Space Coast Progressive Alliance

The Future of the American Experiment is in Your Hands
Sunday, 27 September 2009 17:12

case studies

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Active local citizens are at the heart of economic democracy.

I have been causally following two current events-- one in the small Indian village of Plachimada and the other in the small village of Santo Domingo Ixcatlan, in Oaxaca, Mexico. When interpreting these events from the lens of economic democracy, it becomes clear that one could call a society democratic and yet be a society that does not practice economic democracy. In the case of the people in Plachimada, India, it is clear that the local population is against the practices of the Coca-Cola corporation, and yet the legislature and supreme court of India side with the desires of the Coca-Cola corporation rather than the human members of its democracy, right up to the question of who has rights to the water, even when a village has been using the water for 100 years.

"Polluted drinking water and toxic waste have plagued the small Indian village of Plachimada since Coca-Cola first opened a plant next to the residents' homes; local activists are now calling on the Indian Supreme Court." (

Remember some of the basic principles of economic democracy: 1. an economic system in which all people participate and through which all are nurtured. 2. A just economic system is inclusive, involving people in responsible, participatory and economically rewarding activity. 3. all individuals have certain basic economic rights and these rights are best guaranteed through widespread participation in economic decision-making. 4. Economic democracy calls for the establishment of institutional structures that reinforce the human characteristics that promote the common welfare.
Again the question emerges, How can a democracy be a democracy when the local people have no say in the shape and structure of the economic system the shapes and structures their lives?

Oaxaca's Government Land Grab

In this case I believe we can see the history of the Native Americans, the beginnings of the Dutch East India and the English East India Companies' occupation of India, and any engagement of where a state sponsored corporation has permission to bring home the goods.

There is a land where the people rule their own communities and money does not seem to be the highest value, in the villages across Oaxaca, where land has been owned communally for centuries. From all appearances this system seems to have worked just fine. The country's governing system "is a federation whose government is representative, democratic and republican based on a congressional system. The constitution establishes three levels of government: the federal Union, the state governments and the municipal governments. All officials at the three levels are elected by voters through first-past-the-post plurality, proportional representation, or are appointed by other elected officials. This system is used in Canada, India, the UK, and the USA, simple plurality, first past the post or winner-takes-all." In other words it is a democracy similar to ours in the USA.

Only 29 percent of land in Oaxaca is privately owned - the rest is controlled by some form of collective system. In places like Santo Domingo, all agrarian issues are decided by those who work the communal land. "It would be in the interest of the government for communal land to be sold because the government can heavily tax any land that is not communal," Shepard-Durini told Truthout. "Officials can also profit off the land by charging the people who live there fees for use of that land. If the natives don't have legal ownership of the land, it is easy to exploit them or threaten them with relocation." (

In order to facilitate the change from a centuries old communal ownership, which the people do not want to change, to a tax based system which requires the people to pay more money for the same land use and ownership, the government uses age old tactics of fear, intimidation and brute force to the point of murder. This method is not as dressed up as the three card shuffle described by Naomi Kline in Shock Doctrine , but it is the same game. I guess when you are going against the people's will in an established democracy, sleight of hand and a well groomed propaganda machine works; but in a fresh encounter with a free people, brute force and murder of the leaders of the locals is still needed.


In both of these cases we can see how the business community with sanction from the governing forces restructures the economic system to suit its own needs. Maybe we can gain insight into the nature of our own living conditions by seeing how these systems are installed. The rawness of it is simple horrific.


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