Direct and Extreme Democracy In Civil Society
Extreme Democracy (ED) is a set of technology- and sociology-bound political concepts being developed in hopes of changing the nature of representation. ED advocates want citizen activists to have a greater role in governance, mostly through digital technologies that can bring together dynamic, ever-changing, issue-driven majorities (as opposed to traditional, rigid, party-line, ideology-driven majorities). They want the representative govt -- the repocracy, rule by representatives, new word to take away their false claims to democracy -- to become more responsive to citizen consensus.
Unfortunately, the ED advocates don't want this to be direct democracy (DD), which is rule by the people through constitutionally-defined governance components decided by binding referendums. In various US states, there are eight constitutionally-defined DD governance components. (See this blog's sidebar essay, "Executive Summary of Direct Democracy".)
The eight DD governance components are the greatest corruption-fighting package ever devised by ordinary people in the history of humankind. It was secured into the many state constitutions by the greatest democracy movement that has ever occurred: the Reform Era, circa 1898-1918. Many tens of millions of politically sophisticated Americans were directly involved. Their collective level of political sophistication so far exceeded that of today's national civil society as to be a face-flushing embarrassment for any ethically normal person with sufficient historical information.
The predators' Reform Era corruption machines promptly ran in unconstitutional controls of citizen-proposed law, taking away much of the corruption-fighting power that the citizens had won. We'll come back to that.
The eight DD governance components include the election of representatives. There's nothing mystical about elections that set them apart from referendums. Elections are nothing more than binding referendums, voted by all eligible citizens in a given jurisdiction, as all referendums are. This lack of distinction between elections and referendums becomes very important in breaking down the wall of sophistries and vacuous arguments that predator elitism uses so deftly to help them keep down the sovereign people's DD.
In fact, in the genesis of American DD, in the early 1900s, there was one primary purpose that came through in the DD literature. (DD was most often referred to then as 'Direct Legislation'.) Its primary purpose was to achieve the genuine representative govt that the sovereign people had been promised in the Constitution -- and that political corruption had robbed away.
Contrary to predator elitism's propaganda, sophistries, and vacuous arguments, the purpose of DD was not to set up a "pure democracy" to weaken representative govt, but rather to set up citizen checks and balances on govt to strengthen it against the treasonous corruptors within and without. (See especially, The National Economic League, The Initiative And Referendum: Arguments Pro And Con By A Special Committee Of The National Economic League. © 1912, J.W. Beatson. Published at Cambridge, MA: Caustic-Claflin Co., Printers.)
Strangely enough, DD's primary purpose in the early 1900s is exactly the intent of the Extreme Democracy political philosophy today.
One of the ED movement's leaders, Jon Lebkowsky (in his online book, "Extreme Democracy", section "What is Extreme Democracy") misstates DD to require that "all people must be involved in every decision in order for the process to be just and democratic." He then turns this specious falsehood into a straw man, which he easily knocks down to show that the ED political philosophy is vastly superior to DD political philosophy.
Lebowsky has not done his homework on the legal realities of either American DD or Swiss DD. (He seems not to know that DD is a legal reality in the US, or that it exists as an intrinsic part of the Constitution's guaranteed "republican form of govt" in 23 active I&R states.) In both nations, DD's citizen lawmaking -- formulation of new law with the initiative, or veto of legislature-made law with the referendum -- is not involved with every "decision".
In the US, thousands of unchallenged, legislature-made laws go quietly into the books every year in the 23 states in which the citizens possess DD's veto-referendum. In Switzerland, there is an informal 90-day rule. If the sovereign people have not brought a veto-referendum within 90 days of a measure becoming law, it's understood that they have given tacit approval to the law.
Of course, the sovereign Swiss possess the constitutional amendment initiative (CAI -- the most powerful governance component in the nation), which has the power to write law directly into the constitution, indirectly wiping out any law that has become harmful by making a correcting law. There are 17 active CAI states in the US, and here as there, the CAI is the most powerful governance component in the nation..
