Friday, February 10, 2006

Why doesn't representative democracy work?

In the literature on democracy, writers have identified several different approaches to achieving a democratic society. For our purposes here, we can make a distinction between direct democracy and representative democracy. In a direct democracy, which was approximated in classical Athens, the people themselves, through some kind of deliberative process, make the important societal decisions. In a representative democracy, which is the system we have in our modern "democracies," the will of the people is expressed indirectly, by voting for parties and candidates.

A representative democracy, in theory, is a compromise between hierarchical government and popular sovereignty. These societies are ruled from the top, through hierarchical governmental institutions, by officials who have considerable discretionary power - and in that sense these societies are hierarchically governed. But since the top officials are elected, there is some hope that their decisions will reflect popular sentiment, and be directed towards the common good. The hierarchical aspect of a representative democracy, the theory goes, provides efficiency and order, while the electoral aspect ensures democratic guidance.

However if we look at the historical experience of representative democracies, both our modern ones and going back as far the Roman Republic, we find that the actual behavior of these systems has never matched the theory. When we bring in the realities of political parties, expensive election campaigns, competing propaganda messages, hidden elite agendas, government secrecy, etc., we always end up with a system whose dynamics are quite different than those presumed in the theory of representative democracy.

Rather than a simple dynamics - involving only voters, candidates, and issues - we get a dynamics based on competing factions. Political parties compete for funding support and for voter loyalty; grassroots movements, special-interest groups, and wealthy elite factions compete amongst one another to influence public opinion and government policy, etc. This is not an equal struggle: wealthy elites, with their ability to fund campaigns - and in various ways to influence candidates, the economy, the press, and government officials - end up having a distinct advantage in the competition among factions. This was true in the Roman republic, and it is true in every so-called "democracy" today.

What we actually end up with in representative democracies is a close collusion between top political leaders and wealthy elites. It is in those elite circles that policy agendas are debated and decisions are made about which policy packages will be presented to voters. If there is strong competition between different elite factions, then we typically see that expressed as parties with different programs, and the people then have the opportunity to choose among different elite agendas. More recently, with the advent of neoliberalism and globalization, we see a growing consensus among top elites, and voters are increasingly left with an empty choice between tweedly dee and tweedly dum candidates.

There are to be sure significant differences, as regards democratic responsiveness, between governments - as for example between Switzerland and the UK, or Norway and the USA, or the USA of the 1960s vs. the USA of today. Popular sentiment does have some influence on policy, and the existence of the vote places some limits on elite designs - in some places and times more than others. But the basic pattern of top-down policy making, with elite agendas being sold to populations, is universally characteristic of representative democracies now and in the past.

Every once in a while popular sentiment raises its voice, in some kind of mass movement or wave of popular consensus, and frequently this has led to policy gains for the people vis a vis elites. This is the only way the democratic aspect of representative democracies has been able to find effective expression. In this sense we can characterize the dynamics of representative democracies as being a struggle between the people and elites, where elites routinely control the setting of policy agendas, and the people occasionally wake up and temporarily disturb those elite agendas.

In representative democracies, elites tend to push for ever-greater concentration of power in the central government. This has been clear over the course of American history, and has been dramatically evident in the short history of the EU, beginning with the Maastricht Treaty. The more power can be centralized, the easier it is for elites to pursue their agendas, and more difficult it becomes for the people to disturb those agendas. From this perspective, we can see popular struggles for democratic reforms as being an attempt to resist the ongoing elite project of power centralization. In the case of the recent No votes against the proposed EU constitution, we see a very clear example of people struggling against an elite-sponsored centralization initiative.

In the American Constitution, we find perhaps the most successful effort yet made to create a representative democracy and avoid the over-centralization of power. In the early days of the republic, power was devolved successfully downwards, with cities, counties, and states having considerable local sovereignty, and clear limits were set on the power of the federal government in Washington. But even this relatively well-crafted system succumbed incrementally to the forces of centralization, until finally today, under the neocons, even significant parts of the Constitution itself have been de facto nullified.

In envisioning a new democratic system, we might think we could do better than America's Founding Fathers, and design a representative democracy with even stronger safeguards against the centralization of power. I suggest that we would be deluding ourselves. In the compromise between hierarchical government and popular sovereignty - which is the defining characteristic of representative democracy - the tendency toward hierarchical centralization will always eventually win out. The forces pushing toward centralization - both elite pressures and legitimate concerns for efficiency - act relentlessly over time. In the contest between stone and water, the stone, no matter how strong, eventually succumbs to erosion.

