Commission Debate19 : Bye-bye Abe Lincoln’s democracy! Bye-bye Europe’s democratic heritage? Bye-bye Planet?!
29, December, 2009
At Copenhagen in December 2009, politicians failed to agree on joint action to save our planet. Politicians have also failed democracy. Has any one noticed? The only living planet in our solar system is in mortal danger — and the melting glaciers, rising tides, desertification, and the annihilation of non-human lifeforms should be ample evidence to most rational beings of our own impending disaster. The only solution is the energetic mobilization to wise action of the world’s so-called rational animals to safeguard our common and unique home. That does not mean world government. In the present deplorable state that would introduce overt or covert dictatorship. But it requires world supranational democracy. It would mean treating the world as a community of human beings with common problems and common interests in survival. It means treating our neighbours as ourselves, not as greedy enemies. Just rules must be agreed by all.
It would deal with the planet just like Europe approached the major threat to its existence — ever more violent war — and eliminate the problem through the Community method. Then as now, many people selfishly do not want to be treated as co-citizens for peace or creatures dependent on each other for survival. The founding fathers did in fact persuade an overwhelming majority of Europeans to ‘make war not only unthinkable but materially impossible.‘
Are we up to the challenge today? In 1949 — sixty years ago — Schuman told all the newly arrived members of Europe’s first parliament: You are here to save the world from suicide. Each of them got a copy of his text. All the governments too. He was right then, but we are NOW facing another act of human stupidity leading again, degree by degree, to WORLD SUICIDE.
If all the politicians had agreed to act on this new planetary threat — which they didn’t — then that is not the same as mobilizing the entire population. Why? Because so many politicians have lost the trust of the people. It is the people who have to be convinced the planet is in danger. Why? Simply because it is the people who will have to make the changes in their lives and lifestyles. Every citizen has to show the same solidarity to save the planet. It is no use for one citizen to act responsibly and frugally while his neighbour flies around the world for expensive holidays and consumes like a Roman Caesar. This crisis we are facing is quite different from any other. We are all the enemy and we are all the solution. How are we all to agree to act together responsibly?
The time is gone when politicians could say: Do this, and the people will follow obediently. Citizens are refusing more and more to vote for politicians. Less than half of ‘voters’ even voted. And that figure includes countries where politicians deem that citizens should be fined if they do not vote. (Some politicians arrogantly deny the people’s right to be free to choose.) Still the electors refuse. They say in effect about the ballot slip: None of the above. More people do not want to vote under any circumstances, no matter how URGENT the issues, for the present range of politicians. That is a powerful condemnation of the present politicians and their party machines. Something is seriously wrong and needs URGENT REFORM to save the planet.
Politicians are seen as being ‘on the take‘. The public sees the money — if only in the newspapers. The politicians say they are professionals, whatever that is. But the public says that they are there for their political machines and to get jobs for their political friends. The political machines keep them busy, well-fed and, above all, dependent. For example they expect as a matter of course, not to do their jobs voluntarily, that is as a free public service — like many of the politicians did in the past. No, they expect a salary (plus huge perks) that is perhaps ten times the national average salary. We’re worth it, they say. Even the attendance allowance is often multiple times the voter’s salary.
Not good enough. They failed the test that politics should primarily be about SERVICE. It would be far better for politicians to earn a normal living, to have a profession or to trade. A real job would perhaps set their feet on the ground, bring a dose of reality, and contact with normal human beings. They could be given expenses for trips to Brussels or Strasbourg. Is this likely to happen? No. Why? Because the moral fibre is lacking, even to propose such a measure. That is symptomatic of our moral bankruptcy. If European politicians can’t kick greed and consumerism, we can have no leadership from them for the planet.
And, as if to make our survival more uncertain, the self indulgent, greedy party political image of rich politicians and poor electors has become the model that the developing countries seek — even in the country of Gandhi. The former worker republics of Russia and China — that used to preach world solidarity and considered themselves the saviours of the oppressed — have become the selfish refusniks against action by a global community.
The only way to solve Europe’s problems — and the planet’s — is to ask all the people some simple questions, and get their positive affirmations. This is what is called the Community method. It mobilises all citizens in civil society and allows all citizens to react. That Community method has been abandoned first by people like de Gaulle in the 1960s and the rejection is now written up in the Lisbon Treaty. For example: how about asking the people whether they want carbon trading or not? When did anyone ask them? Taxation without representation but also without a discussion and acquiescence will end in tears and a crisis for parliamentary systems.
We are entering multiple global crises, not only climate change and energy but threats of global lawlessness, ideology and financial corruption. At this crucial time, Western Europe and USA have grown fat, ignorant and self-indulgent. They are in no way prepared for the intellectual analysis and spiritual testing that is required for such challenges. Multiple enemies, some of our own making, are at the gate. Do we have the tools and weapons to deal with them?
Take the example of our concept of democracy. Or rather, let us go back to US President Abraham Lincoln’s famous definition, spoken out on the ruined battlefield of the American civil war. Democracy, he said, was government of the people, by the people for the people.
With the Lisbon Treaty — brought in IN SPITE of the people and against their expressed will — we now have a party oligarchy. It is rule by a party cartel of two or three main party machines. The party politicians in fact agreed to the Lisbon Treaty, NOT THE PEOPLE. It is government by the party, for the party and of the party.
The democratic bodies that the Founding Fathers like Robert Schuman declared to be non-political and free and independent of party interests and governments — are all under the thumb of political parties. The Commission is now a forbidden zone to anyone without a party card. No elections were taken for membership of the Commission. No advertising was made to ask the public if they knew of any one who was qualified as experienced and impartial. No one from the non-political public proposed a member of the Commission. No member of the public had the opportunity to object to the politicians that the political machines put forward. The Council of Ministers that decided on these politicians was secret. No camera was allowed in, no journalist. Not even a member of the public, designated as an observer.
This is in direct violation of the founding principles of the Europe Declaration of 18 April 1951 that European citizens themselves, not the parties, should be ‘FREE TO CHOOSE.’
In the beginning nearly all its members of the Commission were free from party political membership. Some resigned party membership because they wished to be seen to be impartial. Why? because all the members of the Commission must be INDEPENDENT. They also represented by this impartiality normal, free citizens. The only one of the FIVE institutions of Supranational Democracy that has remained free from being an exclusive party political zone is the Court of Justice. For how long?David Heilbron Price