Art Pearl Against the World 5: The solution to the world problems is democracy and only democracy

Art Pearl Against the World 5

The solution to the world problems is democracy and only democracy

Monarchy is like a splendid ship, with all sails set; it moves majestically on, then it hits a rock and sinks forever.  Democracy is like a raft.  it never sinks, but, damn it, your feet are always in the water.
Fisher Ames (1758-1808)

Democracy is defined by the following understandings and principles.

The essence of democracy is creativity. We have not yet tried democracy. Party or "interests" govern us with some fiction of the "consent of the governed" which we say means democracy. We have not even a conception of what democracy means. That conception is yet to be forged out of the crude ore of life.
Mary Parker The New State: Group Organization the Solution of popular Government 1923.  ed) p.3

1. Vision.

Where there is no vision the people perish
                                    The Bible, Proverbs 29:18

Vision in a democracy is imagining the world good as it could be, establishing for everyone the goal of a public good, universal quality life.  The vision has to be both desirable and feasible, achievable with what is now known. It cannot rely on not yet invented scientific achievements nor superheroes. Such visions have in the past had important impact on society. Plato's Republic had great influence on Jefferson inspiring his favor of meritocracy over democracy. Madison's dismissal of democracy resembled very much Plato's

Vision must be thorough and complete, indicating how and where people live, what they do for work, how they are educated, receive medical treatment, what they do for entertainment, how they transport themselves, the justice stem, treatment of criminals, establishment of social justice, how government works. The economics of the vision must be described and explained.
A world as good as can be still has problems. Crime, corruption, war. poverty, sexual abuse, racism, destruction of the environment, loss of constitutionally guaranteed rights of protection from one’s government, abuse of gay and lesbian rights all may have been almost entirely extinguished but could erupt again in later blogs we’ll take all of this into consideration.

 With beginning democratic endeavors, the vision in all likelihood will be vague and incomplete and as the democratic movement grows and takes on more significant aspects of the public good so too the vision will be modified.

2.The Group

The group process contains the secret of collective life, it is the key to democracy, it is the master lesson for every individual to learn, it is our chief hope for the political, the social, the international life of the future.
Mary Parker Follett. The New State: Group Organization the Solution of popular Government, 1923.  (1998 ed) p. 11

The group is the primary unit of a democracy, not the individual. As few as four people, who unite by sharing the same vision of a world as good as it could be; working cooperatively, with a conscientious effort to apply democracy's fundamental principles in a project designed to produce a public good. A public good makes the world better. That short term goal is consistent with their long range world vision, and is a step, usually a very small step, in the direction of that vision. The project is always of short duration with a realistic time frame for completion and required reflection.  Was the project successful? Did it make the world better without harming it? Was it informed by all of democracy's principles? What was learned about democracy? About its principles? About cooperation? Did it have any effect on the vision? Was it fun? Following such reflection and establishing a base, the process is continued with the next project and depending on was learned, the project can and should include more people, be more diverse, and be a little more ambitious in its goal of public good. Thus democracy grows by bringing ever more people into the projects and by federation (Mary Parker Follett) with other democratic projects. What starts with four people if done right can grow to such an extent to elect a president, end poverty. bring about world peace. It is an unending process. and to be successful must provide personal gratification to all participants. The slogan found on the wall of all democratic classrooms, "If we are not having fun, we a not doing it right," should be a requirement in all democratic projects from the one with four participants to the ones with millions.

  3. Public Good

Pure public goods have two defining features. One is ‘nonrivalry,’
meaning that one person’s enjoyment of a good does not diminish the
ability of other people to enjoy the same good. The other is
‘nonexcludability,’ meaning that people cannot be prevented from
enjoying the good. Air quality is an important environmental example
of a public good. Under most circumstances, one person’s breathing of
fresh air does not reduce air quality for others to enjoy, and people
cannot be prevented from breathing the air. Public goods are defined
in contrast to private goods, which are, by definition, both rival and
Mathew Kochen. Public Goods. Environmental and
Natural Resource Economics: An Encyclopedia,
J. Whitehead and T. Haab (eds.), (1212), Santa
Barbara, CA: ABCCLIO, Inc.

