People’s Assemblies and the era of Direct Democracy

People’s Assemblies and the era of Direct Democracy

This volume, People’s Assemblies and the era of Direct Democracy, is the heart and soul of the Earth Holocracy Proposal – proudly presenting “the will of the people” as magnificently articulated in the manifestos, declarations and charters of social movements and organizations worldwide. The resounding call of the People is for a new, ecologically-sound, decentralized, participatory democracy: a form of democracy that devolves power and responsibility to the people. It is a testimony to the profound maturity of humanity’s thinkers in the early 21st century: we are certainly well-poised to gratefully build upon and surpass the excellence of any civilization in human recollection.

This volume is also the guide of the Earth Holocracy Proposal as it presents inspiring, living working models of Participatory Democracy and Local Self Governance – exploring the challenges, successes and effective strategies of way-showing social movements from around the world.

Here you can explore the various articles of Volume Three with a click of the finger… Enjoy!

1. The Movement for Real Global Democracy

2. The Voice of the People

3. The Direct Democracy Movement’s ‘Quick Guide on Group Dynamics in People’s Assemblies’

4. The End of Patriarchy: Women as Equals in the dawning era of Direct Democracy

5. The inspiring Radical Democracy of Rojava

6. The Zapatistas: Autonomous Self Government in Chiapas, Mexico

7. The Participatory Democracies of the Bolivarian Alliance

8. Bunge la Mwananchi: The People’s Parliaments in Kenya

9. Basque Nationalism and the Rise of Sub-National Independence Movements

10. Catalonia’s Vibrant Independence Movement

11. The Eco-Village Movement of Russia: inspired by the core ideals of love, beauty, non-violence, vitality and close harmony with nature

12. New World Summit: Creating inspiring Public Spaces for “Alternative Parliaments”

13. The Earth Holocracy Proposal’s Key Contributions to the Real Global Democracy Movement

The Earth Holocracy Proposal’s Volume Three:
Peoples Assemblies and the era of Direct Democracy

Foreword

The Movement for Real Global Democracy

The first article documents the modern emergence of pro-democracy movements worldwide – from the Arab Spring in 2010, to the official launch of the Spanish and wider European Real Democracy movements on May 15, 2011, to the Occupy Movement on September 17, 2011… which swiftly spread worldwide as people everywhere affirmed in solidarity:

“We are the 99% who will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%”.

Voice of the People

In the second article, Voice of the People, collaborative statements, manifestos, charters, and principles of solidarity from social movements worldwide – Spain’s Real Global Democracy Movement, Social Movements for an Alternative Asia [SMAA], the Africans Rising Movement and others – are presented.

As the reader will quickly see, the popular will of 21st century humanity bespeaks great maturity, ethics and nobility. Our many voices speak with clear insight and common-sense regarding the current “crisis in democracy”. Our proposed solution is the establishment of genuinely democratic governance systems that are participatory (not representational), transparent, ethical, and egalitarian. We address the disaster of “free market” radical capitalism and the ascendancy of the neoliberal hegemony, and call for the decentralization of power and wealth. We uphold human rights, territorial and economic sovereignty, and the rights of nature. It is an exciting time, a new era in embryo.

Quick Guide on Group Dynamics in People’s Assemblies

The third article in this volume presents the main body of text in the Quick Guide on Group Dynamics in People’s Assemblies– as prepared by the Commission for Group Dynamics in Assemblies of the Puerta del Sol Protest Camp (Madrid). It is a fantastic practical guide for holding mass assemblies, clearly defining the great variety of roles and functions required for holding an effective, inclusive, egalitarian, peaceful assembly, and also well conveying the spirit with which the movement self-organizes. (Check out the Hand Signals! How cool.) As the compilers explain, “the purpose of the Quick Guide is to facilitate and encourage the development of the different Popular Assemblies which have been created since the beginning of the 15th May Movement in 2011”.

The End of Patriarchy: Women’s Empowerment in the dawning era of Direct Democracy

The fourth article, The End of Patriarchy: Women’s Empowerment in the dawning era of Direct Democracy, opens with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ recognition of the equal rights and freedoms of all people “without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”. After highlighting the core significance of gender equality (within the family and wider community) and its visible expression (the active participation of women in public life), the article celebrates the inspiring and dramatic achievements of revolutionary societies (in Rojava, the Mexican Chiapas, and Cuba) in dismantling centuries of institutionalized inequality and “macho” cultural/behavioral norms.

