Welcome login | signup
Language en es fr

Forum Post: Sit-down strikes and worker-ownership - Noam Chomsky

Posted 6 years ago on Aug. 2, 2014, 4:11 p.m. EST by struggleforfreedom80 (6584)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement



Read the Rules
[-] 3 points by publius31 (75) from Fort Lee, NJ 6 years ago

But no one says what we hope to accomplish by 'sitting down'. Guess we're just tired. But I know its because we know the government is just a mess, we are just a mess, and we can't see a way our of it. We sit down because "we're mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore'. Like the movie.. There is a way out. It is really going back to the beginnings of democracy itself: fight to have your vote count. It doesn't count now, we all know that. It's a vote for a representative that takes the power of our votes and uses it against us, not for us. And its been that way forever... But not really. Pericles in the funeral oration gives the picture of Athens's democracy: every citizen voting on the laws - he failed to say that slaves and women weren't citizens. It took America until 1865 to free the slaves and give them the vote. Then until 1920 and give women the vote. But those votes were, and are, votes for representatives, not the laws, as in Athens. Rousseau, Paine, Jefferson, J.S. Mill, Bertrand Russell all advocated that actual democracy, where the people are the legislature, where they vote directly on the laws, after raucous debate, is the 'ideal form' of government. Logistics made representative government necessary: we couldn't all sit under the tree and debate and then vote on the laws. Today we can. We live under the electronic umbrella of geo-synchronous communication satillites and debate all day long, over everything, and we vote for the best entertainers on Idol,Voice, X-Factor,etc. We can, and should, debate and vote on our laws, directly; we should make our nation an Actual Democracy: see assosactualdemocracy.com. Join it and support it. We need to be freed from the power we gave away being used against us. Only by taking it back can we make progress and return hope to America.

[-] -1 points by shortNbaldNfatBUTSexy (-79) from New York, NY 6 years ago

We could manage more with current electronic tools, but there's no way you can ask the whole populace to micromanage everything. We will always need representatives. Laws are extremely complex. You need knowledgable people in order to change them. The populace can vote on broad ideologies, but the details, no.

In fact, what would happen if you removed representatives and asked everyone to micromanage the state is that only a few people actually would take the time to do it. They would essentially be like representatives, but they would never be voted in and they would never be rotated. This is one real danger of direct democracy. Unless everyone shows up, you always get de facto representatives created by those who do show up. And, if you've been to OWS GAs you'll realize it's always the same people who end up showing up.

[-] 3 points by publius31 (75) from Fort Lee, NJ 6 years ago

I understand that many people don't believe man is wise enough, or concerned enough, to govern themselves. Jefferson's answer, carved in stone in his first inaugural address in the Jefferson memorial, is 'then he should govern others?'. The current 437 house members and 100 senators don't micromanage anything. Once the laws are passed, the Executive branch is responsible for implementing it. That's where the management comes. The only excuse that holds any water against actual democracy is "I don't want to change the status quo, I like being a slave and I am going to defend my right to my slavery to the death."

[-] 3 points by Renneye (3874) 6 years ago

What if the direct democracy means 'showing up' or being a part of the voting and decision making process were mandatory, as a fundamental responsibility of being a citizen or human being that lives and uses resources on this earth?

It could be set up so that individuals would be required to take a certain amount of hours, periodically (minimal, so as to increase adherence) to take 'classes' to stay up to date and educated in the procedures of rotation, duties of involvement, basic laws, etc.

We are already 'required' by law to do many things. We are 'required' to pay taxes, to have certain documentation as citizens, to take a driver's license test, to put our children in school, to show up for jury duty if called upon, etc, etc.

The populace is already required to do things like this to a degree. For instance, high-school kids are now required to provide 40 hours of community service in order to graduate. Also, to take certain classes in order to graduate.

