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

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