Most DD advocates, excluding the "half-DD" elitism-fascism shills, but including especially myself, would love to see the Extreme Democracy concepts active in the civil societies of the I&R states. The ED concepts amplify participation in the democratic processes, which would include the DD processes. They also would help activate each I&R state's civil society to organize the national citizen action groups (CAGs) that we desperately need now to combat the Bush-Cheney Usurpation with our sovereign people's power. Additionally, the ED concepts would be invaluable aids to future Online Citizen Institutions (OCIs), much more below.
Unfortunately, ED is not a good fit for DD civil societies. It could be beneficial, if its advocates could temporarily limit its leadership analysis, but it's not clear that the ED political philosophy can function without its full-blown leadership principles.
ED's leadership analysis is attractive and commonsensical. It accounts for the rise of individual leaders in any horizontal, nonhierarchical organization (NHO), which, of course, ED sees itself generating. ED's leadership analysis says that individuals who are naturally talented, effectively active, lucid, and cogent will be identified as issue-related leaders in the NHO, and will be followed by others. It says that such leaders will acquire more power than others to affect decision-making in the NHO.
Such NHOs, of course, were also the products of any local or state-level DD campaign before the advent of -- arrggg -- money as free speech. The DD NHOs grew out of the processing needs of individual I&R and recall petitions. People who supported the issue got together and campaigned the petition into the next election/referendum.
Naturally, advocates of a future national DD system want to see DD NHOs become permanent fixtures in and around the needed OCIs, which will protect citizen business against govt intrusions, vote in agendas for their state or regional jurisdictions, develop and process I&R and recall petitions in wikis and other modules, create a deliberative and amendment "floor" for discussion of the petitions, vote amendments up or down, vote finished petitions into the formal state or national govt's lawmaking process, coordinate most of the petition campaign's activities, and ensure that state or national govt actively complies with any law passed by the people.
Oddly enough, all of that is on a par with, but a step up from, ED political philosophy. It's on a par with, because ED draws its technological buttresses from "Web 2.0". It's a step up, because it carries with it the sovereign people's power. Done right, the sovereign powers would preclude govt from ignoring citizen-made law -- as it frequently does now -- or from using its arbitrary rulings and corruption machines to unconstitutionally delay, alter, and/or reject legal citizen action.
For a good Web 2.0 analysis, see Tim O'Reilly's "What Is Web 2.0" on the "O'Reilly" site. For ED adaptations, see Lee Bryant and David Wilcox, "Some Lessons From Web 2.0 for Participation and E-Democracy", on the "Headshift" site. For how state govts unconstitutionally ignore and/or trash the sovereign people's citizen-made law, see especially, Elisabth R. Gerber's 2000 book, Stealing The Initiative: How State Government Responds To Direct Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Prentice Hall.
However, the deep-pockets corporate funding now possible in I&R petition campaigns -- since the absurd, corruption-mongering, 1988 SCOTUS decision that deemed money to be free speech in politics -- has made some DD organizations very different from what all DD organizations were previously. The presence of big money, to buy petition signatures and to run expensive PR campaigns for I&R and recall petitions, automatically requires and brings managers, giving the organization an hierarchical structure.
It was the absurd privitization of the people's business. Hear the corruption machines screetch, "privitatize everything". See SCOTUS run, fascist whores all.
Obviously, the ED leadership analysis cannot apply to individuals within hierarchical political organizations (HPOs). The hierarchy provides the leaders, not the grassroots group. So DD loses the ED leadership analysis that was once its reality. It loses that reality to elitist-fascist encroachment -- for now. It's about when grassroots are not grassroots. ED would also suffer in such supposedly grassroots HPOs. ED's natural leaders could easily become disheartened. In the end, ED leaders will probably eliminate HPOs from any ED operations.
Many of us who advocate an optimum, fully independent, DD system melded to the national repocracy believe that money is not legal free speech. (Bribery is done with money, and bribery is illegal. If money were actually free speech, then bribery would have to be legal.) We insist that the SCOTUS deeming of money as free speech in political affairs is nothing more than the whorish legalization of bribery for the benefit of the elites. We generally agree that the 1988 SCOTUS ruling should be reversed with a Constitutional amendment and that the political uses of money should be heavily regulated, along with the anti-people, anti-democracy, anti-Constitution federal bench and all other fascist-thug corporate and political party intrusions into politics.