A public good makes the world a better place without negatively affecting the opportunity for quality life for any nonparticipants in the project. Any project, for example, whose public good has as consequence loss of influence of the Military Industrial Complex will not likely negatively affect access to quality life - decent place to live, healthy diet, access to health services, time and opportunity to enjoy leisure, access to safe, comfortable and reliable transportation, protected from criminal threat, secure old age, access to quality public education.

4. Inclusion

Highlander Statement of Purpose:
The times call for an affirmative program, based on a positive goal. An army of democracy deeply rooted in the lives, struggles, and traditions of the American people must be created. By broadening the scope of democracy to include everyone. . . the army of democracy would be so vast and determined that nothing undemocratic could stand in its path
Lucy Randolph Mason. (1952) To Win These Rights: A Personal Story of the CIO in the South. New York: Harper, pp. 160-61

A democracy includes everybody. In debates with those who oppose democracy the intent is not to win the debate but to persuade. In such debates or discussions, the advocates are open to be persuaded to new ideas. Responding to criticisms with logic and evidence,

Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. We attain unity only through variety. Differences must be integrated, not annihilated, nor absorbed.
Mary Parker Follett, The New State: Group Organization the Solution of popular Government 1923.  (1998 ed) p. 39

Supporters of democracy are not evangelists. They are good hosts They invite others in

It was the struggle for inclusion that generated support for democracy The Republic created in 1787 was exclusive, not open to slaves, indentured servants, white males without property, freed Blacks, women, or native peoples. The struggles for inclusion - bitter, long and bloody struggles - advanced democracy by inspiration, mobilization, character development and education.

From the very beginning women resented exclusion and did something about it, Abigail Adams, wife of president John Adams, mother of president John Quincy Adams made claim for inclusion of women loud and clear, Mary Wollstonecraft, friend of Tom Paine, expressed it in her 1792, A Vindication of the Rights of Women. In 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott brought Seneca Falls to life with a convention that had 300 in attendance, over 100 of whom signed a petition demanding full inclusion US citizenship. With Stanton and Susan B. Anthony at the helm the struggle continued one frustrating decade after another. When Carrie Chapman Catt, one of the greatest organizers in US history, took leadership she was able to secure women the vote in 1920. A monumental step, but far from full inclusion.

During those long years of struggle for women’s suffrage, working people also fought for inclusion. Their struggle was less for right to vote and more for right to organize for livable wages and decent working conditions. That too met with brutal opposition. The government may have kept hands off the production and distribution of goods and services but there was no such reluctance to interfere with labor conditions, and almost always on the side of the employer. It was not until 1935 with passage of the Wagner Act did workers win a major battle for inclusion - the right to organize. None of this came easily and in recent decades’ momentum has gone the other way. With help from a supine government, global capitalists don’t fight unions. They don’t need to. They just ship jobs to where labor costs are low and workers are excluded from power. Or, less noted but just as effective, use technology to eliminate jobs.

It wasn’t until 1925 that Native Americans became citizens but that hardly stopped their exclusion. The efforts for inclusion now is energized by Gays and Lesbians and immigrants and their supporters. And Occupy Wall Street had its moments in history protesting exclusion from economic security.

 5. Authority

 But man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep.
 William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act   ii. Sc. 2.

Strong Authority is an essential characteristic of democratic society. Robert Dahl in his book, Democracy and Its Critics, without specifying democratic authority’s characteristics, distinguishes it from its two rivals, guardianship and anarchy. The noted social psychologist Kurt Lewin and some of his students conducted experiments in an effort to determine the relative merits of democratic” authority when compared to authoritarian” or laissez faire” (similar contrasts to Dahl’s). The experiments conducted by Lewin in the years just after World War II found democratic authority to be superior to the alternatives. It is unfortunate that for whatever reasons, those experiments were discontinued after a very few years. Since then, democracy has come to mean whatever anyone claims it to be. The Soviet’s Eastern European client states were People’s Democracies. No less absurd was unregulated capitalism’s claim that it was democracy.

Democratic authority is – fair, transparent, accessible, persuades rather commands, negotiable, and in every way is expressed equally in its exercise. That means that everyone in an authority position in a democracy is required to legitimate that authority to everyone subject to it by making precisely clear the logic for and the particulars of every authoritative decision; defending what is requested, (or in some instances demanded,) with logic and evidence. And, because a democratic authority recognizes that even the best argument will not persuade everyone, the democratic authority also negotiates with those not persuaded. And even further respects the rights of those who are neither persuaded nor have negotiated a mutually satisfactory solution to their differences.

