[EM] language/framing quibble

Terry Bouricius terryb at burlingtontelecom.net
Wed Mar 18 14:07:55 PDT 2009


I suspect part of the differences are that you place such an overwhelming 
focus on political parties as the center of  control and corruption, while 
others may view parties as virtually appendages of more significant power 
centers (whether that be corporate wealth, unions, intellectual elites, or 
whoever). For example you quote A. MacIntyre to support your view...but I 
believe, as an anti-capitalist, he was writing about an oligarchy of 
wealth that narrowed the range of options voters were allowed to deal 
with, rather than political parties.

IF political parties in the U.S. were indeed the most powerful centers of 
control and corruption, your proposal to steer clear of party structures 
entirely might be interesting to more people. But I suspect many people 
see parties as merely pragmatic "super-structures" catering to the needs 
of the real oligarchs. I know plenty of party officials, and can assure 
you they are not "in control" of things.

Terry Bouricius

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Fred Gohlke" <fredgohlke at verizon.net>
To: <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 5:13 PM
Subject: Re: [EM] language/framing quibble

Good Morning, Juho

I've been on the fence about whether or not it is appropriate for me to
respond to your last message on this thread.  Since I'm aware you "...
value many of the political systems of today higher than ..." I do, and
since we've exchanged many thoughts over the past year, I fear anything
I say may sound more like a harangue than a positive contribution.  I
have no wish to be argumentative.  Still, after considering the matter,
I've decided to offer two observations:

re: "... in many democracies people can influence the direction
      of their country."

I do not believe that to be true.  As Dr. Alasdair MacIntyre of Notre
Dame University (cited by Dr. Ted Clayton in 'The Internet Encyclopedia
of Philosophy') said:

   "Politically the societies of advanced Western modernity
    are oligarchies disguised as liberal democracies.  The large
    majority of those who inhabit them are excluded from
    membership in the elites that determine the range of
    alternatives between which voters are permitted to choose."

re: "Of course despite of this the systems have plenty of faults
      and we should seek and implement improvements whenever we

It is not possible to 'seek and implement improvements' until we itemize
the faults.  We must identify them before we can correct them.  To that
end, we might consider starting with these:

* An oligarchic party structure that controls the choices made
   available to the people.

* Corruption, caused by the parties' need for funds to conduct
   their operations, that leads to the selling of legislation to
   benefit the donors rather than the public (like the gutting and
   eventual repeal of the Glass-Steagall Acts, enacted to protect
   the public from the excesses of the financial industry; a
   political act that so obviously led to the world-wide financial
   chaos we now endure ... in your country as well as mine!)

* Incitement of passionate support rather than inspiring
   thoughtful consideration of public concerns.

* Defeating the checks and balances intended to prevent the
   excessive accumulation of power.

If these are, as I see them, serious concerns, what specific
improvements can we make to prevent their destructiveness?  Practical
Democracy addresses and forestalls each of these faults.  Other
alternatives must exist.  What are they and how can we implement them?

Should I keep belaboring you with such questions?

Fred Gohlke
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