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?
"I guess the key question is whether or not we can align around the nature of the systemic changes we stand for even if we disagree about the historical antecedents of our current plight."
We could align if we happened to stand for changes that actually affect the system(s) with the controversial history. As a veteran of another discussion on this site that stalled after revealing such disagreement, I say we would have to be lucky in order to achieve alignment. A complete understanding of a system is hard to come by if one doesn't know how it was assembled and how extensive it is.
With so many involved (and not even enough, yet), I won't hold my breath.
I agree that the question is problematic. By "assembled", are you referring to the conditions which brought the system into being? If so, we are looking at issues of creation or formation and their obvious theological and religious implications. Personally I think that religion is a key issue, but I'm aware of the likelihood of alienating people who hold to particular religious doctrines.
I referred to the fact that a system has components that come or are brought into functional relationships. Some are pre-existing, some are finely tailored and some are improvised.
Religion is an enormous -- probably the ultimate -- issue, but I didn't mean to go there. There is, indeed, much likelihood of alienating religious folks, sooner or later.
David, I read your post and have some thoughts which may or may not be relevant. I have not had time to review all the posts so if I am missing the point please excuse me. When we envision a very large movement, I think a few things are given. There will have to be a "basic" goal, one which aligns the entire movement and garners support from a majority of the population. It seems to me the most universal goal would be establishing a truly representational democracy, even though that goal will have it's detractors as well. It's hard to argue against real democracy.
Strategy evolves out of the constructive response to the systemic failures which have been engineered into our system of governance, ie: undoing the matrix. When explained in simplistic terms, this becomes fairly easy to grasp. Corporations have co-opted government, manipulated our media, taken over our elections, and as a result, we get policy that does not mirror the will of the people. Pretty simple message. There are several concrete steps which will create a more representational democracy which are all pretty easy to grasp.
I continue to believe that significant change can be won by a few million highly organized citizens. One million in D.C. for 3 weeks, supported by 2 or 3 million peoples around the country. That will require focus and a lot of networking, but given it is essentially our best if not only "tool", I hope we will all take up the task and get busy now. If we can all reach out to a few people every day, we will have enough support to effect meaningful change come this summer, I think. :-)
You knew my assessment of your plans, but followed signs of life to continue recruiting. That's harder to excuse than the fact that you, like me, didn't review all the posts in the thread. I'm in it strictly because of Ben's recent question.
Your thinking is done and your search is for bodies. I'm not with you.
David, thats fine. I hope your discussions continue to be productive. I'll carry on mine with others.
For your information John: I am an outsider (from Poland), observing the Movement (in wider, Paul Hawken's sense) since four years.
I think it is a great mistake to say "thats fine". My experience (David knows it is rather extensive) tells me Ben's question is essential to understand how the potential of Occupy is being dissipated.
The question touches the issue of integrity (the system is an integral whole) and organize millions is an utopia unless systemic meaning of integrity is shared, and obstacles on the way to it are recognized.
Anticipating David's answer: internal spiritual experience can be a subject of integration - only the inertia of consciousness rise makes us think the body and the soul/spirit belong to different worlds/systems..
well said gisele and very true ( and by the way..Happy New Year..hope 2012 is very kind to you)
If elected representatives are employees, then what do they get in return for conveying the will of the people?
In the civil democratic model, representatives are employees of the state, not of the people. What form of value should the people give to the representatives in return for their services, since remuneration by the state means that the representatives have an interest in pursuing state policy rather than the opinion of the majority?
Using the medieval hundred as an alternative model, tribute would be paid by the hundred to the representative at an agreeable level, avoiding the current problem of entrenched state policy. Since the principal function of the hundred is to resolve disputes, there would be no need for a higher court; a judicial specialist could be hired by the hundred for problematic or technical cases, leaving the resolution of ordinary matters to the ordinary procedure of the hundred, be it consensus, majority rule, or other.