Thursday, 30 June 2011

How may direct democracy operate in practice?

How may direct democracy operate in practice?

In practice this means designing a new system of governance, here is an example:

The most important systemic structure in real DD is an online system rather like a forum, to which every citizen in a country has access. It is vital that no citizen is excluded from participating although in practice only a small number of people will participate and therefore they are in reality speaking for everybody.

This forum represents the will of the people in a real sense, and offers complete transparency and openness because every debate and decision is automatically logged and visible to all.

The next part of the structure is the executive, which comprises the groups of people who are organized amongst themselves presumably into social enterprises who arise when necessary and submit offers to carry out the resolutions made by the forum. These enterprises or groups are ad hoc and arise when necessary and can be disbanded when they are no longer required.

These executive groups need to be structured in a leaderless way as well as the forum, in order to overcome the power structures which inevitably arise whenever a leader or a party is put in charge. An example of a comprehensive description of how such groups can operate is outlined in the Global Enterprise Model or GEM described in John Michell’s book “The Leadership Delusion. Travels in search of a new Organizational Model for the 21st century.” (Available to read free on Scribd:

The third part of the structure is the financial system. This will necessarily be a system without interest and without debt, with a completely transparent structure. This means that every transaction however small is recorded on an online system accessible to every citizen.

One outstanding question is whether there is a need for an honest organization or team which maintains the systems and ensures their integrity. There is a danger here of this group been seen as leaders and therefore open to the abuse of power. Another danger is the illusion that people may fall under that this group is responsible and that therefore the people do not have to accept responsibility for themselves.

Participatory versus Representative Democracy

Here is a video from the Spanish May 15th Movement outlining how they see direct or participatory democracy developing

(Below, selective text from the video)

Spanish Revolution: An explanation of what is happening and what we want.

A problem is that we as an opposition are divided and the system wants us to be divided. This is very important. We must be here; altogether, we must stick together. This is very important. Why must we do this? The real problem here is that we have right now what we call representative democracy (RD). This means that this letter D means that we already have the power because we are the people. This is something that our fathers and grandfathers achieved years ago here in Spain three decades ago. What this really means is that we already have the power. But every 4 years we decide our Representatives.

But actually what is happening now is that these guys here the representatives, are the problem. These guys, the representatives, the politicians, are the problem in our system because what they do is divide the population A and B, party A, party B or whatever you want to call it. They divide the people to rule the country.

Why is this the problem?

As you know we have our system and in this system we have representative democracy. What happens here right now is that we are having attacks from outside, economic attacks, big corporations and interest outside the frontiers of our country. The thing is that these guys here, our representatives are the reason that this public infrastructure that is our shell, our protection, our public infrastructure that we already have. And they are now jeopardizing this, and this is the problem. This is the reason why these attacks from outside work. This is very important.

So the real thing here is that we perhaps we should start a new change. We have to get rid of the politicians and start design, invent – we don’t need to invent because it has already been invented. We have to use a democracy where people participate. So we have to change from a DR to a DP (Participatory Democracy) , democracy where people participate. That’s for sure this is very difficult. But we have the power. We should decide whether we use these guys the, representatives, or not.

The thing is that 30 years ago it was very, very difficult to introduce this here, P, this was very difficult, but not right now. We have enough technology to do this. Now, we can participate. We actually can. So the movement should be together and the debate is that we have a democracy, the power is already ours. We are clear with that, so we should decide whether we use this kind of democracy R or this kind of democracy P. This is the real debate. This is the real thing. And we should not be divided because it will be very, very bad for us.

We have to change the system, because now is the moment. This is the debate. This is the real thing – R or P. What we have to do, the 15th of May movement is to introduce this debate into society. This is our work. This is what we really have to do. So we must decide if we want representative democracy which we already know and which is the cause of many problems by the representatives.

Not everyone is bad but they really cause every single problem here in our country. So this is the debate and this is our job. We have to transmit to the population that there is another option. We can change our democracy. We can think about participating in our reality in our system and we have enough technology to do that right now. We must do this. It does not matter if you belong to the right or left wing, or whatever. We all face the same problems. The thing is if we change our democracy into a participatory democracy utilizing technology or whatever the people will be more informed or we should work on that and the thing is that if we are being attacked, we will increase our protection here because these guys outside use the representatives to attack our country, the corporations and whatever. But if they want to attack our system, this is our protection. This is our key. They would have to use us and that is of course very, very difficult for them.

The thing is that some people want to attack the banks, ok. But they are private and we have power only in the public system, because it is ours. We already have a democracy and that’s what we have to work on and we have to realize we already have the power. We already have experience with representative democracy but it would be something very new this participatory democracy. So perhaps people at the beginning will find it difficult, but I think we can do it. And I would like to share this with the Internet and perhaps this information could be useful outside Spain.

That is the reason why we are doing this in English.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Real Direct Democracy Now

2011 - and it is becoming increasingly clear that the age of representative democracy is over.

Today we have all of the online tools to enable us to remove our representatives from power and exercise direct democracy.

Interestingly, it is in Greece where direct democracy began 2,500 years ago that we are seeing hundreds of thousands of people demanding such direct methods again.

However it is in Spain where the slogan "Real Democracy Now" was coined that detailed plans for the implementation of direct democracy are being laid. The Spanish demonstrators understand that they have the numbers and the upper hand - the Spanish authorities are at a loss as to what they can do - how they can react - as they are dealing with a true leaderless movement against which their actions are temporary and ultimately ineffective.

Why are representative democracies obsolete?

Firstly because we have the technical means to turn our masters into our servants and secondly because once a person becomes a political representative - no matter how well-intentioned or moral he or she is - they are quickly corrupted by a system which turns them into self-serving individuals and distances them from the people they were meant to serve.

A system of representative democracy serves the representatives first - leaving the scraps for the people - the corruption and waste which we see in all such systems is a systemic necessity - the only way to overcome it is to replace it with a system of direct democracy.

So what will a representative-less direct democracy look like?

No-one knows, but models are at this moment being worked out - primarily in Spain where the people really understand that they have the power to implement such systems and to render representative democracy dead in their country.

At a guess, once we have been through a profound change lasting at the least several months - with much chaos and discomfort for many - we will end up with a new system with the following characteristics.

1 Every citizen will be entitled to participate directly in the affairs of government and state via the Internet - using specially designed social networking systems.

2 The machinery of government will have been radically overhauled from the current millions of people on the public payroll to only a few thousand - and those few thousand will be motivated by a sense of duty and service - their salaries will be low and there will be no opportunities for them to take advantage of their positions.

3 All financial transactions in the public realm will be open and transparent to the view of any citizen that wishes to see them.

4. All public pension systems will have been abolished.

5. All welfare / benefit payments and systems will have been abolished.

6. Each citizen will receive a basic, equal, substantial "Citizen's dividend" from the state - whether they work or not.

7. A single flat-tax will have been implemented prior to implementing taxation-free systems - probably linked with a reformed banking and monetary system - one probably based on multiple, competing, non-governmental currencies.


The above represents - systemically - a radical change whereby the constraints on activity and enterprise which are necessarily implied in a system where representatives of the "people" control and restrict such activity - are changed to a system where each person can find his or her own opportunity in a much more flexible and dynamic system.

Although chaotic and confusing at first for many - such a system will eventually settle down to its own dynamic - a dynamic which cannot be foreseen at present.

European countries such as Spain and Greece are becoming the laboratories for such new systems - this is real - this is now - this will NOT go away!