Prerequisites for Maintaining Political Freedom in a Democratic Republic

1. A public space where citizens can engage in opinion sharing, opinion formation, to arrive at judgments for the purpose of concerted action. Because freedom is only possible among equals, so citizens must meet as equals to experience political freedom in the council system.

2. A language common to all citizens (American English). Without a common language, there can be no dialogue and no communication. Citizens representing all ethnicities and religions must participate; but English is the required language. Unity among citizens—not further division, fracturing or balkanization—is our goal. “How long have we been living in a fool’s paradise, imagining that we can shape our world policy by nothing save our own narrow interests conceived as independent of the interests of other nations?…There is only one way out. We have to learn the lesson that nations, deserting their petty ideas of sovereignty, prestige, national self-interest, must combine to act together for the common good of humanity—which is the meaning of acting morally. There is still time to learn this lesson. But the time is short.” W. T. Stace wrote those words in 1948. What have we collectively been doing!?!

3. Familiarity with the key concepts and ground rules of political experience and action. ―Since the 1971 “Powell Memo” white paper outlining particulars of a corporate, pro-capitalist economic takeover of primary American institutions (family, gender, education, science, religion, media, and government), plus the deep trance the public was put into by Ronald Reagan’s presidency, politics and government have been totally defamed―so completely “trashed” by the neo-conservative Republicans with assists from self-serving neo-liberal Democrats like Bill Clinton that these terms only have pejorative meanings and connotations. Politics and genuine political experience will have to be redeemed, the public reacquainted with political virtues and passions. [The proposed eight rules for sustaining democracy in the conduct of a local citizen “council system” below go a long way toward meeting this need.]

4. The two-party system has grown militant by directly engaging in political action and has become entirely subversive of its own traditional parliamentary function, and so subversive of the ends or purpose of governance, “regardless of their doctrines and ideologies.” Hannah Arendt: “Action and participation in public affairs, a natural aspiration of the councils, obviously are not signs of health and vitality but of decay and perversion in an institution whose primary function has always been representation.” Spontaneous movements like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter are perfect examples of Arendt’s astute observation, which also explains the antipathy and gridlock that have paralyzed Washington, the government at every level. The point here is that elected officials at municipal, county, state and national seats of government cannot and will not do what is required of them. We ordinary citizens must take control of our political system by reawakening authentic political experience and joint action in our local communities, towns and cities, if we wish to regain and constitute our freedom, which is inherently political not economic in nature. We can accomplish this by learning to judge our shared experience according to intrinsically political principles and criteria, rather than artistic, scientific, religious, professional, or social values. (Those political principles and criteria are listed in rule # 7.)

5. To restore vibrant local politics is the price we shall have to pay to constitute our freedom and reinvigorate our democracy. Once put into office at the municipal level, these political exemplars can repeat the council process to identify appropriate leaders to elect to state and federal government. Only by maintaining local politics as an ongoing process can we guarantee freedom from politics for the majority of us. “While this would spell the end of the franchise as we know it,” Arendt says, “such freedom from politics was unknown to ancient Athens and Rome.’ It is perhaps, Arendt suggests, “the most relevant part of our Christian heritage.”

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