The International Endowment for Democracy – 2006-03-29 08:33:14
A new project — the International Endowment for Democracy — is a terrific idea through which people around the world can now help support a restoration of democracy to the United States.
The idea is to flip the National Endowment for Democracy — a CIA operation which creates death squads in other countries and finances them to overthrow governments and popular movements — and instead create the INTERnational Endowment for Democracy, which challenges the US rulers arrogant concept of “nation building” and asks the people of the world to contribute towards helping to save (and institute for the first time) democracy in the United States.
This wacky idea was the brainchild of Professor Bertell Ollman (NYU). What began as a sort of “Yes-Men” comical satire has recently been incorporated as a not-for-profit organization and is now taking on quite a bit of serious substance, given the political and intellectual “gravitas” of the individuals who have joined the organization’s board of directors. This eclectic collection of progresive authors, professors, and activists includes:
Honorary Co-Chairs: Mumia Abu-Jamal, Ramsey Clark, Harry Magdoff, Annette Rubinstein, Gore Vidal, Ellen Meiksins Wood, Howard Zinn;
Executive Committee: Bertell Ollman (President), Michael Brown, Barbara Foley, John Manley, Michael Smith;
Legal Counsel: William Schaap;
Other Members of the I.E.D. Board of Directors: Amrita Basu, James Cockroft, Bernardine Dohrn, John Ehrenberg, Francis Feeley, John Gerassi, Martha Gimenez, Christine Harrington, David Harvey, Michael Hudson, Abdeen Jabara, Mark Kesselman, Joel Kovel, Peter Kwong, Sandra Levinson, Michael Parenti, Michael Ratner, Ellen Ray, Lynne Stewart, Immanuel Wallerstein, Leonard Weinglass, Suzi Weissman, and Richard Wolff.
You might recognize the names of some of these “heavy hitters”. To find out more about each of them, go to http://www.iefd.org/about/index.php
One intriguing project the I.E.D. is initiating is the nominations of people — so send in yours! — for an anually selected “Noble Prize [yes, that spelling is intentional] for Democracy”. I’ve nominated Malik Rahim (though his name does not yet appear on the list on the website), as someone who has contributed enormously to the real democratization of the United States.
Malik’s work in establishing the Common Ground collective in New Orleans challenges the utter and intended failure of basic services in New Orleans not simply by writing about it, but by directly creating a network of service institutions and popular assemblies — that is, grassroots democracy in practice, and not just in theory. [Note: Neither Malik Rahim nor Common Ground
You can send in your nominations for the Noble Prize for Democracy in the US to
You might also be interested in reading the large collection of Democracy-related articles on the website, and in sending in your own articles or those by others that are relevant to this project, to that same address.
Below is an abbreviated version of the APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD that the IED is circulating. To learn more, please visit the website at www.IEFD.org
Mitchel Cohen, 2652 Cropsey Avenue. Brooklyn, NY 11214
To see this message on the web site in an easy-to-read html format:
URGENT APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD
from the International Endowment for Democracy
(March 28, 2006) — HELP! The house is on fire and we are all living in it. The United States government and its dependent organizations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), have responded to the fire… by pouring more oil on it.
They call it “democratic nation building” – a fancy name for the perpetual wars, theft of the commons, exploding economic inequalities, weakening civil liberties (including the introduction of torture), and the intensifying degradation and outright destruction of our natural environment that lie hidden behind “free” trade and the promise (seldom fulfilled) of a “free” election. Billions of people outside America want this madness to stop, but what can they do?
Our new and independent organization, the International Endowment for Democracy (I.E.D.), believes it will only stop if democratic nation building (the real thing, not the oil) is applied to the US, which is the country most responsible for these frightening global developments, and that people everywhere can play a role in bringing it about.
The I.E.D. is a new non-profit foundation whose Board of Directors includes:
HOWARD ZINN (America’s leading radical historian)
MUMIA ABU-JAMAL (America’s most famous political prisoner)
GORE VIDAL (America’s premier progressive novelist and essayist)
ELLEN MEIKSINS WOOD (winner of the Isaac Deutcher Prize)
RAMSEY CLARK (world’s leading human rights lawyer)
BARBARA FOLEY (Chair of the Left Alliance, the union of progressive academic caucuses)
MICHAEL PARENTI (America’s foremost critic of capitalist democracy)
IMMANUEL WALLERSTEIN (past president of the International Sociological Association)
MICHAEL RATNER (President of the Center for Constitutional Rights and past President of the National Lawyers’ Guild)
And two dozen other major American progressive scholars, lawyers and activists. Find the full Board of Directors at http://www.iefd.org/about/?r=r01
IN BRIEF: If groups like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) use American government money (whence the “NATIONAL”) — and a big dose of hypocrisy — to subvert democracy abroad, the International Endowment for Democracy (IED) hopes to use foreign monies (whence the “INTERNATIONAL”) to help build a real democracy in the country that needs it most, the USA. (See DEMOCRACY LIBRARY, section III of our website: http://www.iefd.org/articles/american_democracy.php?r=r01 )
We also call on the international community to monitor elections in the United States. Is there anyone left in the world outside the US who doesn’t recognize the need for such monitors?