Involvement could be directly tied into social monetary incentives. Kind of like in Canada. Families get a monthly CCTB payment (baby bonus), but, only if you keep your taxes up to date. Don't do your taxes...no baby bonus. A direct democracy with the populace in charge could be set up similarly, with various social payments tied directly into participation in the direct democracy of a world that they benefit from. Perhaps tied into a living wage, somehow.

It's not that hard, really. These things are already being done to a degree. We just need to take it a step further.

[-] 3 points by publius31 (75) from Fort Lee, NJ 6 years ago

All good ideas. I advocate discussion on any and all possible ways of making the idea work. Personally I believe, in this instance, that peer pressure will do more for getting people to vote than anything else. Once a vote really counts, people will see it as a civic responsibility, as a moral obligation, and as not voting to be undermining the freedom that took a long struggle to acquire. Again, a lot of these ideas and intentions are discussed at assosactualdemocracy.com. An actual blog is being generated currently.

[-] 2 points by Renneye (3874) 6 years ago

I've been to the website...and can say that the ideas there overlap with many of my own. The fundamental difference being that I strongly feel that governing should be done "By the People, For the People", and as far away from politicians, Oligarchs, elite, and .01% as possible.

For more of this reply, see; http://occupywallst.org/forum/sit-down-strikes-and-worker-ownership-noam-chomsky/#comment-1042168

Welcome to the forum, by the way. We've recently been through some forum turbulence by people that discouraged new members. That's been dealt with to a degree, so it's nice to see new people here.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

have you seen the movie "the take" about workers taking over factories in argentina - pretty interesting

[-] 2 points by publius31 (75) from Fort Lee, NJ 6 years ago

Thank you for welcoming me. I hope what I've seen on that website, assosactualdemocracy.com can come to fruition, can be accomplished. It will take a lot of time,effort, and money. Those guys don't seem to be on top of things. But its a good message: people making the laws under which they live, if they don't make them, who should? Kings, dictators, the 1%. The Occupy groups should try and work with these guys to get Actual Democracy for the nation, if not the world.

[-] -1 points by shortNbaldNfatBUTSexy (-79) from New York, NY 6 years ago

I wouldn't be against this. Could be a good idea. However, you would still need representatives for micromanagement of the state. You can't really get away from that. People could be much more involved as you say, an do so much more than vote every four or five years, but still, in the end people can't micromanage the state full time or else we wouldn't be doing anything else. There are decisions made all the time. Lots of small ones we are not even aware. I mean, even a diplomat that just talks with people from another country has influence you do not. Perfect direct democracy is simply not possible. We have to understand that there will always be representatives, only perhaps we can push them further and do a lot more ourselves. That's true.

[-] 5 points by Renneye (3874) 6 years ago

No, we do not need representatives. In fact, a direct democracy is doomed to failure if we have people in long-term positions with decision making power that will micromanage procedure, laws, etc., that affect the larger populace.

A direct democracy with representatives can only be as strong as our weakest human frailty. We are fallible. Live with it. Accept that that is what we're working with. You'll NEVER change human nature. Idealism, detachment and righteousness are great on paper, but no match against the brutal cruelty of those who will never stop wanting power. Representatives in micromanagement positions will always be approached with intimidation, thus, susceptible and succumb to frailties like ego through prestige, greed and power with bribes, and fear via threats against oneself and family. THAT is what you'll never get away from. So, lets work with that. We have no choice, 'cause it'll never change.

It's important to recognize and understand the fallibilities of humans so that we can counter by setting up a direct democracy that has laws/procedures that safeguard against those undeniable weaknesses. Rotation is just one good safeguard. Education and mandatory involvement is another. There are more, I'm sure.

We already have laws, right now, that require us to do things, and if we don't do those things, we get penalized in one way or another...what's wrong with a few rules that require us to do certain things that will protect us from government ever getting out of control again, and taking care of the greater good of the populace? We shouldn't be afraid of a few rules that help us far better than many of the rules on the books now that probably do us far more damage. Who better, has our best interests at heart, than us?

People are capable of far, far more than we are made to believe, through manipulation via indoctrination by the very government, establishments and people who have much to lose if their power were taken away by a Populace who would govern themselves.