At its best, representative democracy provides only a very limited version of democracy, and it always goes downhill from there, as regards responsiveness to popular sentiment. If we want to establish genuinely democratic societies, we need to look for models of governance that are not based the delegation of power to hierarchical institutions, and which enable people to participate directly in the process of setting the agendas of their societies.

16 Comments:

Blogger Chris Zumbrunn said...

The criteria that causes modern democracies to suffer from erosion is not that they are "liberal democracies" but that they are "representative democracies". I suggest you use that term instead, since it is not the liberal characteristics that cause the erosion of democracy. While todays liberal democracies are representative democracies, they could also be direct democracies and not suffer from erosion.

Yes, I think it is possible to design a system that would be a direct democracy and that would not erode. The people can delegate law making to a legislature and the people can delegate the execution of decisions to an executive government. But they must not delegate the decision making and they must not delegate responsibility.

The people do not need leaders but instead must lead through initiatives and referendum. Initiatives to give binding orders to the executive and legislature and referendum to control and confirm that work of the executive and legislature.

Since in a direct democracy it's the people that make decisions, it would always be the people that decide which issues are put to a referendum. And ministers would lead their ministries and would never attempt to lead the people or make decisions for them.

I believe hierarchical direct democracies can escape erosion if the delegation of responsibility to higher levels always stays reversible. Never delegate the final decision making and never delegate responsibility.

Ultimately every people have the government they deserve.

June 21, 2005  
Blogger Chris Zumbrunn said...

Another factor that might be a requirement when spreading a direct democracy through various hierarchical levels is a built in mechanism to protect minorities. I call that the Qualified Minority Veto.

Already on a local and national level there may be needs to protect ethnic, religious, geographic or language minorities from being overpowered by the majority. Harmonization tends to be easier to achieve on local levels and will probably need some help by design on hierarchical levels further removed from the individual.

For example in the United Nations, a qualified minority veto could one day replace the current post-world-war-II veto rights in the security council.

Certain decisions could for example require a qualified majority in order to override a qualified minority veto. If 2/3 of the nations in one world region reject a proposal then it will be blocked even if it is backed by the majority of the global voters - unless the approval exceeds 2/3 overall. Or the rule might simply be that the percentage of overall approval has to exceed the percentage of minority disapproval.

With fine tuned systems like this, I believe even a global direct democracy will be possible.

June 22, 2005  
Blogger rkm said...

to csv:

I used the term liberal democracy because that's how I've seen our systems referred to in the literarture about democracy. But since the term 'liberal' is so ambiguous, 'representative' may be better as you suggest. However, my use of 'liberal' was meant to be synonymous with 'representative'. I may edit the original post to use 'representative', although that would make this dialog look a bit confusing on the website.

Otherwise, I find your comments confusing. You claim to be talking about a "direct democracy," where the people do not "delegate decision making", and then you go on to describe a representative system, with legislatures and executives, very much like the systems we already have. You give no reason to expect that your suggested system would not erode toward greater centralization as all of our current sytems have done. I believe that it would so erode. We've had referenda, initiatives, and recall in California for years, and it has made no significant difference as regards democratic governance.

A direct democracy means that the people themselves make the laws and decisions, not legislatures. You may not believe that is workable, but that is what it means nonetheless, and that is the only kind of system, in my view, that can be truly democratic. I base this conclusion both on overwhelming historical evidence and on systems considerations.

In order for people to make the decisions, there must be some inclusive mechanism of deliberation by which they can arrive at a meaningful consensus. I believe that harmonization can be that mechanism, and I'll put up another post where we can discuss how harmonization works. For now, I'll simply mention that it is a face-to-face process, which implies that the democratic process of decision-making must be focused at the local level.

I very much disagree with the claim that "every people have the government they deserve." We are born into a system, and seldom is there an opportunity to change it. Many of the world's governments have been imposed from the outside, by either conquest or intrigue. Do the people of Iraq deserve what is being currently imposed on them?

June 24, 2005  
Blogger Chris Zumbrunn said...

I agree with you that a representative democracy can not at the same time be a direct democracy.

I agree with you that a representative democracy will always erode.

We agree that a direct democracy, by definition, does not erode?

I claim that the system I'm describing is not a representative democracy.

I claim that it is possible to create a system that delegates the work over various levels from local to global without delegating power.

