Real democracy.

This news really brightened my day!

Or, perhaps I should have written that sub-heading, “Adding a gloss to what are mostly bright days!”.

What on earth am I rabbeting on about?

From time to time on Learning from Dogs I have touched on the topic of democracy.  The most recent post of any relevance was on the 27th January this year in a post called Unconditional love.  In essence that blog post was recording an email exchange between Martin Lack, Chris Snuggs and Patrice Ayme. Let me reproduce a part of that ‘discussion’:

Paul: Chris/Martin, To my way of thinking, there is a more fundamental issue at work. That is the corrupting effect of power. I’m certain you know the famous saying. Thus whatever fine motives propel a person to enter politics, that person seems unable to avoid the call of power and its corrupting effect. The only hope is that key countries, and none so key as the USA, evolve a better, more representative, political process. Otherwise, I fear for the coming years.

Patrice: I agree with Paul 100%. I saw the call of power. Unimaginable. People just get insane. There are also filtering systems to insure they get that way (it starts right away with one week retreats in extremely posh resorts; does not matter if you are capitalist, socialist, blueist, reddist, ecologist, independentist, etc.).

Chris: Agreed. It has been clear time and time again throughout history. Well, so much is obvious, but WHAT TO DO about it?

A) We must end the practice of having career politicians: you serve a maximum of TEN years, at the end of which you go.

B) Inherited wealth allowing the building up of immensely powerful family dynasties over generations must be ended. It is simply untenable. The rich-poor gap is getting obscene everywhere, and money is of course power. My “Abolish inheritance” idea will be wildly unpopular because we are naturally acquisitive and “greedy” and of course would hit those with most to lose who also therefore have the most power.

Patrice:  With all due respect, Chris and Martin sound rather naïve… Huge wealth and power is where it’s at. And it attracts to politics first, foremost, and soon uniquely, those it attracts most, namely the basest sort.

Without in any way of knowing in a reliable manner, as in statistically reliable, the attitudes of folk, nonetheless there is no question that a huge number of the ordinary folk that live around us here in Merlin, Joesephine County, Oregon and others that one meets in the course of being ‘out and about’ are worried; frequently deeply worried.

Worried about the “Huge wealth and power ..” and the gross inequalities that flow from that.

So with that in mind, consider the pleasant surprise offered me when I read the day’s roundup from the Permaculture Research Institute email distribution and it included:

The Missing Part of the Internet – Collaborative Decision-Making Made Easy with Loomio

The world needs a better way to make decisions together

“The new era of digital democracy is one source of hope. New formats for web-based participation, like Loomio, and enablers of grassroots engagement… are flourishing.” —The Huffington Post

Democracy isn’t just about politics — it’s people getting together and deciding how things should be. It’s a skill we can practice with people wherever we are: in our workplaces, our schools, and our communities.

Loomio is a user-friendly tool for collaborative decision-making: not majority-rules polling, but actually coming up with solutions that work for everyone. We’re a small team in New Zealand, and we’ve built a prototype that people are already doing great things with. Now we’re crowdfunding so we can build the real thing: a new tool for truly inclusive decision-making.

It was but a hop and a skip to go to the Loomio website and read:

The world needs a better way to make decisions together.

Help us build it.

Loomio is free and open software for anyone, anywhere, to participate in decisions that affect them

and then with a further mouse-click on the Crowdfunding link to read:

THE WORLD NEEDS A BETTER WAY TO MAKE DECISIONS TOGETHER.

Democracy isn’t just about politics – it’s people getting together and deciding how things should be. It’s a skill we can practice with people wherever we are: in our workplaces, our schools, and our communities.

Loomio is a user-friendly tool for collaborative decision-making: not majority-rules polling, but actually coming up with solutions that work for everyone. We’re a small team in New Zealand, and we’ve built a prototype that people are already doing great things with. Now we’re crowdfunding so we can build the real thing: a new tool for truly inclusive decision-making.

At this point, I should declare an involvement.  Jean and I decided to donate a modest amount.  Thus it is not from an impartial position that I close today’s post with the following video.  Bet you will be impressed!

If you enjoyed that video then do watch the following TED Talk.

Published on Aug 4, 2013

Ben Knight is part of a cooperative social enterprise building Loomio, an online tool for collaborative decision-making being used by thousands of people in more than 20 countries. Ben will be picking through ideas around how technology can enable everyday democracy.

This could be a most interesting development!

6 thoughts on “Real democracy.

    1. In general I agree with the Swiss model of referenda – provided that there is a streamlined way of doing it reasonably economically. Referenda can be very expensive, particularly with an apathetic voting public. I would argue that Switzerland’s economic superiority is much more rooted in their history, high taxation and high public spending looking after their citizens and their country, than in their fondenss for referenda.

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      1. Alina, thank you for your reply and welcome to this place. I’m sure I join many others in wishing you and your team much success with this exciting development.

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  1. Alina: The state spending to GDP, 32% is roughly half that of France (57%). So high public spending is not like it. Accordingly, relative to France, or even Germany, Swiss taxes are low.

    The Swiss, as it is, have referenda every 3 to 4 months. Those referenda have real impacts. For example on how, and how much, the CEO class can be paid, or for forcing banks to have seven (7) times the reserves used in the USA or EU, or for outlawing speculative real estate (initiative Weber), etc. It’s fascinating to watch.

    Trichet, ex head of the ECB, believes the same thing as me: laws from the People have made the Swiss economy much smarter than any other.

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    1. Patrice, your conclusion about Switzerland presumably offers a powerful endorsement of any means by which the citizens of other countries could come together in a truly representative manner? Specifically, the sort of technology that Loomio represents?

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      1. The Swiss do it the old fashion way. The Americans are voting on Tuesday, preferably with giant lines in workers’ area, so that the working class can’t vote.

        To change things in the USA, voting should happen on Sunday, first of all. The citizens’ involvement can proceed from there. But of course, there is will to the opposite.
        Democrats just lost a by-election for Congress. Their candidate? A super plutocrat, Alex Sink. She lost to a Republican plutocrat.

        I don’t know/care that much about Loomio, or other capitalist outfits: the French government has already instituted a part Internet voting system overseas (I took part in it). It works.

        What does not work is the will to switch to direct democracy from the oligarchic system.
        PA

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