What characterizes representationism, as the true practice of " representative democracy," is that representatives cannot represent. They cannot represent in a system of single delegate districts, in which winner takes all. Each district is composed of contradictory class interests, cultural identities, community interests, ideological positions , etc. No one person can represent them all. The representative ends up representing none, leaving only the option to go to the highest bidder. It is for this reason that the system of " representative democracy" is ideal for corporate control of governance . While the inability to represent creates a chasm between government and people, the ascension of the corporations to the role of citizen renders the chasm unbridgeable. Legislatures and executives function in insular and hermetic conditions, horse-trading projects among themselves for the moneyed interests, and promoting minor local causes for the sake of reelection. To elect a representative into this hermetic political culture is to lose contact with the person elected.

This actuality of representative democracy is omitted from the Bamako Appeal; it speaks of democracy in the abstract, and thus does not look at the reality, nor at alternative possibilities like proportional representation in multi-delegate districts. But in addition , to speak about democracy in the abstract in the context of insuring property rights and an absent critique of the corporate structure means to implicitly obviate the idea of putting property rights , corporate existence, and the ethos of profitability up for a vote . This is another aspect of Bamako Appeal's liberalism.


There is no such thing as a minority. To be a minority means to be a group that is outvoted at every level, before any vote is taken. It means to be set aside and "given" special interests precisely through the process of being excluded. It means that one is a priori barred from functioning within a general electorate, even with self-defined special group interests.

This has to be clear. To consider a group a "minority" is to give it that minority status independent of votes, and independent of who will win such votes, as a social category. It is a form of categorical separation of a group by another group that is tacitly defining itself as the majority by defining minorities; that is, it establishes majoritarian status for itself through the exclusion of groups it then names as minorities. It is an active process, whereby hegemony is arrogated . Minority status is something one group does to another. To repeat , there is no such thing as a minority; there is only a process of minoritization by a majoritarian group that consolidates its majoritarian status by exclusion.

This, of course, in inimical to democracy; it is oxymoronic to proclaim that the rights of minorities will be democratically guaranteed . To so affirm the existence of "minorities" is to accept the act of exclusion that minoritized them, and to thus recognize that democracy has already been obviated. It is also to accept the point of view of the majoritarian group, which is the one arrogating to itself the power to promise to guarantee the rights of the minority (it is not the minority that makes that promise to itself). "Minority" status is only a euphemism for what happens to non-white groups under the hegemony of white supremacy.

Shame on the Bamako Appeal for having allowed itself the borderline white supremacy of speaking so glibly of the "rights of minorities ," without examining what the issue means. Indeed, the Bamako Appeal hardly mentions racism, and only in passing, refusing to see neo-liberalism as itself a process of racialization at the global level — for instance, in the racialization of international relations (US vs . Cuba or Haiti); the racialization of 3rd world national resources as belonging to white western societies, etc. This is another aspect of liberalism .


Sovereignty is a critical issue, not because it functioned as a touchstone of anti-colonialism during the era of national liberation revolutions (which has passed), but because sovereignty is the indispensible necessary condition for democracy. If democracy refers to the way a people or a group determine their own policies and thus their own destinies for themselves, they have to be sovereign in those destinies in order to determine them for themselves. Any intervention from outside the purview of the people or group in question renders democracy for them an empty or disrupted process. All of the US government's interventions in other nations in the world have rendered democracy impossible for them. When the US government intervened to overthrow the election of Carey in the IBT, claiming that democracy had been corrupted by his campaign, they rendered democracy impossible for the Teamsters (in the name of democracy).

It is because it is the indispensible condition for democracy that the question of sovereignty has been raised in so many ways at so many levels in the past 10 years. The municipal autonomy of the Zapatista communities , the refusal of Cuba to bow to US tyrannical pressure, the tragedy of nations giving in to the IMF, the attempt of industrial unions to establish autonomy for themselves in nations that seek to severely curtail them, the indigenous movements of South America , the right of a nation to retrieve control of its own natural resources as in Venezuela and Bolivia , are all examples of the exercise of sovereignty that go beyond the earlier concept of national sovereignty (1960s). In general, the social justice movements of the world have gone far beyond the earlier notion of national sovereignty, extending and broadening the concept.

For the Bamako Appeal to leave the question of sovereignty unexamined or uncritiqued is to leave the concept trapped in its traditional sense of national sovereignty, revalorizing the nation-state upon which neo-liberalism depends for local administration . It is thus no wonder that the most it can say about the US with respect to democracy is that it is duplicitous, something to merely guard against.

Ultimately, the Bamako Appeal offers neither opposition nor alternative to neo-liberalism.

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