re-2/ A question for 2013


Richard Moore

Bcc: FYI
rkm website

The question was:

I’d like to start off 2013 with a positive conversation. In particular, I invite you send in your own personal answer to this question: What kind of world would you like to live in, and how would you like it to operate?

The first round of responses:
     re/ A question for 2013

Brian Hill wrote:
consensus management of economy and ecology watershed (econiche) by watershed (econiche).

I’m quite in agreement with local autonomy and consensus, as the central principles of how a better society would operate. In the world of the media, including the Internet, we spend a lot of time talking about global issues and problems. But in fact the conditions that affect our lives are local ones. If every locality took care of itself responsibly, there wouldn’t be much in the way of global problems to worry about. And when the people living in a community are managing their own affairs on a consensus basis, they have a shared incentive to work toward maximum local quality of life within the constraints of sustainability.

Harvey Jones wrote:
With regard to Councils and governance systems, it would be good to consider what population base a council or any governance system should be to best represent its people. New Zealand has a similar size to that of Ireland with a diverse range of interests composed of a few cities, mostly towns (by world scales) and villages of a few thousand.
…What is the ideal size of representation in governance?
The difference between governance and management is difficult to understand for many people. Governance sets policies and directions and management are supposed to carry them out. Unfortunately, vested interests and lobbyists are often in the middle (or within either bloc) and guide decisions into their own profitable directions.
I think in an ideal world, we want/need a system of governance which works toward reflecting the overall wishes and aspirations of its people. Where there are significant differences of opinions, there is a need for consensus building and changes where required (perhaps by wisdom councils on those issues). Perhaps another question to be asked is:
How we can set up a governance system which cannot be subverted by those with power and influence?

If we base governance on local autonomy and consensus, then we can ensure that power does not get subverted. Representation doesn’t come into the equation. The ‘ideal size’ of an ‘autonomous locality’ is indeed an interesting question. I don’t think this is something we can try to answer now. If we were to achieve such a society, we would have gone through a path of social change in which we would evolve our mechanisms of collaborating and reaching consensus. The ‘appropriate granularity’ of decentralization is something that would evolve organically, as part of that process.

Patrick Tetrault wrote:
The key is Unity.
-Without it we won’t make it. With it we will do it easily. (Most of our problems are not that complex, in fact most have already been solved.)
-Unity won’t be easy. …We must create a demand for it. A lot of people must know that Unity is our priority and understand why…
-By now the way humanity has dealt with this issue (unity) is to eliminate the problem (divisions). We get together with like-minded; we exclude anything that creates division; we bypass the difficulty hence we haven’t develop abilities to create unity. 
-We need a technical science of debate. The goal is not to all agree and like each other but being able to create what we want like if we were one person. This science is possible and applicable because we already have a strong united base. We all (most of us on earth) want love, peace, success etc.
-This Science of debate should be applied in local group (physical, in person, not on the internet). Once heterogeneous individuals of a given geographical locality are able to decide together, they become the Authority (because if we are all together who can be against us?) and can then delegate (to create our collective agenda). Multiple experiments will be done everywhere and then through networking groups would exchange ideas and results they got and eventually the technology used to unite locally will be used to unite groups of a regions and so on. Until all humanity is united. It will be a decentralised centralisation.

Human nature doesn’t need to change for this strategy to be applied. We already have everything we need.

