful to develop the foundation on which it will be built which is a chaotic, fractal and complex urban environment.  I have discussed how urban planning can be adapted on this blog and in articles (see “Complexity Theory and Urban Planning” in Urbana: Urban Affairs and Public Policy  ) In this blog entry, I discuss: 1)the complexity of cities; 2) brief look at the procession of  political economy paradigms  (focusing on the present transitory phase);  and 3)Struggles toward  the new era.
While part of this blog and the entire Occupy Movement is concerned with educating the public (the Ninety-Nine Percent) that the One Percent has infused itself in every aspect of the global society and is scale-less.  We, as those looking forward to a better future for urban areas, must go beyond these discussions and visualize future scenarios for local government that is inclusive to all peoples, regardless of income, nationality, race, sexual orientation, disability or age. We must look upon this a struggle against the One Percent whose systems of government is dying with no chance of recovery and reform from within, as a transitory stage with the implicit understanding that the victors will be the Ninety-Nine Percent. In other words, the arrival of a new system is a fait accompli and those in the intelligentsia  and noblis oblige must actively start to envision the framework for the new reality.   

As is all social/political/economic movements form out of chaos resulting from the conflict of a system that is failing against the ‘new arrival’ which will become the new paradigm for social/political/economic environment.  All systems emerge, grow and eventually are subject to entropy as there concepts become inadequate. This can be readily seen with technology One technology such as the steam engine, emerged from a need to have better productivity and mobility, it became the impetus for the industrial revolution and an expanded transportation network that transformed the world.. However, in time due to mankind’s boundless, electricity, combustion engines (including the automobile, jet engine) and related technology replaced the steam engine to a minor role.  It is also the case with political/economic movements. For example, at one time every citizen in Europe was the subject of a King and nobility who at one point provided stability, but had abused its power which was all encompassing (social, political and economic), built enormous palaces and lived lives that were filled with luxuries (far beyond their citizens.), and ignored the plight of their subjects which were deteriorating.. Their society had been built on the labor of the masses and the emerging bourgeois saw that the nobility were corrupt and being a detriment to their lives. The intelligentsia instead of writing treatises for the nobility constructed economic theories (i.e, Adam Smith) and political theories (i.e.,  Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau) that would become the structure for modern political economies.  The industrial revolution transformed this movement creating a growing middle class, but a more powerful ‘economic elite”, which subsequently were responsible for global imperialism coupled with an almost constant state of war to get resources.  These trends continued and became increasingly oppressive again the majority which were mostly middle class and the growing poor in developing countries.

Like the nobility before them, the elite of the bourgeois started to abuse their power and now control most of the global wealth and the political structure of the nation-states (which was also a concept that matured during their era)  Like the nobility during the feudal era they had provided increased stability and increased economic prosperity. These bourgeois ‘economic elite’ who wanted more wealth and was complicit and entwined with the growing profits of mufti-national corporations designed a system to get more wealth. This strategy was enabled by an efficient communication/transportation system, the opening up of the labor in developing countries, particularly China and to a lesser extent India, Bangladesh, and Brazil, and loosing in of financial regulations, enabled by co-opted governments, particularly in the U.S. This strategy started in the late 1970s and early 1980s , coinciding with the conservative governments of Reagan, Thatcher and other neo-liberal governments. The first step in this strategy was the ‘outsourcing’ of jobs in the developing countries talking jobs away from citizens in developed countries.  Of course, the developing countries benefited, but millions of their population were not significantly better than before.  Those in the U.S. and other countries saw their industrial base reduced dramatically. The outsourcing of jobs produced enormous profits for the multinational and the economic elite.  Their extravagance increased just as the nobility of the latter feudal age and then created mansions, compounds, and resorts catering to them.  The wealth created was phenomena, but not shared with the middle class directly. The scheme devised them to not to give any money away to the masse, but to lend it to them in form of credit. The real wages of the middle class was not increasing and some cases decreasing. Drawn by the ‘aura’ of the American Dream/Bougouse Dream of owner-occupied homes and more material wealth they had no choice but to accept credit.  These high interest loans created more money for the economic nobility. They used this money to absolutely control political parties to do their bidding and to ‘gamble’ with stocks (hedge funds, derivatives and futures.) and mortgages. The economy was apparently humming along, but was really built on a ‘house of cards.’Debt was increasing because the social welfare net and later protracted wars were being paid by creating more money, not taxation of corporations or the wealthy. It was inevitable that things were going to burst.  These were not the elements of normal recessions, but of economic collapse. The minority (AKA The One Percent ) had played a ‘game of chicken’ at the expense of the global population (AKA the Ninety-Nine Percent.)  Democracy and capitalism were laid to waste and were now devoid of their original purposes.  This One Percent ignored the environment, and accelerated our use of non-renewal energy sources in their greed, while the voices of sanity among those in the intelligentsia representing the interests of the Ninety-Nine Percent constantly warned them of the consequences of their actions. 

