Community Activists Network
I've just come from the Natcan webinar and am fully enthused; so I thought I'd start a discussion.
A lot of people are disillusioned with politics today... most people in fact. And it begs the question of how we can make a difference. I'm involved in a number of different projects to try and make a difference. But to be perfectly honest the one I have the most passion for is the one with the least chance of getting big. Why? Because it's a political party (www.democraticreform.co.uk).
Now in my view: a) we need to get people elected to change the system; b) those people being elected must come from outside the system, from a group whose members work together, but aren't whipped; and c) that group shouldn't be a single issue group - it should be about empowering all people. This is why I'm a democratic reformist.
What I'd like to ask you is your opinion on this. Do you think parties have a future or not? And if so could it be worth your while spending £5 a year to bring about change?
I realise this sounds like simple promotion by the way. But I'm editing a book with Cambridge Dons, a Nobel prize nominee, entrepeneurs and heads of political organisations. It will be called Democratic Reform: The Next Leap Forwards. And in that book I'll be writing about the future of the party system. So your answers will be carefully considered, and used as research for that book.
Just for info Robert but when I clicked on the www.democraticreform.co.uk link, Google Chrome came up with a warning that there's malware on the site. Not sure if the threat's real but makes me nervous about proceeding to the site...
Otherwise I like what you're proposing; in terms of policies, we've been having interesting discussions in response to Joe Taylor's report of the recent conference (see Forum).
Eileen, I'm getting more and more intrigued. We'll have to invite you as a speaker to one of our events (even if I can't persuade you to join us!). Though I'll have to make sure I read that paper as well... Thanks for taking the time to talk with me anyway.
Ben, sorry I should have mentioned that in the last comment. Someone's managed to hack the site with something in the last few days. Our IT guys have been working on it for several days now but it looks like we might have to redesign the whole site unfortunately. So do listen to Google Chrome and don't go on it for now. But feel free to email me at email@example.com if you would like me to answer any questions, and of course you can go on fbook and twitter: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Democratic-Reform-Party/185370051...
I went to www.democraticreform.co.uk but all I got was an advertisement for webhosting. Was that your intention?
Or is your party not formed yet?
My opinion about what you say is that it's the entire political system which is wrong - non representative and non democratic. Parliament is a toothless dog rubber stamping governments which are there to facilitate the interests of the global corporations, banks and big business. So what is needed is a whole new political and economic approach and institutions.
It's not political parties per se that are the problem. It is the whole framework of the economic and political system that is the problem.
You might care to check out Paul Feldman's book "Unmasking the State" which can be bought or downloaded here: www.aworldtowin.net
Corrina, we had a virus on the site. My apologies about that but if you go there now it is online. We've lost a bit of content unfortunately and we still need to clarify the message on the site properly. But as I said you can have a look now. And yes I agree that the whole system is the problem, most certainly.
As for Paul Feldman I have not read the book but I suspect that I would agree with much of what he says i.e. the necessity of decentralising power, and in so doing challenging the present economic system in which capital holders have all the power (thought I would advocate all stakeholders having power, rather than just employees as I believe he suggests). There are no shortage of people saying the things that we are at present. The problem is that few of them are taking on responsibility and running for election.
Ben, as above essentially it's about responsibility. I've met thousands of people in the past 3 years, and you know what? About 90% of people I spoke to agreed with what we're campaigning on. Of them many were happy to take hours of my time talking about the cause. But I can count on my hands how many people have genuinely, selflessly acted to promote democratic reforms. Now starting a Pressure Group along these lines would be far easier than starting a party. On that you're right. But again as you say, ultimately a party would have to grow out of it. For all a Pressure Group can do at the end of the day is kick up a fuss. Starting a party instead is about asking people to take on responsiblility and change it themselves. Does the movement need to exist first to provide the support? Perhaps. And a Democratic Reform Movement is in the process of being set up. I'm writing a book for the launch. So if you're turned off by the idea of a party you could get involved in that. But at the end of the day I do believe it comes back to the necessity of the party.
Thanks, Robert, for your thoughtful reply. Lacking in time to reply just now. Not against the idea of parties per se, just the idea that parties simply standing within the existing political framework offers a way for real change. We need a democratic revolution - the present system is unreformable.
I sort of agree. The problem is that it's a catch 22 scenario. We must reform the system and yet it's nigh on impossible to do so within the current system. So two solutions present themselves: build up some sort of nihilist movement designed to wipe the slate clean and start again (very much a bad idea), or go on that slim chance of change and put principles first, continuing to fight for change no matter how hard it might be, as long as the possibility exists. Obviously we've opted for the latter.
But I can say this: the biggest obstacle we face as a new party is not the state structure; it's the social structure. I've spoken to thousands of people over the past 3 years and I'm honestly not exagerating when I say that about 3/4 of all people agree with what we stand for. Like us, the majority wants change, and along the lines we're advocating too. But because so few people think it's possible few people join or stand for election in the DRP name. If just a tenth of those who agree with us acted on it then we would be able to change the system. And that's why I'm still hopeful. Because it's down to us to give people faith and hope that we can grow and become succesful. If we're succesful in that then things will begin to change.
Thanks Robert. It's just about the most effective use of our energies to get the result we're after. hey.
I'm glad you say a democratic reform movement is being set up and please pass on details if/when you have them. At an excellent conference on Ethical Banking last week here in Edinburgh, further momentum was built towards forming such a movement, and a specific Alliance was mentioned which I'll make enquiries about and pass on when I get them. The conference organisers (including Friends of the Earth Scotland) are looking at what might be taken on from the event and I'm hoping to contribute to that, and am aware like you, of the large-scale appetite for reform. In the spirit of not reinventing the wheel, it would seem logical as part of our plans that we seeks to engage the myriad of organisations and groups sympathetic with our aims as they can then bring with them their already established memberships, and we can avoid duplication of effort. I'll certainly be working towards that.
Great to hear Ben. I've sent you a message on facebook. If anyone else here is interested in getting involved with a Democratic Reform Movement i.e. promoting democratic reform but not through a party, then send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
theres two paradigms,,,at least!
Connection vs. Disconnection
Inspiration vs. Persuasion
Invitation vs. Invasion
Directness vs. Distraction
Transparency vs. Deception
Abundance vs. Scarcity
Collaboration vs. Competition