If we can make those things happen, the Extreme Democracy leadership analysis for NHOs will be applicable. Well -- as long as the NHOs are truly and fully independent of govt controls. Pie-in-the-sky for now.
Here we both, DD and ED, run into the teeth of repocracy's corruption machines.
Clearly, a DD system that is underhandedly controlled by govt cannot be a nonhierarchical organization. Govt, in its intrusive controls, makes itself a hierarchy in every state-level, American DD organization. Citizen leaders may think that they are leaders, and they may be seen as leaders by their peers initially, but govt control denies them independent leader status and diminishes any related powers considerably.
You cannot effect decision-making within the NHO if the decision-making is severely limited or taken away from you by govt. If the Secretary of State says that your initiative petition's ballot language is unacceptable and that he has (unconstitutionally) re-written it in accord with some (unconstitutional) statute, you, as the leader who carefully crafted the original ballot language, have been cut off at the knees. The Secretary of State's (unconstitutional) action may have adverse effects on your continuing leadership among the NHO's individuals, and your status reduction might disorient and adversely effect the entire NHO and its objectives.
Fact is, such unconstitutional actions are open to, and practiced by, every I&R state govt. The rabble are kept down and the profits and power of the elites remain unlimited. So it has always been. So it must always be, according to the predator elites. Constitutions and statutes have always been, and will always be, subordinate to the natural law of wealth and power. Well -- as long as we the sovereign people continue to allow and invite the predators to butcher people for profits and power, while they're whispering sweet nothings into our ears.
(How stupid can a sovereign people be? Take a close look at Americans. Tens of millions of world-class fascists and Constitution-hating religious freaks. Tens of millions of neo-progs who whole-heartedly ache for the war-crimes-against-humanity-profiteering, torture-murder-gulag-boosting, anti-Islam-crusading, tax-cutting-for-the-superrich-whoring, American-jobs-offshore-outsourcing, anti-14th-Amendment-liberties-Alito-protecting, super-voodoo-economics-middle-class-crushing, tobacco-death-industry-muletraining, environmental-wreckage-engineering, unsafe-food-supply-canning-and-exporting, Diebold-hack-o-matic-vote-counting-racketeering, warrantless-wiretapping-cheerleading, Democratic Party corruption machine to hurry up and save them. Think we don't deserve the hatred of freedom-loving peoples around the world? Think again.)
Beginning immediately after constitutional DD provisions passage, most of which happened in the early 1900s, the constitutional criminals in the state legislatures began their own backlash. They began writing and passing statutes directing many different types of unconstitutional and arbitrary controls for citizen-proposed law. Constitutional criminals in the executive branch, especially Secretaries of State and Attornies General, have unconstitutionally acted in accord with those unconstitutional statutes. Constitutional criminals in the judicial branch have joined in with their own, uniquely judicial unconstitutionalities, in accord with the state's unconstitutional statutes.
It's a gauntlet of unconstitutional and arbitrary contols that applies to every citizen-proposed law in every I&R state. However it is only selectively applied so that civil society doesn't connect the dots.
Citizen-proposed law that is offensive to money-power is stopped -- or worse, passed and turned into a nightmare of anti-DD, anti-people, and anti-public-education machinations, as was the case with California's Prop 13, limiting property taxes, in 1978.
Citizen-proposed law that is NOT offensive to money-power sails right on through, demonstrating that the system works.
It's been a successful strategy, helping to keep the people from noticing the unconstitutionalities, for over a hundred years.
There are many variations on the theme, but the two most common groups of unconstitutional acts against citizen-proposed law are separation of powers violations and binding judicial review of proposed law.
The separation of powers violations occur when executive branch officials perform legislative or judicial branch functions that are NOT specified in the state constitution. The Secretary of State may be directed to write or re-write the ballot language provided for the proposal by the citizens submitting the petition. Writing the ballot language is a legislative function, not an executive function. What the ballot language says is important legislatively. It may very well be a factor in any subsequent court action that must interpret the citizen-proposed law's meaning -- and subtle, misleading language written by an executive branch official could easily result in an unfavorable court ruling.
