Democracy, Demos Kratos, power to the people as we all know, is what is being politicked in LA. In a deeply individualistic culture, in a city with a receding public life, voters are being called to decide on the future of one of the most important cities in the world. Though charisma, persona, experience, conviction, and leadership are what are on the ballot, LA residents are truly being called to the polls to further define California democracy, a complex entity that must be improved in order to achieve peace, justice, and a more humane city.
In houselessness, or homelessness, a crisis in Los Angeles? A crisis is a concept with a very specific definition. A crisis is a time of “intense difficulty”, when a “decision needs to be made”, is what google tells us, which we will settle with. In other words, a crisis is a point in which actors, aided by a public and by spectators (let’s just say the reading public) are placed on a hot seat and must make the right decision. This decision can redress the situation. The Bhagavad Gita is one of the great texts that explores the concept of a crisis. In it Arjuna, a prince, cannot decide to fight because fighting will harm his relatives that stand opposed to him on the battlefield. Krishna explains to him that it is his dharma to fight, and that he must fight in order for certain things to happen.
So is houselessness a crisis in Los Angeles? Yes. What is it a crisis of? In a democracy, Arjuna is the demos. The hindu bow and arrow, that graces the cover of many copies of the Gita , is the demos. In other words, the Mayor is not the prince, the city is. The city has a dharma. It must fight, it must decide, like in the Gita. It is a crisis of defining democracy not solely as Joseph Schumpeter defines it, or as a process by which one votes in a member of an elite (the left, center, or right elite) but instead it is a process in which efficacy and production, and not only morality, are the reasons, the telos, the dharma of democracy, which can only come from actively and practically defining democracy as a sharing of knowledge in a system based in dignity, knowledge, and feedback.
I quote from Prof Josiah Ober, an expert in Democracy at Stanford
“Although the relationship between democracy, knowledge, and practical success is not as widely recognized by modern scholarship as it should be, it did not go unnoticed in Athens. Historians and philosophers—Herodotus and Thucydides as well as Plato and Aristotle—all discussed the distinctive Athenian processes for the collection, coordination, and codification of useful knowledge and associated them with the polis’s success.”
In other words, as Mayor of Los Angeles, this person must facilitate how the city applies its own knowledge to solving its problems, and the city must uphold the Mayor, the facilitator, to this task. If not, what we are looking at is the death of Los Angeles in every way, the death of the ability of a demographic to feel propelled by the sanity and creativity of what surrounds them and what is within them, and continually participate in a way of life that brings peace, pleasure, and prosperity, to itself.
What this election is about is saving Los Angeles from gloom, death, and quite honestly an around pessimistic worldview. For this to happen California democracy in Los Angeles must be refunded and founded to facilitate the city’s use of knowledge towards its own success.