Second letter to Obama. (Triptyque)

From Taiwan, the 19th October 2009.

The meaning of democracy.

Mr. President,

May you allow me, in the astonishment at your lack of response to my letter of December 2008, to emit perplexities related to the democratic model and its coexistence with a neoliberalism that has reached the political and directive spheres. Communication - base of any consensual decisions - became a job while reducing the considered-civil-expression at the rituals of a “political mythology”. Moreover, it confirms, I guess, a certain social invisibility. This lack of response suggests a new totalitarianism. Mr. President, I do not write to accuse the policy or the different actions of government as a cause of the current situation, but to try to think with you, about suggestions of answers to the several problematic issues that I will raise in this letter.

Before I begin this letter by the definition of “democracy” given by the dictionary, I would like to recall that the original of this letter is in French. Also I emphasize again the singular and anticonformist importance that I give to the mistakes of writing. Which are, for me, a signature and marks of my singularity. Their presence is essential to the understanding of my words and claims.

“Democracy. Form of government in which sovereign power resides in the people as a whole, and is exercised either directly by them or by their elected representatives.” [1].

By itself, this definition raises several questions related to our lifestyle in contemporary societies. In fact, I think that the use of this definition by the nations should be reconsidered in order to redefine the effective policy in the current context of excessive media coverage of the information and of the fanatical glorification of the images. Also, I would like to look closer on how the democracy is functioning in ours countries. Or rather, if I may, on how the current policy is able to practice its powers, and at the same time leaving us to believe in a popular participation! If you please, I would like to say that I have the strong impression that the definition used by modern nations reflects more an old ideology validated, a euphemism of rationality by the new kings than the realities of life in society. Indeed, how can we talk about participation, “civil responsibilities” when these people who should have the power are constantly bombarded by information which promote the fun of ignorance?!

Mr. President, do you agree to the fact that your election and effective policies in general are now more the result of a good strategy of public manipulation than a thoughtful and reasonable choice by humans united in a dialogue, in a common action?

Not that I want to mean you are not the right person, I just want to remind you of the obsolescence of your choice against the “total power” of multinationals! Again, as I emphasized it in my first letter, your role is to be a puppet in a big theater, talking to half-asleep pawns tied to their chairs of fashion brands. A “theater of consumption” where power is absolutely not shared and where the word of democracy is a profitable slogan for private companies taking advantage of the public interest for a show that, however, does not happen on the stage! I recall that your election, or rather your presidential campaign, largely depends on money from sponsors whose policy is an object of support and of recovery aimed to increase then globalize their profit. We speak here of currency speculation on humans! As a product we test you, we realize statistics on your person, we compare you and then we sell you, just like the new Ford ! It is not surprising to note that shortly after your election, you can give so much money for the car industry! Needless to say after that, how countries which promote an economy supposedly of “knowledge” are in fact, great comedies, children's theater! Where reason is gradually only a decor of a totalitarian dictatorship which is the result of a long process of rationalization of humanity. The reference here that I do with rationality could be, in the future, the subject of a new letter as this issue is essential to understand the role of the public institutions, supposedly “rational”, inside the power systems.

But to return to our democracy, this interesting model advocating participation, I ask you what do you think if I dare to make a parallel between effective democracy in countries supposedly “developed” and reality television shows, the Star-system? Look at it more closely, who are the stars, the public and the jury of these games? These actors, do they have any power over their realities, or are they the new specimens of a society that has transformed idols into stars? This transformed idol/star is a central point of my critique of the social-policy today. I am, indeed, very puzzled in front of the place and the objectives that hold democracy in our spectacle-society. But maybe the democracy is merely seeking the safety of its producers in a society that prefers the pretty mythological story than a true model of participation. But have we really given the choice to humans? Or do we accept that the supposed “progress” has only served the winners, those who preferred the combat than open-dialogue. It is not surprising, following this, to see that the democratic model is a great competition. A battle of words, of speculations…

