Monday, January 23, 2012
#23 / Grassroots Democracy In Venezula
The January 30, 2012 edition of The Nation has an article by Gabriel Hetland, entitled "Grassroots Democracy in Venezuela." The article discusses a kind of democratic budgeting process actually being used in Venezuelan communities. That process is based not on a notion of "representative democracy," but on a model of "participatory democracy." Ordinary members of the community develop the budget, instead of having budget decisions made by "government officials who stay in their air-conditioned offices all day and make decisions there."
Electing the people who hire the people who run our lives for us is not truly very "democratic," if democracy means, as Hetland says it does, "giving ordinary people control over the decisions that affect their lives."
In the United States, public revulsion with "representatives" who no longer represent "us," but who are beholden to and represent "the 1%," threatens to undermine our believe in democratic self-government itself.
The Hetland article makes plain that self-government can work, but only if we get involved ourselves, and if don't assume that someone else can make our decisions for us.
The article also makes clear, by the way, that any genuine democracy takes a lot of work!