6. Knowledge

Benjamin Barber
Embedded in families, clans, communities, and nations, we must learn to be free. We may be natural consumers - and born narcissists, but citizens have to be made. . . The logic of democracy begins with pubhc education, proceeds- to informed citizenship, and comes to fruition in the securing of rights and liberties. Public schools are how a public-a citizenry is forged and how young selfish individuals turn, into conscientious, community-minded -citizens .... Certainly there will. be no liberty, no equality, no social justice without democracy, and there will be no democracy without citizens and the schools that forge civic identity and democratic responsibility. (1993, 39-46)
America skips school, Harper’s Magazine, 287, pp.39-46,1983. (p. 39-46).

There is no such thing as an ignorant democracy. 

Democracy is the triumph of reason. It becomes feasible only if a population is well enough educated to perform the challenging role of citizen. The goal of education in a society desiring to be democratic is providing ALL students by a certain predetermined age (eighteen?) that which is necessary to know, understand, and responsibly react as citizens in a democratic society. Given the complexity of that society and the magnitude of the difficult problems being confronted, ordinary citizens will need to know a lot.

Is what has to be known beyond the capacity of ordinary citizens? Until some effort is made to provide such education it is impossible to adequately answer that question. We do know that humans have the capacity to learn a lot. In education

The major reason we have made so little progress toward democracy has been the inability, or, unwillingness to create an institution, an agency, to provide opportunity for the necessary knowledge.

 Part of that knowledge comes from experiencing democracy. Learning about democratic authority by experiencing the authority of democratic teachers. Learning about democracy in projects in which the world is made a better place, through class projects that create a public good. As the student advances in school, the projects become more ambitious. It is through those projects, the information provided to make them work, and the reflection when completed that students obtain the knowledge to become informed citizens,

. Learning the skills required of democratic citizens by practicing them in. In upper grades students research and debate with logic and evidence differing solutions to war, poverty, environmental devastation. The intent of that debate is to make the best case for a public good, not to win.

Today everything done has been dictated by a corporate mentality. The ostensible goal is to prepare a workforce to compete in the global economy. There is no such competition but that goal becomes the excuse to coerce passive conformity, to produce docile followers rather than informed citizens.

Docile followers are not what this country needs. Needed is an education that prepares students capable of addressing the problems that currently go unattended. Desperately needed is an education that promotes active engagement, encourages thought, challenges students to deal effectively and responsibly with both the major issues of the day - war, environmental destruction, poverty and injustice - as well as to make informed and responsible decisions in every facet of their lives: to become, good spouses, parents, friends, neighbors, citizens. There are no known solutions to any of the above problems. Because there are no known solutions it is necessary that students - all students - be helped to attain the background needed to discover, analyze, evaluate, debate, synthesize a range of proposed solutions and through thorough examination of diverse ideas, all defended with logic and evidence, arrive at the best solutions. Is such an education possible? Who knows? We do know that with a very restricted and limited effort, Project Citizen, students respond positively; do the research, engage in the discussion and move significantly in the direction of democratic citizenship. If progress can be made in 6 months, think what could be accomplished in a 12-year effort. There is every reason to believe that we can make significant movement in the direction of education for democracy today if only we would try.

7. Becoming citizens by practicing citizenship.

Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling.
                            Abraham Lincoln

Would that be true.

Political powerlessness is the feeling of an individual that his political action has no influence in determining the course of political events.  Those who feel politically powerless do not believe that their vote, or for that matter any action they might perform can determine the broader outcome they desire.
Murray B. Levin,  The Alienated Voter: Politics in Boston, 1960. p. 63.  

We live in a time when an ever increasing percentage of the population feel their powerlessness. They feel powerless because they were never given an opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills to exercise power. Fascism is designed to limit power to a privileged few. Donald Trump rode those feelings to the presidency. Democracy, promotes universal powerfulness and designs projects to make that happen.