Mr. President, I would like, now, to share with you a very interesting document that well reflects my words. In appendices, I send you the letter of vote of an Italian referendum supposedly “popular” held last June. This document represents concretely what is participation in Europe in states having the chance to have a semi-direct democracy: a sheet of paper where cases of our response are limited to a “YES” or a “NO” of 5cm each, under a traffic jam of incomprehensible sentences. I will just translate the title of this “popular” referendum: “Repeal of the possibility of link lists and award a bonus to a majority coalition lists”. An Italian friend graduated in political-science was also appalled to see that he did not have necessary tools to understand the issues and implications of such a law. My mother could not even read it. The lettering was so small. In front of this small colored piece of paper, my friend and I understood the effective absurdity of our citizenship.

We understood how we were, despite ourselves, kept in an ignorance which had become normative, facing a power that simulates a pseudo-socialism. I show you here, Mr. President, an Italian document knowing that this referendum is already a chance for people to believe in their expression.

However this referendum well illustrates “the democratic farce” that equates the little “X” placed on a piece of paper at a distorted appropriation of power by the people. In addition, it serves to demonstrate how democracy is foreign to the life lived because if we agree not to be hypocritical, it is not difficult to see that a model based on the majority can only stay in a normative general level.

To establish a connection between this example of European democracy and your nation, I remember that in 2004 for the presidential election, your country, proud of its democracy, had subjected its people to “choose” between two men from the same university!? You have understood what I want to get at; the effective democracy is summed up by the quick consumption of a bipolar choice, yet still unique. Excuse me for calling it, to its proper name: the “neo-feudalism”! Yes, definitely I realize that, despite your rhetoric and those of your “competitors” from other rich countries, we are moving towards a two-tier society, a society vertically stratified and that is under the sweetened slogan of the globalization and of a unifying neoliberalism. The definition of “knowledge” carried by the higher institutions and the laws of immigration become more and more heavy, they are extracts already visible of this goal of classification and centralized control. At this rate, it would not be surprising to see appearing in a few years a law requiring the ID chip implants. Because the real danger, Mr. President, does not comes from “terrorists living in caves” but from us, “people who know”!

Also, it is not difficult to see that ours societies have already been, for a long time, riding in reverse by making, for example, the force of emancipation as a sign of belonging, the liberalism as a decorated prison and the schools as barracks for the manufacture of consent. To maintain such a high level of unconsciousness from the people, we must train young people by striking them with abstract values of substitution. While parents spend their lives to earn enough money to pay for their children for the opportunity to enter into the futility, the meaninglessness, and emptiness of a self-destructive tertiary sector! And all these masquerades for, among other things, deleting the class struggle and replacing it by the standardization to a universal model of neoliberal mediocracy. But was it not what we named the “New World Order”? A plan targeting the uniformity is reminding me of the dystopian stories of Huxley or Orwell.

The current effective democracy that I will call more willingly, if you do not bother, a “mediocracy”, is following perfectly that plan of surveillance. This mediocracy excludes all singularities or significant developments, preferring to that, a majority stagnant of conformity in a society of seductions. Seductions, which are, indeed, totalitarian orders acting on the reason, I mean acting inside of our identity apprenticeship and making us “other of ourselves” in a society of others. And that, allowing to the power to act on a reality that we do not belong anymore. According to me, Mr. President, democracy maintains a power through the seduction and believes to seek the equality, yet finds only the leveling, which makes us all guilty of its criteria.

But concretely, how the government acts to counter this whirlpool, which makes us ever more cowards and victims? How does it promote the critical position, the civil awareness, the listening to minority cultures, the responsibility and the independence of the humans?

If the government is so attached to democracy and thus to participation, why does it give so much importance to the economy and therefore inevitably to the entertainment, to the competitiveness, to the individualism?! What do you think if I dare to say that the government, in its current disposition, is only maintaining the people in dependence and ignorance, while keeping its separate and privileged place above the people?