I really like the way you develop your ideas here, step by step, each step logically valid as well as insightful. Your first sentence, for example, is something I hope people will give some serious attention to. Without unity we have no influence on anything, and yet people devote lots of time debating which reforms would be the most important. With unity, we don’t need to think in terms of reforms at all: instead we can build the world we want without compromise. These observations tell us, among other things, that single-issue causes are a waste of time, and they are dangerously divisive as well.
Your second sentence is also very important. Achieving unity is a very difficult undertaking. People have little motivation in that direction because their general experience, with any kind of controversial topic, is that ‘people will never agree’. The good news is that there is a ‘technical science of debate’, except it’s not about debate; it’s about conversation: debate is about one point of view winning out over another; conversation is about seeking solutions acceptable to everyone. This well-developed ‘science’ is called facilitation, and there are different kinds of facilitation for different kinds and sizes of groups:
Your emphasis on local face-to-face groups is also very important. That is the context in which facilitation works best, and it is also the context in which unity has the most hope of being achieved: people in a community have an intrinsic ‘shared interest’ in bettering their community, and they also interact with one another on a daily basis. Both of those facts are conducive to achieving unity. 
If we want to achieve unity, that needs to become our objective as activists. And we can’t expect activists in general to join in that objective: activists as well as ‘ordinary’ people are generally captured by the myth that ‘people can never agree’. We need to join with those activists who understand about the central importance and feasibility of unity, and work with them in communities to facilitate the emergence of unity. When we can demonstrate results, then other activists will begin to see the light. Results speak louder than words. 
Difficult as this path may be, there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel: by achieving unity, in the pursuit of bringing about change, we also create the foundation for our new society. We will have created a culture of cooperation and collaboration, based on local consensus, and thus our new society will start off as a functioning direct democracy. 

Vera Bradova wrote:
I missed the second part of your question, Richard… “how would you like it to operate”. That’s the hard part, isn’t it. The how. It looks to me from what people wrote that we are pretty much in synch on the “what.” That leaves two questions… how do you picture the governance, and how do we get from here to there.
Since we are visioning, here is my vision: it must be a form of governance where information and feedback flows every which way, freely. (Systems where information is hoarded at the top and mostly only flows down, those are systems with built-in stupidity.) It must also be a form of governance that utilizes evolvement (like nature does) much more than it does command structures and hierarchies (though they can be useful in certain specific — usually acute — circumstances). 
Like I said, it must be a system that amplifies wisdom. I call it co-governance. Elinor Ostrom wrote much about it regarding the management of commons (such as fisheries). According to her research, this is what you need for successful co-governance of the commons:
* clearly defined boundaries
* local rules
* participation in the collective choice making
* effective monitoring
* graduated sanctions
* cheap and easy conflict resolution
* local determination
* nestedness (like Russian dolls, where local co-governance units are nested within slightly larger units etc)
* reliable info available on short and long term benefits of actions
* individuals involved have a long term horizon
* gaining a reputation for being a trustworthy reciprocator is important to them
* social capital and leadership builds on to previous successes in solving problems
All this of course depends on real local self-determination. And that falls right back to the problem of power. So in order to have wisdom-based co-governance, we must solve the problem of power as well.

Thanks for your thoughtful contribution. You don’t actually describe a ‘way of operating’, rather you specify constraints that make sense, if we are to govern the commons sensibly. And I think that the ‘way’ we’ve been talking about – local autonomy and consensus – harmonizes well with your constraints. Feedback is transparent at the local level; a consensus-based community can be expected to evolve, and such a collaborative culture is conducive to the emergence of wisdom.  

Thomas Lundee wrote:
…Lets pick out members of parliament by lottery! This would be all the citizens between a certain age, say 21 and 55. This would then include all ages, all races, all sex genders and even ex prisoners and handicapped people. Just like we pick average citizens for jury duty and expect fairness, so a truly representative government composed of lottery winners would also reflect the actual citizenry. 
…Second, let’s pick citizens every three years with a complete change happening every nine years. Let me explain. Let’s say you were chosen. The first year, you would go to a special school to actually learn how government works…
So, instead of electing politicians with a viewpoint, we would be selecting citizens whose only mandate would be governing for the good of the country and all it’s citizens…

Ordinary citizens as representatives makes more sense than politicians with agendas, but a mandate of ‘governing for the good’ does not give them much in the way of democratic direction. Much better is to have a specific mandate. That is, it makes sense for each community to reach a consensus on policy priorities, and for that consensus to be the mandate of the local representative. With such a mandate, the representative wouldn’t be selected randomly, but rather on the basis of having the trust and respect of the  community.

In the model of ‘local autonomy and consensus’, we would still need to select representatives from time to time, and give them a specific mandate, but they would be going off to work out agreements among communities (or regions etc.), rather than going off to from a centralized parliament. 

