We as citizens of the United States observe politics from afar and the vast majority of us may participate in the political process only to the extent that we go to the polls once a year to vote. We may endeavor to follow the news accounts of our nation's politics as they unfold, and of the consequences those political actions yield, but we have little power to influence our "democratically" elected officials. Perhaps we write an occasional letter to our senator or representative, but we almost inevitably receive a vague and impersonal response explaining why they will vote in our opposition.

Over the decades, our representative democracy has been systematically undermined and has ultimately failed in preserving the well being of the people of this nation. The system that the founding fathers painstakingly devised in order to best serve the interests and the will of the people has been corrupted and the systems of checks and balances on power that they instituted have been stripped away. Most of us accept this reality as being beyond our control and continue to observe, comment, and complain without aspiring to achieving any real change, without any hope of instituting a new system of governance that would instead take directly into account your views, and the views of your neighbors, and would empower you to make real positive change possible in your communities.

This site will attempt to explore in depth the places in the world where people are successfully bringing about that type of change in the face of similar odds, where an alternate form of democracy, which is called participatory or direct democracy, is taking root. Initiative, referendum & recall, community councils, and grassroots organizing are but a few ways in which direct/participatory democracy is achieving great success around the world.

Our system of representative democracy does not admit the voice of the people into congressional halls, the high courts, or the oval office where our rights and our liberties are being sold out from underneath us. Our local leaders and activists in our communities, and even those local elected officials who may have the best of intentions are for the most part powerless to make real positive change happen in our neighborhoods, towns and villages when there is so much corruption from above.

In places like Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil, South Africa, India, and the Phillipines, new experiments in grass roots community based governance are taking place. There is much to be learned from these and other examples of participatory democracy from around the world when we try to examine how this grass-roots based governance could begin to take root here in our own country in order to alter our political system so that it might better serve the American people.

In the hope that one day we can become a nation working together as a united people practicing true democracy as true equals, we open this forum…


Thursday, January 31, 2008

P.S.U.V. Seen as a Unifying Force Behind the Institution of Participatory Democracy in Venezuela

The formation of a unified socialist party in Venezuela has a new urgency after the defeat on Dec. 2nd 2007 of the proposed constitutional reforms , which sought to fast track the transition to socialism and expand participatory democracy in the country. The P.S.U.V., as the unified party is called, is seen as a key element in bringing together the grassroots base of the revolution, which has become disenchanted with the corruption and bureaucracy within the ranks of the government, and the leadership, which is seeking to institutionalize participatory democracy in order to make it lasting and permanent.The P.S.U.V. can potentially provide the common thread between these two extremes that will unify them in the effort to stamp out the corruption that threatens the revolution from within, and to push forward the effort to transform the popular movement from one of informal grass roots activism to a new frimly established political order, one that places power permanently in the hands of the people, within a structure that will resist future attempts to return that power to its traditional limits within the oligarchy. The following insightful article explores in great detail the pitfalls in this process of unification. - Editor

Venezuela: The Struggle for a Mass Revolutionary Party

By Federico Fuentes, Caracas25 January 2008

On January 12, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez opened the founding congress of the provisionally-named United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Chavez argued it was necessary to go on the offensive with the PSUV “as the spearhead and vanguard” of the revolution his government is leading. “We have arrived here to make a real revolution or die trying.”

In drawing up a balance sheet of why Chavez’s constitutional reform proposal — that aimed to create a framework for the transition towards socialism — was narrowly defeated in a national referendum on December 2, one factor stands out. The Bolivarian revolution’s Achilles heel is the lack of a political instrument capable of confronting the challenges faced in the struggle to construct a new, socially just, Venezuela....

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