Mr. President, how do expect a serious act, some awareness from the human when you consent that your call goes through the same way as the stupidities that the media impose daily to the human in society? Mass media, which are directed by their level of audience! Of course, humans prefer to be comfortably seated in front of stupidities and laugh, rather than standing active and participative!

But this, I see that you and the leaders of “developed” countries have clearly understood and, in effect, your mediocrity works wonderfully! The machinery is well oiled and the dream world, the one that cultivates the perpetual happiness is well placed to make the diversified world as a big Time Square of standard clowns wearing ties! And this, with “music”. It is important!

Following this, and in reference to all the money that rich countries invest for the development of new technology, I would ask: Why continue in this way, seeking what could still entertain people? Is the time at new high definition euphoria?! Sure, we can go further with technologies, inventions… It is certainly easier to create slogans and objects of every color than really reflects the meaning, the freedom, the exchanges… Because yes, the effective democracy is a model of selfishness and of individualism in which power is not exercised by human who become automat, but by the brand of their fetish objects. And referendums, which represent one of the pillars of democracy are found to be obsolete and closed questions asking us if we prefer to receive slaps or punches!

In Taipei, during a Global Initiatives Symposium organized by students of National Taiwan University to discuss issues such as global terrorism, ecology, and new policies, I gave a speech entitled, “Look Closer into the machinery of modern democracy”, which is the preliminary of this letter. This symposium was, in fact, a contest of essays on sociopolitical subjects. It is the first letter that I sent you that won the first prize. I mention it, to signify the increasingly interest that the youth have for a new humanity. For it is not difficult to feel the contempt in which this century of “have” suffers. Myself, I feel the weight of this reality, which inflicts the duty to enter in a societal box, closed place of my social recognition. Mr. President, I promise you, that the only tool which is lacking for the youth, including myself, is a surge, a concrete proposal, a place to think about a future world that offers the youth a better choice than that of their “prison cells”. Together, I mean the young generation and the one of maturity, can reflect a diversify world of perpetual research where the young human can have the choices of their life. It is up to the previous generations to open the doors to the young generation, and thus give to the society breathing and the possibility to renew itself.

Before coming to my proposals, I would like to make a needed parenthesis to position myself facing to the pressure of ecology and to the proposition of sustainable development. To say that it is not the planet, which needs to be saved today but our humanity! It is the social and anthropological issues that must absolutely be targeted before thinking to imagine the state of the planet. Because more than being hypocritical, this concern demonstrates our will to power on everything.

I mean, today, the political ecology can not be detached from the idea of globalization and thus from the power and imperialism. So ecology should not be a global concern, but well a responsibility of individual awareness. And, it is especially not by those alarming TV spots on the state of the planet that the real crisis, which our humanity is suffering, will be resolved. This will not even pass by the recovery of economy which, admittedly, is behind the chaos that does not date the alleged crisis.

Indeed, Mr. President, what do you think if I say that this pseudo-crisis highlighted by the oligarchies is actually a “good” organized strategy aimed at the standardization of a single overall and controlled value? For, yes, it is easy to create problems and then send a savior. We perpetuate centuries and cycles like that. Do you really think that is the “change” that your people expects in the twenty-first century? Do you really accept to become the symbol of our powerlessness in front of the object?