This is not because there is less democracy in America than anywhere else – a few other lands are even worse off in this regard – but because the DEMOCRACY DEFICIT from which our country suffers is a greater threat to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of people all across the globe than the actions of any other regime.
As victims of their own government’s destructive policies, the great majority of Americans have no interest in retaining them and would change these policies in an instant if our democracy really worked as we’re told it does. That they haven’t is because they can’t, because the laws, the elections, the media, the schools and other means for making such changes have been bent out of shape (through systematic bias and, increasingly, outright repression), hidden (through enforced ignorance), bought up by Big Money especially this), and – when “necessary” – stolen (as in the last two presidential elections). Who can doubt that people everywhere have a huge stake in the democratization of America?
THIS MAY BE A FIRST: Americans asking people from other countries for help. Many recipients of this Appeal outside the US, however, are probably still asking themselves – “Why should we help Americans make needed changes in their country? Don’t we have enough to do in our own country?” The answer can be presented best by another question:
Is there any reader who lives outside the capital of his or her country who believes it is a waste of time and money to try to influence the policies of the government sitting in the capital? That’s where the main political power is. Well, in this period of American military, economic and cultural imperialism, Washington has become the real capital of your country, for it is there that many of the most destructive decisions affecting your life are made. It would seem to make sense, therefore, good political sense, to devote at least some of your time, energy and money to helping bring about the kind of changes you want in Washington. If that’s at all possible…
At this moment in history, those of us who live in the United States are in the best position to confront our common oppressor. The responsibility we bear, therefore, is enormous, but our forces are weak. While the current government’s undermining of the democratic process, as imperfect as it was, constitutes a growing threat to all dissenters, it also provides us with a key issue on which our rulers are extremely vulnerable. As the explosion of governmental hypocrisy clearly attests, democracy remains the American people’s favorite virtue. It is on this crucial issue, with its broad ramifications for government policy in America and around the world, that we need your help.
There are many groups in the United States that are trying to defend what remains of our rapidly shrinking democracy and/or build a better, more egalitarian one. Mostly they are small, and they all lack funds. The International Endowment for Democracy (I.E.D.) wants to give people all over the world an opportunity to participate in this crucial struggle by making a donation (no matter how small) to us, which we will then distribute to some of these groups.
Apart from our small operating expenses (no I.E.D. board members are paid), all the money received will be passed on. As odd as this may sound, with this show of solidarity, people everywhere can now help themselves by helping us to help them. Maybe this doesn’t sound so odd, after all.
POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTORS should also know that we will not give money to any political party, or accept money from any organization involved in violent forms of political activity or from any foreign government.
To American readers, who don’t need our advice to donate money to their favorite progressive organizations, we only ask that you continue doing what you have been (okay, do a little more), but please forward this appeal to your friends and acquaintances, especially those who come from abroad. (Should you also want to show your support for this initiative by making a donation, of course, we won’t turn you away.)
THE SUCCESS OF OUR PROJECT depends on getting the word out to millions of people throughout the world.
So…if you approve of what we are doing and think it could be important, we urge you to send this appeal to all the people on your e-mail trees, and to the websites and blogs you visit as well as to the discussion and organizational lists to which you belong, particularly outside the US And please don’t neglect your contacts in the media.
The MoveOn organization is said to have reached between ten and twenty million Americans on behalf of Howard Dean during the 2004 presidential primaries in just this way, but ours may be the first attempt to extend this strategy to the whole world. It is certainly the first attempt to use the internet to involve the whole world in the badly needed democratization of the United States. The supremely serious nature as well as the planetary scope of our problem is what makes this approach necessary. The new technology of the internet is what makes it possible. But it still requires a little help from you to make it happen.
• See our websites -http://www.internationalendowmentfordemocracy.org http://www.iefd.org – for information on the following, much of it in OVER A DOZEN LANGUAGES.
• See our STATEMENT OF PURPOSE for a more detailed analysis of the crisis in American democracy and what we hope to achieve.
• See our PRESS RELEASE.
• See WHO WE ARE for the background and publications of the members of our Board of Directors.
• See WHERE THE MONEY GOES for our priorities and procedures in passing on funds (and, later, for how much money we received and who we gave it to).
See, too, sections on TO CONTACT US:
International Endowment for Democracy, P.O. Box 3005
Prince Street Station, New York, New York, 10012, USA.
firstname.lastname@example.org (for readers’ comments or questions)
PRESIDENT OF THE I.E.D.
Prof. Bertell Ollman
Dept. of Politics, NYU
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE I.E.D.
Prof. Michael Brown
(former Chair) Dept. of Sociology, Northeastern Univ.
Prof. Barbara Foley
Dept. of English, Rutgers Univ. (Newark)
Prof. Emeritus John Manley
(former Chair) Dept. of Political Science, Stanford Univ.
If you wish to be kept informed of later developments in our project (in English), please send us your name and country by e-mail to email@example.com with “mailing list” in the subject line.
Copyright (c) International Endowment for Democracy 2006.
All rights reserved. Site launch: March 2006.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE VERSIONS