The ‘bubble burst’, as could have been predicted, resulting in a realization that the political and economic system was broken and could not be repaired by legislation or financial fixes. The financial institutions were given large amount of money, which they used  to sustain their power and wealth. The Ninety-Nine Percent became the victims becoming unemployed, under-employed, losing their pensions, homeless, renting instead of owning a house, working in part-time jobs without benefits or forced into the military (if they were young) because there were jobs at home.  The realization by the Ninety-Nine Percent was that the system had completely broken down   As stated earlier, the geographic locus where these disparities occurred was in the cities of the world.

Now, as in past times, the U.S and the world are in a state of chaos. Emerging is the opposition force which represents the fledgling start of a new system which started only a few month ago with the Occupy Wall Street Movement. This is backed by a growing intelligentsia who know that the system is absolutely corrupt and needs drastic overhaul and a growing amount of the world population.  The defenders of the ‘old regime’ (The One Percent) are fueled by the enormous amount of wealth that has been used to create propaganda against the movement (since they now own all major media sources) and to control all elected officials (liberal and conservative.)  The Republican Party is the ‘mouthpiece’ of the One Percent and their lackeys. 
The aim of the Republican Party, now dominated by the One Percent controlled Tea Party, is not to reform, but to carry on as before and intimidate the opposition.  Two recent actions by the U.S. Congress: the ability to detain ‘terrorists’ on U.S. soil indefinitely, and the allowed use of drones within the U.S. clearly indicate that they will use violent force to curtain and ‘terrorize’ the growing movement.  It is also very clear that Obama’s opposition is being ‘bought out’ by the One Percent as he has not vetoed these bills.  The latest but, not the last trick of the Republicans, is linking renewal of the pay roll tax reduction on the middle class with the proposed Canadian-American pipeline.  It is evident that they will not reform tax laws and do not want the economic elite to pay their fare share.  Also, they are not even considering mortgage relief, investment in job creation or reducing our huge defense budget. It is dismal state of affairs as the One Percent are clearly indicating to the U.S. and the world population that they are unwilling to take any corrective measure, despite that this unwillingness will hasten their demise.

So,  here we are at the precipice of a new age. One that is the same time exciting and frightening. One that is fraught with the signals of repression from the One Percent and one bursting with hope of equality, prosperity, sustainability and a new beginning. There will emerge leaders. In fact there are several that are standing with the Occupy Movement, but are in the minority in the U.S. Congress.  The Republican primaries will be the forum for the U.S. public to express their distrust of these lackluster, uninformed and ‘puppets of the One Percent.’  It is quite clear from the debates that they are expressing views that are in direct opposition to the interest of an increasing amount of the U.S. population.  Their supporters have been unfortunately brain-washed into thinking their interests lie with those of the One Percent.  Their non-intellectual shills are pervasive on all websites of the opposition degrading the Occupy Movement followers and spouting conservative conspiracy theories. These individuals are either planted by the Republican Party or self-inspired to carry on offensive speech. It should be noted that this type of propaganda was a hallmark of the Nazi Party prior to their take over of the German government. I think is fair to call some of the supporters of the Republicans Neo=Fascist. Some of those in the U.S. Congress could be labeled in this manner. However, this is not name-calling as some Republicans like to bandy around calling Obama’s policies, Communist or Socialist, but a perceive observation and reflection. It causes me no delight in these labels, as the possible consequences of those in the radical portion who are such emblazoned or also ones that could potentially be self-appointed ‘Storm Troopers’ against the opposition., encouraged by the rhetoric of hate spewing forth from the media and right-wing politicians.

As expressed earlier, a new age is upon us. There will be changes that will result in a better world.  However, we might have to go through horrible events before this new era dawns. The people of Syria are seeing these events unfold daily as experience the violence that is being used to suppress the growing opposition movement. The Egyptians are still pressing toward a democracy fighting the transitional government linked to the military.  The Iranian opposition has been pushed underground by a brutal regime that is using the threat of nuclear weapons as a vehicle to bolster nationalistic feelings to distract their citizens from the disparity and lack of freedom created by the ruling party.  (The opposition stance on the nuclear issue is not clear at this point. But, it is envisioned it would be one of nuclear disbarment of all counties and support for the Green Party in Iran. The Iranians are not our enemy, but our brothers and sisters in opposition to a world controlled by the One Percent.)  The U.S. opposition movement has already met violence and repression through local police forces. In addition, there are indications that there will be further repression of the opposition movement under the guise of security. 

