Capitalism took off because it is the most efficient social coordination system to convert natural resources to capital. Democracy was selected because it created a broader top for more elite. Democracy also gives the feeling of enfranchisement to a growing middle-class. However, people are beginning to see how cumbersome electing officials is and how little political control they have. What would Democracy 2.0 look like?
Inventors of American Democracy: Iroquois Confederacy
The Great Confederacy of Iroquois, also known as the Haudenosaunee, People of the Longhouse, was the model Benjamin Franklin brought to the founding fathers. The Iroquois confederacy had bicameral political bodies, house and senate, plus a supreme court. The Europeans imperfectly copied the confederacy in four important ways. This confederacy had:
- No chief executive.
- Only women could vote, but any gender could be a representative.
- The whole nation had to vote to change the borders or go to war.
- There were no binding everyday decisions. The purpose of the confederacy was to maintain peace between the tribes, similar to the the United Nations. It was not to micromanage people’s everyday lives.
Strong arguments can be made to integrate several of these ideas into American democracy. The office of the American president is far too powerful. Executive Orders sidestep the democratic process. Yes, the whole nation should vote to go to war. And yes, the world may be a much better place if women were in charge.
The staggering irony is that we used a Native American form of government to justify taking land from the Native Americans.
Everyone knows politics is a mess and is polarizing America. Here are a couple more elements of our democracy to consider.
Social Media Is Breaking The Two Party System
The campaigning and voting process enables different opinions to be heard. But, social media accentuates opinion within echo chambers. Polarized views of the world prevent compromise to improve society. Politics has degenerated to left and right power struggles with little public benefit. Resulting legislation made by the party in power tends to be extreme or just focuses on dismantling the prior party’s accomplishments. Politics today resembles arguing children in a sandbox and sets a bad example for the next generation.
For what needs to be done to save the world, there is no true left party in power. Democrats are really in the center and Republicans are on the right showing little recognition of real problems beyond divisive politics to maintain power. With social media, two-party politics has become more about power and not about the social good.
The only party with real solutions for the benefit of future generations is the Green Party. But the two-party system squeezes green ideas off the political stage. Ideas are only put forward when they are politically viable or divisive to maintain power. Real solutions such as one-child families are not popular, yet are essential to the future of all.
Our democratic government is a monopoly. A group of well-meaning people cannot say, “This current government is not working. We will start our own competing government for anyone to join.” That would be unheard of. This would be a withdrawing of support or participation. Hierarchies have great defenses from attacks from below, but none against people just walking away.
The closest example of a true democracy that I have discovered is the town of Ophir, Colorado. Ophir has a home rule charter and is run by its General Assembly which includes all registered voters. In other words, if a citizen attends a town meeting, they can vote. In Ophir, there is no town council; only a mayor, who chairs the meeting, a clerk and a treasurer. That’s it.
Roman Control Grid
Have you ever noticed that all governments are essentially organized the same? Modern governments, whether democratic, dictatorship or communist are based on the Roman control grid. There is a reason the Roman government existed for 700 years. Or, has existed for 2,770 years depending on if we include the Roman Catholic Church.
The Roman grid controls a geographic area and its population in a hierarchy: nation, state or province, county or district, municipality. All governments breakdown control this way. Corporations essentially do the same thing.
Democracy 2.0: Digital
The internet is changing the way we see the world. Borders are dissolving; ideas move at the speed of light. Money is becoming digital.
What if the digital age could allow us to directly and securely:
- Vote for candidates.
- Vote up or down different versions of legislation, amendments and ballot measures.
- Submit government improvement proposals.
- Distribute our tax dollars how we want them to be spent.
- See the voting records of elected officials as easily as we read a Facebook page.
- Remove elected officials if necessary.
What if we did not need elected officials because decisions were made directly by the people?
In the cryptocurrency world, Bitcoin, there is a concept called a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). A DAO has rules and financing like a corporation, but instead of being run by a board, it is run by its members who vote up or down improvement proposals (IPs).
Cryptocurrency uses the blockchain. Blockchain is creating new forms of money, secure transactions and governance. Starting learning about this area. Projects to watch include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Maker and Nervos among thousands of innovative ideas. CoinMarketCap is a summary of the market capitalization of digital currencies with links to coin websites.
It is early in the blockchain space. Today is like the days of AOL and CompuServe before Google was ever invented. Digital is where the future is going. Almost everyone has a computer in their hand today. The blockchain makes the ledger of transactions transparent and immutable. Smart contracts, if written properly, can enforce rules with certainty.
Digital may solve many of the messy problems of democracy: unreliable politicians, uncontrolled spending, and possibly, the politics in general.
Consensus Can Better Represent All Stakeholders
Few people have complete of an education, experience and balanced politics to be true decision-makers for all of us. Take the understanding of agriculture, for example. Generally, people either understand and strongly believe in the industrial agriculture model or in the organic model. A third stakeholder is the environment, which is neglected by the industrial model and not completely represented in the organic model. A fourth stakeholder is people’s seed and ultimate food sovereignty.
How can we make a wholistic decision by one person to benefit all stakeholders? Perhaps, the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture should be replaced by a consensus committee. Consensus means that decisions have to represent all interests enough that no one party blocks the decision. Consensus may resolve the polarization we currently have between the two parties.
There are two types of ethics in government. Today we focus more on how government operates vs. what values are used to make decisions. By how they operate, I mean: are politicians honest, etc. By make decisions, I mean: what values are used to vote and make decisions.
This is where it gets tricky. Each political party often has different values. A skilled politician is able to balance these values, but few are that skilled and mature. Religion also introduces a strong value bias. That is why church and state were separated by the Reformation.
Here is another example of values. The renewable design system, Permaculture, is based on three ethics. The order determines their priority.
- Care for the earth.
- Care for people.
- Share the surplus or fair share.
These may feel like Native American values; because they are. The lesson is that people care for what they depend on for their livelihood. Indigenous people care most about wild ecosystems because that is where they make a living. Civilized people care most about the domesticated world, and of course, money.
The solution here might be to offer a broader education to our children. Focusing on just reading, writing and arithmetic does not develop wholistic thinkers. Perhaps we should also teach: local indigenous cultures, old European goddess culture, environment and wild ecosystems, permaculture, biology, renewable energy and art. Get urban kids into the wild. Get rural kids into the city. Re-wild ourselves.
Teach your children well for their benefit and the benefit of all life. Our hope for the future is in their minds and hearts.
Post Editor, Beth Brown — Beth is a lifestyle writer and former assistant news editor of the Easley Progress. She graduated from Columbia College with a focus on Writing and Public Affairs. She is also a singer/songwriter/musician, yogi, activist and Love Warrior for Mother Earth.
Related Reading: American Democracy is Broken.
 Cryptocurrency trading is very risky and volatile. This is not investment advice. Consult your financial professional before investing in cryptocurrencies or DAOs.
 Wikipedia. Reformation.