Another popular trick in the separation of powers variation is to empower the Attorney General to deem that a particular citizen-proposed law is not clearly written or conflicts with the standing laws of the state, and must therefore be rejected. The rejection action is unconstitutional on two counts. First, no executive branch official is permitted to reject a bill of law proposed in accord with constitutional provisions, regardless of whether that proposed law comes from the legislature or from civil society. Second, such an executive branch official's binding judicial review of a proposed law would be unconstitutional even if done by a judge. No constitution, state or federal, defines the judicial power to include binding judicial review of proposed law. Binding judicial review can only be applied after the measure has been signed into finished law.
The only way for such cross-branch acts to be constitutional is for them to be specifically ordered in the state constitution, as exceptions to the separation of powers provisions. The Nebraska constitution's separation of powers provision is typical --
The powers of the government of this state are divided into three distinct departments, the legislative, executive and judicial, and no person or collection of persons being one of these departments, shall exercise any power properly belonging to either of the others, except as hereinafter expressly directed or permitted.
With regard to citizen-proposed law, there are no cross-branch acts specifically permitted in any of the I&R state constitutions -- with the sole exception of Massachusetts. I&R constitutional provisions there so heavily contradict other constitutional provisions -- in their creation of arbitrary elite controls of citizen proposed law -- that all Massachusetts I&R, since its inception in 1918, has been, and will continue to be, unconstitutional. Only a statewide constitutional convention will have the comprehensive power needed to sort it all out and eliminate the contradictions.
The most common unconstitutional stunt outside of the separation of powers violations is the binding judicial review of proposed law -- done by judges who absolutely, positively know exactly how unconstitutional their binding review is. Nonetheless, this unconstitutional stunt accounts for most of the delays and rejections of citizen-proposed law.
If state officials or judges pulled either of those stunts -- separation of powers violations or binding judicial review -- on legislature-proposed law, they would be impeached and removed before dinner. But the unconstitutional stunts are SOP for citizen-proposed law. It's how the people are kept down and the corruption machines kept well-lubricated.
And, please, no more specious arguments, claiming that there is some sort of viable distinction between legislature-proposed law and the citizen I&R petition. Both are proposed law, pure and simple.
The I&R petition proposes that a law be passed, not that an executive agency policy or judicial ruling be passed. The I&R petition, once approved by the sovereign people, becomes law, not anything else. The law that the approved I&R petition becomes is open to binding judicial review as law, just as is any law passed by the legislature. The I&R petition is a legislative function within the legislative power of govt and, purely, proposed law.
And let's be clear. There are two different levels of constitutional crime being committed here.
First, the criminal legislatures begin the felony conspiracy against rights with their unconstitutional statutes. The moment that any two or more individuals comply with any one of those statutes, the unconstitutional statute becomes an anti-law regime. (Every individual who is legally trained can identify an anti-law regime and knows that every application of it yields another felony conspiracy against rights, plus other crimes.) The moment that the unconstitutional statute is complied with by anyone, it becomes part of a conspiracy against citizen rights, violating the federal statutes, 18 USC 241 -- felony conspiracy against rights by anybody -- and 42 USC 1983 -- civil deprivation of citizen rights by state officials. Felony forfeits legislative immunity. Any legislator who voted for the unconstitutional statute is a co-conspirator and can be criminally prosecuted in federal court, despite being an office-holder. State felonies have also been committed, depending on the state.
Second, state officials and judges are perfectly capable of choosing to comply, or not to comply, with statute instructions that direct them to violate the fundamental constitutional law of their state's and nation's sovereign people. If they choose to violate the fundamental constitutional law, then they become individual perpetrators of crimes and torts, including conspirators against rights.