This movement is completely unique because it is international in its scope. This is a unique and wonderful outcome of the movement and indicates the possibilities for the emerging new world.  Those in the opposition are not viewing nations against nations, or cultures against cultures, but one of peace and cooperation.  Dr. Fukuyama, this is the End of History!  The world will be made not more prosperous by the proliferation of international organizations (I.M.F., G-20, U.N.)  or by  supra-national governing bodies as exemplified by the European Union, but by the change of all nation-states in their essential framework reflecting the interest of the Ninety-Nine Percent.  “Imagine” by John Lennon should be the unofficial anthem of the Occupy Movement.

As discussed, the ultimate purpose of these related blog entries is to discuss the possible implementation of General Assemblies in local government. However, I thought it important to discuss the process that led up to the initiation of the Occupy Movement and the spirit that is surrounding the concept of General Assemblies. In an earlier blog, I discussed the problems with the present state of representative democracy which is the model for U.S. government from national to local (see Democracy hijacked by the One Percent http://mcadamsfatih1.blogspot.com/2011/12/democracy-hijacked-by-one-percent.html
.)  There have been repeated themes as I ‘muse’ about different ideas. However, in the next blog entries, I will be entering some new ‘territory, that of participatory democracy, particularly the idea of the General Assembly. These collection of blog entries, I am contemplating will eventually be turned into an academic paper with appropriate references etc. The statements made in all the blog entries are my personal opinions and explorations into these topics

16 December 2011

New Volume of Urbana Posted

A new volume of Urbana: Urban Affairs and Public Policy  has now been posted. (see http://www.urbanauapp.org/  ,)

The three articles include authors from Latin America (Brazil and Mexico) and the United States, continuing the international view of urbanism that has bee the hallmark of the Journal since its inception more than fifteen years ago.  The articles are presently 'under review.'  Comments from the readers of the articles are welcome and should be addressed to Dr. Michael A. McAdams,  Managing Editor at michaelamcadams@yahoo.com .
or submitted on the webpage under the list of articles or  by going to the Contact webpage. This is a moderated site and the Managing Editor has the prerogative not to  post any comments that are not appropriate for an academic journal.

Urbana, also has a new server and its webpage has been given a 'facelift' to improve its  useability and design. The new website includes all volumes of Urbana back to 1995, which includes articles in Pdf format from the printed volumes before the Journal  became 'electronic.

If you are involved in academic research  and have a manuscript that you think is appropriate for Urbana,, please sent them to the Managing Editor at  michaelamcadams@yahoo.com
See instructions on the Urbana webpage for formatting etc.  If you are still working on a research manuscript and would like to determine if Urbana would be interested in publishing it, you are also welcome to contact the Managing Editor to discuss its contents etc. Abstracts would be appreciated, if your manuscript is still in the draft stage or you are still conducting your research.

The emerging concept of participatory democracy as found in the General Assemblies of the Occupy Movement: A model for future local government?

The concepts of participatory democracy which encompasses direct and deliberative democracy was at one-time theoretical and associated with Anarchism. But, no more. These ideas are gaining strength and are being activity practiced by the Occupy Movement at all locations.  Likewise, there are a number of books by academics in the field of political science and others disciplines that are supporting this notion as a viable mode to involve the public in government and produce more equitable solutions than are being made through the present form of representative democracy at the local level.  There is no doubt that the world is ‘turning’ in a different direction that will change local politics forever. 

The One Percent (multinational corporations and the ‘economic elite’) have involved themselves in local politics and economy in the same manner that has been done on a national scale. The city is their spatial loci for their operations.  Every phenomena is played out in the city.  It is in our cites where: people are losing homes, jobs are being lost, people are being made homeless at an increasing rate, under-employment in the service sector is widespread, unemployment is growing, people are being encourage to indulge in über-consumerism by ‘big box’ stores (WalMart, Target, Best Buy, etc.) and financial and real estate institutions are ‘calling the shots’ in land development, government programs to build light-rail is being curtailed to ensure the American’s dependence on petroleum,  inadequate environmental regulations still cause many deaths related to vehicular and industrial pollution (point and non-point pollution) and the list goes on…  

