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Freedom of speech and food for thought

Something that has struck me about South Africa is the fact that although many can argue there are a lot of problems affecting citizens (like heavy crime, poverty and corruption – to name a few), there is one thing that South Africa displays in a manner that not a lot of European countries can credit themselves for. And that is the freedom of speech and moreover, the way in which this freedom of speech is expressed.

A 7-week research trip in South Africa on traditional leadership and democratization.

A perspective from a 20-year-old Belgian political science student.
One democracy to rule them all?
Democracy. We all come across it in our everyday lives. Not only because of the simple fact that as Belgians we are citizens of a representative parliamentary democracy and therefore come in contact with its principles, rules and institutions on a daily basis. But second of all, we often come across this notion because of the fact that it has a particular political and diplomatic meaning in the context of international politics. 

Wishes for 2014

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES FOR A UNITED HUMAN SOCIETY

Imagine all the people, living in peace. (John Lennon)

by Eric Verhulst, www.democracyforall.eu
 

Preamble

Following text is not meant as an academic paper, but mainly as a discussion paper. It has its origins in a group of people (Piet de Pauw, Bert Pennickx, myself) who have been searching and pleading for years for more common sense in our world. This has to be seen in stark contrast with today's reality whereby democracy only exists in name, and organised people (industrial corporations, unions, political parties, special interest groups, and many more) as well as non-organised people by the simple act of voting use directly or indirectly governmental legal powers to create a selfish form of economy at the expense of their fellow citizens, who's main role has been reduced to vote, work and generate the wealth that keeps this system going. Whether this is called a leftist social economy or a rightist dictatorship makes no difference. The means of power serve a privileged group better than those who contribute the most. The class struggle seems like a never ending story.
We have been advocating and researching alternatives. On the political front this has resulted in a search for direct democracy, essentially a form of very decentralized politics whereby the citizen decides as much as possible himself, but also bears the responsibility for his acts. In our world of nations, very few places on earth follow such principles. One of the exceptions is perhaps Switzerland, a small country with 26 cantons and as many constitutions, ranging from very small cantons where people still vote on all important issues on the market place by raising their hand to larger cantons that follow more or less the rules of a more centralized, representative democracy. What very few people know is that the Swiss democracy has roots that go 800 years back in history while it has given them centuries of peace and wealth, being taxed less than most people in the world.
One could think that this kind of thinking implies that we are better of with no form of government at all. This is very tempting if one sees the level of taxation (de facto often 50 to 80% of what one produces) applied in most western countries. And while this huge public and inefficient, bureaucratic sector is certainly a killing factor in the creation of wealth, the root cause of our problems lay deeper. The public sector and its political servants is itself just an instrument in the hands of people that use it to promote their own interest, at the expense of the interests of the fellow citizens. The instrument that makes this possible is the law, because the law specifies rules and exceptions on general principles that the citizen must follow unless he risks being fined or even put in prison. 
In such a context however, societies risk losing their own purpose. Not only do they risk losing their social purpose, they also risk losing all the economic wealth that their hard working citizens have build up.  The western world is now in deep economic troubles, but even deeper is its moral crisis. Those who think that Greece and the European Union can be saved by printing even more money and giving it as a loan to corrupt and bankrupt nations suffer from a disillusion. This is most clear in the case of Greece. 60% of the working population worked for the public sector not because Greece was a model state of socialism, but because it is utterly corrupt. It cannot be saved with more money. It can only be saved by restructuring itself and by cleaning its society of its immoral attitude of corruption.  Let's the citizen decide and work for himself, but let him also be responsible for his acts.  

Lezing Confederalisme en België -27.02.2013

ELSA Leuven heeft het genoegen mede te delen dat Professor S. Sottiaux op 27 februari 2013, een lezing zal verzorgen over het democratisch deficit in België en in de Europese Unie. Niet alleen zal hij het ontstaan en de gevolgen van dit deficit bespreken, maar bovendien zal hij politieke oplossingen aanreiken en hete hangijzers waaronder de vraag of confederalisme wel degelijk dé oplossing is voor België onderzoeken.

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