When the constitutional criminals reach outside the state's constitution to delay, alter, and/or reject citizen-proposed law, the dollar and human costs are incalculable. The harm that the constitutional criminals do is far beyond the delays, alterations, and/or rejections of a potential better governance for their sovereign civil society. They also further the people-abusive and costly corruptions that the citizen-proposed law would have ended. They give those corruptions more time to run before the corruptions can possibly be ended. They cripple I&R rights by deterring citizens who have good ideas from coming forward in the future. They betray, defile, and violate the rule of law, which is probably the single most important founding principle of our nation.
Additionally, in violating the state and national constitutions to do their political evil, they both violate citizen rights and their oaths to protect the rights of citizens. The two together are an act of treason, as defined for the secessionist state legislators in the 1860s.
As things stand now, the unconstitutional and arbitrary controls of DD in the I&R states are the predator elites' first line of defense against any state or national limiting of their corruption machines or their illicitly-gained profits and power.
Predator blocking of state-level good governance policies that are offensive to money-power turns out to be an excellent way to prevent those same policies from gaining national traction. Citizens in many I&R states have tried to pass initiatives ending regressive personal income taxes, and replacing them with progressive sales taxes. Of course, sales taxes to support state services would cost the luxury-item-buying elites a lot more money. State govts have unconstitutionally and arbitrarily thrown out all such attempts, one way or another, over decades of time.
It is very important for this simple fact to register in your brain. Compute this. The hundred years of lawlessness in violation of their sovereign's fundamental-law constitutions by officials and judges in roughly half of our state repocracies have been knowingly participated in by the leadership of both major political parties. Both majors have been increasingly involved in creating the new unconstitutional statutes that provide variation on the theme of controlling citizen-proposed law, keeping the unsuspecting people down and the predators' profits and power unlimited.
No rebuilding of either political party will save us from the predators. Both political parties are front-rank predators.
To make things worse, to grab we the sovereign people with another come-along that drags us past dealing with the unconstitutional, felonious, and treasonous state govt interference, we now have Extreme Democracy advocates painting this pretty picture of how leadership develops in a nonhierarchical civil society. All we have to do is to put that leadership notion to work at the grassroots, they say, and we'll have civil society's best and brightest showing us how to overcome the bad guys.
Intentional or not, ED is a string-'em-along, jerk-'em-around. It glosses over, covers up, and looks past the unconstitutional, felonious, and treasonous actions by state govts in their control of citizen-proposed law.
We need to see the truth and reality of the current unconstitutional, felonious, and treasonous state govt system first. We need to understand the progression of constitutional amendments that will be required to clean up I&R law in each state. (For an in-depth discussion of this topic, see the SOTR, Chapter 4, "Violating Constitutions" -- all of it. It's on the DDL site at http://ddleague-usa.net/SOTR4.html ) We need to find ways to criminally prosecute and bring civil lawsuits against any public official or judge who uses the old unconstitutional statutes to block our clean-up.
The national Constitution guarantees a republican form of govt in the states. In the I&R states, the republican form of govt is constitutionally defined as the combination of DD's citizen lawmaking and representative govt. That definition is completely legal and constitutional, per a 1912 SCOTUS ruling.
When state officials or judges unconstitutionally interfere with citizen-proposed law, they violate their citizens' rights to the federally-guaranteed republican form of govt. Such acts violate the federal statute, 18 USC 241 -- felony conspiracy against rights. Felony forfeits all immunities. Co-conspirators can be criminally prosecuted in federal court, regardless of being incumbents or sitting judges.
The unconstitutional acts that control citizen-lawmaking also violate the federal statute, 42 USC 1983 -- civil deprivation of federal rights by state officials or judges. Co-conspirators can be sued in federal court.
Each constitutional violation by I&R state officials and judges to control citizen-proposed law also violates various state laws.
In the upramp to every general election, state officials and judges somewhere use the gauntlet of unconstitutionalites to keep down the civil society's attempts at good governance. Election 2006 is no exception. This has been going on since the early 1900s. We the sovereign people are still collectively ignorant of what has been done to our constitutionally defined lawmaking. We need to collectively understand. We need to correct the situation.