The next six articles present a variety of working, evolving models of participatory democracy from around the world. They explore the challenges and the achievements of these way-showing societies, as well as the significant lessons to be learned by analyzing the effectiveness of their various tactics.

The inspiring Radical Democracy of Rojava

The fifth article gazes into the light which is Rojava: “In Rojava, a profoundly democratic and revolutionary experiment is under-way. A multi-ethnic, feminist and socialist-oriented society is being built from the ground up, organised around communes and other bodies of participatory democracy. This sort of democracy is very much based on the idea of reducing the power and influence of the state. It brings democracy back down to the grassroots level, where you try to democratize society and community and get the community to actually make the decisions for themselves.”

In northern Syria’s Kurdistan Rojava, the people who have perhaps created one of the closest, living, working models of the type of decentralized participatory democracy advocated by the Earth Holocracy Proposal, are struggling to maintain their very existence. While all the power-mongers of the world seem to want to wipe Rojava’s inspiring zones of liberation and real democracy from the face of the earth, the brave people of Rojava are building a radical democracy – a democracy based on three major ideas. As Hawzhin Azeez explains: “The first is that we want to be multicultural and democratic. Secondly, we want to have a gender liberated society where men and women are equal — a very radical idea for the Middle East. Thirdly, we want an ecologically sound society.” Rojava’s awe-inspiring radical democracy, the issue of her threatened existence, and her unfolding destiny are rivers running through the Earth Holocracy Proposal’s six-volume presentation, in the hope that she makes it, guiding us all, to the ocean of humanity’s empowered solidarity.

The Zapatistas: Autonomous Self Government in Chiapas Mexico

The sixth article, The Zapatistas: Autonomous Self Government in Chiapas, Mexico, explores a Mexican indigenous and non-indigenous resistance movement that – since it went public on January 1, 1994, the day when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect – has taken its place as a dynamic force and inspiring example in people’s movements worldwide. The Zapatistas champion the resisting of neoliberal and state domination; the preserving of indigenous culture; the upholding of indigenous rights; and the grassroots establishment of autonomous regions of good governance. The Zapatistas practice a radical Participatory Democracy that works “from the bottom-up” rather than the “top-down”, and is constructed on three foundations – education, health care and collective development. For their economic development , the Zapatistas use the cooperative model. The Zapatistas consider the contemporary political system of Mexico inherently flawed due to what they consider its purely representative nature and its disconnection from the people and their needs. The Zapatistas are not a political party: they do not seek office throughout the state, because that would perpetuate the political system by attempting to gain power within its ranks. Instead, they wish to reconceptualize the entire system. Since December 1994, the Zapatistas began setting up cultural spaces for cultural exchanges and political meetings, gradually forming several autonomous municipalities which continue to practice horizontal autonomy and mutual aid by building and maintaining their own anti-systemic health, education, and sustainable agro-ecological systems, promoting equitable gender relations via the movement’s Women’s Revolutionary Law, and building international solidarity through outreach and the hosting of International Indigenous Encounters.

ALBA, the Participatory Democracies of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America

The seventh article explores strategies for the democratization of society with the lens sharply focused upon ALBA, the Participatory Democracies of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Spanish: Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América, or ALBA):

ALBA‘s members are the Latin American and Caribbean nations of Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela (with Suriname and Saint Lucia as guest countries). The uniting principles of ALBA are anti-imperialism, participatory democracy, economic self-sufficiency, and the eradication of corruption. Members assist each other according to their various capacities – e.g., Bolivia providing gas at stable, discounted prices; oil-rich Venezuela providing both subsidized oil to poorer countries as well as an alternative (to the IMF) for required financial loans; Cuba supplying doctors and medical training.

Mike Geddes’ article, ‘The Bolivian Road to Socialism: Analysis, December 29, 2010′, is reproduced in full as Geddes’ analysis of the accomplishments and shortcomings, the challenges and tactics, of the Bolivian anti-neoliberal government led by President Evo Morales’ “Movement towards Socialism”, raises such insightful questions – bolstering the case for the rejection of the nation-state, the decentralizing of political power to the polis or municipality, and the face-to-face participatory democracy advocated in the Earth Holocracy Proposal and practiced in the Democratic Confederalism of Rojava.

