The state of democracy

This post only expresses the opinion of the author
When you think of graphite and diamond you are talking about one and the same thing: A solid in which the same carbon atoms bound in a certain geometry or structure which is sustained by certain forces, and which required certain energy to be put in place.  
When you think of a dictatorship and democracy you are talking about one and the same thing: a society in which the same humans relate to each other according to a certain structure, which is sustained by certain forces, and which require certain energy to be put in place.
If we carry this model forward we would observe that in order to create diamond, a very stable state, we need to invest a lot of energy. That means reaching stability may be very costly. When crystals grow they do not only need a physical model, a seed crystal, which shows the way forward to other atoms. They aldo need a certain amount of energy for each atom to be incorporated to the grid. Similarly, a seed democracy may show the way for other individuals to organize themselves, but exporting a living democracy from a samll group to a whole society is going to require a certain energy to overcome social inertia.
I am inclined to think that true democracy is the most desirable state of human society. I am tempted to say that it would be the most stable as well. May be it is not. What is absolutely certain is that facing the problem of democracy today we need to deal with two different issues: structure and energy.
  • Structure refers to the design of democratic mechanisms: communication, debating and voting schemes and tools.          
  • The energy of a state of democracy refers to the actual effort made by citizens to         take part on the system. The total energy is roughly dependent on the number of people taking part.
Designing the tools requires a huge amount of thought, energy and effort, but we may consider that the total amount of human power invested would be small compared with the total energy of the system. Five people making perfectly democratic decisions have no strength, five million do, but in order for those five million to feel bound by the democratic deal, by the new social contract, a significant part of them must be involved, in one way or another in the decision making process. A significant number of people must be active in the exercise of democracy in order to keep it alive.
Everyone must feel part of the network, every atom must be able to feel its own significance in the crystal, every person needs to know that her or his opinion matters. Else we are just talking of isolated individual, carbon atoms in a gas container, colliding with each other in a random way. The state of democracy disappears.
What does this mean for us the fighters of democracy? It means we have to work in two directions. The structure of a truly democratic system must be laid out and the number of people taking part in the fight must be increased. Recruiting members for the democratic experiment is essential for two reasons:
  • Even if we were perfectly democratic in our internal proceedings this would  not         change at all the system in which we have to live, the outside world.
  • The tools for large scale democracy cannot be put to a real test unless they are         used by millions of people simultaneously.
However, none of the goals can prevail over the other. If in the search of a perfect structure we do not expand its range of influence, we will have a perfectly useless democracy. If in the struggle to expand the reach of democracy we introduce faults or cracks in the seed crystal, these will be amplified as the system grows. However, the good news is that once a state of democratic is stablished, a more democratic one can substitute it and this will certainly happen with less effort, but for this to happen there must always be a group of idealists asking to revise and improve the system, turn graphite into diamond. Today, DiD is one of those groups.
Salud, paz y democracia.
Pj
Advertisements

The road to the goals of DiD

This post only expresses the opinion of the author

DiD has started moving, and is doing so with a lot of energy. We already have some infrastructure for internal conferencing, we have set up this blog, our slack channel, we already have regular meetings (biweekly for now), and plans for the future, but most important WE ALREADY DISAGREE with each other in a fantastically healthy way. So, in order to start playing the game of democracy we thought it would be good to agree on something and we thought that having common goals would be a good place to start.

On our last meeting (Oct 11th 2016) we set for ourselves the task of reaching an agreement on this topic and, in order to do that we opened an online document prior to the meeting where everybody was invited to post their opinions on the issue. At the beginning of the meeting every person present was invited to make a proposal for our common goals.

It became quickly apparent that it was not going to be difficult to reach an agreement, because although different people thought of different aspects of democracy, it all sounded quite well to all of us. However, nothing is easy if you want to do it right and we were aiming for nothing else but consensus. Mind you, that was never decided, that is what we were doing spontaneously. You can read the full meeting minutes here if you are interested, but you can find below the five points which we agreed upon.

  1. Engagement with Diem25 members
  2. Democracy + subject to change
  3. Review the organizational principles to respect what the grassroots level believes is democracy
  4. Set up a dialogue with the CC
  5. To experiment with the new tools of democracy

These five sentences made sense to us at the time, but in order to avoid misunderstanding they need to be spelled out and shaped. It was agreed that they where to be developed by one of us and shared with the rest for editing. Once a more elaborate expression of the document was attained, with contributions from different members we started a vote on the document. Just now we are at that stage. In the final approval process.

How are things going to work if there is no consensus? Will we go back to the document and revise it? Will we use half + one democracy? I am very interested in the outcome, not so much because of the document itself, but because this documents has started the search for internal democracy in DiD. We cannot strive to promote internal democracy in DiEM25 if we don’t function in a democratic. We, who have the time for democracy, should strive for democratic perfection, whatever that is decided to be.

Once the “official” goals (should I say “goals agreed upon”?) have been approved by the group they will be available in the blog. Until then, my dear democrats.

Salud, Paz y Democracia
Pj

WHY democracy?

This post only expresses the opinion of the author

This may seem a very silly question. Most people agree, we need democracy. Democracy is “good”. Some people even go to war thinking they do it for the sake of democracy. People actually die for democracy, but WHY democracy? Why REAL democracy and not just a democracy make believe?

It is an unquestionable fact that we live in a world where few people have great power and possessions, and other people have very little or nothing at all. This means that the powerful can (and do) use their power to retain or increase their power at the cost of the powerless. This may be or not be a result of biological evolution but thousands of years of history seem to indicate that this pattern is not likely to spontaneously change tomorrow at two o’clock in the afternoon.

We, the powerless many, need to find ways of counteracting the power of the few and that power resides in our unity. We work “their” land, run “their” factories, pay them interest in the money we borrow from them to buy from them our house, which we have built. Nevertheless, we have very little power to decide how the world we make is run. Why? Because we are not united, because we do not live in a real democracy.

Democracy is not an agreement about what type of economy we should live in, neither about whether public health and education should exist or not and to what extend. Democracy is just an agreement about how we should decide those things together. Democracy does not mean that you have to be busy in politics every day, or every week, or every month, or even once every four years. Democracy means that, if you have an opinion on a certain issue that affects you, your opinion will be taken into account inasmuch as the opinion of any other stake holder. You can always be loyal to a fully transparent system where you see your opinion taken into account. You can always be loyal to other human beings if you are bound to them by as system which guarantees that they are loyal to you. You can unite with your equals. True democracy is human unity, mutual respect and the consciousness of a common destiny.

In an apparently democratic system where only a few elected people make decisions, only if those few are pure, brave and honest, can you expect them to take decisions directed to benefit the powerless many, because the powerful few will always find how, legally or illegally, the decisions of the few can be influenced, be it by threat or reward. The  powerful few can buy the elected few but they can never buy the powerless many.  Everyone has a price, and a few million euros can buy almost any living soul, but in order to buy off five hundred million Europeans you need much more. If the world’s few are willing to buy off the eight billions inhabitants of the world and make us all happy in order to stay in power, I don’t think I would be writing about this. Democracy would not be necessary. Not so urgently necessary at least.

Salud, Paz y Democracia
Pj