The Five Principles of Democracy
Alistair McConnachie developed and published the following conceptual foundations for Independent Green Voice in March 2003, and with the Seven Principles of Sovereignty they represent the political basis of the party.
1- FREEDOM OF SPEECH, DEBATE, AND ENQUIRY
This is a principle of democracy because it is essential to the open intellectual life upon which a vibrant democratic political culture is built and maintained.
It's been said that the strongest power is that which can forbid its own mention. Anybody who attempts to suppress political debate should be suspected of trying to defend illegitimate power.
As Robert Burns said, in his poem "Here's to them that's awa'":
Here's freedom to him who would speak.
Here's freedom to him who would write.
For there's none ever feared,
that the truth should be heard,
than he whom the truth would indict.
2- POPULAR DEMOCRACY
This is where the people, as a whole, are the government, and where the people retain and exercise their governing authority on a perpetual basis.
In a Popular Democracy -- rather than a Representative Democracy -- the people retain and exercise the policy-making and law-making initiative, rather than being subject to it.
In a Popular Democracy, the government is the servant of the people, not their master. Its job is to listen, respond and deliver to that which is demanded by the people.
These is no suggestion however, that this concept, or any political concept, should be imposed upon other peoples or cultures, or that it is in any sense a morally "superior" system.
3- OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE AND DIVERSE MASS MEDIA
The national mass media is crucial to the national democratic process.
It is the national mass media which forms and validates most people's understanding of what is "real".
It is the national mass media which holds the key to reaching the millions of voters. If you control the mass media that informs the voting choices of the people, then you can control the democratic process.
It is essential therefore that the mass media is:
Open -- transparent -- so we may know the people behind it and their agenda.
Accountable to the public, so we may acquire a remedy when it is inaccurate. The "freedom of the press" must be balanced with its accountability.
Diverse in the sense that media monopolies should not be allowed to develop and dominate.
The best way each of us can help build a diverse media is to support alternative media projects.
4- ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY FOR THE PEOPLE
Economic Democracy is the democratisation of economic power.
This requires decentralising economic power, and economically empowering smaller units -- whether it is the individual, or the community, or the people collectively -- through democratic mechanisms.
The present method of money creation, whereby virtually all money comes into society as an interest bearing debt owed to the private banking system is contrary to the democratic imperative that the creation of money should be a public service, under public control for the public good.
The present method of money creation gives great power to those private individuals and organisations who create the money.
Economic Democracy would empower the people with the means of creating and controlling their own money supply. It would democratise the creation and control of money.
Economic Democracy for the people complements the state's Economic Sovereignty.
5- EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW
Much is made of "the rule of law". This means that judgements are made in accordance with a written law, rather than being made in an arbitrary manner.
Just as important as "the rule of law", however, is equality before the law -- meaning each citizen has an equal ability to seek and receive justice.
In our society, the ability of a person to defend himself successfully may often depend upon his ability to pay for his defence. It often seems that there is one law for the rich and one law for the poor.
A democratic society would ensure each citizen is truly "equal before the law". It would ensure that everybody has free access to the law, just as we have free access to health care.
The jury system can also help to ensure equality before the law by defending the common man against an unjust legal order.
This is because a randomly selected jury of common people act as the final arbiters of the "rule of law".
Only a jury can make Parliament's laws meaningful by convicting transgressors. There is no requirement for it to convict, even when the "rule of law" has been broken. By refusing to convict, a jury makes a stand against bad law and can force a change in legislation.
Thus the jury system, and its expansion, is an essential element of a healthy democracy.