The Green Left Weekly article, ‘Venezuela: Economic war or government errors?’, by Marta Harnecker (Monday, December 5, 2016) is also reproduced in full as it provides an honest, insightful and useful analysis of Venezuela’s performance as one of the key participating members of ALBA. Harnecker’s reflections on the policies and initiatives of the Venezuelan government led by Hugo Chavez – and Chavez’s enduring legacy, add valuable insights to humanity’s discussion of effective strategies for building a radically new society. Harnecker summarizes the vision and initiating strategy of Chavez as follows:

“Chavez conceived of socialism as an economic system centered on the human being and not profit, with a diverse, anti-consumerist culture. Such socialism would be endowed with a real and profound democracy, where the people assume an active role. For Chavez, the participation of the people in all spheres was what would allow them to develop as human beings.

“Chavez promoted the creation of adequate spaces where participatory processes could develop – the communal councils (small self-managed territories), the workers’ councils, the student councils and the campesino rural workers councils. These sought to progressively build a genuine collective structure that could create a new form of decentralised state, with the communes as its fundamental cells.”

Bunge la Mwananchi, the People’s Parliaments in Kenya

The eighth article is about Bunge la Mwananchi, the People’s Parliaments in Kenya. Bunge la Mwananchi is a grassroots movement that has established Peoples Assemblies across every major town in all 47 counties across Kenya. “Built on the theory of people’s power, self-organizing, and giving voice and visibility to the People, the main goal of the movement is to transform the lives of the many ordinary poor Kenyans by redefining the agenda and body politic of the nation” explains the movement’s president, Mr Kiptoo John. The emergence and development of the movement is a mirror of the emergence and 21st century development of grassroots movements everywhere: Bunge la Mwananchi emerged out of an unbroken nearly-century-long chain of subsistence social movements against neoliberal globalization and capitalist enclosures, and since the holding of the World Social Forum in Nairobi in 2007, the Kenyan grassroots movement has been building its connections with international movements for social justice, anti-globalization, global climate justice and cancellation of debt.

Basque Nationalism and the rise of Sub-Nationalist Movements

The ninth article in Volume Two, Basque Nationalism and the rise of Sub-Nationalist Movements, explores the pro-independence movement of the Basques – and also, the wider context of similar social movements throughout Europe and the world. While national sovereignty has been largely dissolved (by free trade agreements and international treaties), “sub-national” movements are widespread and growing in popular support.

Many of the world’s independence and secessionist movements share common characteristics:

  • they are “intra-state” (occurring within, and across, national boundaries)
  • they demand both political and fiscal independence
  • they are founded in centuries-old nationalist movements
  • and they arise in response to historical assaults upon unique people’s cultural identities.

The article explores the solution to the Spanish Government / Basque Independence Movement issue offered in Ariel Bothen’s Honours Paper, “An Analysis of the Basque Independence Movement and the Political Position of the Basque Country Within the Spanish State” (2014). Bothen, in the interests of a peaceful and democratic resolution, presents the argument for the establishment of a “consociational democracy”.

Four elements distinguish consociational democracies – elements which “allow functional democracy”: they are

  1. establishing a grand coalition of governments that include representatives of all major linguistic and religious groups
  2. upholding cultural autonomy for these groups
  3. achieving proportionality in political representation and civil service appointments
  4. providing for a minority ‘right-of-veto’ with regard to vital minority rights and autonomy.

The consociational democracies currently operating in the world evidence the benefits of devolving power – as their establishment typically leads “to improvement in quality of public services, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, and rule of law”.

This article notes the view of Ryan Barnes, a Senior International Trade Specialist at the U.S. Department of Commerce, in his analysis of the ‘Evolution of Basque and Catalan Nationalism’ (2013). Barnes opines that pro-independence movements in Scotland and Flanders, and those of the Basques (whose territories lie within both Spain and France) and the Catalans (in Spain) are not likely to gain their sought-for independence – the reason being that (despite rising in public favour) the political obstacles faced by independence / secessionist movements to gain recognition (and a voice) in international politics are too formidable: Barnes sees a “continuation of the status quo” for the foreseeable future.

We conclude this article noting how implementation of the Earth Holocracy Proposal would mean that Independence Movements wouldn’t have to jump the political hurdles rallied against them in order to gain recognition and their rightful place in global politics. Recognition of their right – and all peoples’ right – to Self Determination is, in fact, the starting point of the Earth Holocracy Proposal’s grassroots, “bottom-up” strategy for the establishment of a new, decentralized, participatory democracy.

