In many occasions we just do not realize the real potential of individuals as main agents of change. The concept of a super powerful State makes citizens feel disempowered and the public machinery as a “Leviathan” out of control and supervision. However, multiple crises are showing the need for a stronger framework that delivers resilience and a feeling of confidence to the citizens more than a Super State of protection.
Dialogue is the only way to get to a balance relationship of power in which citizen engagement becomes not just a matter of active will but of a key aspect for an inclusive society. The State must be a clear and determinate reflex of citizen’s will and not a struggle that demands protests and constant action. When the State machinery runs on the correct ”railways” it doesn´t need that steady action of “going against of governments” but just a permanent rapport of the work of its representatives. Accountable leaders and a transparent structure are not a utopia and countries with high standards of good governance confirm that democracy is about a solid relationship with citizens based on dialogue. Is it true, there are always certain levels of corruption present on the public sector, although if there are in averages beneath 1% it doesn’t compromise the institutional framework.
The sustainability of the political system comes from its transparency and as a substitute of direct democracy as in the antique Greece is it possible to launch mechanisms enough serious that assures the strict fulfillment of rules and commitments with/for the citizens.
In States in which there is no sense of ownership from the citizenship, in addition to a no prestigious political class that behave as “submitted” by the Government, institution “out of them” and with few controls. This feeling is much more than a subjective negative aspect but an entire environment that conditions the rest of the system. Clearly undermining basic pillars of democracy and its own definition: “power of the people”.
Dialogue seems to be the best way to achieve results on an equal ground and the smartest way to fight against a corrupt system. The irresistible power of a well organized and articulated organization of citizens is a guarantee for preventing corruption and force the entire system to work “for them” and not the other way round.
However, to make dialogue effective we need to create the framework and conditions that assure those guarantees. A legal framework is it only one part, Educating people on the “art” of being actively involved in politics. Building mentalities around the idea that the State and its representatives are their election and are part of them. Even if a democracy supposes the strict fulfillment of the principle that the majority rules it must be a point of balance in which minorities have space for dialogue and for achieving their goals. Recent attempt for independence in Catalonia shows the need to give minorities a place to dialogue avoiding in-depth fractures in the society and preventing from violence. Is precisely the lack of dialogue that leads this process into extremes from both sides of the conflict: the Central Government and the independence movement. An authoritarian road is leading the path without seeing the consequences that those people in favor of independence (even if there are a minority, that could only be know by a legal referendum) will not have a place to express themselves and that frustration will lead to more resistance.
The Central Government wrongly assumed that this is the “end of the road” but is it just the “beginning of a long process” that will continue and have started many decades ago. Ignoring this people and their reality is what is turning Catalonia in a conflict place without addressing the real roots of this discontent and without finding a solution that satisfy both sides –at least partially-.
When there is no dialogue is the end of democracy no matter how, who and why there are moving in that direction. Minorities must be heard and any attempt to block them will end on a rampant authoritarian demagogue.
The “art of negotiation” in a global world is a complex strategy but more effective than just applying the “art of politics”. It is paramount to build a common front against the “storm” that politics create.
The endless negotiation table…
* The endless table by Clive Wilkinson
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