The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.
Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws

In a democracy every citizen is encouraged and prepared to meaningfully participate in the creation of the public good. That means all are given multiple opportunities to develop the arts of citizenship. These arts or skills include: presenting argument defended with logic and evidence, listening to argument defended by logic and evidence, negotiating differences, respecting the rights of those not persuaded, mobilizing constituencies, bringing those constituencies to bear on the world to change it, make it better, create a public good, and reflect on that action. All of this can be learned in school and in the community and needs to be Incorporated as a class project to create a public good in every school year.

The projects in the early grades will be necessarily simple projects. the changes small. As students advance the projects become more complicated, In the upper high school grades the projects could integrate the efforts of several high schools and could produce public good that have important impact on the economy, the environment, social justice, violence, while at the same time develop socially responsible citizens.
8. Rights

Can any of you seriously say the Bill of Rights could get through Congress today? It wouldn't even get out of committee.
              F. Lee Bailey

And if by some miracle it did, President Trump would most certainly veto it.

The founders, the 39, who signed the constitution were universally opposed to democracy. They nonetheless established a framework that with amendments could open the door to Democracy. In the very first Congress they proposed and established the Bill of Rights. Excluded from those rights -- the constitutionally guaranteed protection of individuals from their government --were slaves, Native Americans, Women, white males who didn’t own property. Although flawed the Bill of Rights provided a beacon of hope to the excluded.

The Bill of Rights were ratified in 1791. In the first amendment were the rights expression -  religion, speech, press. assembly, and –petition. The Fourth rights of privacy; Fifth –Eighth the rights of due process which includes among the following: habeas corpus (charged with a crime), presumption of innocence, 'probable cause,' speedy trial, right to lawyer, right no to testify against self, jury of peers, protection from cruel and unusual punishment, and 'double jeopardy' (cannot be tried for same crime after being found innocent).

 That individuals could be protected from their government was something new and exciting. That the vast majority of the population were denied those rights was both depressing and a spur to action.  Over time more and more of the population were protected.

 Those rights were never secure. Less than a decade after ratification they were threatened by the Alien and Sedition Acts.  They were suspended during times of war. Fortunately, most of our wars were of short duration. Not so now. Our rights are threatened now more than ever before. And there is no end of war in sight

The Bill of Rights has been eviscerated, sacrificed on the altar of “national security” with little more than a whimper from the American people. We have entered a post-Constitutional America.
Bob Livingston,  The 9/11 conspiracy: Liberties lost edition, 9/11/2o17

It may be our current wars had nothing to do with “terrorism” or non-existent “weapons of destruction” but are the excuse to tighten the strangle hold of fascism.

Rights are also under attack by those whom were at one time the strongest supporters. Universities have outlawed “hate speech.” Attempting to spare minority students expressions of blatant bigotry. In a democracy bigotry is not silenced. Victims of hate speech are supported in a variety of public good projects.

In my final year at University of California Santa Cruz I was provost of college eight. The University determined that perpetrators of hate speech would be expelled from the dormitories.  A student came to me saying he was a standup comic and he wondered is his humor insulting women would cause me to expel him.   I said “I would do something much worse.  I would make him come down and talk to me.”

Democracy it Is more in the Bill of Rights. But there can be no democracy without rights

The Bill of Rights is a born rebel.  It reeks with sedition. In
every clause it shakes its fist in the face of constituted
authority . . . it is the one guarantee of human freedom to
 the American people.
                       Frank I. Cobb (1869-1923) Editor, New York World
Contribution, La Follette's Magazine, January 1920

9.  optimum learning environment

. . . Life was to be lived, not to be devoted to acquiring utilities. The end or purpose of man was to use and develop his uniquely human attributes. A life so directed might be thought of as a life of reason or a life of sensibilities, but it was not a life of acquisition. If we wished to express this concept of man's essence in terms of maximization, we could say that man's essence is not maximization of his utilities but maximization of his human powers. Or we could say that man is neither an infinite consumer nor an infinite appropriator but an infinite developer of his human attributes.
C. B. Macpherson (justification for including optimal learning environment in democratic theory)
1973 Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval., p. 32

