A one day debate on Facebook within the FNRP (the so-called resistance of Honduras) in April this year leaves me with mixed feelings. It seems clear that they desperately want participatory democracy, and reject the traditional style of politics in the Americas, the strong-man style of caudillismo. That is very good.
However, it also seems that for all their desires and energy (demonstrated in demonstrations the past year), they seem not to know where to begin. How to do it. Where to start. What to do. And that is tragic.
They dream of participatory democracy, but they appear not to know how to create it. They are lucky, though. Learning how is easy. They already have the hardest part taken care of: The will to do it.
It would be very good for Honduras if the FNRP would get organized in a participatory democratic way. Broad based political movements are important, as we have seen in Sweden for instance, with several parties that are so-called popular movements (“folkrörelser”), with a bottom up decision making process. That seems to be exactly what several of the participants in the debate want for Honduras, without really knowing that they don’t have to re-invent participatory democracy. It has existed for thousands of years.
A while ago I wrote a page on Democracy for Dummies, with the bare basics. It is not rocket science, all it takes is that the members commit to a democratic process, and write statutes or bylaws that reflect what they want. (BTW, “bylaw” literally means ‘village law’ since “by” is ‘village’ in Scandinavian languages.)
What these bylaws should say is of course very important, and that is something that has to be worked on diligently. Writing the bylaws correctly is very important for the success. It is the foundation upon which the rest of the building is constructed. Once they are mature, they can call to a constituting assembly and create their organization, e.g. a party with a bottom-up structure in which the congressmen and women are answerable to the members, and not to campaign contributors.
I do hope that they manage to pull this off, because it would benefit everyone in Honduras, also the richest. Yes, those that they call “golpistas.” I know that many in the “frente” believe that the “golpistas” are their enemies, but that is just not true. The enemies of the “golpistas” are not the people, the average Joe who wants to create a more equal society and participatory democracy. No, the enemies are the populists who pretend to share these values with the people, but who really are just out to help themselves, and who would, if they succeed, destroy the chances of economical prosperity in Honduras for decades.
As someone wrote in the debate I mentioned above, this is a struggle that the Honduran people has to do. They must learn for themselves to do these things. They must study. They must reject those who come in and say “I can do that for you, just give me a mandate”. That is caudillismo. What they need is democracy, and the only ones who can bring about democracy is the “demos”, the people.
I wish them good luck, and I offer the advice to look for examples and guidance where democracy works and where there is an ancient tradition. Don’t try to learn from your mistakes, you won’t live long enough to make them all. Learn from the experience of other peoples instead!