However, if the 1-party, 3-branch, fascist despotism in Washington DC has its way, we are already too late. Their tentative locks on our privatized and easily hacked electoral system, the US District Attorneys and many of the US District Courts, and the Department of Justice and its central role in the obstruction of justice for all of the despotism's players may mean that the state govt constitutional criminals are as untouchable as are the national govt's constitutional criminals in all three branches. It's all tentative now, but it will become permanent if we allow it to continue much longer.
This is the repocratic system that ED wants its toothless political philosophy to alter into a governance of cooperation between representatives and civil society.
"The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will." Frederick Douglass said that about his people regaining their freedom in the 1860s.
Citizens in the 23 active I&R states won their political equality and freedom with the passage of their constitutional DD provisions in the early 1900s. They promptly lost that equality and freedom as quickly as their state legislatures could pass statutes that instructed officials and judges to unconstitutionally and arbitrarily control citizen-proposed law.
It's way past time to regain our equality and freedom. The DD toolkit of eight governance components can be used in many ways to force the issue. It can't be done in the present climate of political unsophistication, but if small groups get started working with the toolkit, the civics lessons will flow like water. (See especially, "Open Letter To Susan--Making Bush-Cheney Null & Void", 12 September 2006, on this blog. )
When we've got the DD systems fully independent of reprocratic interference, then the Extreme Democracy political philosophy and analysis of NHO leadership will be useful.
Update -- Tue 26 Sep 2006, at 4:45am.
There seem to be fewer online resources each year that compile information on I&R petitions that are rejected by state govts.
BallotWatch, a site maintained by the I&R Institute, had comprehensive coverage of state-level I&R petitions, including delayed and/or rejected petitions, until a few years ago, when the IRI site was placed under the control of the USC School of Law. The decision to eliminate the BallotWatch reports of individual petition-handling, whatever the rationale, was a bad one for we the sovereign people and a great one for the unconstitutional, felonious, and treasonous public officials and judges of the I&R states. There are no coincidences in politics.
However, BallotWatch's convenience-store for powerful constitutional criminals is not yet airtight. In July 2006, somebody at BallotWatch published a piece in PDF format titled, "Early Look At 2006 Ballot Measures". It contains a section titled, "Removed and Struck Down", covering just that one narrow sub-category of arbitrarily controlled petitions. In its September recap of I&R ballot measures, the door is slammed shut, and there is no information regarding delayed or rejecte petitons.
Here's an extract from July's "Removed and Struck Down" --
In June, the Colorado Supreme Court removed an initiative intended to deny government services to illegal immigrants on the grounds that it violated the rule that a measure concern only a single subject. In March, the Florida Supreme Court took a redistricting off the ballot also on single subject grounds. “State courts are aggressively wielding the single-subject requirement to deny voters the ability to vote on important policy issues. The Colorado decision is particularly problematic because the Court reasoned that multiple purposes behind the measure meant that it encompasses multiple subjects,” said IRI director and University of Southern California professor Elizabeth Garrett.
In South Dakota, Secretary of State Chris Nelson (R) refused to place two initiatives on the ballot even though petitioners submitted the required signatures. Both initiatives would have repealed existing laws, one authorizing the state’s video lottery and the other a tax on cell phones. The measures were disqualified on the grounds that only a referendum could be used to repeal an existing law — initiatives can only be used to propose new laws. Interestingly, when the legislature originally passed the laws being challenged, a clause was attached to each declaring that they were “necessary for the support of state government,” making them not subject to a referendum.
In Missouri, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) refused to count the petitions for TABOR and eminent domain initiatives after questions arose about the petition process. The TABOR petitions were not counted because the pages were not numbered sequentially by county. The eminent domain petitions were not counted because the ballot title on the petition pages was “insufficient.” This was a Catch-22 for the petitioners since they used the ballot title that had been approved by the Secretary of State, but was declared insufficient by a circuit court after the petitions had already been circulating.
All of the state govt actions described in this extract are unconstitutional, felonious, and treasonous. Until we have CAGs that reach across state lines looking for such constitutional criminals, we will be largely ignorant of what is being done to us by the elitist corruption machines.
(Last modified, Sat 30 Sep 2006, at 7:35am CDT.)
© by Stephen Neitzke, 2006