We have neglected democracy. Decisions should be made by the public with the interests of the whole as a guiding principle. The essence of democracy is that each and every person has equal say on the issues facing society, and equal influence on them. The only way to deal with this is to move the power, that has been concentrated to a few people, back to the public.
One vote per person, it’s that simple. This rule must apply for all areas of society, in economics as well as politics.
Power to the People
In the political arena we must limit the influence of party power, but power has been concentrating into small and powerful groups within the political parties. The power must be dispersed, for example by implementing individual candidates and randomization.
- Further reading: Alda’s proposal for democratic structures within political parties (only in Icelandic).
- Further reading: Alda’s proposal to The Constitutional Council, regarding the constitution.
Big decisions, such as the budget for a local government, can be taken by a representative assembly of the public, something that has been implemented successfully abroad. Equality is the basis of democracy and therefore we must make sure that power is distributed to individuals regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender orientation, race, nationality, physical abilities etc.
Currently most companies are not democratic – their employees have little or no say about the way they are run, and employees usually don’t own the companies, except in some cases they might have a very small stake in them.
To increase people’s quality of life, they must get a bigger say on matters regarding their own lives. Democratic companies are one way towards that goal.
Democratic companies are communities of people working together willingly towards shared economical, social and cultural needs, but doing so through a company whose ownership they share.
Democratic companies are in most ways similar to the companies we have now in Iceland, except that they are governed in a democratic fashion and their ownership is mutual. The main difference is that in democratic companies the owners are the employees themselves and it is also they who make all the biggest decisions regarding the future of the company and the way its run. The decisions are made through a democratic process where each employee has one vote each regardless of what exactly his role in the company is.
- Further reading on democratic companies (only in Icelandic).
- Alda’s parliamentary resolution about democratic companies can be found here (only in Icelandic).
Social Banking System
All stock trading and financial transactions aimed solely at investment return will be in the past. Companies pay rental tax that goes towards the funding of companies and innovation. Rental taxes are distributed to communities based on their population. There democratic and professional banking institutions receive the money and distribute grants for commercial operations. Grant applications that will create jobs will get priority.
In the curriculum for kindergarten, elementary school and high school it is assumed that children will “learn democracy be learning about democracy in a democracy.” In the spirit of this it is Alda’s goal that direct democracy is put into practice within Icelandic schools, as an active force in the structure and implementation of school work. Democratic school work can take many different forms and it is therefore important to create space and freedom to develop and cultivate different approaches. Within the many schools that operate in Iceland there should be room for many different methods, many solutions to problems, and different forms of governance. The main principle should be that all those who take part in the school work have direct access to democratic decision-making processes and democratic participation processes when decisions are made about issues that concern their interests. Examples of stakeholders in this include students, teachers, other staff, parents and representatives of the local community. Democratic schools are meant to empower groups and individuals towards greater independence and greater democratic participation. The educational system should be from everybody for everybody, for everybody.
Cooperation and Contemplation for the Good of Society
Alda is a co-operation forum and an idea workshop for a better society. The work of the association is open to all and is based on real democracy. All ideas and tasks that the association works on are done according to the principles of transparency and an open forum.
Shorter work hours – Fair pay
Alda aims to abolish inequality of wages, and to shorten labour time. Today wage difference can be as much as 500 to 1. In an economic democracy one would expect no higher wage difference than about 9 to 1. Working people would also be able to choose between shorter working hours or more pay because there would no longer be significant pressure to work as long as possible for as little as possible. The ultimate objective is a sustainable economy founded on equality, but not infinite acquisition of wealth and wasteful uses of resources for the purposes of a chosen few.