The local populations have increasingly become apathetic in their attitude in participation in local politics because they were aware that local politicians were making promises that they could not keep, and knew that decisions were being made by the politicians in their favor of the One Percent, regardless of any protest the  Ninety-Nine would make to local city councils. The combative local bureaucracies geared toward the interests of the One Percent further alienated them away from participation. This has been particularly true of local police forces which have been increasingly seen as ‘terrorists’ (particularly for minorities) and not protecting the public interest. (The shouts of ‘Who do you serve?,’ when police were tear-gassing, pepper spraying protestors  or tearing down tents in ‘occupied’ public square/plazas are a clear indication that the Ninety-Nine Percent have no illusions about the role of the local police and their subservience to the One Percent. )  It has always been the goal of the One Percent to disenfranchise and placate the Ninety-Nine Percent so that the One Percent could fully control local political decisions. This apathy was turned into activism by the abuses on the One Percent which increasingly distanced the Ninety-Nine Percent from public participation and making them ‘economic slaves’-weighed down by credit, stagnant wages, poor job prospects, under-employment, increasing cost of living and increased taxes which the One Percent did not have to pay.  In the past, there were job opportunities, upward mobility, affordable housing, good education and excellent public services in the city, coordinated by the One Percent enough to placate (buy off) the urban population.  The focus of the One Percent shifted in the late 1970s and early 1980s  to outsourcing and removing manufacturing jobs, maintaining the wage level of all the Ninety-Nine Percent at much below their contribution to the profit of the corporations which lent this increased surplus based on increased productivity back to the public,  and creating a consumer frenzied population, addicted to any new product
The end came with the Crisis of 2008 .  At this point, the local citizens (the Ninety-Nine Percent) after being poured the intoxicating liquor of credit from the One Percent, awoke with a hangover, and realized that they had been made alcoholics by the One Percent. The very population that the One Percent had depended upon for their wealth is turning against them.  Yet they are still recalcitrant, still playing the same games (i.e., the manipulation of the US  Congress) and refusing to see that their world will become dust.

 Out of these final abuses, the Occupy Movement arose captivating the hopes of a better world, including a better city. While the Occupy Movement may be focusing on national or international issues.  They are also forcing on local issues, as this is geographic location I which the One Percent innately operate.  The most interesting concept that has emerged from this leadership movement is the concept of the General Assembly which is direct and full participatory democracy.  Deliberative democracy is also in play in the General Assemblies as dissenters are given a voice and are allowed to speak to the participants of the General Assembly.  Decisions are collectively and committees are formed to address certain needs, particularly housing for participants and the overall homeless problems of the entire city.  There are definite impasses that are happening and there are major disagreements and factions within the General Assemblies and committees. But, there is little doubt that all the members of the General Assembly are dedicated to free speech, collaborative decisions and inclusion.  What is emerging is a vibrant, practical and self-organizing vehicle for of democracy that has never been seen in the U.S. or other locations that have Occupy Movements.  The General Assemblies will evolve to become the ‘shadow’ local government. 

This 'shadow' local government scares the local politicians which are lackeys for the One Percent .  But, they are clueless and unable to devise any viable policies that would defuse this developing form of government from over-taking and replacing the local political system. The One Percent thought that evicting the protestors from public squares/plazas would stop their onslaught on their hold on local and national politics. They were absolutely wrong. The world has changed.  Local politicians must embrace this emerging form of government or find themselves defending a local system of government which is dying.

08 December 2011

Daily reminders that the One Percent controls your life

Presently, there is a global political focus on the control of the One Percent over the Ninety-Nine   This is not conjecture or something that it is open for debate, as it has been proven through facts and intrinsically woven in all aspects of existence for all global citizens.

Everyone (unless you are a member of the One Percent) can think of  daily activities  that make you aware that this minority controls everything. 

If you are shopping at Wal-Mart, you are always reminded that the goods you are buying are not made in the U.S.  Also, if you are shopping at Wal-Mart, you realize that there is now no alternative in many small town or suburban areas, because the One Percent has destroyed the local merchants.

When you are buying fuel for your vehicle, you notice that the prices are flocculating and are aware that you are financing the speculators in the One Percent who are causing the price to rise and fall by small amounts to increase their bank accounts, which they use to speculate more and make even more money.

You may be working extra hours due to the tight job market or working a part-time job much below your skills aware that if you quit that they will be not be another job that will pay as well, or you will be on delayed employment.

When you go grocery shopping, you notice that the prices are increasing, but your wages are not and know that you are being ‘taxed’ by the One Percent to further their aims.

