An open space for global conversation
Great thanks to Gisele Theriault for offering this discussion thread as a hosted dialogue!
A New Democracy
Public servants are just civil servants that we elect because we are giving them such an important job.
Our current forms of democracy are old and were designed when communication was much more difficult and many people were not well-educated. Modern life has different challenges than in the past. Existing political parties are so well-entrenched and well-funded that for a new party to form is extremely difficult if not impossible.
The direct democracy I experienced in camp, and some versions that developed in other places, seemed to lead to "non-leaders" becoming even more entrenched because there were no elections. The proposal system was unwieldy with some really good suggestions not making it to the head of the line while other much less consequential ones would get debated for a half an hour. Direct democracy does not seem like a viable solution on a larger scale.
Recalling that our elected representative are really our employees, what kind of system could we design that would keep power in the hands of the people? What decisions should be made more directly by the people and which should we designate to public servants?
Is there a means to combine paper ballots and electronic voting systems using one or the other depending on the issue?
Without going too deeply into constitutions, in layperson terms, what kind of rights could protect us from the tyranny of politicians? Should we even have parties? How can we keep money out of politics? Would the Supreme Court decide who was right in cases where someone believes their constitutional rights have been breached? If the people decide in some way how do we prevent the tyranny of the majority? What about police and military? How can they be controlled?
Assuming we want the United States, or in my case Canada, to remain countries, what kind of system can we envision?
"What decisions should be made more directly by the people and which should we designate to public servants?"
When people are contributors first and consumers second, governance is necessarily put in better perspective and proportion. They invest so much attention, energy and time into their contributions, and contribute so much, that what they need/want from governance is less. Therefore, your question cannot be answered well until our collective fate as users of fuels (oil addicts, as W said) becomes more clear.
In the interim, I counsel relying on what's most reliable, to the best of our knowledge.
Therefore, your question cannot be answered well until our collective fate as users of fuels (oil addicts, as W said) becomes more clear.
So we have no responsibility for our collective fate. There is nothing we can do so lets just sit back and wait. I might as well consume as much as I can and have fun while I wait. If a limited number of people can survive, and everyone else must die, then I want my family and I to survive. Maybe that is why the President is warring. Maybe your President is setting us up to be the survivors so I should trust him.
There isn't enough left for them. It's a shame, but if it's me or them, I want to survive.
There is nothing I can do so the more people the military kills off the better our chance of survival. Thank-goodness we have such a powerful military! That's it, I'm a convert. We need more military spending. We need more drones. The police are going to need a lot of power too because we have a lot of immigrants with relatives in other countries. They will be upset when their relatives die-off so we may need to kill them here too. We are going to have to get rid of a lot of people. We can blow up Mexico to make it harder for people to get here from South America.
Good thing we have been destablizing the Middle East. We do need to bomb Iran, Pakistan too. We are going to have to try destroying all the nuclear weapons we can (except yours). Russia is a problem but they are in the north too so they aren't as much of a danger to us. They don't need Canada. The US will take Canada of course. But we know we can't beat you so it will be a soft takeover.
Wow, thanks, now I really understand this "North American Security Perimeter" deal.
It's time to get real and support the military!
It appears I pushed a button I didn't know you have. On this site, I have posted a lot about responsibility and opportunity we all have, wherever we live.
What and how we consume (depend) is a new phenomenon (~90 years old), old enough to be all that most of us have known. It is also unsustainable; the unknown is when we must involuntarily stop doing what we're doing. As long as that remains unknown, voluntary moves to other reliances (solar energy & the web of life) are available. It's hard to make them while trying to arrange a collective move that some will adore and some will abhor. One has to choose between them and invest accordingly.
"One has to choose between them and invest accordingly."
That's too black & white. If one does not feel rushed, one may invest portions in both, of course.
I don't think enough people are going to stop consuming voluntarily to stop environmental destruction. I think we are going to have to gain control of government to stop things on a large enough scale for many humans to survive. This thread was about how to improve democracy. I believe that in a true democracy people together would choose to stop environmental destruction just as citizens in Oregon are choosing to try to save the salmon at their end. Many people are fighting to save the environment but are being stopped by corporations who have control of the government. If enough of us wanted to take back control we could do it.
