Fulfilling Electoral Promises In A Neo-Liberal Democracy Jaye Gaskia
As its the norm,it has become very important to make the clear distinction between ‘democracy as such’ by which conventional wisdom means liberal democracy, and democratisation as a process of deepening democratic content and engendering and building popular, and I dare say, workers democratic structures, institutions and systems.
FULFILLING ELECTORAL PROMISES IN A NEO-LIBERAL DEMOCRACY;
The very phrasing of the theme, which by the way is a very apt presentation of the issue in liberal democracy, immediately suggests certain givens, that are integral parts of liberal democracy, and which constitute the reasons why we should aim for something higher than liberal democracy.
First, by the very nature of liberal democracy, politicians and political platforms/parties can only make electoral promises; and by its very nature promises are not binding, they are not things for which one can be made liable.
And so, fulfillment of such promises become dependent on the interaction of a number of factors, including, the leaning of the leadership making the promise, the alertness and level of conscious activity of the electorate to whom the promises have been made, as well as the level of support or antagonism of opposing political platforms, and their relative strength in the liberal democratic institutions.
It is why under capitalism, and within the context of liberal democracy, the conventional assumption is that politicians and political parties are liars, and that it requires monumental effort, including legislative and judicial activism to hold politicians and political parties to their word. It is also why lobbying by powerful interest groups, representing fractions and factions of classes, have become integral parts of the liberal democratic process. So what you as the electorates think you are voting for hardly matters, what matters is the relative weight of lobby groups and the survival based political maneuverings of the politician in office.
So what is the alternative? And does that mean that it is a worthless effort to make politicians fulfill the promises they make during elections?
But before we go into that, a quick digression is important here. The replacement of the concept of liberal democracy with the concept of neo-liberal democracy, seems here to be significant with respect to defining the socio-economic trajectory of capitalist democracy; whether it is based on the domination of monetarism and free market fundamentalism, or whether it is based on some form of Keynesian, welfarist, or statist model, which permits and or even promotes state intervention to regulate the market and the conditions of the exploited classes. In the first instance this will correspond to neo-liberal democracy, while the second instance will correspond to liberal democracy.
Back to the discussion; what is the alternative? And as we fight for the alternative, how can we ensure that politicians and political platforms are made to fulfill their electoral promises?
Every great and epochal revolutionary upsurge of the working and exploited classes since the emergence of capitalism as a mode of production, with its social relations of production, have produced forms of representational democracy, that have been much deeper, and have gone much further in encroaching on property rights and empowering exploited and oppressed classes. Whether in cases where such institutions and processes, have emerged only in embryonic forms, as in the Paris Commune of 1871, or in those other cases where such emergent institutions of workers democratic power and state have achieved varying degrees of maturity, as in the Russian Socialist revolution of 1917; the alternative to liberal democracy have always been posed.
They have been posed in the system of communes or soviets, where the nature and character of representation is fundamentally transformed, and with it, the nature and character of the state. This new form of workers power and workers state, is fundamentally characterised by the basing of constituencies on the work place and production/economic processes; on the institution of the system of mandates, which replaces electoral promises as platform for electoral contestation. In this case, once elected by your peers on the basis of these mandates, you are bound by these mandates and can alter these mandates only in consultation with, and with the express authorization of your constituents; And as a way of ensuring that the constituents retains control over the representative, the representative can be easily recalled by the constituents, and replaced. Furthermore, only working persons and their acknowledged representatives can be elected into office; while the elected representative receives only the average salary of the working people as renumeration, in order words, your salary and therefore status should not, and will not change simply because you have become an elected or appointed representative of the people as is the case in liberal democracy.
The state organ constituted by these mode of election, is then at one and the same time, a legislative as well, as an executive body; combining legislative functions and executive functions in the body/organ, not in the same individuals!
This then is the alternative to liberal democratic forms of representational governance. It is the alternative that as left, workers, socialist and popular formations we should print on our banner in the struggle for revolutionary social transformation of our society. So this then is the alternative that we seek, that should be sought; that we struggle for, that should be struggled for.
But in the meantime, as we struggle to achieve the alternative, how do we ensure that we hold politicians accountable and responsible for the promises that our struggles force them to make during elections?
The simple, but very complicated answer is to build, organise, and mobilise, alternative platforms, which are outside the control of the ruling class and its class factions and fractions; and with which we undertake the Organised Conscious Self Activity Of The Masses [OCSAM].
To counter the pressure of the organised lobby groups representing various ruling class interests and factions/fractions, to organise to counter the loyalties of the politician to their primary class interest; it is important that we return to, and reclaim the streets; that we turn the work place, the site of economic activity into a tuff of political class conscious struggle; and that we mobilise the conscious presence of the exploited classes to challenge, pressure, hold accountable and responsible, political office holders.
And these two processes, of fighting for the alternative, and fighting to hold politicians accountable in the current set up are not mutually exclusive; they are and ought to be complementary processes; we build and test the strength of the class conscious movement, by throwing it into episodic political and economic battles with the ruling class, whether in wresting concessions from the class or in holding them responsible for fulfillment of electoral promises. And by so doing we sharpen the political class consciousness of the working and exploited classes, preparing the class, to seize any revolutionary opening which the heightened contradictions in society may throw up, to make the workers democratic revolution.
ORGANISE NOW! MOBILISE NOW!! ACT NOW!!!
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