An open space for global conversation
"Representing all voices continually and repeatedly." This was a phrase I tossed out in an email a few days back and it just came flying back like a boomerang. It does seem to be at the core of this unfolding experiment in democracy called Occupy. I extracted this blog from one of my replies within a spirited email conversation regarding the proposed National General Assembly for July 4, 2012 in Philadelphia, PA and whether or not a system of delegates is Paleozoic and we should adopt governance by only direct popular vote.
I continually gravitate toward the reflection that any system defaults to the consciousness driving it. Given the current consciousness that splits itself between desire for freedom vs desire for control, even between those that advocate "freedom", I'm not sure our society is ready to pull off honest popular representation. I'm not saying we oughtn't go for it. In principle, I feel we definitely should.
Should there be no delegates at all for any purpose? If I may tangle metaphors, my sense is that might be throwing out the baby with the bathwater and tossing people who either can't or don't want to swim—yet—into the deep end of the ocean. The biggest mistake we can make is believing everyone thinks like we do, wants what we want or has the capacity, willingness and/or desire to interact at the levels we do. Part of respecting diversity is honoring different people's inclinations—for "better" or "worse". Look at our occupy movement. What percent of people are driving the energy vs those riding the energy vs those trying to get out of the way vs those trying to squelch it and every variation in between. Everyone has their role to play and each role brings its own perspective to the mix.
Many assert that this movement is bigger than 100% of the constituents and has a life of its own. And, in many respects, it's a process that is in its infancy. The generations old enough occupy are the first to enter the present playing field. We don't have the rules to the game yet. We're not even sure what kind of ball we'll use, or if there's going to be a ball at all.
As long as there are forces intent on fixing an outcome, even popular vote counts find their way into gerrymandering or "creative" vote tallies (Leonardo Di Bush). I'm an idealist at heart, though I also am forced to drink the bitter draft of that which pours forth from our current relational commons. I say forced because those of us that allegedly represent the ideal, are not the only ones in play producing outcomes. AND yes, the better (more clear, thought out and thorough) the system design, the better we can represent the whole and safeguard against undue influencers that seek to distort.
Perfecting the function of a system design is always an ongoing progressive process of rolling out version after version, evolving as we evolve. Democracy 1.0 was rolled out 235 years ago. As someone mentioned, according to Jefferson, Democracy version 2.0 is over 200 years late. Which, by the way, is a product primarily born of consciousness not the system. The original system had, and still has, ample provision for self-correction. The consciousness driving the system took a healing correction toward equality via Democracy version 1.14, the 14th amendment, and, instead, forged it into a poison arrow that killed equality. Of course, there are arguments that say the 14th was a Trojan horse, again, less than integrous consciousness infecting a democratic system relying on honor to reamain intact.
In as much as we focus on creating the best mousetrap to catch true democracy by constructing a system of optimal flow of representation, there needs to be at least as much attention on cultivating the consciousness that will support and uphold those structures. Perhaps there already exists a lexicon that describes 3 functional layers of a system (in simplistic roughed-in form):
The last, innerstructure, is the aspect over which we have the least, if any, control. This is the element on which civilizations and empires rise and fall. It is also the territory in which are, paradoxically, most violently divided and most intrinsically connected. It seems that the heart and soul of this Occupy movement recognizes our intrinsic connection, hence the commons. I think this is the fertile field in which many of our questions and quandries will find illumination. Let's continue to cultivate this field.