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Renew Our Democracy
By RICHARD HUROWITZ
2018-06-21 08:01:05
 

 

 Source: thedailybeast.com

 

The New Legalist editor’s comment:

"Illiberalism" vs. "(liberal) democracy" is one of numberless pairs of falsely opposed concepts in mainstream Western academic and media discourse. According to Chinese Daoist-Buddhist philosophical worldview, there is no division and opposition whatsoever on the metaphysical level of eternal "chaos" (per Daoists) or ultimate "emptiness" (per Buddhists, but a mis-translation in English, what this editor has re-translated as "ultimate intangibility" and interpreted as "infinite possibilities"“Transcendental chaos” beyond description: A thought experiment), while on the physical level of the human-perceived world, there is only one pair of opposites that is valid, i.e., Yin vs. Yang: Yin symbolizing the ultimate indivisiveness of everything from everything else while Yang provisional separation between things for the expedient purpose of day-to-day human physical survival. All other numberless pairs of opposite concepts from Western thought tradition are false ones, including the millenia-old "mind vs. matter" puzzle, that has been wrongly elevated as an ontological issue.

The kind of democracy as practiced by Western countries are not in the least "liberal" at all as it has always been a deceptive political game and tool invented, funded, manipulated, and bought over by big money primarily to serve its own exclusive interests.  As to what "liberalism" advertises, i.e., "freedom of the individual (read as "all individual human beings") guaranteed by the government", has never been attempted, still less practiced or realized in Western history, nor in Western democracy. Therefore, the kind of democracy as practised in the west do not need to be renewed but to be transformed together with a transformation of the socio-economic system from one of domination by monopoly capital into one of cooperation on an equal footing between labor and regulated just capital. Only such transformations in both the economic and political systems can guarantee freedom of all individual human beings. All tides, whether "liberal“ or "illiberal", should be combatted and turned to blaze the trail for such transformations.

 

Here is a poem authored by this editor on Western democracy:

 

THE HAND VISIBLE

 

For one half of hours waking

and five sevenths of days living

we bow our heads

to the meal plate

held in an alien hand

 

And every four times or two

three hundred sixty five days

we dance one dance

to the flute enchanting

held in the same hand

                      9/22/04


Illiberalism Is Rising. Here’s How We Can Turn That Tide and Renew Our Democracy (original full title)


“I didn’t leave the Democratic Party,” Ronald Reagan famously quipped. “The Democratic Party left me.”

At a moment when our main political parties are looking unrecognizable, large numbers of Americans are feeling politically homeless. Even the Gipper would likely be thrown out of today’s Republican Party as an apostate. Reagan was, after all, the president who called for an amnesty for illegal immigrants, believed in American leadership underpinned by a human-rights agenda, personally denounced bigotry, and launched the process that led to the formation of the World Trade Organization. Today’s Republicans would in all likelihood call him out as a RINO—Republican in Name Only—and shame him on social media.

We have arrived at a point where the old political and policy divisions between left and right are less important than the divide between the liberal (in the term’s original Enlightenment sense) and the illiberal.

The liberal believes in individual rights and tolerance, international engagement and the rule of law while the illiberal believes in nativism, populism, protectionism and isolationism.

For the moment, momentum seems to be with forces arrayed with the illiberals, and against liberty. This must be taken as an alarm bell, a clarion call to action.

We are at a frightening moment. Washington Post survey just prior to the 2016 election found that 46 percent of Americans reported that they have lost faith in democracy—or never had it to begin with. A Harvard study found one in six are ready for a military dictatorship, up from one in sixteen twenty years ago. Thirty-one percent of Americans (including 51 percent of Republicans) believe the press is “an enemy of the people.” One in four Americans believe that the government should be able to prevent publication of information that officials deem biased or inaccurate. 

It’s worse among young people, a dangerous harbinger. Only thirty percent of millennials think it is essential to live in a democracy, compared to almost seventy-five percent of those born before World War II. Millennials also show a low tolerance for free and open debate: according to a Pew Research Poll in 2015, forty percent (versus twenty-seveneight percent of Gen-Xers) think the government should be able to ban potentially offensive speech.

The news from abroad is just as bad. For 12 straight years, Freedom House has judged the world less free than the year prior. Authoritarian regimes are not only ascendant throughout the world—they are actively supported by many who value efficiency over liberty or whose cynicism fuels a pretense that no fundamental difference exists between free and unfree societies. The recent Italian election showed more than half the population voting for extremist or anti-European parties. Germany has seen the return of a far right party to the Bundestag. In countries like Poland and Hungary openly illiberal governments are in power. An avowed Marxist and terrorist apologist leads one of the United Kingdom’s two main parties. Even in France, where the recent election of Emmanuel Macron suggested a possible return to the democratic order of old, extreme right and extreme left candidates received together almost forty percent of the vote and polls show a similar number would support an “authoritarian government” unhindered by checks and balances.

It is critical for defenders of liberal democracy—no matter their personal political views—to unite and fight back against this rising tide. This is the mission of the Renew Democracy Initiative, a new organization dedicated to bringing together concerned citizens of all political views in the support of shared basic ideals. In the wake of the 2016 election, a number of us met to see what could be done to halt the march of illiberalism that the prior year had brought so painfully into focus. Because ideas must stand at the forefront of any political movement, we drafted a manifesto of those first principles indispensable to liberal democracy.

Signatories are those devoted to fundamental individual rights like freedom of speech, of religion, of assembly, to checks and balances in government, and to the integrity of our institutions and civil society. We believe in the importance of free trade and of rational immigration policy in powering prosperity, of free markets and individual choice, and of the post-war international system where national disputes can be settled by law and countries can together address global issues. And our group seeks to rally those who demand a civil, effective government, where moderates of the left and right can come together to solve problems and respond to the needs of their citizens.

Our organization embraces people of good will on all sides of the political spectrum who value the liberal democratic order. Over 120 prominent thinkers and leaders have signed the manifesto, including former heads of state, Nobel laureates, writers, business leaders, diplomats, academics, artists, and a certain chess player, our co-founder and Chairman Garry Kasparov. 

We aim to bring together the centrist majority to fix our government and repair our political dialogue by proving once more what history has shown again and again: that the best system for human governance is liberal democracy.


“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely,” cautioned Franklin Roosevelt. “The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” Education is at the heart of our project. Proponents of the democratic idea must do better articulating the importance and necessity of this idea for contemporary audiences. We must demonstrate that the principles animating it are alive, powerful, and critical to preserving and bettering the lives of all citizens. We aim to take up that challenge by convening meetings, engaging on campus, publishing books and articles, providing a platform for moderate voices and leaders, and generally explaining and defending the principles we all believe in.

“Democracy never lasts long,” John Adams warned two centuries ago. “It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” Alarming words at a moment when some Americans themselves are leading the call to dismantle the institutions that have preserved our Republic. The Founding Fathers created a unique and uniquely effective system, codified in the Constitution, to address the problems representative democracies face. It is hard to overstate the value of this system and of its international corollary: the American-led post-war liberal democratic order of international institutions and treaties, the rule of law, and the respect for human rights as a universal good. We have weathered the tragedy of slavery, a Civil War, two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the Cold War—and remained strong. Despite the headlines and crises, never have so many in the world enjoyed such prosperity and peace.

Ronald Reagan may have had John Adams in mind when he declared that “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Let us ensure we are not that generation.

Do not miss The New Legalist editor’s comment at the top

 
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