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News ::
what is democracy?
20 Oct 2000
what is democracy?
democracy is dictatorship!
“If I were to answer the following question: *What is slavery?* and I should answer in one word, *It is murder,* my meaning would be understood at once. No extended argument would be required to show that the power to take from a man his thought, his will, his personality, is a power of life and death; and that to enslave a man is to kill him.” – Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, “What Is Property?”

So then, to the question *What is democracy?* why can I not answer *It is dictatorship* without being completely misunderstood?

Some argue that democracy is the best and most secure protection of freedom and equality yet devised; others believe that it is the very embodiment of our civil and individual rights, in itself a natural right. I say that it is neither a good nor secure protection, nor is it the embodiment of any rights.

Democracy is dictatorship!

How strange is this idea? Democrat and Dictator have always been in hostile contradiction. But before this blasphemy of mine is denounced, consider the millions of voters in the United States who came to similar conclusions and realized that their vote does not actually do anything for them. It is easy to say something that is already common knowledge. All people know that their rights exist only as far as their ability to exercise them. Democracy at once robs them of their rights and leads them to believe that democracy is the only equitable alternative.

What is democracy but rule by the will of the national majority? The power to rule is the power to create laws, so then in a democracy the law is the expression of popular will. This is an error shared by dictatorships: the rule of law ought to be the expression of justice and fact, not the expression of a will. Even in a perfect democracy we cannot be free.

The act of voting is itself a willful act that deprives others of the representation promised by democracy. A vote is cast, but another vote is cast directly opposing it, and so on until the ratio is two to one, or 66% to 33%. The sovereign will of the majority prevails. The representative elected is indebted to the difference. What then becomes of the promise of democracy to those who “lost?” It does not exist. Each vote made the political process a vain hope for each opposing vote: a system dedicated to equality at every step contributing to political and civil inequality.

This is a tyranny of the majority, something noted long ago by a clever Frenchman, Alexis deToqueville; it is nothing new, it can be said. That may be so, but I am still in the right. The expression of popular will—voting—elects representatives to office, men and women (rarely women – take note) who then shape laws and policy by the expression of personal will, influenced by the will of corporations, influenced by other representatives within parties and within committees, but in every case it is the expression of will, imposed, narrowly defined, channeled, and everywhere susceptible to corruption, self-interest, conspiracy, and manipulation.

This short exploration of mine does not even propose to address the problems associated with financing a candidacy, the impact of the media on the democratic process, the power and influence of federal bureaucracy on civil government, or the marginalization of vast segments of the population due to social and economic conditions, among others. It is not necessary.

Voting forfeits natural rights to a government that has consistently violated those rights.

It concedes that popular opinion and political expediency are more important than equality, liberty, and conscience.

It requires neither thought nor integrity in candidates or voters, and promotes neither.

Even voting for an alternative candidate legitimizes the very system that marginalizes and destroys the avenues necessary for dissent.

The root of the matter is a question of justice, and voting can never satisfy this.
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'Cause participating is more fun than whining
20 Oct 2000
Fiery Nader unleashes pointed attacks in Princeton speech

By Phil Novack

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader Sunday night gave the Princeton University community an hour-long social commentary -- and the audience loved every bit of it.

"It's nice to be back," Nader said. Continually stressing the theme of "human need over corporate greed," he delivered stinging criticisms of what he claimed was an American democratic system that has collapsed under corporate interests.

"This is all about people losing control of everything that matters to them," he said to a near-capacity Richardson Auditorium. Loss of control to corporate interests, he said, has some "severe consequences," such as "the deception of reality."

He questioned the widely accepted contention that the American economy is currently strong and healthy.

"Currently strong for whom?" Nader challenged. "For all the workers who are making relatively less now than they were 20 or 30 years ago? For the 20 percent of Americans that live in poverty? For the 10 million people who still make minimum wage?"

Nader also said the "increasing corporatization" of universities is causing students' "horizons (to be) lower." He pointed out, with pride, the benchmark effort of his class -- Princeton Project '55 -- as a "civic action alternative" that "has been very successful for Princeton undergraduates.

"That's why the class of '55 as they march down the P-Rade always gets the biggest applause," he said to a chorus of laughter from the audience.

Nader was quick to note what he says is a dramatic shortage of differences between Democratic candidate Vice President Al Gore and Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush, whose parties, he said, are "bought, rented and sold" by corporate interests.

"Did you all watch the second debate? That thing was an agreement fest!" he exclaimed to wild laughter from the audience. He said he counted 36 different times where the two agreed with each other.

"Bush ran out of agreements with Gore, he started agreeing with Clinton!" Nader bellowed.

While Nader said he believed the Republican candidate was the worst choice, he offered little praise for the Democrats.

"Joe Lieberman, that guy never met a weapons system he didn't like, and he's all bent on personal morality," Nader said, contrasting the candidate's views with his own position of social justice.

Nader said he does not believe that the government should spend any more tax dollars on national defense, and instead those dollars should be used to fight "corporate crime, corporate violence, corporate welfare and corporate regulation."

"Prices are going up, while wages are sliding backward," he said.

Nader also offered a scathing commentary on what he said was America's "criminal injustice system."

"We shouldn't be sending drug addicts to jail, alcoholics to jail," he said to rousing applause. "Addiction is a health problem."

Nader said the attitudes of young people toward voting are a paramount issue, pointing out that two-thirds of younger Americans do not vote. "If you haven't turned on to politics," he charged, "politics will surely turn on you."

He commended University students for their activism against sweatshop labor, but said that greater evils exist, such as international financial institutions.

"Don't let anyone use globalization the way Paul Krugman does," Nader said, referring to the University economics professor's views on the subject. "I don't know what's wrong with this guy," he said, accusing Krugman of misrepresenting Nader's stand on the issue.

"According to this guy, Social Security will go broke by 2037. Social Security will not go broke by 2037," he exclaimed.

"Does he teach here?" Nader asked. "Well, my commiserations."

Nader charged that corporate globalization and organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and NAFTA are "autocratic secret systems of governance."

He said NAFTA and the WTO -- with its "anti-democratic provisions" -- were issues that Bush and Gore would never raise.

Only near the end of the speech did he outwardly promote the Green Party.

"November 7 is just the starting point of the first stage of building America's new progressive political movement," Nader exclaimed to wild applause. He said the Democrats and Republicans need to be forced to address the "needs of the people," and that "the only language they understand is the loss of votes."

"It's time to make some history on November 7," Nader said, "and move to a democracy where people matter, first, foremost, here and abroad."

(C) 2000 The Daily Princetonian via U-WIRE

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