Introducing New Democracy
NEW DEMOCRACY was founded in 1992 to help build a movement for democratic revolution. Most people want a more equal and democratic society. Our goal is to give an organized and explicit voice to the revolutionary values and aspirations of working people. Our Statement of Principles is a concise statement of our beliefs, with a fuller discussion here.
Our confidence in the possibility of revolutionary change comes from our fundamental beliefs:
1. Capitalism, communism, and socialism have all led to societies in which the elite hold the money and the cards. None of these systems is democratic. None of them reflects the aspirations and goals of most people. Communism and socialism failed as alternatives to capitalism because they accepted capitalism's view of people: that economic development is the basis of human development, that self-interest is the primary human motivation, and that ordinary people are a passive mass or a dangerous problem. The basis of a new and democratic society is a new view of ordinary people.
2. Far from being passive, most people in their everyday lives struggle against a culture based on competition and exploitation to create relationships based on equality and commitment to each other. This means that most people are trying to create a better world. This effort is not pure or unmixed in people's lives, and people are not necessarily aware of the meaning of their efforts. But whatever equal and committed relationships people have in their lives, they have created by struggle against a culture based on inequality, competition, and exploitation. People's everyday lives have revolutionary meaning. The everyday struggle of ordinary people to humanize the world is the force which creates both the wealth of society and whatever positive human relationships and values exist within it.
3. Class struggle is a struggle over what values and relations should shape society, what goals it should pursue, and who should control it. Class struggle is a struggle over what it means to be a human being. The fundamental values of the working class in this struggle are equality, solidarity, and democracy. The fundamental values of the capitalist class are inequality, competition, and control from above. The goal of working class struggle is to shape the whole world with its values.
4. Revolution to create real democracy is both necessary and possible. Revolution is necessary because the problems we face are rooted in a system of elite rule that controls people by attacking relations of solidarity and equality. These problems cannot be solved one by one, or without creating a new society. Revolution is possible because the struggle of working people to humanize the world is the force that drives history, and because the vast majority of people want what only a revolution can make possible: a truly democratic society based on equality and commitment to each other.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY "DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION"? Some revolutions are undemocratic, replacing one elite with another. We are for a democratic revolution to abolish elite rule itself. Revolution to us means transforming all of society with the best values of working people: solidarity, equality, and democracy. Democratic revolution means overthrowing elite rule to create society on a new basis. It means, for example:
THE IMPORTANCE OF REVOLUTIONARY IDEAS: Elites use ideas to control people even more than they use force. They promote the idea that most people are motivated primarily by self-interest; that the good in society comes down from the elite; that inequality and competition are the inevitable results of human nature, and that therefore society cannot be changed. Politicians and the media and other institutions promote these ideas and use them to attack, isolate, and demoralize people.
We cannot build a successful movement without challenging capitalist ideas about people.
OUR VIEWS ON SOME ISSUES: Our positive view of ordinary people has led us to view certain issues in very different ways from conservative, liberal, and leftist views.
--EQUALITY OR "EQUAL OPPORTUNITY"?: Elites can only stay in power by persuading people that the elite are the source of progress toward goals which the people consider important. Most people believe in equality. The ruling class defines equality in terms of competing interest groups. The capitalist view creates categories divorced from the context of class society, by defining "women" or "African Americans" or "white males" or "Asian Americans" as groups with competing goals and interests. It thereby redefines equality to mean equal opportunity to get ahead in an unequal society, rather than creating a classless society.
Through programs such as affirmative action, the ruling class defines racial or gender equality in terms of competition for jobs which the ruling class has made artificially scarce. The goal of affirmative action and other such programs is not to eliminate class inequality or even to help the supposed beneficiaries of such programs, whether women or racial minorities, but to pit working people against each other and preserve the system of inequality.
--RACE AND RACISM: What working people have in common is more important than any differences of race, nationality, or religion. Our task is to shed light on the common class values and goals and common enemy of working people, to help build a united working class movement.
The concept of racism, as it has been used to explain attitudes and behaviors in capitalist society, is profoundly misleading. It has been used to paint the elite as the source of progress and white workers as the enemy of equality.
The remarkable thing about working people of all colors is how much they have resisted the lies about each other which the capitalist media and politicians promote and how much they support or are open to supporting each other. Workers of all colors have values in their own lives which enable them to create relationships with other working people based on class allegiance and shared class values. The basis of a united working class movement is already present in the lives of working people.
--NATIONALISM: Nationalism-the idea of national or group unity transcending class-is always an enemy of working people and a tool of elites. Since the collapse of communism, a very savage nationalism is being vigorously promoted around the globe, especially in the former Soviet bloc. (Nationalism is discussed at some length in the book, We CAN Change The World.)
In the US, nationalism is being promoted mainly under a "progressive" guise, especially on campuses and in school systems. "Multiculturalism," for example, defines "culture" in terms of race or nationality; it suggests that white or black or Hispanic or Asian people have more in common with the elites of their own national group than with working people of other races and nationalities. Likewise the debate over "Afrocentrism vs. Eurocentrism" divides people on the basis of national (or in this case, continental) origin, unites them with "their own" elites, and conceals their common class values and their class enemy.
--SEXISM AND SEXUAL EQUALITY: Our view on these issues is comparable to our view on race. What working men and women have in common-their shared goals and values-is more important than their biological differences. Equality and solidarity among men and women must be fundamental values of the democratic revolutionary movement and of the society we seek to build.
Feminism-the view that men are the enemy of women, that most men benefit from social inequalities between men and women, and that women have goals and values in opposition to men-is a capitalist view of people and should be rejected.
WHAT KIND OF MOVEMENT IS NEEDED?: The world needs a revolutionary movement based not on politicians but on ordinary people themselves as the driving force and leaders of change. Revolutions are built on hope. We want to help build a revolutionary movement which unites ordinary men and women of every race and nationality, in which people's confidence in their ability to change the world comes from their confidence in each other.