Ming the Mechanic:
Emergent democracy or aristocracy

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Emergent democracy or aristocracy2003-06-11 03:27
23 comments
by Flemming Funch

Kevin Marks:
"The history of democracies is usually told as a rebellion against an overweening King - George III for America, Louis XVI for France. In England it is King John, in 1215, and the rebellion gave rise to the Magna Carta which constrained the powers of a king, and providing for a separate body (of barons) to enforce it.

Cromwell's rebellion against Charles I is not often portrayed as democratic, though the accession of William & Mary in 1688 after James's restoration was notable for the English Bill of Rights which further constrained the King's power and in effect made Parliament sovereign.

The history of democracy can be seen as successive (and expanding) answers to the questions:
Who gets to vote?
Who gets to speak?
Who gets to set the topic?

With a single sovereign, or a single parliament, control of the latter two is still tricky; legislative agendas, though longer than historically, are still constrained, and the introduction of legislation is more often reserved to government or elected legislators, and more rarely allowed by referendum.

In a deliberative body, elaborate rules are adopted to ensure only one person speaks at a time.

There is an inherent funneling of debate because of these procedures.

Conversely, online there are millions of conversations happening in parallel, topics are introduced daily, and votes are largely spurious.

The challenge is help these conversations to focus, converge and produce action."
Indeed. To focus, converge and produce action. If we can accomplish that to a significantly higher degree, there will be no more aristocracies.


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23 comments

11 Jun 2003 @ 09:38 by dcaark : History says it will never happen.
A democracy framed solely by a political system of government will always create some form of centralized power resulting in an aristocracy. It is human nature. However, if we are able to create a community based (grassroots, from the bottom up) economic system based on the principles of democracy, we will have our first opportunity to eliminate aristocracies.

We must be able to neutralize the power of wealth and the wealthy people's ability to control the political system. We must also be able to assure that all people share more equitably in the wealth and also equitably provide them a realistic way to maitain control over the politicians. A properly designed community based economic system can help us establish and maintain a seperation between the economic system and the governmental system. I personally believe that is the only way we will every eliminate the aristrocracy and their imagined elitist class of power brokers.

The new found abilities in communication can then be most effectively and efficiently used to maintain these two systems, seperately.  



12 Jun 2003 @ 16:16 by Jon @209.148.229.70 : Evolution towards What ?
Any sense as to waht will happen to hierarchy as a (or the) oprimary organizing principle ? Is it fundamentally necessary to keep people in check ? isn't that what religions are doing ? Come to think of it, the church was the original organization that lent its power and control system to the corporation - today's execs and managers in corporate hierarchies are the "priests" who are the guardians of the corporate chalice.

Can corporations forever resist the fundamental democratizing potential of social software. Designs have to be built in to maintain control, to herd people in a given direction - otherwise they'll creat - connect, share, challenge, befriend - co-create.

What's your opinion/description ?  



12 Jun 2003 @ 20:32 by b : New Civilization
The current form of government is derived from a democracy. Votes of citizens choose representives who voice the populace. A republic would represent the infrstructure of government: the institutions, judiciary, representives etc.
Corporations became a registered business entity because business goes on. There is always a market that buys wholesale and sells retail. There is always a market in which some people hope. Many people want hope, need hope. Infrastructure is something that anyone can use.  



13 Jun 2003 @ 02:35 by ming : Maintaining control
Well, I think that society IS in part a system of checks and balances. Including a way of keeping each other in check, so that nobody will go and ruin it for everybody else. I think we'll realize, eventually, that hierarchy is a very inefficient and flawed way of setting up such checks and balances.

I'm thinking of the systems diagram of our current society. Like, what feeds back to what, and what responds. Too many things have to go all the way to the top in order for an adjustment to happen. Many things are ignored, and no adjustment happens, even though it is needed. And when adjustments are made, the same command is sent back and imposed on millions of people. And the signal gets distorted as it filters down. And, ok, there are many agents in society that are authorized to take care of certain things (police officers, public officials, etc), but they have limited range of movement, mostly having the job of interpreting the commands from higher up.

I imagine if we all can look with our own eyes and see what needs adjustment, and we're free to organize to deal with it, and we actually do so - we can potentially do a thousands of times better job than governments and boards of directors can. A million minds applied to a million problems, coordinating their solutions, have got to work better than, like, ten minds applied to a million problems. If only we can figure out how to organize the network. Organize it so that we don't just all work against each other. Without being forced to.  



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