I took some early writings of Marx on alienation, he argued the factory had deprived the craftsman of feelings of usefulness (no longer felt responsible for the product), competence (deprived of craftsman skill) and belongingness (no longer part of collective that provided craftsmen with mutual support). I said the same applied to classrooms where only some gained feelings of usefulness, competence and belonging. If were all to succeed I would have to find ways all would receive equally those powerful intrinsic motivations.
     Almost everyone at the time, now the 60ths, were explaining differential achievement in classrooms as the result of "deficits", with conservatives it was genetic, liberals. "accumulative environmental" (which led to Head Start) or "cultural." I argued that the achievement gap was the result of differential encouragement. Some students were encouraged to feel competent others not, some to feel that which they were bring taught was useful others not, and feel they were an important part of the class others not. And that is what caused the achievement gap
     With a small grant I tested it as best I could with 10 delinquents and got some amazing results. the delinquents stopped being delinquent. I was visited in the hospital recovering from a back operation by a University of Oregon professor who said the UO would like to interview me. I came, was interviewed, asked what it would take to get me there I said Associate Prof with tenure. and couple thousand more than Howard. UO countered full prof tenure couple thou more than I asked. I came
     Arthur Flemming was president of the UO at the time. He asked me to take over the minority programs - Upward Bound, HEP, Teacher Corp. I applied usefulness, competence, belonging to minority programs and changed the University. Even though none of those minority program students had any chance of graduating, they graduated at roughly the same rate as admissible students. I was too busy running those programs to do much documentation or serious evaluations. I don't know if it would have made a difference.

Over the years I both refined the definitions of belonging, competence and belonging and added others. This is my idea of how Maximum Learning Environment looks today There is one important difference in how I consider it now and how I considered it in the 1960s. Then, I was into access and equity, helping the excluded into full and equal participation in the existing society. I no longer think the existing society functions adequately. It has been effectively corrupted and has become an oligarchy or a plutocracy, - or, more specifically. a fascist state. Now a Maximum Learning Environment is an integral part of the only alternative to fascism--democracy.
         Maximum Learning Environment has the following components
1. Usefulness - students see and can express the utility of what is being taught, moreover, are involved in projects that provide opportunity to validate the utility of the lesson.
2. Competence - student believes "can do." Competence remains the most difficult to convince students with long histories of failure to try. So much of youth culture supports inevitability of failure. Need imaginative teachers who have a very positive relationship with students to succeed here.
3. Belonging - student see self as part of learning community, mutually supported by all in class. Facilitated by all work done in teams.
4. Feelings of physical safety – schools can be dangerous places. One of the hallmarks of a democratic classroom is that it is safe. In many classrooms it is one the earliest public good projects.
5 Encouraged to risk- to make mistakes, to speak up. This came to me first from my own experiences in school when I never volunteered and hoped I would never be called on. But also from observing thousands of classrooms.

Goodlad, and Brophy and Good in their books also observed the same phenomena. Only a rare few feel secure enough to take risks. As a cognitive psychologist I know that only when one risks does cognitive growth take place

6. Meaning. This I got from Viktor Frankl and his Man’s Search for Meaning. He argues that meaning is an essential and primary need. It would seem logical that a child would get a sense of the world from school. But that is not what happens What does happen? For many, a lot of confusion.

When I was growing up. The world was a much simpler place. But even then, no one could explain to me why we were in the midst of a depression. A lot of what is happening to kids today is difficult to understand and virtually nothing in school explains what is happening to or near the student. Why can't he go home? Why does he have to go to this house? Why can't he go back?  A lacking important component of education is sense making.

         7. Elimination of ALL unnecessary pain
Frankl talks about necessary suffering as part of           understanding the world

But he also says,It goes without saying that suffering would not have meaning unless it was absolutely necessary” (p. 11)

We victimize students with unnecessary suffering. The most prevalent being:
                           a. boredom
                           b. humiliation
                           c. loneliness
     Actually take away boredom, humiliation, loneliness and fear, most students would find school a pretty nice place to go to.

However, when I picked my daughters who were not among the alienated, got good grades, etc. and asked them "How was school today?" Invariably from both, "Bor-r-r- ring."
     It was comforting to see nothing important has changed in schooling in over a half of a century during which a world war that changed everything else occurred. But the worst was yet to come.

