Introductory information

Dear friends,

the text you are now having in front of you is intended to give you concise and comprehensive information about the Democratic Club (Dk). It will explain to you, if you are willing to read it, the nature and guiding principles of the Club as well as the meaning and purpose of its existence. This paper will point out its problems and conditions under which the Club operates, including the rights and duties connected with membership, and points of contact for those who are interested in joining the Club.

The Democratic Club is a civic association (voluntary social organization) and has its own registered status. Since its focus is the degree and extent of democratism in society’s structure, it is a political organization. However at the same time it stands apart from political parties. It is not a party organization: the Club does not compete with any political party nor it strives to substitute for any, and it is not related to any political party. As it concentrates on the level of democratism in society and doesn’t promote any special interests (e.g., economic, social, cultural or ecological), it cannot be associated with the left, right, or the middle of the political spectrum. That’s why membership in Dk is compatible with membership in any political party of a democratic character. It doesn’t prohibit a member of Dk from joining any party and a member of such party can become a member of Dk.

The Democratic Club is not a new organization. It was founded as early as 1948 in opposition to the destruction of democracy in Czechoslovakia. In 1990 the Club’s principles were evaluated and it was concluded that it continues to be relevant. Thus it has become a legal organization.

The Democratic Club is based on the belief that democracy is the most suitable form of life in a society. It is government formed by a group of human individuals living on a certain territory. These individuals are equal to one another in relation to public power, regardless of sex, race, language, nationality, origin, profession, property, social standing, education, religion or political views. The Club deems as unacceptable to exclude anyone, or on the other hand to promote certain social groups adhering to specific ideological positions. This basic conviction of the Democratic Club has been introduced in its Standpoints, on the membership application form and on the member card.
This ideological point of departure is based on the recognition that, in everyday life, democratic values are always endangered by actions, proposals and regulations that weaken and sometimes even threaten the very existence of democracy. These values may be acknowledged by all political parties, movements or organizations, yet their actual aim and specific mission may be promoting their special interests, such as economic, social, cultural, ecological, national, and territorial. Democratic institutions are then understood as welcome means for attaining these interests, but the very values of democratism receive only marginal interest. It is understandable; the society cannot survive if it is based only on democratic governance without economic, social and other supports. At the same time, it cannot thrive without democracy; it cannot satisfy the needs of its inhabitants. Without democracy, society cannot thrive in any field of life. For example, we have only to think of oppressive conditions dictatorial regimes impose upon their helpless people.

It is therefore necessary for a political system to be fulfilled with a subject that does not merely look at what is being achieved in politics, but especially how democratically it is being carried out. Here lies the idea and also the main mission of the Democratic Club: not to push through some special interests, but to ensure that these interests are enacted in a democratic way, without the enforcement of antidemocratic and anti-humanist elements. However, it cannot ignore such special interests, which realization would lead to the worsening the societal quality of life and as a consequence to the weakening of the relation of citizens to the democracy.

We identify democratism with a complex of elements characteristic of democracy. As democracy is an objective reality, in an accomplished democracy every single element of democratism is objective reality. Objective is compound of elements, which by their size, composition and intensity indicate the level of democratism in the society and at the same time the stage of development of democracy. This level is important because it can be also used as one of the criteria by which to distinguish democratic states from non-democratic countries, as some elements of democratism exist in all societies, even in non-democratic ones.

A human individual who accepts and approves objectively existing democratism is at the same time a bearer of variously developed, inner, subjective principles, which form a political and moral creed of democratism. It is a belief in values which are considered desirable in relations between and among individuals and organizations themselves, as well as in their relations with society as a whole. As principles of political and moral creed it is necessary to consider the following in particular:

• equality of human individuals and from this equality of people before the law, equality of nations, races and cultures; the higher position of an individual who directs a state, region or a community may concern only a strictly defined relation as well as strictly defined time and is always based on choice;
• freedom of the individual, the nation, and the state is indispensable; it cannot be given up either for a definite or indefinite time and is limited only by the other person’s freedom; freedom is indivisible and therefore the restriction of one must be considered a restriction accepted by all;
• free access of citizens to all information about political, social and economic life of a country (as far as they are not legitimately secret);
• rule of law, just enforcement of law between people, nations and states;
• tolerance and respect towards different ethnic groups, religions and cultures;
• acceptable level of political ethic and culture on social and individual level;
• consideration towards people of present and past generations and their achievements; consideration for future generations, their lives and non-living  nature;
• justification of a lower social group to organize its own affairs without un-invited  intervention by a higher group; mission of the higher society group to help the lower group when they cannot cope on their own;
• acceptable level of ethics and political culture of all involved subjects;
• sharing the persuasion by the majority of citizens that democracy is the most suitable form of societal organization; their willingness to solve all conflicts by democratic and constitutional means, and their endeavor to be oriented in all main problems to be solved in the society.