The world’s established direct and participatory democracies in regions of autonomous self-governance (a few of which are explored in this volume) and the world’s active pro-independence and secessionist movements, are indeed the “cradles” of the proposed new genuinely democratic system of Earth Holocracy. Exactly contrary to the neoliberal, monolithic, empire-building strategy that everywhere seeks to obliterate the rich and utterly precious diversity of human culture – the unique identities of the world’s peoples, and individuals, the Earth Holocracy Proposal offers instead a strategy for the self-empowerment of all social independence movements as part of a global solidarity movement united by the democratic principle of Local Self Determination and commitment to activating its grassroots establishment.

Alongside the proposal’s Local Community’s Declaration of Rights (establishing a community’s right to self determination) stands the proposed Local Community Declaration on the Rights of Local Indigenous People – which is a community’s pledge to meaningfully uphold (within their region of self governance) the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Basque nationalism is based upon the Basque people sharing a unique culture and history, being a distinct race, having a wholly unique language and their own traditional political system (the foruak). In a genuinely democratic system (such as that proposed), the right of the Basques to self determination is without question, and would certainly be upheld.

Regarding these matters, we may herein note that the Earth Holocracy Proposal emerges on the world stage not long after the U.S. State has “charged its cavalry” upon Standing Rock, destroying the peaceful Direct Action Camp which had grown into the largest Indigenous gathering in known history and become an iconic social movement on the world stage. The world’s Indigenous Peoples are active virtually everywhere struggling to protect the natural environment of their traditional territories and means of subsistence, struggling to preserve their culture and identity, struggling against outrageous ongoing injustice. Enough. It is time for the people of the world – THE 99% – to establish a genuinely democratic system. It is time to end the struggle.

Catalonia’s Vibrant Independence Movement

The tenth article, Catalonia’s Vibrant Independence Movement, presents a Green Left Weekly interview with People’s Unity List (CUP) spokesperson Quim Arrufat about the Catalan pro-independence movement. The article provides a thought-provoking background to current dramatic events in Catalonia’s popular Independence Movement. While the Spanish State’s opposing response is unfolding as expected, the article clearly shows how the backbone and enduring strength of the Independence Movement is the grassroots self-organization of Catalan society. Indeed, as Martha Harnecker notes with reference to the people of Venezuela, once a community gets a taste for collectively thinking, deliberating, and making decisions that determine their own destiny, they mature… and tend to not be prepared to return to disempowered non-engagement.

Eco-Village Movement in Russia

The eleventh article looks at the enthusiastic spread of an Eco-Village Movement in Russia that is supported by the government’s ongoing Free Land Releases and, from first-hand accounts, appears to be a truly wonderful and thriving manifestation of the dawning era of Direct Face-to-Face Democracy. Russia’s Eco-Village Movement is inspired and modeled upon the teachings of a Western Siberian Russian woman named Anastasia, which have been popularized through Vladimir Megre’s Ringing Cedars Series. Within one decade, the series has sold 10 million copies in its Russian homeland and has spread internationally as a best seller, being translated into 12 languages: a popularity attributed to the universal appeal of the ideals of love, beauty, non-violence, vitality and close harmony with nature that the series conveys and that Anastasia embodies. The alternative educational model that is described in Book 3 of the Ringing Cedars Series is based upon a school in Southern Russia founded by the alternative educator, Academician Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin, where pupils – with little, if any, help from adult teachers – move swiftly through the eleven-year curriculum of the Russian school system, typically going on to gain their bachelor’s and master’s degrees from accredited universities by the age of seventeen. Quite an eye-opener on the matter of human potential, and how to best encourage its fulfillment, wouldn’t you agree?

New World Summit

The penultimate article presents the work and vision of New World Summit, an artistic and political organization that creates large scale architectural constructions in public spaces to provide grand theaters for the holding of “Alternative Parliaments”, and to display inspirational, artistic, symbolic and textual representations of grassroots ideals and aspirations.

Key Contributions of the Earth Holocracy Proposal to the Real Democracy Movement

The final article summarizes the key contributions of the Earth Holocracy Proposal to the advancement and empowerment of the Real Global Democracy Movement.