8. Hope - realistic aspirations for a gratifying life. However, bad the future looked before and during World War II, hope remained alive. A president reassured us things would be getting better. Not only were we not to "fear fear". We were not to lose hope. Even in the midst of poverty was hope. The government wasn't the enemy, it was there for millions, particularly poor whites, it was their friend, and provided a glimpse of what could be done for the historical victims of what had the audacity to call itself a democracy --Blacks, Hispanics, and the most victimized - Native Americans.
All that has changed. The economy moved to the suburbs and took the jobs with them, those that weren't sent overseas to be filled by even more exploited, or were eliminated by technology. These were the factors that created the great recession of the 21st century, it meant for many students no foreseeable positive path to the future?

              When I was a teenager in the middle of the depression I was unusual in that I didn't see a positive future, not so my mother, my sister, my cousins, my neighbors, all seemed to believe things would workout, "Happy Days were here gain, skies above were clear again, life was full of cheer again." That is not what youth in the ghetto, barrio or reservation are singing today, nor are many white youths.

              How do we bring hope to those who see no path out of poverty, crime, drugs, misery, and how do we stop using all those things as excuses for not teaching?
Loss of hope and absence of meaning. For as long as hope remains and meaning is preserved, the possibility of overcoming oppression stays alive. The self-fulfilling prophecy of the nihilistic threat is that without hope there can be no future, that without meaning there can be no struggle.
                       Cornel West, 1993, Race Matters, p. 15

It won't be easy, but it is not impossible. It will take teachers who really understand life as it is lived by their students, hope, like all of the other attributes of an Optimum Learning Environment, will not be created by teachers that drive to class from the protected suburbs, think they can relate because they had a had few courses in diversity and biculturalism.
9. Excitement - is a necessary component of an Optimum Learning Environment and is not generally associated with classrooms. Students tend to seek their thrills and excitement outside of school. The classroom is not a place students associate with excitement.
         It would be if the classroom provided the thrill of discovery. And if not education, OK, then schooling, is to provide anything useful to even a tiny minority of students, discovery rather than regurgitation has to become increasingly a part of class practices
         How do we change that?
         How do we create the opportunity and the encouragement for students to experience the thrill of discovery? Discovery is part of almost all project learning. It comes when students do more of the teaching. And when more of classroom activity is problem solving.

10. Creativity. Too many, maybe most, schools are a place where students are NOT encouraged to be or even permitted to be creative. Once there were some rare opportunities for creativity, but even these few are being cut back and are now viewed as extra-curricular. What is called reform is mandated boredom. Neither teacher nor student are provided latitude for creativity.

11. Significant Participation in Creating a Public Good. The goal              of any democracy is creation of a public good - making the world a better place without doing harm to the environment or to others not participating in the project. Nothing is as gratifying as acco1. mplishing that goal and for there to be a truly Maximum Learning Environment the learner that particular project has to had played an important role in making his part of the world a better place. Because the project may have had no more than five people it couldn't have been all inclusive, but it could have made clear that none were consciously excluded and still be democratic.

So that is what a Maximum Learning Environment looks like. How can it be assessed? It never will be perfect, but there should be striving for perfection, and whatever it is, it has to be equally there for everyone. We are a long way, maybe forever, from an instrument that could be applied to all environments. The best way to determine what kind of environment the student is to have a conversation and have a similar conversation with the teacher generating from that a working assessment. It is not difficult to make rough assessments, which maybe all that is needed. It is also much easier to suggest ways of making each component work better than it is talking to the teacher about racism or prejudicial treatment. Moreover, even if the problem is racism it will take the form one or more of the above components

10. Equality.

All societies that claim to be democratic also claim equality.

None come close.

Some fantasy equality of result. Taking from those who have too much and giving to those who don’t have enough.

Not until the two main tenets of socialism: abolition of private property (which must not be confused with personal property), and equality of income, have taken hold of the people as religious dogmas, as to which no controversy is regarded as sane, will a stable socialist state be possible. It should be observed, however, that of the two tenets, the need for equality of income is not the more difficult to demonstrate, because no other method of distribution is or ever has been possible. Omitting the few conspicuous instances in which actual earners of money make extraordinary fortunes by exceptional personal gifts or strokes of luck, the existing differences of income among workers are not individual but corporate differences.
George Bernard Shaw, Encyclopædia Britannica (1926)

There are times in US History such sentiments would get you in jail

What is current state of equality -- jobs, justice, education, etc.

Blacks and Latinos fall behind on almost every dimension of equality.