You say direct democracy means that the people themselves make the laws and decisions, not legislatures. I say it depends on your definition of "make". The system has to put the people in "control". The members of the legislature should be delegats and not representatives. They should have no power to decide. They receive drafts of legislation from the people, they should then "harmonize" these different drafts and forward the results for decisions by the people. These decisions by the people are then executed by the executive.

In representative democracies, it is the executives that lead and drive the legislative agenda and it is the legislatures that control that process - and they have the military at their disposal as the ultimate reinforcement.

These powers have to be taken away from executives and legislatures. The people must lead the executive, control the legislature and be the military.

If we can come up with a system that truly enforces these principles, then direct democracy can coexist with hierarchy!

You say that you... very much disagree with the claim that "every people have the government they deserve.". I said ultimately they will.

Do the people of Iraq deserve what is being currently imposed on them? No, they don't. The situation in Irak is one where seven wrongs still do not make a right. But ultimately, they will have the government they deserve. If they do not find a way of building a strong understanding for the need of harmonization that is deeply rooted in their local communities then it will not be the one we would like them to have.

If people have a perfect system in place that ensures their direct democratic control, they will also have the power to destroy it, should they choose to do so. Ultimately, they have the system they deserve. That means we have to educate people and people have to be willing to make their contribution for the system to work. Do the people deserve a perfect system if they are not willing to make their contribution?

June 25, 2005  
Blogger Chris Zumbrunn said...

Richard wrote: We are born into a system, and seldom is there an opportunity to change it. Many of the world's governments have been imposed from the outside, by either conquest or intrigue.

You are correct that in these cases it is unfair to say that they have the government that they deserve.

I meant the statement in a way that looks at the big picture without focusing on any specific point in time. If we would say "We the people" have the government we deserve then that would mean several things:

- It would include the advantages and disadvantages that we inherited from our ancestors.

- It would mean that it is worth while to work towards improvements even if we as individuals might not be able to see much of the benefits during our life time.

- But it also would mean that any achievements gained will be quickly lost if "We the people" become complacent.

And it would also mean that it will require the hard work of the people and is not something that can be handed to them by some charismatic individual.

June 25, 2005  
Blogger Chris Zumbrunn said...

Richard wrote: You give no reason to expect that your suggested system would not erode toward greater centralization as all of our current sytems have done. I believe that it would so erode. We've had referenda, initiatives, and recall in California for years, and it has made no significant difference as regards democratic governance.

Yesterday I wrote: We agree that a direct democracy, by definition, does not erode?

What I meant is, direct democracy is only sustainable in its absolut form. If the sovereignty of the people is compromised then it will erode - and by definition, it would no longer be a truly direct democracy.

There can be no compromises. The sovereignty must stay with the individual and through the individual with the people. All current systems make compromises that turn their democracy into a farce.

Here in Switzerland we call our system a half-direct democracy. We have made compromises that mix the concepts of direct and representative democracy. The same is true for the system in California. Even if California would have a system that sustains direct democracy to the top it would be a farce because California itself has no sovereignty.

June 26, 2005  
Blogger rkm said...

To csv:

My friend, I want to thank you for taking the time to participate in this dialog. As an American (though now living in Ireland) I have much to learn from yourself, who has grown up in Switzerland - a nation respected world-wide for its relatively high level of democracy.

As you have further expanded your ideas , I believe that we are coming into closer agreement. Note that I have edited my original posting, above, to use the term representative democracy, rather than liberal democracy, as you have suggested. That conveys my meaning more clearly.

It seems that we agree very much on certain basic principles. Let me summarize those using your words:

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(1) "The people must lead the executive, control the legislature and be the military."

(2) "...it will require the hard work of the people and is not something that can be handed to them by some charismatic individual."

(3) "What I meant is, direct democracy is only sustainable in its absolute form. If the sovereignty of the people is compromised then it will erode..."

We agree on these fundamental principles, although I would state them slightly differently. Where we are still not in harmony is in our conclusions about how these principles can be realized.
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In order to characterize our remaining differences, as I understand them, permit me to state two additional principles that I have adopted in the course of my research:

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(1) The basic unit of sovereignty in a democracy cannot be the individual, but rather must be the community. If we focus on the individual, then "the people" becomes a mass, and the political process becomes one of attempting to convince a majority through debate, campaigning, propaganda, etc., to support one or another proposition. If we focus on the community, then we are embracing a process whereby the people of a community can work together to achieve a consensus that best suits the needs and interests of everyone in the community. A minority is not simply protected, but is rather a full participant in the formulation of policy - and must be fully satisfied with the consensus outcome. Only with an inclusive process of consensus is it possible for We the People to come into existence as a conscious, intelligent actor in the affairs of society.