Following my first letter, I would like to emphasize the importance of a radical progressive change. What will follow, I mean my proposals are only sketches and should therefore be considered as subjects for discussions rather than an unchanging position. It is clear too, that, I do not limit my suggestions only to the discussion but well to “common Praxis”. Indeed this “OPEN LETTER” is a call for dialogues beyond the dichotomy of democracy. It is a participatory and dialogic model that I advocate, for it is essential, for me, that the human who has chosen himself to live in society should take its responsibilities. And this can not be separated from a civil commitment. It is this new citizenship that education should now focus on teaching rather than the leveling of standard knowledge. The policy should not be a social frame but rather perpetual questions with potential possibilities of life in the society. In this sense, I am for a government near to the human. The respect of the freedoms should become one of the concerns of a policy which would become a “new social philosophy” in a government turned into an open forum for sharing and reflections. By this term of new social philosophy, I want to depart from this philosophical heritage which seeks to define the human and the “ideal society”. I want to get away from all normative theories, by “new social philosophy”, I mean : an impulse toward what I called, in the first letter, the “High consciousness”. This term has already been commented in the first letter (in appendices), but to add here, it concerns the acquisition of a complex thought beyond all limits of unchangeable and limited objectivity. In this sense, a concept such as “justice” needs to be rethought, and then deconstructed. The justice is a need only for normalization; it is merely serving the police in a state held, today, by the consumer himself! In that case, the consumer has become at the same time, the judge, the culprit, and the witness in a closed competition where he is his own supervisor.

I support a direct-democracy, while I am aware of its effective impossibility in front of the today’s huge population. It is, in this sense, that I propose that the nation-state recognizes its weakness, and thinks with its “people” about stratification of territories by autonomous municipalities. Direct-democracy and true consensual dialogue are possible only in the context of a mini-society and not in the current context of a big nation. We can talk here of multinational-state, of neo-federalism, but before that, this “Renaissance” will be sustained only by redefinition of primary necessities of life. In other words, agriculture, family values and spiritualities could become three of the seed of the model for new human organizations. The reconsideration of education remains, in my view, the priority and the necessary tool to bring humans to these proposals of openings and of evolution.

I am more than aware that these proposals of “new social organization”, at the present time, seem to be naive utopias facing the total power of multinationals on humans and its various initiatives. The road remains long and the advent of such humanity will be possible by the establishment of social research platforms anchored within societies. My proposal is, initially, that the state creates a special budget for these initiatives. I wish greatly, in this sense, that this millennium will be the millennium of the common consciousness and of the collective act. Actions that respect one of the most beautiful gifts of nature: “the Diversities”.

My proposals may be longer and more detailed in view of the big part that I dedicated to the critic, but you would understand that more details would turn me into a dictator; it is to the human, who has chosen to live with other, to organize his/her life in his/her society.

I reiterate my proposal developed in the first letter of a “mirror unit” composed of a “reflection committee”. I remain convinced by the idea that the realization of individual freedom cannot be separated from a common praxis that goes beyond the single product of the coordination of private interests. And I humbly ask you, Mr. President, to see this proposal as not only for the U.S. government but in all directing public institutions.

Conscious that you do not represent the absolute power, I ask you to share the words of this letter with your vice-president, and with every representative of the executive departments, and leaders of other countries. I assume my letter and announce to you that I am ready to present this project to the government. I strongly support communication and “the round table”.

One man alone can do nothing and it is with all humans he will work, by declaring his “ignorance” about the current reality that the “change” will take form.

I end this letter by the short definition of the term of “totalitarian” in dictionary:

“Of, pertaining to, regime which permits no rival loyalties or parties and arrogates to itself all rights including those to itself all rights including those normally belonging to
Individuals.” [2]

In these words and wishing to have brought you a concrete reflection, I thank you for the time and for your consideration that you have accepted to give to the letter of a young citizen of the world. I would have so much left to tell you but I stop here and hope that you recognize in these writings an importance of first rank as well as a declaration of honesty and a humble act.

Waiting for a response from you, I remain at your disposal and declare sincerely, Mr. President of the United States, my Human greetings.

Change, we can believe in. Yes we can !

Luca V. Bagiella

[1] The New Oxford encyclopedic dictionary, Oxford University, Bay Books, 1983, p. 444.
[2] Ibid., p.1767.

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Sent to :

The New President of the United-States
Barack OBAMA
The White House1600
Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500