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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Our Democratic Movement is NOT a Totalitarian Movement

To Defeat an enemy, one has to correctly identify that enemy. One also has to identify what one is fighting for. I constantly hear the refrain that we Democrats are "Just as bad as the GOP", that we are "war-mongers" because we support a strong foreign policy and relationships around the world. Or that we are corrupt.

We are strong because we "fight for true representation", in solidarity and together.

Towards a More Perfect Union

I admit the vision of Democracy in the United States is an imperfect and incomplete one. I admit there is a lot of room for improvement in our Democratic party. But I want to refute the assertion of false equivalence. I also want to refute the destructive notion that somehow rupturing our Democratic Coalition is the answer to our countries problems. But it starts with principles. Our party is susceptible to the pull of totalitarian thinking, but so are the authoritarian movements that despise it. The difference between a progressive democrat and a progressive who opposes the Democratic party is that we democrats understand the need to work together, to "play together", "share the playground" and work in solidarity. We take seriously what Hannah Arendt said back in 1947:

“While the people in all great revolutions fight for true representation, the mob will always shout for the “strong man,” the “great leader.” [Trump's Mob]

We are Not: Tyrants, A Mob, Warmongers or Corrupt.

“tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to; and this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private, separate advantage.” [For more see: definitions]

We are not the mob. Our party is not against wealth, only it's excess and it's misuse. We are not corporatists, but neither are we against corporations as such. We are against corporations that are run in a tyrannical and exclusive manner. We have elements within our party who think we can achieve our common goals by working within the corporate system, and elements devoted to defeating their worst designs. We understand that we are dealing with imperfect institutions and people. We also understand that it is in everyone's collective best interest to make our system work better. We don't deny the power of collective action. Neither do we deny individual initiative. Nor do we worship the Baal Peor Wall Street Bull, or other warmed over pagan concepts.

We have corrupt people and superbly virtuous people in our party, but our party is not corrupt. It is what we make it. What makes it the "Democratic Party" is when it has the attributes of Democracy -- rule by the people. And because we:

  • are busy, struggling with each other, working with each other in solidarity,
  • developing our individual and collective virtues by practicing democracy for the general good

Therefore -- we will never be a totalitarian movement.

We don't believe that there is a conflict between science and religion, spirituality and common sense. We know we can bridge any issues that we encounter if we struggle together in a spirit of common good will.

Fighting the Evil of Totalitarianism

Some people want to call beliefs they don't like evil. We prefer to understand it using both science and reason.

Others want to normalize "evil" by denying it's place. The ancient term "evil" is unscientific, so scientifically oriented doctors have come up with terms like mental illness, disease syndromes, and other terms to try to move evil from "superstitio" to science.

Basically "evil" is behaviors and systems of interactions that cause suffering and discomfort; i.e. disease. So if one strips the myths and false causes from disease one can agree that disease is caused, in the general sense by evil. And evil is a function of deluded and diseased behavior. Those who are hurting hurt others. Those who are hurting others need to be stopped. Hence one fights evil with both medicine, healthy systems and society and by stopping those who are communicating their own disease.

For example, a person with an addiction is not innately evil. At the same time, the addicted person often behaves very vilely. So while the person is an addict, they are "evil" in their behavior, often their attitudes, and the fruit of their actions. So evil is an appropriate shorthand, as long as one understands its cause and treatment. And when there is little to be done to change sick behavior and those people are so harmful to themselves and others that to not stop them leads to the harm being multiplied, then such people can be said to be "evil." In my Previous post I quoted a writer named Ziehl about Donald Trump's narcissism:

"not curable and it’s barely treatable. He is who he is. There is no getting better, or learning, or adapting. He’s not going to “rise to the occasion” for more than maybe a couple hours. So just put that out of your mind." [Ziehl]

So Narcissists like Trump, like it or not, are basically evil people not because of some devilish possession but because their sickness leads them to behave in ways that harm others and transmit their own fear, anger, hate, dis-ease, to others.

Stopping Mob Behavior with Democratic Movement

We can stop Authoritarian Mob behavior by building inclusive institutions and solidarity between people. To accomplish this we have to build our party into the best party it can be. That means:

  1. Electronic Democracy to enable and guide local democratic clubs and party organizations to function better
  2. Employing the Athenian principle of dokimasia (δοκιμασία): to vet candidates before they run for office
  3. Employing the Athenian principle of Euthune (εὐθύνη, εὔθυναι) Accounting to review performance of officials at end of term.
  4. Employing principle of Democratic Subsidiarity to mobilize local democracy and energize the party
  5. Recruit young folks, train and turn them loose!

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