It seems that some of you think there are only two choices. The government we have now, or chaos. If those are the only two choices then I don't believe there is any point in fighting what's to come.I think the best we could hope for would be human survival in North America and Russia but I don't think we will have evolved enough to create a utopian society. If we go back to tribal we will do what tribes did in the past. Fight over resources.
If chaos is coming I don't believe a lovely cooperative society will rise from the ashes. My cousin has a farm in Ormstown raising beef cattle. They also have dairy cows and chickens for personal use. My cousin knows how to start yogurt. I bake from scratch (without a bread machine lol). I sew and I know how to weave on a loom. My aunt knits and has a spinning-wheel. Most of the men in the family know how to build. Most are also mechanical and could make waterwheels and windmills for energy and to grind grain. If the farm is too insecure then we have land in the Laurentians. At both locations we have access to fresh water, wood and weapons.
I have cousins that grew up in a tar paper shack with no running water, 12 people in two rooms. My uncle made triple level bunk-beds. We know which berries are safe to eat, we know how to cook dandelion greens and roots etc. We even know how to make wine. We already preserve summer harvests in mason jars. My grandfather used to kill a deer in the fall for meat for the winter. It had to be hung in a cold "house" because they didn't have refrigeration. The cold house contained ice that was preserved all summer. None of this vegan stuff if you want to eat in the winter (unless you stay south). Root vegetables are pretty sorry looking by spring and you are a long ways from harvest.
We can tap maple-trees for syrup. My brother-in-law and nephew have made 4 canoes. We can trap hares and shoot ducks. We can prepare hides for fur or leather. Collectively we know how to survive even if most of us live in the city now.
If some of you think within 50 years we will be living in a utopian society of small peaceful tribes I won't convince you otherwise. If you think farm families are going to welcome "new-age" city-folk with no connections think again. Unless you have something of concrete value to offer it won't happen. People who have stocks of pharmaceuticals, doctors and medical equipment would be useful so we would accept them. We would accept extended family. That's about all we could absorb. We wouldn't need "dumb" labor that has to be looked after. We have kids for that.
The communities are small so we would band together to protect what we have. We aren't going to be teaching hoards of people how to survive off the land. We won't be having interviews to see who can do what. Not to be mean, but because this kind of survival is tough. We would already have our own people who are too young, too old, or too sick to look after. Fumble-fingered newbies would be too much of a burden. Besides, how would we choose which ones to rescue?
If civilization collapses those of us who already know how will head for the mountains. Wealthy people will support their security people and servants through control of what resources are left. Everyone else will sink or swim.
So basically, I think it would be in everyone's best interests if people living in democracies took the trouble to overthrow their governments and at least try to stop the destruction of the planet beyond personally dropping consumption and telling others to do the same. It's not like people haven't already been doing that for the past 50 years. So far, the technique seems to be failing.
Chaos is not necessarily bad, Giselle. The idea that chaos and order are a yin/yang could lead us to a much better order than the one that exists now, but we cannot get there from here. The descending economy will strangle everyone slowly - but change will mean doing things in many ways to see what works. Nature has a build-in redundancy, our strive for efficiency has usurped many good options and co-opted them into this one-size-fits-all package we have now..
Given that we keep democracy - education will be the key. We have to start unlearning the truths that have been fed to us by MSM in all forms. The idea that we should react like a scripted Hollywood movie is bizarre at best. They change the script to give the outcome that is desired by the 1% - we really live in a myth. Informed consent will go a long way.
I like the description of how your family has prepped. Everybody doing this with different approaches would ensure a diversity of attack. But it seems that you have a tribal system already outlined within the family, or do people vote at the dinner table? Self-assembly is a first principle of emergent behavior - we should look to the bees and other hive animals for example. Anyone want to analyze the social structure of the Borg?
How can we "keep democracy" when we've never had one, lemme?
Gisele is right, we have to take control of government and stop letting government control us.
That can't be done by voting for representatives.