(2) The institutions, or groups, that implement the policy in a society must be examined with the same critical judgement that we apply to policy forumulation. You touch on this principle yourself, when you say the people themselves must be the military. If we have a military organization with centralized command-and-control, then by means of a coup our democracy could be converted into a dictatorship. Similarly, if we have centralized executive or legislative institution, that becomes a focus for power manipulators, and those manipulators will eventually be able to erode the power of the people over those institutions. The same principle applies to any hierarchical institution, such as a highway commission, or centralized corporation. Decentralization - bottom-up control - must be universally applied to all functions of society if we want to establish a direct democracy that has any hope of avoiding erosion.
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If you like, we can continue to debate the question of whether some form of hierarchy might be compatible with democracy, by continuing this exchange of comments. For myself, I would find it more useful to explore the princple of decentralization - to see if it can be a viable, universal, organizing principle. If we agree that this is possible, then there would seem to be little reason to debate the virtue and failings of heirarchy. If we can get along without hierarchy, then surely that is the best protection for democracy. Wouldn't you agree?

I will create two new postings: How does harmonization work?, and How can a society operate on a decentralized basis? I will look forward to your comments on those postings.

Thanks again, csv for your thoughtful comments.

best regards,
rkm

June 26, 2005  
Blogger Chris Zumbrunn said...

I basically agree with you on these two additional principles. But I do indeed believe that the basic unit of sovereignty is the individual and not the community. In a direct democracy the individual can not delegate this responsibility to the community.

If an individual in a certain situation believes that the right thing to do is to break the law, then it is ok do so, as long as that individual is willing to accept the consequences. Sometimes breaking the law might be the only honorable thing to do.

Even in the military, individuals should be responsible for there actions and follow their conscience - but still suffer the punishment if they decide to go against the rules.

Only free individuals will be good community members. The community is the first and most important level of "hierarchy" but not the basic unit of sovereignty, in my opinion.

"Can democracy coexist with hierarchy?" ...Probably not, because when I described a direct democracy working over several hierarchical levels, I should probably have dropped the word hierarchy, since I believe that there should be direct interaction between the individual and any level and not just an indirect structure where the individual is only involved on the local level.

So, hierarchy is probably an inherently bad thing. But I think direct democracy can work at various levels from local to global.

June 26, 2005  
Blogger rkm said...

Hello Chris (formerly csv),

As we listen to one another, with respect, we find that our ideas are seeming less different that it first appeared. This is how the process of harmonization works. By listening, and digging deeper down into core assumptions and beliefs, we are able to cut through superficial differences that were based on secondary conclusions and programs. We both really want direct democracy, and we are problem-solving together to find how we can get it.

I fully agree that the individual "cannot delegate...responsibility to the community." I am not proposing that some kind of community government make decisions on behalf of the community. Rather, I am suggesting that is possible for the people of a community, through processes based on harmonization, to achieve an inclusive, consensus agenda for the community. Such a consensus takes into account the concerns of everyone in the community: no one delegates decision-making to anyone else; everyone participates. Such a process is creative, discovering new solutions that no one may have thought of beforehand. As I said before, I will devote a new posting to a discussion of how this seemingly magic harmonization process can actually work.

Rather than submerging an idividual in the group, such a democratic process empowers an individual: his or her voice really matters; it is taken into account in the development of a consensus. It is in a representative democracy that the ordinary individual is submerged: he or she becomes a cypher in a party or special-interest group, supporting one or another candidate or initiative through debate and voting. In a representative democracy, the faction becomes the essential unit of political activity, not the individual.

The concept of obeying the law would be very different in a direct democracy. Rather than laws being imposed on us by those who "know better," we would be setting the rules ourselves, and we would be setting them with the goal of improving all of our lives, and improving the quality of life generally in our communities. Under such circumstances, the rules would make sense to us, and far fewer people would be motivated to break them. If someone's conscience objects to some existing rule or policy, then he or she can voice those objections, within the harmonization process, and the rules can be changed to take into account the objections. Civil disobendience is no longer necessary, as a means of pushing for change. Civil disobedience, protests - and to a large extent crime - are sure signs that a society is not democratic.

---

Thank you for your clarifying statement: "I should probably have dropped the word hierarchy, since I believe that there should be direct interaction between the individual and any level and not just an indirect structure where the individual is only involved on the local level."