Gunther Ostermann wrote:
Hi Richard, I read all the concerns of people in your group and would like to offer my 5 cents worth:

Thanks for the article. I can understand why people are intrigued by the ideas of Bucky Fuller and Technocracy. One can indeed imagine a future where appropriate technologies are employed systematically, providing a foundation for a high quality-of-life globally. Where I take exception to Technocracy is its emphasis on global-level planning and optimization. 
I can understand why they think that way, because after all we do want to think in terms of whole-system solutions, the whole Earth is a system, and we know that ‘all things are connected’. The technocratic approach, however, starts with the technology, goes next to technical system designs, and ‘what people want’ is pretty much left out of the equation, apart from assumptions the ivory-tower technocrats make about ‘what is good for the people’. 
Technocracy is also a centralized approach, based on a single primary thread of investigation as regards ‘what is the problem’ and ‘what is the solution’, leading to a coherent ‘global plan’. Such a centralized process could only be based on a centralized system of governance, authorized to proceed with planning and implementation. In the final analysis, technocracy is inseparable from tyranny, and in fact technocracy is being promoted by the globalists.
Yes the Earth can be seen as a system, but it is not a machine, not a centralized system. We might describe it as a community of autonomous ecosystems. Why think in terms of a single-thread global attempt at optimization, when instead we could have a thread going in every bioregion, along the lines Brian Hill suggests? This does not diminish our ability to employ technology, but it begins with people, who can consider what is ‘appropriate technology’ from their own perspective. The Earth-as-system is about parallel autonomous processes, that evolve toward equilibrium within each ecosystem. We need to begin our thinking along similar lines, learning from nature.

Furquan Gehlenwrote:

One area in which I am involved is in the creation of a culture of peace. Located in Vancouver, BC, Canada I am part of the Canadian Peace Initiative. We have one goal and that is to lobby the government to create a Department of Peace led by a Cabinet level Minister of Peace. There is a private members bill that was introduced in Nov 2011 by an NDP party MP and cosigned by Liberal and Green party MP’s. We are currently trying to get a second reading on the bill…
For more information see:
Global Alliance –
In Peace,
Furquan Gehlen
Co-Chair of Vancouver Chapter, Canadian Peace Initiative

Peace is about resolving conflicts through dialog rather than through confrontation. And as I mentioned above, facilitation is the proven means of achieving such resolution. Rather than campaigning for a Department of Peace, which I’m afraid has no hope of success given how Canadian governance has been corrupted, it might make more sense to demonstrate the possibility of peace, by helping to ‘resolve conflicts’ (ie, build unity) in communities – ‘peace begins at home’ might be a useful dictum.
     Just across the channel from you, in Victoria, there’s an activist group who had been devoting their time to the World Federalist Movement. Then they learned about the power of facilitation, and they shifted their attention to convening facilitated events (Wisdom Councils) in communities. As Wise Democracy Victoria, they achieved some very promising results:

Howard Switzer wrote:
I held my response to see what people were thinking and it is clear we are pretty much unified on the kind of world we want and the council system you propose is the best I’ve seen, sensible and accessible, for governance. I have been studying the system we have and … I think Bernhard Lietaer has identified it (nailed it) which is the positive interest currency system common around the world. …Bernhard has been campaigning on complementary currencies for some time now and I’ve missed the real importance of it until now…

I must say I’m surprised you haven’t come across this kind of material before, but better late than never. You might want to google Money as Debt and The Money Masters. Complementary currencies are a good idea, but unfortunately their success so far has been marginal. The real win would be a debt-free official currency, and that requires first achieving unity and solving ‘the problem of power’, to use Vera Bradova’s phrase. 

Peggy wrote:
Seems as though everyone agrees that the golden rule is the common desire. Agreed, no need for religious wars at least. One addition might be a new economic model that doesn’t require growth for prosperity.

Madeline Bruce wrote:
There is a quote from G. K. Chesterton that I like: Where love is failing, power fills the vacuum. I would like to see a world where feelings and emotions became more important than they are now. This would require more sensitivity to our immediate neighbor, and give more value to how each person was feeling.