A 'perfect' direct democracy in all likelihood will not be possible. NO system works perfectly. But we can get close, and we should always strive for it. Obstacles like, "We have to understand that there will always be representatives..." are set there by shortsighted people, not by reality. It can be done.

[-] 2 points by publius31 (75) from Fort Lee, NJ 6 years ago

I just simply agree with you. We don''r need, want, or care to have representatives having command and control of our laws, and therefore our lives. If the people get the Congress to change the Constitution so that the people make the laws it will nearly a complete, and unexpected, miracle. But if we do, there will be no nirvana, no heaven on earth, but there will be a 'more perfect nation', truly of the people, by the people and for the people. If we don't have faith in the ability of the people to govern themselves who should we have faith in to govern us? The logic of it all is just simple and decisive: Only by the people living in an actual Democracy, where they vote on the laws, will they are free of representatives making laws 'for the good of the people, spending our treasure 'for the good of the people', starting wars, denigrating, the poor, the uneducated, the black, the brown, the yellow, the 'not-special' people, like they are special, of the world. We wish to rise up and take back control of our lives and now is as good as time as any: actually the best, because this congress is so pathetic. We can, and will, working together, pulling our resources together, get the right to make and vote on the laws under which we live. The Assosication for the Advancement of Actual Democracy is correct: to be in control of our lives we must vote on the laws. assosactualdemocracy.com, join it, support it, and make a better world,the right world, where the people are responsible for their own fate.

[-] 1 points by Renneye (3874) 6 years ago

Your empathic concerns for humanity have much in common with OWS and have been discussed here before. It is something the political status quo is frightened of, and so, when this topic comes up, infiltration and ridicule abound. We need to stay steadfast and keep this as a major concern/goal for OWS and humanity at the forefront. In my opinion, it should be the consistent subject of discussion and implementing of ideas. Discuss other issues, of course...but, it seems to me, that the main goal of getting control into the hands of the people should be the most important and core issue.

Here is just one thread where this topic was discussed. I'll have to see if I can find others. It's a heated discussion, but then nothing worth fighting for is going to be easy, is it?! And what more worth fighting for than freedom and dignity for all of humanity, now and to come.

There is much work to be done. Jobs for everyone! Yayyy!


The fundamental difference I referred to, is that the folks at assosactualdemocracy.com believe in using departments and laws of government from the status quo. That is not my personal hope.

My hope is to stay away from the mega-infiltrated and mega-corrupt existing establishment and set up a new government, run by the people. "A People's Society." It's a very pure idea.

That being said, luckily, I don't need to be a purist. Lol! I recognize the monumental endeavor a true "People's Society" is. I'm not opposed to using the existing laws and establishment IN THE INTERIM...on the journey to becoming a true "People's Society".

[-] 2 points by publius31 (75) from Fort Lee, NJ 6 years ago

Not a 'Peoples Society', a peoples legislature: the people make the laws. The Executive and Judicial are not run by the people, directly. We are not advocating NIRVANA, UTOPIA, just freedom and equality and responsibility with the chance of removing legislative corruption and power concentration through that corruption. It won't be perfect. People don 't make perfect cooperative arrangements. We can only strive to make "a more perfect Union", a more perfect society, not the ultimately perfect society. But it will certainly be better than begging Representatives to be fair in the distribution of opportunity, education, work, health care, etc. etc. etc. One person one vote on each law. OWS should work with The Association for the Advancement of Actual Democracy toward a realizable goal rather than request the people we gave our power to through votes to use that power for our benefit and not for the Rich and Powerful, and themselves. We can make a more perfect Union with a simple step, vote for it.

[-] 2 points by turbocharger (1756) 6 years ago

Here is something attempting to chip away at the status quo:


[-] -2 points by shortNbaldNfatBUTSexy (-79) from New York, NY 6 years ago

They have a name for this, but I forget what it is.