I agree in principle with this, although we need to explore what we mean by "levels," and exactly how "direct interaction" is to be achieved for society-wide issues. I'll give a short version of my own views on these issues here, and we can discuss this further under a new posting that will be called How can a society operate on a decentralized basis?

Let me present my ideas in the form of a scenario...
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Let's assume that some issues have arisen that require attention at a society-wide level. Perhaps they have to do with infrastructure development, or policies toward a neighboring society, or even global issues such as management of the high seas. The first step is for each community to discuss those issues and to reach a community consensus regarding how they should be dealt with. Every individual's voice is included in that consensus.

You said at one point: "The members of the legislature should be delegates and not representatives." My own next step is in line with that sentiment. In particular, my next step is for each community to send a delegation to the next level, let's say the regional level. The delegates of all the communities then enter into a harmonizaton process, seeking a regional consensus that takes into account the concerns and wishes of all the communities. The delegates are not empowered to abandon any of their community's concerns: they are not allowed barter such a compromise. In this way, each individual's concerns are respected at the regional level, even though not every individual can actually attend as a delegate.

There is good reason to expect that such regional councils would be able to reach a consensus. I say this because the consensus reached in each community is inclusive, bringing in a wide range of concerns and viewpoints. For that reason, there is likely to be considerable agreement among the kinds of concerns brought up in the different communities. In some cases, however, some communities may have raised concerns that other communities were not aware of - and this may prevent a regional consensus on the first round of discussions. In such a case, each community can revisit the issues, taking into account the new information. The delegates, or perhaps a new delegation, can then return for a second regional conference, which would be even more likely to reach a regional consensus.

This same delegation process can then continue upwards, with regional delegations being sent to a province-level council, etc., up to a national council and finally a global council. Every individual's voice is thus involved in deciding even global issues, and there is no need for a permanent legislature at any level.
---------------

That's the basic model, and I realize that it raises many questions and issues that call for further discussion...hence the new posting that I'll try to get to in the next day or two.

cheers,
rkm

June 26, 2005  
Blogger Let's Talk About It! said...

I am not sure how you get from harmonizing structures to political ones. Organizations and countries can get very top heavy and formalistic. Personal development is a critical factor -- inner motivated spirituality. This is what brings the kind of sea change we are looking for.

We are heading for a just and sustainable global community. To get there we need to harmonize much more than our own community. We need to be able to hear the Other, the Other we rarely associate with, not just the Other already in our circles.

The Arab culture, for example, has many deeply collaborative, deeply non violent and deeply communicative values that we in the West don't hear about. The Israelis right next door also don't hear about them.

We are connected to all things on the planet. How we include these Other cultures is as important as how we redesign our own democracy, don't you think?

February 22, 2006  
Blogger rkm said...

Of course!

I think in terms of a global democratic society. I emphasize the local, because I believe that is where it needs to start. That is where we can experience an inclusive democratic process directly, and learn the principles of how it operates. That is where we can re-learn how to cooperate and collaborate.

Such experiences at the community level can transform our expectations about how to deal with problems and conflicts generally. When delegations from neighboring communities gather, at the regional level, they would come in with an understanding of the value and achievability of a harmonizing approach to solving their regional problems.

I don't see any reason why this same process would not continu on upwards, to global councils of delegates. Harmonization—resolving conflicts instead of selectig a win-lose outcome—is the magic leveaning that can make representation workable. On the one hand, delegations are representing a democratic concensus from below; on the other hand they are seeking a mutual-benifit concensus in their council deliberations. These kinds of processes can lead to very creative outcomes.

March 02, 2006  
Blogger T K Wilson said...

The individual is "empowered" by his/her own existence/right to exist, not by agreement or disagreement or at the will of others. Therefore, the autonomous self actualized individual must be the the root of any truly egalitarian society or assosciation of free individuals.

Chris is absolutely correct, in my view, that the individual citizen must be the army; and I would add, the constabulary as well.

This isn't about weapons or any of that other crap that freaks so called progressives out so badly, but about actual equality among individuals. Every individual is responsible for him/herself and to his/her community.

Are we all equal in our capabilities? Obviously not. We are all differrent sizes with differing talents and mental capacity and desires.
What has to be the inviolable touch stone of a workable society is the individuals right to exist unmolested, either by other individuals or by groups or society as a whole, so long as that individual poses no material threat to any other person or the commons on which we depend for our existence.

March 14, 2006  
Blogger rkm said...

