Bob Stone of GEO, responds to Len Krimerman

In GEO #56, Ross Gandy posed an ñintractable dilemma in a world of 200 nation states:î ñThe only antidote to oppressive state power is participatory democracy and grassroots coops, but that works only locally, not nationally.î So, tragically, our favored option is destined to fail. Taking up GandyÍs challenge, Len Krimerman (see above) rejects RossÍs strategy choice between using top down state power to democratize institutions vs. building new democratic institutions from below„in favor of an option not given. The key is to re-define both ñstate powerî and ñgrassroots democracyî so the latter does work nationally. IÍd like to push one of LenÍs solutions further so it works internationally too. Len redefines state power to include directing public funds to the solidarity economy which ñcolonizes the state,î so its ñexclusive national powerî becomes ñde-centered.î But he also redefines grassroots action to include sending delegates from workforces of enterprises and associations to chambers of government at various levels to sit alongside representatives elected by regions, an aspect of G.D.H. ColeÍs 100-year-old ñguild socialismî that was approximated in YugoslaviaÍs last constitution. The beauty of the delegate system is that delegates from democratic institutions„that is, persons who know what real democracy is because they practice it daily„can be delegated anywhere, even to international bodies. David SchweickartÍs first model of ñeconomic democracy,î in his excellent After Capitalism, is wealthy nations. Yet the crying need of our time is to rectify unjust inequities between nations due to capitalist globalization. David envisions a tax on capital assets as a sort of leasing fee paid by workers for use of social property. Revenue is to be redistributed to regions on a per capita basis unless say, a regionÍs outmoded industry needs modernization and delegates chose to meet that need. Now on a delegate model, why must such a region be in the same country as all the delegates? For example, couldnÍt a congress of delegates from the democratic enterprises of North and South America recognize the need of worker co-ops in Buenos Aires or agricultural co-ops in Bahia or Alabama and distribute revenues accordingly, to be monitored by local bodies? Revenues from the Tobin tax on international financial transactions, proposed by the French anti-globalization group ATTAC, could be distributed by a body of world-level delegates from democratic enterprises. But how do you avoid building a new corrupt political class? Delegates will answer to their workmates but Ross Gandy and his colleague Donald Hodges also insist that their personal earnings be restricted to the average distribution of income at their workplace. Is this a way to undo corporate globalization? LenÍs reframing seems to open this possibility.        

Include the citation below and GEO Newsletter grants permission to copy, use, and distribute this article.
Permission not for commercial or for-profit use.

©2001 GEO, P.O. Box 115, Riverdale, MD 20738-0115