Infant mortality

Infant mortality rate among black infants is 2.4 times higher than that of white infants, primarily due to preterm birth. In the United States, the risk of preterm birth for Non-Hispanic black women is approximately 1.5 times the rate seen in white women.
                           Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

School Achievement
High school dropout rates 4.6 percent for White youth; 6.5 percent for Black youth; and 9.2 percent for Hispanic youth

Unemployment rates in 2016 for Whites was 4.3 percent,
8.4 percent for African Americans; and the rate for Hispanics or Latinos was 5.8 percent.

National Urban League’s 2016 State of Black America study, which used government data to compare black Americans’ economic, social justice, health, civil engagement and education status to the rest of the country. The organization concluded that race discrimination drives disparities that are pervasive across the United States, and that African-Americans enjoy 72 percent of the benefits that whites have, said Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League


Incarceration rates for Whites in 2010 was 410 per 100,000, 2306 per 100,000 for African Americans; and the rate for Hispanics or Latinos was 831 per 100,000.

 Equality for women also elusive

Economic gender equality has also been in steady decline in the US. A decade ago, the US ranked 3rd globally in this area – today it ranks 26th in the world. During this time, although women’s labor force participation has gone up (from 60% in 2006 to 67% today), the numbers are much higher in several advanced and emerging economies. For example, in China, women’s labor force participation stands at 70% today. The earnings gap has also stalled for the most part, from women earning 62% of men’s incomes back in 2006 to nearly 65% today. The US ranks a low 50th globally on this indicator.
I find these economic and political gender deficits particularly paradoxical because they rest on a base of talent that in fact favours women. Nearly 89% of Americans aged below 24 get some form of tertiary education, and within this group, women outrank men 4 to 3. To some extent, American companies already recognize this vast pool of talent: more women than men hold professional and technical roles in the country. But those women do not make it into senior, higher paid roles in the same proportion, with only 43% making it into legislator, senior official and manager positions. What’s more, this leadership gap is getting wider, having started out at 46% a decade ago.    
Saadia ZahidiHead of Education, Gender and Work System Initiative, Member of Executive Committee, World Economic Forum Geneva, 27 Oct 2016

Native Americans were denied equality to the same or even greater extent than African Americans

Equality in a democracy is a fundamental principle. It is established in every arena of life. Often equality is the public good. More about this in future blogs.


That is democracy and every effort at public good has to include all of the principles.

It is not democratic to load up on one and ignore others.

It is not likely that any will be done perfectly.

They do not have to be.

The object is to make things better not perfect.

In democracy perfect is the enemy of the better.

It Is likely impossible to attain the vision.

But it is valuable to give us a sense of where we are and how far we have to go.

In that sense it is like asymptote to infinity

Please read and pass it on to all you know.