Yes, everyone has their their own right to exist as an individual, with their own beliefs and will, etc. As such, each of us is empowered to do what we can do as an individual. If we leave it there, however, we are disempowered politically: an extreme version of 'divide and rule'. 'Everyone for himself' means the government runs things.

When I use the word 'empowered', I am talking about gaining the power to control the destiny of our societies. We can only do this by working with others: 'there is strength in numbers', so to speak. Typically people join political parties, or gun clubs, or whatever, in order to 'have some influence'. The problem with this is that we end up with a lot of competing factions, which cancel each other out, and again: the government runs things.

Harmonization is about learning to understand one another and work together on a non-factional basis, i.e., inclusive, everyone included. This is something we are not accustomed to, indeed our over-individualized society actively discourages it, teaching us always to compete with our fellows. When people have the opportunity to experience harmonization, they experiene a higher form of empowerment, which many describe as a feeling of 'We the People'.

Consider a family. People in families are individuals, with their own individual 'rights', but there is a also a broader identity with the family as a whole. Someone raised as an orphan in an institution lacks this family belonging. Harmonization is a bit like an orphan being reunited with their lost family. In truth we are all brothers and sisters.

March 14, 2006  
Blogger Rex said...

I think I've found the cause of my (&Chris's) disagreement with rkm about the individual vs. the community being the fundamental (sovereign) unit in a democracy. It's in the word 'sovereign'.
I'd like to amend my position to state: the individual is (& can't help being) the fundamental sovereign unit for individual behavior, but a community can be the fundamental unit of sovereignty in a democracy only over actions that don't infringe upon the sovereignty of other communities! This is why I prefer to refer to myself as a 'communiteer'. A communiteer is any individual who has made a commitment to respect all life. 'Communities' themselves come into existance whenever two or more 'communiteers' collaborate!
In order so show respect for all life, we each must first make a commitment to be freesponsible! I created that word because I believe that we can't be free (for long) if we don't use our freedom responsibly & we really can't be responsible if we aren't free to make up our own minds about how to behave in each particular situation we encounter!
So, as I see it, communiteers are all committed harmonizers! We challenge arrogance wherever it is suspected & welcome disagreements as opportunities to refine our understandings of the realities of how we can manage to make everyone's experience of life, eventually, a wholesome & healthy experience!
We must all show respect for everyone's experience of life (because no one can change a past experience) but we may need to challenge to the conclusions we draw from our experiences (because, though we are all fallible, luckily we can change our minds about our conclusions as we gain more understandings).

March 15, 2006  
Anonymous John Bunzl said...

In the discussion so far, the erosion of democracy has been framed broadly as a result of the failure of representative democracy. However, I would like to suggest that while representative democracy certainly has its drawbacks, it is not the sole reason for the present lack of democracy that we experience today.

Another very important factor is the free movement of capital and corporations across national borders. The effect of this is to bring nations into competition with one another to remain relatively more attractive to global capital so as to attract inward investment and jobs. Since policies which protect society and the environment generally cost business more, governments fail to implement them for fear of capital and jobs moving elsewhere. The result is that whichever party may be in government, the policies delivered remain much the same; i.e. the same market- and business-friendly policies which do nothing to solve global problems.

Therefore, were we to replace national representative democracy with direct democracy, this would not change anything. All it would mean is that instead of politicians bowing to the threat of business and jobs moving elsewhere on our behalf, individual citizens - as direct legislators - would have to do so instead.

This suggests that in the age of globalisation, our efforts are most likely to be fruitful, firstly, if they are directed at the global (rather than the local) level and, secondly, if they offer a means of addressing the vicious circle of destructive competition between nations which the free movement of capital and corporations has set in train.

best wishes
John Bunzl

March 23, 2006  
Blogger rkm said...

Hi John - thanks for joining in. There are many points we could debate, but I will confine myself to clarifying my own ideas, which are quite different than your characterization of them.

The transformational vision described in my posts here, and expanded in the book, is not about simply replacing legislatures with citizen input. It is about a transfer of essential sovereignty and resource ownership (the commons) to the local level. Today's centralized corporations and elite-controlled financial systems would be incompatible with such a world. Economic planning would begin at the local level, optimized for local needs, and build upward from there based on mutual-benefit exchange.

I can understand how you, or anyone, could be skeptical of such a vision beging fulfilled, but if it were to be fulfilled the whole notion of "businesses and jobs moving" would no longer have any meaning.

March 24, 2006  

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