We went to a small meeting recently to hear about an idea that will empower the people of this country – and indeed might apply in any country.
There is a new (as yet unregistered) political party, Direct Democracy Ireland (DDI), which seeks members and eventually electoral support and they spoke about “giving” the people power, “granting” them the right of recall of elected representatives.
So will this address the issues of the day? Yes and no.
Yes, the lack of power in the hands of the people is at the root of all problems we face as a people. It is not the economy, or terrorism, or health or education, or unemployment or any other of the myriad of issues of daily life — because right now we can do nothing about them. We do not have the power!
And no! Another political party is not the answer – certainly not one which will work within the system that is the system of “political-parties-as-such”. Not another party which will “give” us anything or “grant” us any rights.
The Direct Democracy Ireland platform is correct on the essential point that empowerment is the issue. But we must empower ourselves, take power and thereby exercise all our political, economic and social rights as free citizens.
So if it is not by means of setting up another party, how then?
We must stop protesting – complaining as such. We must lift ourselves and begin to organise to take power from those that deny us any control over our lives.
We must have done with those who masquerade as our “representatives”, who attend our community and local area meetings on such and such an issue to “share their concern” at our difficulties and plight, who form themselves into “government and opposition” groups, who oversee the system of the “powers-that-be” raping us of our resources and the wealth we generate. Worse still they are robbing us of our minds; such is the hopelessness that pervades this country.
So, why not a new political party? Indeed, a political party, or parties may be part of the solution but they are not the essential ingredient here and now.
What is needed is a broad organisation, a peoples’ movement swept along by a single idea that we must Claim Our Democracy!
By all means let people set up parties to advance their ideas about economic systems and any other issue but all new parties who desire the support of the people, must subscribe to the same essential principles if they, in their turn, are not to continue the old enslaving political party merry-go-round.
But this needs organisation! Yes, it does and we should start as we mean to succeed. We must build one simple mass organisation, a nationwide organisation that is represented in every constituency. Its task is simple — to organise the next election on new lines.
The organisation should create the conditions for us to select from the electorate (in each constituency) worthy candidates to go forward for election to the Dáil against the suffocating dross put up by the existing political parties.
Political parties of the new type, if there are any, must also submit their candidates to the popular constituency selection conventions — not party selection conventions.
All candidates, who will be respected members of their community, marked by years of service to the people, will be selected by reason of their support for the four fundamental principles — democratic selection, democratic election, democratic consultation and democratic recall.
Is that all? Yes!
But some will say what about the economy, the schools, the health service and so on? The answer is again simple. If we exercise our democracy correctly, elect the best of our number, then they will — through the process of consultation and discussion — formulate and adopt policies. Those that we have elected will serve our best interests in every area of life. If we feel that we cannot exercise our democracy sensibly then we may as well keep quiet and remain enslaved, remain powerless.
But some will say how can we organise this constituency selection/ election/ consultation/ recall system? This is not a problem. First of all there are countless thousands of good people organising every day around individual issues — schools, health, motorways, recreation facilities, unemployment, language rights, children and women’s rights.
What if part of all this energy was directed to addressing the road block to all our aspirations — the total lack of real political power? After all it is ordinary people who today are mobilized and used/ abused by the corrupt political parties to get their candidates elected. Decent people will be quite happy to work for the selection of people’s candidates and encourage the electorate to vote for them and the democratic platform.
The powers-that-be will raise all sorts of absurd objections to this proposal. They will say that people elected like this will be inexperienced in legislation and government.
First of all, it is expected that in many constituencies candidates from every walk of life — commerce, law, health, education and academia, even the media — will come forward to be selected and elected.
Secondly, the state has a huge resource of skilled civil servants who are the drafters and formulators of the policies, budgets and laws that the Dáil debates and adopts. The only thing that will change is that they will now be really working for the people of the country. They will assist democratic minded elected representatives who have consulted the electorate, and these public servants will be directed in their work along the line of service to the people in all things. They are after all the daughters and sons of the people.
The “powers-that-be” and their political cronies will cynically say that once elected representatives will become corrupt. Firstly, the people will not be selecting or electing “gombeens” and “cute hoors”. Secondly, should a representative fail in their high calling then the electorate will now have the right of recall.
The “powers-that-be” will say, if there are no political parties, how will the Dáil be organised? It will be organised as a legislative assembly like the first Dáil, with a Ceann Comhairle, rules of debate and discussion and it will elect a government, ministers of which are subject to immediate recall by the assembly itself, just as the members are subject to recall by the electorate.
The days of sham debates in empty chambers with “government” and “opposition” positions will be gone. Political parties may still have supporters elected to the parliament but the parliament will decide all matters as a collective elected by the people. Imagine the television audiences for the three or four Dáil sessions a year where the people will see real discussion and democratic decision making, our decisions! No more bread and circuses and vicarious living in a land of TV soaps!