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Democracy Is the Goal of Goals

I may not have understood much in my years, but I always know when a battle involves our fundamental democracy, and I always jump in!

Americans live pretty well under our limited democracy. A really good way to understand American history is by seeing it as a longterm struggle for more democracy. This nation began with almost zero democracy for Black and Brown people, and extremely limited democracy even for the rebellious English colonists. I think you had to be white, male, 35-years old, and a property owner even to vote!

The struggle for more democracy took many forms, including the awful Civil War, but it was always ongoing and still is. Even in my lifetime, I've seen the official end of school segregation, the official end of poll taxes, the official end of white primaries, the official end of impossible tests for the right to vote, and the official beginning of multi-lingual ballots. I have to say "official" because these victorious battles aren't entirely over, as no battle is entirely over as long as we're ruled by the same people.

No matter what we win, the bosses always try to take it back. Voting rights is the supreme example in 2015.

An excellent fight for more democracy took place this year in my home area. The President of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank had to be replaced. Labor and certain community organizations demanded a say-so in this appointment. I'm not sure that a lot of people understood the fight, partly because we don't understand what the Federal Reserve Bank does and how important it is in the American economy. We didn't win that one, but we did increase public consciousness, and we'll do better next time.

Some Think that the U.S. is Totally Democratic

If we had campaign reform so that big money didn't determine most of our election outcomes, we'd have a lot more democracy than we have now. If the people had more say-so about foreign affairs and the economy, we'd have a lot more democracy than we have now. To make a generalization, if people had the same amount of say-so in such-and-such a process as they are affected by its outcome, we'd have a lot more democracy than we have now.

Some Think the U.S. Has Already Gone Fascist

Every now and then on Facebook, I see that one of my friends has condemned the United States for becoming a fascist nation. Hardly any of them could come up with a definition of "fascist" if they were asked. The Italian Dictator who started the fascist movement called it "corporatism." In other words, the rule of the corporations. In Italy and Germany, fascism came about because the bosses preferred this form of rule as a way to stop the growing socialist movement in Europe after the Russian Revolution. Prior to World War II, there were a lot of people who wanted fascism in the United States.

Fascism is the most extreme and undemocratic form of capitalist rule. We may have had some setbacks to our democracy in the United States, but we haven't arrived at fascism and probably won't, because Americans will ultimately cling to democracy.

What We Have Is Partial Democracy and the Ability to Go on Fighting

Americans have a long history of struggling for more democracy. Best of all, we have won some of the basic methods of democratic struggle. It may be true that our elections are shot-through with corruption and big money buyouts, but they are largely honest and largely available. Our right to peaceable assembly has survived, despite the efforts of President George Bush and others. Our sources of information may be bought out by big corporations, but most of the spokespersons working for them mostly still believe in honesty. Workers may be terrified of economic reprisals, but we're still allowed to talk and study. That's a lot!


In 2011, I tried to help with the folks who set up tent cities on public properties. They shook things up in America significantly. Several union leaders asked me to help interface with that movement, and I believe they were sincere in trying to ally. Here in Dallas, the efforts of union leaders didn't get far. Except for having a strong temporary economic effect on the docks on the West Coast, I don't think the Occupy Movement could claim much physical success. They can be proud, justly, that they changed the dialogue of dissent in America. If it hadn't been for their efforts, concepts like "We Are, the Ninety-Nine Percent!" might not have been understood widely. Also, they showed that there was tremendous discontent during the Great Recession, and that there were thousands of people willing to fight.

But the union leaders who tried to relate were frustrated because they couldn't find any kind of plan in the Occupy Movement. For practical purposes, there wasn't one. There was just that one really great tactic: setting up tent cities on public properties. No matter how great a tactic may be, we shouldn't make a fetish of it, but we did.

I honestly thought, around 2013, that a national plan would evolve. I thought it might take the shape of a "rolling occupation" from the West Coast to Washington, much like Coxey's Army in 1894. Perhaps there was a national plan and I just never became aware of it. Perhaps it just couldn't develop momentum.

There will be more such battles. They will go on until we win.


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