The dictionary definition of democracy is power vested in the hands of the people. That has never been the situation in the US. Our Constitution vested power in the wealthy--it established a plutocracy, not a democracy. We theoretically have power only for a brief moment when we cast our votes to delegate our power to representatives. But the moment we cast that ballot, our job is done and they take over. And they don't listen to us or care about us. Well, the few good ones listen and care, but they're part of a system that doesn't, so there isn't much they can do. A few gestures and tokens here and there, expressions of sympathy perhaps, but they have no real power.
I myself have rejected opportunities to become part of management when I was a worker, and I know many other people who have done the same. It puts you on the other side of a conflict. It's treason. Sure, it has many rewards, but honest people won't do it.
I'm with you Mark - i don't believe in democracy and don't think what we have is at all functional. I also do not work for the system and anything that it represents. I was trying to keep to Giselle's statement about the thread being reforming democracy.
Oops, you're right, lemme. I'm totally off topic. To reform democracy first we'd have to have one. Reforms to our current undemocratic system can't be called reforming democracy. And if you reform plutocracy, you just get a reformed plutocracy, not a democracy. It's like reforming slavery instead of abolishing it. The slaves get treated better, but they're still slaves. So they can be sold down the river any time their owner wants to sell them, similar to the way our jobs were outsourced. They weren't our jobs. We competed for them, we worked at them, and we got paid for doing them, but the jobs were owned by the corporations and they had the right to take them away, which they did.
No prep. It's just the way country families are. In Quebec the church was very strong. Women had as many babies as they could. 8 to 14 kids was the norm. You have to learn to live off the land. This is just stuff we know and do. It's very gender specific. Women know women things and men know men things and that's the way it has to be for practical reasons. In my generation about half of us know all the old ways between us.
I am the first generation born in a city. My daughter and her cousins are losing it but they do know some stuff and they do camp up north in the summer.
I know that good can come of chaos, but so can bad. I don't believe that chaos is ineviable so we might as well just sit down and wait. I believe we should be trying every avenue not just insisting that chaos is the only way so we might as well hurry it up.I don't thing the majority of people are anywhere near being enlightened enough to blossom into happy little consensus-driven groups. While we are trying to get the gangs and warriors and religious extremists to agree with us I think it would be a good thing to work on how to improve democracy.
If we were evolved enough as human beings maybe government would not be needed, for we would regulate ourselves responsibly with consideration and respect for others. Our current party system leeads to frustrations when party line does not agree with individual or group conscience, and local government is open to abuse when money or influence affects decisions. Two things we are not doing which I feel we should do is to project the effects of policies several generations into the future to avoid causing problems for future generations. The other is to accord the natural world legal rights equal to those we give ourselves, our future depend on a healthy and functioning natural world
The fish in Oregon have 1987 water rights issued by the state. The year of issue is key to when water runs low - the junior rights get cut off while the senior rights keep going. BTW - salmon die after they spawn, they don't return to the ocean. Makes me wonder why there is so much push to save the salmon by removing the dams.
What we need is a horizontal system rather than a vertical system. People have to have the latitude to make decisions for themselves and the good grace to listen to council and make good decisions. It all comes back to education - what we 'know' is hardly what is real because it is filtered through a whole lot of disinformation.
Is there a mechanism to question our assumptions? We assume that we know, but when all the stakeholders are assembled, it's usually the quiet churchmouse in the back of the room, who gets pushed to speak and has a story that rings of truth, from a different perspective than the one that the majority has pushed through. If we had a way of allowing each of our say to be weighted by our formal experience and credentials, then we would be more open to contrasting views and could tease reality from the cognitive dissonance.
But now, they tell us and we have to believe. I was listening to some dude from Heritage foundation talking about N. Korea - nothing he said was anything i could substantiate, but the story he weaved was awful - and likely not true. But shout it out long enough and loud enough and people believe it. So how do we create a new story that Occupies peoples creatively to join us in creating a different form of governance.
I think we should consider tribal governance in addition to a voting system. We know who has earned our respect - let those people be empowered in their own fields to run without the constricted boundaries.