Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How To Fry A Snowball

Today the Daily Telegraph carry an obituary for the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski (see below). They point out that he came to dismiss the idea of democratic socialism seeing it as being as "contradictory as a fried snowball". For he pointed to the dangers of the development of unrestricted power entering the hands of an omnipresent bureaucracy.

It seems to me that we can indeed fry the snowball as long as we perpetually provide checks and controls against the very dangers which Kolakowski feared - and we use a wok. But we must always be on our guard. We don't want the snowball to fall into the fire. Below I give my recipe.

1. Regular elections and full enfranchisement for local, national and supra-national legislative bodies.

2. Written constitutions which safeguard devolved powers, democratic rights and civil liberties.

3. Separations of powers amongst legislative, executive and judicial bodies.

4. Extensions of public ownership to incorporate democratic controls for producers and consumers.

5. Elected representatives to have their sole or main place of residence in the communities they represent.

6. Political parties to operate under internal democratic structures.

7. No individual nor any company or institution to own more than one media outlet.

8. Open opportunities for lifelong learning which extend well beyond re-training schemes.

9. Moves to social equality with maximum and minimum earnings and ownership rights.

10. Avoid taking shortcuts to socialism by always using and advancing the democratic pathway to social change.

July 22, Essential Update : I missed out an important section from the above recipe and also add necessary covering clauses -

11. The restoration and development of Individual Ministerial Responsibility, Cabinet Government (instead of Prime Ministerial Government) and a public service ethic throughout the Civil Service, Public Services and Nationalised Industries.

12. Regular debate and discussion throughout society to ensure that the principles underlying the above recipe become living truths and not dead dogmas.


calgacus said...

I agree with you Harry. In fact i believe the opposite of the philosopher you mention. It's impossible to have enough democracy (political equality) without having a decent degree of socialism (economic and social equality).
If you're shot dead or jailed in a dictatorship then good welfare and pensions arent going to make up for it - and someone who has a vote but freezes or starves to death isnt seeing much in the way of democracy either.

Harry Barnes said...

Calgacus : We are on the same wavelength. Socialism and Democracy are incomplete notions unless they incorporate each other.