One problem in direct democracy is that most likely everyone does not get involved. Like if you set up community meetings in your street for example, not everyone will come to the meetings. Some people won't want to spend their time with that, others will not be able to because of various reasons. Same thing with Internet based direct democracy. The result is that those who get involved more, who always show up, because you default representatives. But, they are not voted in, nor do they have a set limit to how long they stay in "power". Their power is just as problematic as official representatives. This very problem happened during Occupy GA. Those that show up more than the others effectively have more power.

I'm not saying direct democracy is impossible. However, we haven't yet solved the Democratic Reform Trilemma, and, until we do, It doesn't seem that promising.


Direct Democracy has a long history in practice. It has been used to various degrees throughout history. It's not without its problems.

[-] 2 points by publius31 (75) from Fort Lee, NJ 6 years ago

YOU ARE JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS THAT WE DON'T HAVE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT! First, people rise to the level of the challenges put them: like ruling themselves and no long escaping Freedom and shirking the responsibility to debate, consider,analyse, and finally vote on laws. When you think about it, all the hundreds of groups representing our complete dissatisfaction with the current government, are seeking the power to make the laws. They simply default to the historical position saying you must be represented. Why do we need to be represented? Are you more flawed more then the next guy? Are you dumber, lazier, less caring about how you live? NO! you are not. So you should participate in making the laws, and if you work with the Association for Actual Democracy you will achieve those ends. Everyone else is advocating changing representatives so the next set can sell us out, too. Go to assosactualdemocracy.com and support it, volunteer to help in the struggle for freedom, and tell everybody there is a solution to this 1% ruling the 99%: Actual Democracy, finally.

[-] -2 points by shortNbaldNfatBUTSexy (-79) from New York, NY 6 years ago

I have to agree with Alain Badiou here.

If you want revolution you need two things 1) a system people want to change 2) a system people want to change to.

Until we have a clear vision of what we want to replace the current system with, activities to pressure the current system will not bring it down. I know you favour libertarian socialism, and that's great, it's a good system, but unless the vast majority of people want that as the new system, a revolution won't work. Trying to create a revolution without a clear vision of where we want to go is extremely dangerous. Doing a revolution blindly more often than not results in some kind of authoritarian regime.

This is why I think Zizek nails it on the head when he states it is time to think, not act. We know the system is no good, and most people agree they want to change it - ask people in the streets, and most will say capitalism is destroying the environments, etc... So, the problem is not the first point of Badiou, but his second. We must think about that second point to clarify matters before we start acting.

Sitting down can be useful in certain circumstances, but right now it won't be. We did the occupy thing 3 years ago. Nothing much came out of it precisely because we couldn't answer Badiou's second point. No one agreed what they wanted as the new system. Occupy just petered out as a result.

You are 3 years behind.

[-] 3 points by publius31 (75) from Fort Lee, NJ 6 years ago

Revolution isn't needed. A Constitutional Amendment could change the whole government from a representative government to an Actual Democracy. something like:

  1. The legislative function of the United States shall be performed by the people according to laws the people shall enact.
  2. The right of the citizens to directly vote for the laws under which they will live shall not be abridged by the United States or by any State.

Of course one would have to understand that the Executive and Judicial Systems would remain as they are, until whatever changes the people make. This is the thinking and position of The Association for the Advancement of Actual Democracy, not Chomsky. Chomsky sees what we all see, perhaps with a far greater acuity: this government is flawed, the civilization has given evolved an entirely new power center of economic and political control: an oligarchy of the Rich. Occupy groups see this as the 1%. But again, sitting down doesn't answer anything, doesn't affect any of this power structure and concentration. But take back the responsibility for the people to make laws then everything in the society is subject to change. A change made by people who are self interested, highly educated, have instant access to all factual information, and all lies and propaganda too. Reasoning and praying people who want and need command and control of their lives and the society within they live those lives. It will come. We should get it started. We should not be sitting down, we need to stand up, stand up for freedom, for self-determination, for laws that we make. Micro-managers aren't needed to run America, Citizens making the laws are needed.