Thursday, 27 November 2008

Chomsky, real democracy and the NZ left

by Grant Morgan 26 November 2008 Below is Noam Chomsky's recent speech on Barack Obama's election victory and on the meaning of democracy in general. Chomsky lambasts the liberal concept of democracy current in America and elsewhere in the West (including New Zealand) whereby the masses are considered to be passive "outsiders" even when they are apparently active, like those belonging to Obama's Army. The active participants are contending groups of elites who essentially buy elections. Chomsky upholds a participatory democracy of the masses, with one of his examples being Bolivia, where grassroots movements began to change the political landscape by rising up around important issuesm creating their own plan of change and selecting from their midst their own presidential candidate, Evo Morales. This path of participatory democracy is the only way forward for the left in New Zealand. The left needs to go among the masses calling for a plan to protect the people from economic storms and from climate chaos, include thousands of people in the drafting and revision of such a plan, build on this momentum to channel the energies of grassroots movements around a common plan and, in the course of this process, select our own grassroots election candidates and rebuild our own grassroots political movement capable of successfully challenging market politics. Only such a course of action can build a new consensus around a new set of circumstances which will not only revitalise the left as a whole, but also build the tidal wave necessary to sweep away the huge obstacles to real democracy in our country. As the economic storms begin to lash New Zealand, the left has a historic opportunity to convert crisis into opportunity for the grassroots. Let us seize this opportunity with both hands. This is the real test for the left. Everything else is subsidiary at this time.
What Next? The Elections, the Economy, and the World by Noam Chomsky Transcript of recent address in Boston from Democracy Now! 24 November 2008 Well, let's begin with the elections. The word that the rolls off of everyone's tongue is historic. Historic election. And I agree with it. It was a historic election. To have a black family in the white house is a momentous achievement. In fact, it's historic in a broader sense. The two Democratic candidates were an African-American and a woman. Both remarkable achievements. We go back say 40 years, it would have been unthinkable. So something's happened to the country in 40 years. And what's happened to the country- which is we're not supposed to mention- is that there was extensive and very constructive activism in the 1960s, which had an aftermath. So the feminist movement, mostly developed in the 70s--the solidarity movements of the 80's and on till today. And the activism did civilize the country. The country's a lot more civilized than it was 40 years ago and the historic achievements illustrate it. That's also a lesson for what's next.

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