Review: Democracy’s Edge–Choosing to Save Our Country by Bringing Democracy to Life

5 Star, Democracy

Democracy EdgeRead the Other Reviews, This One Connects Some Dots, May 30, 2007

Frances Moore Lappe

There are some excellent reviews of this book, so I will summarize the key points briefly and then point to the top ten books on my Transpartisan Democracy list.

This is a delightful, thoughtful read that is totally transpartisan in spirit, and joins other books like Escaping the Matrix and Society's Breakthrough in setting the stage for a non-violent restoration of We the People as the working owners of the Republic.

The author distinguishes between thin and living democracy, points out that democracy is a process, and you must live it or lose it. The two appendices are superb, one on competing frames (one page) and one on restoring the meaning of language for democracy (3 pages). I recommend taking a look at them before reading the book itself.

I have a note in my margin, “Lappe for President.” Seriously. Lappe, not Hillary Clinton, and certainly not Condi Rice, is precisely the kind of Epoch B leader we need right now, someone who can energize Wisdom Councils at every level, and convene Global Intelligence Councils and Global Policy Councils on the ten threats, twelve policies, and eight players other than the EU and the US (see my comment for a URL).

I absolutely agree with her that poverty is caused by a lack of democracy. Dictators and Wall Street have created a class war in which the few are looting the natural resources of the many, and it is time we put a stop to that, to include disbanding the World Bank, the IMF, and the World Trade Organization.

She says that voice is the heart of democracy, and that a culture of connection is now being woven (see Blessed Unrest, Tao of Democracy, and Society's Breakthrough).

She says that the split is not between left and right, but rather between those who believe in democracy and We the People, and those that do not (see George Orwell's Animal Farm–we are all being harvested for profit by a handful).

In the author's view, the crisis is our feeling of helplessness, and the solution is to widen the circle of problem solvers. Well, Joe Trippi is going to bring us the “Big Bat” to channel $500M a year into the Transpartisan Peoples' Trust, and Reuniting America will join with the World Index of Social and Environmental Responsibility (WISER) to connect all of the people all of the time.

There is such a wealth of gifted insight in this book that I do not want to list all the points that made it to my fly-leaf. BUT THIS BOOK. Discuss it with friends. Send this review to everyone you wish to engage in this national conversation.

There is a breathtaking graphic on page 33 in which she lists the seven main areas affecting our public life, and then lists specific individual roles of the citizen in each of these, which I depict by the number in parenthesis:

Economic Life (9 roles)
Media (3 roles, but she neglected to mention citizen journalist)
Education (6 roles)
Cultural (9 roles)
Civic life (7 roles)
Human and Health Care Services (6 roles)
Religious Life (3 roles)

True power, good power, is our multiple relationships to one another. We can get rid of money TOMORROW and shift to localized currencies and Internet barter points. Governments should not be going into debt to banks, they should nationalize them!

She destroys the four prevailing myths:
1) that we only need two parties
2) that we cannot limit private money in politics
3) that we must not tamper with the “free” market
4) that corporations are only responsible for short-term bottom line

See my varied lists, especially on Natural Capitalism and on Democracy, for more recommended readings that strongly support her concise views.

She lists eight corporate crimes:
1) Enrichment through manipulated public giveaways
2) Tax avoidance
3) Global Warming (we have to pay)
4) Hazardous Waste (we have to pay)
5) Profits retained by the managers, worker's salaries do not increase
6) Concentration killing our health industry (and agriculture and energy)
7) Low corporate wages force us to pay benefits–Wal-Mart costs us $2.5 billion a year because their employees are so badly paid they qualify for public benefits! This is NUTS!
8) Campaign to eradicate unions leaves workers without voice or protection

I am quite pleased to learn from this author that townships are passing laws abolishing corporate citizenship. This needs to be a nation-wide finding.

Pension fund managers are one key to victory over corporations.

SA8000 sets global standards for fair labor conditions. We need to enforce it with our purchases.

Expectations and fairness matter. COSTCO pays its employees more, and gives them good benefits, yet applies only 7% of its budget to labor. Wal-Mart treats them like slaves, and applies 12% because of turn-over.

Part III has chapters on attention, action, choice, and voice, and focuses on the need to create localized economies with local currencies, community banking, and 100% worker ownership. That, in my view, is precisely where we are headed.

She lists 11 sources of citizen power, credited to the Industrial Areas Foundation:
1) Relational
2) Self-Interest
3) Listening
4) Tapping passion
5) Storytelling
6) Disciplined preparation
7) Actions and intentional tension (helps reframing)
8) Negotiation
9) Accountability
10) Mentoring
11) Reflection and evaluation

She lists five ways we are robbed of choice by corporations, and ten losses we suffer from corporations. She reminds us that Thomas Jefferson was very concerned in the 1790's about commercial monopolies, and concludes, correctly, that corporations have more power and as much secrecy as the Communist Party in China and Russia.

She presents loss of voice facts on pages 222-224, addresses the need for democratic software and low-cost Internet access for all (good-bye, Microsoft, unless everyone can get mobile Windows for a dollar a month.

She concludes with chapters on learning, security, and reframing.

This book is magical in its common sense and imminent applicability.

Top Ten Transpartisan Books Other Than This One:
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming
Escaping the Matrix: How We the People can change the world
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (Bk Currents)
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
A House Divided
The Nine Nations of North America
Who Will Tell The People? : The Betrayal Of American Democracy
The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy

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