And please make comments


Andy Hsia-Coron said…
Absolutely. Democracy needs to be the goal, the strategy, and inform the tactics. Our problems are all symptoms of our lack of democracy and the fact that most of our policies are crafted by and for the benefit of the few. As a retired teacher I appreciate the insights into democratizing the classroom and the schools. However, I would like to see more discussion of applying these principals to efforts to transform the community. You helped us make the most inclusive campaign in California's San Benito County when we took on fracking and other dangerous oil drilling methods. The results were victory as well as the one of the highest voter turnouts anywhere in California during 2016's off year election. The optimum learning environment needs to be the goal of political campaigns and community organizing, not just in the classrooms. Thanks Art.
Jonathan said…
I appreciate your breath of knowledge relating to democracy. One concern of mine is the lack of education in most public schools about the term. If one were to ask the average high school student about democracy, I believe that their knowledge would be rather pitiful. Asking the average or even highly educated American would probably not elicit any additional in-depth insights. One question is how to provide your knowledge and insights to many other Americans and others around the world. Can it be done efficiently and effectively? One of my favorite quotes comes from Lyndon Baines Johnson: "Freedom is fragile if citizens are ignorant." That fragility is probably truer than it has been for many decades if not centuries in the US and abroad. Both Republicans and Democrats are perhaps equally to blame for helping to keep citizens highly ignorant of very important concepts that would have positive impacts on the health and well-being of our society. I am amazed at how well your mind continues to work...what is your secret?
MultiTanns said…
"That means that everyone in an authority position in a democracy is required to legitimate that authority to everyone subject to it by making precisely clear the logic for and the particulars of every authoritative decision" I highly agree with this statement and would make the leap that this could be a contributing to why not as many people trust authority figures anymore. I have noticed from watching the election to watching our now President and many other members of government,they do not elaborate on their point of view they say what they think we want to hear and turn around and act in private. How government officials maintain their positions and get reelected is beyond me.
"Democratic authority is – fair, transparent, accessible, persuades rather commands, negotiable, and in every way is expressed equally in its exercise."
Using this as a model for how our democratic authority should be, I would say America has a very long way to go. To say our authority is "fair and equa" or even transparent would be a long shot, sadly most Americans don't even realize there is a problem, or are too distracted to do anything about it.
Robert O'Brien said…
Art, I've read versions of the above many times over the years, and appreciate your continued dedication to democratic education. I do have a question, evoked by the current bastardization of the word patriot. Trump and his minions would have us believe a patriot is someone who stands for the National Anthem. I believe a patriot is someone who takes action to support the covenant upon which the republic was founded, outlined briefly in the Declaration of Independence. Obviously I've been reading a lot of Lincoln's speeches. Where, in what I read above, or what, in perhaps went unstated, would your definition of a patriot appear? Is a patriot someone who gets together with at least three other people and works on a project that adds to the public good? It sounds too simplistic. Perhaps one problem is the ease with which we attain patriot status. Am I confusing patriotic with citizenship? Do we need to return to our. Puritan roots? The Puritans had to earn membership in the community. We're born into it. So, for many, why work to attain it? It's there already.
In any case, glad to see your work continues.
Sarah Hall said…
a lot about democracy is written in but as for me, democracy is not a panacea. underneath there is a lot of things hidden
cheryllk said…
Thank you, Art. Please keep going. It's hard to keep feelings of powerlessness at bay, but your words are the best antidote imaginable. xo xo
Jed Mickelson said…
Art! Preaching the gospel and I am in the choir.

The challenges I am experiencing is the comfort people find in ignorance and people discerning the truth from credible sources. This is true of society and classrooms. It seems that the intrinsic motivation to learn has been replaced by the intrinsic motivation to seek a place that lacks discomfort. Learning, true learning, requires moments of frustration and the integrity to push through the discomfort. Even when scaffolded intentionally and well learning can cause brief displeasure to one's noodle.

I studied motivation with you during my thesis. I have studied motivation since then as well, and I keep coming to the conclusion that extrinsic motivation only allows for temporary minimal gains, whereas intrinsic motivation lasts. How do we shift a culture to learn, when so much of culture, media, social media, commercialism actively works to compartmentalize and limit thinking? How do we distract people who seek comfort in what they already know or what aligns with their limited thinking?

Oh, I will keep up the good fight, but that is what I am puzzling about at the moment.

Hope you are well! Love you Art.

cheryllk said…
Art, Dale and I have been too worried about you to post any sensible comments. Never that you're settled in at home again we can stop worrying and send you our thoughts. Stay tuned! (But rest easy till you've got your strength back.) xo xo
Dale Kinsley said…
Art, as always I am so impressed with the reach and content of your analysis and your vision. I particularly like your sections on Authority, Rights, Knowledge and Learning Environment. Democracy cannot exist if ignorance reigns and nothing is learned from experience. Chrony Capitalism and Fascism are advancing in our country through the use of fear, ignorance and greed. We are presented with a "zero-sum" world view that believes that my gain at the personal, community, state, and national level can only happen if "you" (or they) lose. In our families, schools, and communities we need to act and speak constantly in ways that show that our real gains are only accomplished when the public good which includes everyone operating with democratic leadership prevails. I currently think that promoting knowledgeable, democratic societies may only be possible in smaller communities that are diverse, yet focussed on working toward equality and a good life for all. The places where I have most experienced the kind of democratic group that you describe seems to be in the life of a school, community organization, or a city/town. So, I wonder if we need to create a vision and strategy for the future that provides greater freedoms for local governance while maintaining broader political and economic networks. At any rate we need to always build a view that each individual only "wins" when all "win". And that All means All. We love you and your fight for the future.
lynda said…
Your life, thoughts and words give me strength, comfort and stamina to continue along a democratic path. You are missed in Santa Cruz, but dearly loved.
Knowledge Fire said…
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