Typical questions on which the Democratic Club concentrates are the ones concerning the problems of democratism, for example: the position of  a man and citizen in society and state as a primary political subject, and consequently the rights of man and citizen, emphasizing equality, freedom of conscience and speech and political (i.e. democratic) rights, especially active and passive suffrage, right of participation in referenda, right of assembly and petition; equality in standing of informal components of society of the same kind, equality of organizations of the same kind, especially  plurality and equality of political parties; democratic functioning of mass media; a legal state with a system of constitution and legality guarantee; an independent judicial system; working performance of diplomatic corps and electoral system; relations between nations and nationalities within the state; defense of independence and integrity of the state  and democratic principles in foreign affairs politics (sovereignty, cooperation, peaceful cohabitation).

Specific forms of activity of the Democratic Club:

• it organizes regular (usually monthly) meetings of members and friends of the Democratic Club without fixing the theme in advance, presuming that the topics will be chosen on the spot and anyone is welcome to express his/her opinions;
• it publishes a bulletin Dk-Dialog (three or four times a year and once or twice in an English version) for the internal use of the Club; Dk-Dialog contains brief news about the Club’s life and the registered (numbered) standpoints of the Democratic Club in full; it further contains discussion contributions and exchanges of opinions, and in this way it offers space for written contributions by members and friends who couldn’t take part in person;
• it prepares, arranges and ensures the edition of registered (numbered) standpoints of the Club, concerning some specific questions of democratism in social reality; for this purpose it especially watches how the demands of democratism in political life are being respected, and within the Club organizes a form of dialogue by stating questions, suggesting their solutions, and preparing the resulting standpoints.

Other forms of activity of the Democratic Club:
besides the already mentioned forms of activity which are characteristic of the Club especially compared to other organizations with similar missions, other forms of activity are provided;
• it supports research and organizes further educational activity in the problems of democratism; organizes lectures with topics fixed in advance;
• it organizes panel discussions and round tables;
• it promotes publicity and editorial activity toward correct understanding and appreciation of the value of democracy and humanity among the broadest spheres of inhabitants; for this purpose it also tries to make use of editorial means;
•   by all its activity it shows and mobilizes protests against anything  anti-democratic in the organization and functioning of the political system and, if need be regarding this purpose it co-ordinates its policy with other organizations.

Conditions, rights and duties in connection with membership in the Democratic Club:

The conditions for membership in Dk are: at least fifteen years old and handing in the member application with signature confirming assent to the ideological views of Dk.

Rights of a member of the Democratic Club:

–   A membership in Dk offers the right to participate in all member activities, the right of handing in suggestions, ideas or comments, the right to vote and be elected to the executive body of the Club, the right of participation in checking the acquired resolutions, the right to be informed and to be able to utilize the results of study and editorial activity, etc.
–   A member chooses the amount of activity in the Dk for the given term (from continuous activity down to mere expression of support for the ideas of Dk and mere membership).
–    If a member decides on active participation, though perhaps only occasional, he/she will consult with an accredited representative of the Club and choose his/her activity of (e.g., organizing, administrative, informative, study, publishing, preparing political standpoints, etc.).
–    The Democratic Club will support its members in case their political rights should be violated by political means corresponding with its nature.

Duties of members of Dk are given in the statutes of the Club and they cannot be altered in any way. The statutes represent the keeping of standpoints, sticking to the adopted resolutions of the Club’s organizations, fulfilling adopted tasks, and correctly paying member fees in timely fashion. Every member fixes the rate of the fee by himself/herself. The minimal rate of the member fee is set by the executive council of the Club.

Prague, March 2014                                       Executive Council of the Democratic Club

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