“Bottom-Up Democracy & Proportional Representation” Part Two

This is a further continuation of a ‘Manifesto for Democratic Socialism in Bermuda’ written in 2002.

Part Two

Government is to be based on the principles of labour and territoriality. That is, the democratisation of the state and the economy is to be done along the lines of both the workplace and by residence.

For labour, just as within the current BIU there exists workers councils for each industry, and for each worplace (i.e. the Elbow Beach Hotel workers, part of the hotels division, etc.), so shall the labour councils of the bottom-up democracy be composed, resulting in a series of nested councils and, ultimately, a national labour council. As such, the Elbow Beach Hotel workers from an Elbow Beach Hotel workers council, and from this council elect representatives to the overall hotel workers council of Bermuda, which, in turn, sends representatives to the national labour council. Representation on the council is to be proportional to the workers composing the various industries. All workers involved at any workplace are to be able to vote or run in their workers council.

The national territorial council is to work in a similar fashion to that of the national labour council, with neighbourhood councils forming the smallest units. Above this will be the Parish council (Bermuda being divided into nine parishes), and then the national territorial council above the Parishes. [Number of councils and councilors elected are to reflect the population itself, so the more populous parishes will have greater representation.] The vote is based on place of residence, not on property ownership.

The ultimate organ of the ‘state’ would be a joint council of both the national labour and national territorial councils. It is true that this system would allow one to vote twice, once in ones labour council, and again in ones neighbourhood council. However, the responsibilities of these two councils would rarely (at least directly), if eve converge, the labour council being responsible for labour conditions and increased efficiency, while the neighbourhood councils being concerned with living conditions and management. [There is possible scope for some sort of ‘consumers council’ for services, such as a parents council for education matters, or a commuters council for transport matters…]

It is important to emphasise that in addition to the above, two more qualifications must be made:

a) Officials, who from their elected positions are unable to perform their original labour, will be compensated with the wage of the average skilled worker – or according to their particular need;

b) There is to be no permanent bureaucracy, in that all government positions are to be gradually rotated in order to both prevent the formation of a bureaucratic caste and to ensure the all-round development of the individual members of society.

[It should be noted that all actions of the government, including the lowest levels, where policy is first generated, should operate on the basis of consensus decision making, and only in genuine states of emergency is this to be suspended.]

The above outlines the basic nature of government once state power has been seized by the workers (the DS, should it control parliament through electoral success would be the equivalent of this?), and is thus an end goal of both our strategy and tactics. Some components of this outline may be put into place prior to workers control of the state due to workers pressure, but workers democracy, as outlined above, will not be achieved until ALL these components are in place.

One important strategy of the DS in the meantime however would be the advocation of proportional representation to replace the current Westminster system – the Scottish ‘Holyrood’ model could be useful here. Should the workers be able to force such a concession, the ability of the workers to seize power, electorally, would be greatly enhanced, thus accelerating the development of a bottom-up democracy.

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