"We don't live in a democracy," says Walter Mosley. But the author and activist has a proposal for getting there. The man behind the popular Easy Rawlins mystery books (including Devil in a Blue Dress), and novels including the recent The Tempest Tales and the forthcoming The Right Mistake is also an outspoken political thinker. His provocative 2006 book-length essay Life Out of Context suggested, among other things, that African Americans abandon the Democratic Party and wield power by forming their own voting bloc.
At his Thu., Oct. 16, Cohen & Grigsby Trust Presents talk at the Byham Theater -- in part a fund-raiser for the Cave Canem Foundation for African-American poets -- Mosley plans to read from his fiction. But he says he'll gladly talk politics, too, including his fledgling Democracy Initiative (www.democracyinitiative.com). He spoke with CP from his home in New York.
What kind of government do we have?
We live in an oligarchy. The oligarchy is run by three, four, five hundred international corporations, or a cartel. They have working for them at least 25, 30 thousand of the 44,000 lobbyists that make a living in Washington, D.C. Those people visit our congresspersons every day. They take them out to dinner, they write their laws for them, they hire them when they're finished being congresspersons.
What's wrong with our political discourse?
We have to get over the way they fool us into hating each other. I hate you because you're anti-abortion; you hate me because I'm pro-choice, or whatever. But listen: We both still have kids. We're both still getting old in a country where we can't afford housing, where we don't make a living wage. We still don't have medical insurance for everybody. We still live in a world that is made more and more complex and more and more difficult by issues having to do with the people who own everything.
What's the Democracy Initiative?
I've been trying to start a Web site where people can do four things. No. 1, you identify your major political interest and your secondary political interest. No. 2, you join political groups that it will give you access to, and it will give you power to form your own special-interest network locally. Third, we will have a database to give you an idea [about] how to use your political power in a democratic way.
And No. 4 -- and this is the only thing that really interests me -- let's say you and I are diametrically opposed. Let's say you believe women have the right to have abortions and I am anti-abortion. However, we have secondary interests: Both of us are interested in a living wage. Another person makes a blind call to everybody on the Web site, saying everybody who believes in a living wage, we have to take this political action on this day. You and I work together, even though we're diametrically opposed. Because only those things we have in common are mentioned, never those things we disagree about.
That's real democracy. And it's a real positive democracy for working people.
Don't Web-based groups now [like MoveOn], follow that --
No. The problem is they always end up being either Democrats or Republicans.
Does it matter who wins in November?
I understand why everybody wants Obama over McCain; it's almost urgent that he get elected. However, that's not going to make America more democratic. That's not going to change the structure of the Congress, the structure of the lobbyists, and the structure of the international corporations. And that's what we need.
Walter Mosley 7:30 p.m. Thu., Oct. 16. Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $10-25. 412-456-6666