Saturday, October 09, 2004


I'm starting this blog on a whim, with a vision. A fantasy. I want to reach out into the corporatized, globalized internet and draw out voices. I want to find more people out there who love real democracy and champion the causes of environmentalism. By "real democracy" I mean neither electoral showbiz nor market economics (nor industrialism nor capitalism)… Real democracy is participatory self-government by consensus. I believe that localised, grassroots democracy is necessary to generate ecological society.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Tim,

Well, here it is, your own tidy little corner of the web!

As an aside, "corporatised" web? You know, I am sure, that a majority of the sites on the web (I have heard stats as high as 75%) run on free (as in freedom, not as in beer) and open source (rather than closed and proprietary) software. In many ways, the web's infrastructure reflects a real victory of grassroots development and effort - a suitable medium for your own efforts, no? (The software I am referring to is, of course, Linux / Apache / MySQL / the host of other excellent and widely available tools that grew out of community effort and are shared - often free (as in beer!) via the web today.)

I wish you well in your effort to encourage participatory democracy. It is a challenging focus for a site, and provokes many questions.

May I ask how you delineate "self" in self-government? For example, is Cape Breton a constituency on its own? Or is it dozens of smaller constituencies? At what point will the fragmentation render co-operation and broad negotiation almost impossible? If broad coalitions aren't possible, what about the global effort required to redress the existing imbalances?

These are complex challenges, and I'm not sure that simply discarding valuable supranational bodies like the UN as well as existing nation-state structures will do anyone any favours. Democracy - historically, philosophically and traditionally - has been practiced in the nation-state, and is most threatened by post-national capitalism. Post-nationalist attitudes in general are not easily assimilated into a democratic structure. If one presumes that a "nation" is not meaningful or governable, then what merit can seriously be accorded to its governmental traditions?

The most effective response to post-national capitalism is effective citizenship at every level of democratic practice available. Abnegation of existing structures (and their authority) can only serve the interests of the strongest post- or anti-national powers, which at the moment are purely economic and mercenary. Canada is steadily evolving its own democratic response to post-national threats: look at the way that the devolution of power to the provinces (a diluting of our pooled democratic power, in some ways) has been supplanted by real energy for strong local government that also has powerful, broad (national) collaboration. Municipal governments are steadily accruing more power, but retaining national connection. In this way, the massed democractic exercise becomes both more locally representative AND more powerful as a coherent voice in the world... an interesting response that is not inconsistent with some part of your own arguments, I think.

It is in some ways gratifying to see democracy steadily scaling back to its roots - city-states that formed loose but identifiable cultural and legislative units.

-- Steve