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by Peter Bearse

Maintain throughout the prime, individualistic emphasis of American exceptionalism – the individual citizen-leader and what he or she can do to effect real change.

What is “real” change? -- that which increases the democratic power and influence of “We the People” to effect specific changes that would both:

  1. Improve the quality of life of our children and future generations, and

  1. Restore the American Dream and our republic to be a light of freedom and liberty for the world. This is our vision. What is our mission befitting the vision? What are our goals and objectives?

What follows is a set of propositions to work for. Altogether , they represent the work of at least a generation if, indeed, we are to “make a difference”, altogether.

First and foremost are Unger‘s “proposals for the institutional reorganization” of democratic politics”1 in order to:

The proposals? -- To:

According to Unger, the primary “enabling, conditions” for the above changes are:

  1. Avoid extreme inequalities.3

  2. Enhance the capabilities of ordinary men and women”4and “strengthen guarantees” for individuals.

  3. Radicalize democracy…heat politics up” and “raise the level of political mobilization” -- by:

Enabling condition #2 includes (i) Overcoming inequalities of opportunity for education that would enable many more people who face poor employment prospects to join “the vanguard of society -- advanced, knowledge-intensive firms and schools”, and (ii) young people receiving a “social inheritance of basic resources” The social inheritance concept, for example, has inspired recommendations for government-provided, $5,000 per child endowments at birth.

What are “structures…to invite one’s own reconstruction”? They are groups or organizations that challenge us to get involved in politics and, thereby, change ourselves as well as help and lead others. Unger calls for us to “wage rebellion against the limits of circumstance…”5 This resonates with Odegard’s urging re-invention through enlargement of “Self” -- his fundamental common denominator with Unger.6 Also note the importance of loosening the constraints of “context(s)” [per Chapter 1of Bearse (2013)].7

Most of the above proposals would relax the constraints of governments at all levels to “invite one’s own reconstruction.” As indicated earlier, Odegard referred to this as “par-making”, not just partaking of, or “par-giving” to, our Republic.8 We accomplish the same to the extent that we are willing and able to surmount the constraints of our contexts or fight to relax them. Note that the proposals pertain both to political activism outside of government agencies and that which would serve to open those agencies up -- to democratization within as well as to transparency and accountability from without.

Many other or more specific propositions deserving of both serious consideration and concerted action have been brought forth by American reform advocates over the years. Some of them jibe with Unger’s; others lengthen the list consistent with Unger’s framework. Consider

Additional, More Specific Recommendations for Programs, Policies and Legislation:

The above bullets provide only a partial list of propositions to reform politics and government. See Bearse (2013), work cited for more. These are presented as suggestions, not as declarations from on high. Every reader should review them along with others to see how the list can be adapted and prioritized in light of their own understanding of what is most suitable and necessary to the needs of themselves and others.

PETER BEARSE, Ph.D., December 26, 2013

Feedback would be welcomed via either letters to the editor of his online journal or by way of emails to peter@politicalcommunity.us.

1 Unger, Roberto Mangabeira (2009), THE SELF AWAKENED: Pragmatism Unbound. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

2 One proposition that Unger favors I oppose: public financing of campaigns. There is no reason to use the public fisc to support candidates that others do not favor. Free riders do this job poorly enough for the rest of us.

3 On this, see Bearse, Peter (2011), “On the Economics and Politics of Inequality,”THE ETHICAL SPECTACLE [www.spectacle.org] (March).

4 Unger, work cited , pp.171-172.

5 Unger, work cited , p.148.

6 Odegard, W. (1947), THE POLITICS of TRUTH.

7 Bearse, Peter (2013), 1% + 99% = 100%: How “We the People” can occupy politics, change Congress and renew the American Dream. Amazon e-book.

8 Odegard, work cited , p.151.

9 As set forth by Gorga, Carmine, in his forthcoming book WHAT’S AT STAKE as essential prerequisites to a “Concordian Economics” (see citation to follow).

10 “In 1980, American CEOs earned 42 times more than the average employee…that figure has sky-rocketed to more than 300 times…By way of comparison, top executives at the 30 (German) blue-chip(s) …rarely earn over 100 times…” Shultz, Thomas (2011), “Has America Become an Oligarchy,” Spiegel Online (10/28, translated from the German).

11 See Gorga, Carmine (2010), THE ECONOMIC PROCESS. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. Dr. Gorga calls his framework “Concordian Economics.” Work to put the new model into testable, econometric form is ongoing by Gorga and Bearse.

12 Note that this and ESOPs serve to reduce unjustified inequalities in the distribution of returns to productivity, a problem that Robert Reich identified as one of the causes of our economic crisis in his book AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America’s Future (Vintage paperback).

13 As proposed by former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel. See Gravel, work cited

14 First advocated by Nobel Laureate economist James Tobin in his 1972 Janeway Lectures at Princeton, this tax was “originally defined as a tax on spot conversions of one currency into another.” In this author’s view as himself an economist, such a tax should include all financial transactions and graduated to decrease with the length of time that an investment enabled by a financial transaction is held -- “to put a penalty on short-term financial excursions…” Quotes from WIKIPEDIA on “Tobin Tax.”

15 Farrell, Paul B. (2011), ????

16 Note the surprise arrival of a “Pirates Party” onto the German political scene, for example, as reported in the September, 18, 2011 edition of the NEW YORK TIMES.