You may go to the doctor and pay for over-priced services because the doctors (also part of the One Percent) are linked to corrupted insurance and pharmaceutical companies or bilking Medicade/Medicare and overcharge to maintain their lavish lifestyle.  If you don’t have insurance, it is because the One Percent took away your job with benefits so you could be unemployed or working in part-time jobs without insurance.

These are daily reminders that the One Percent have completely taken over the global economic system and your life for their benefit-- increasing their wealth, while you are left with the 'crumbs.'.   Their (the One Percent) plan if We (the Ninety-Nine Percent) do not stop them, is  to: solidify their control over politicians, increase the number of monopolies, further degrade the environment; ship more jobs to developing countries; maintain our dependency on fossil fuels; eliminate any labor opposition; increase their wealth,  and create a permanent underclass by chaining the public to credit instead of offering higher wages, keeping a high unemployment rate and increasing the number of low paying jobs. This is the last gasp of a system which is corrupt. 

 We (the Ninety-Nine Percent) in the United States know that the established political and economic worldview is dying, being completely unsustainable and becoming anachronistic. We mourn the  passing of liberal democracy because it once offered equality under the law, because it once meant that citizens voices were heard, and most of all, because it once gave us hope. We also mourn the passing of capitalism because it once offered the means to get ahead if you worked hard, because it once offered the hope of increased prosperity, because it once meant that you could afford a home without going into tremendous debt, because it once meant that if your if you worked hard for a company you would have a good retirement, and that you could start a small business and see it grow.

02 December 2011

Democracy hijacked by the One Percent

Democracies around the world have been hijacked by the One Percent. Likewise those without democracies are controlled by the non-elected oligarchies, inflicting their will on their population. This minority has no interest in the welfare of the Ninety-Nine Percent. It is clear that but they only want to make themselves richer and make economic slaves and pawns of the vast majority in  globe. However, their slaves are now ‘awake’ and realize that something has to change.  The One Percent is using ever method to suppress this spontaneous and leaderless revolution. But, the more that they suppress, the more the movement grows. They are oblivious to the changing world, like the royality of France before the French Revolution.)  The One Percent are overseeing and furthering the decline of an unsustainable world which inevitably must evolve into one that is sustainable giving way to a greater voice to the majority and more share of the wealth that is being generated. Unfortunately, they will cause more destruction before their ‘reign of terror’ ceases.

Most developed countries are based on representative democracy, which was born in the minds of the Bourgeoisie elite in the 1700s. in England and France.  An underlying tenet of representative democracy is that the masses need to be represented as they are not capable of making decisions. The elite in the US have have perpetuated the myth that that anyone can run for political office. Likewise, they have brain washed the US population to believe that anyone can become rich by hard work, when it quite apparent that most of the wealth is inherited and often acquired through deceptive means.  In democracies in the developed world, particularly in the U.S., the ability to enter the political arena on the national scale has been dictated by the amount of funding that can be raised.  The funding has increasingly come from not the public, but from special interest groups, corporations and wealthy individuals.  It is implicit that these parties are buying the politicians to serve their needs.  Can one really think that these organizations are supporting the candidates because they believe that they will be good leaders for the good of the people? Who do you think they will favor, the public or their benefactors, the One Percent.?

Now, one can state that the same One Percent has also bought the U.S. Supreme Court who now has ruled that corporations are people, deserve free speech and the freedom to contribute limitless amounts into campaign funding.  To many this is the indication that the One Percent has completely hijacked the political system of the US and made it their vassal.  To many the Supreme Court represented a group of individuals above politics that protected the people from abuses of ill devised legislation and defended the US Constitution.

An impediment has also been added by the ‘winner take all’  system of voting in the US which has been the chief proponent in creating a two-party system, which has dominated US since the creating of the US Constitution as the primary guiding document for democracy in the US.  There has never been a lasting third party in the US.  If a third party emerges it either replaces one of the two parties or its concepts are adopted by one of the existing dominant parties.

With the chaos that is now encompassing the globe, many are looking not at the present political system to solve the problems but are experimenting and considering altering the nature of of democracy.  The ideas of participatory collaborative and direct democracy are being promoted by those perceiving that representative democracy is wholly controlled by the One Percent.  What is also being challenged is the inadequacy of the nation-state and international organizations to address the economic, political and environmental problems.  

In the process of researching this topic over the Internet, I found some interesting sites:
Direct Democracy (http://directdemocracynow.org/ )
The Co-Intelligence Institute (http://www.co-intelligence.org/index.html )