[fyeg_gen-l] problems with democracy - John Talbut proposes : Panocracy + new political paradigms , increasing shift to empowerment , cooperative individualism , ...
dante.monson at gmail.com
Sun May 13 23:30:35 CEST 2007
I would like to share some views on the new paradigms of politics we could
be experiencing and experimenting ...
Before presenting some of my ideas ,
I would like to present the idea of
also see Wikipedia entry :
( more links below + pasted )
I feel it somehow relates to my post called
" *Not blocking each other , but maximizing opportunities*
and to what I call " Cooperative Individualism "
" individuals have the potential to feel empowered to do their own thing if
they feel it is the way they would prefer and if they feel it is worth their
I m looking forward to see "several approaches developed" ,...
Now , the issue is that this demands a high level of empowerment , and
access to opportunities for empowerment.
Access to information / data to build on is therefore essential ,
and potential for cooperation.
IN SUCH A PARADIGM , there is a greater focus on EMPOWERMENT ( and
development for potential , which includes cooperation on initiatives ,
transparency , etc ) then on WHO HAS AN ASSIGNED POWER OF CONTROL
Those that have control ( on whatever ) would therefore , for their own
interest and that of the whole to which they belong ,
have a ( moral ? ) responsibility to facilitate empowerment ( of others )
and the maximization of opportunities ( and relations ) , on which s-he can
also build on for its own interests.
In other words : " Empower yourself by empowering others "
It seems politics might become more and more complex.
The difference today with the past is that there is an increasing ( infinite
? ) number of communication channels available , so there is no more
reliance on one specific form of organization that would have a monopoly on
communication channels for organization.
Every communication channel connecting individuals opens up a new space and
can facilitate the development of alternatives.
Individuals can choose to join ( and leave ) or create organizational
channels of communication.
So there is a " MARKET " , and in this market , some MONOPOLIZING forces
could be discouraged ( like in current economics ).
Monopolizing forces could for example be NON TRANSPARENCY on certain core
data necessary for this new type of MARKET TO FUNCTION PROPERLY
As the number of channels is increasing , the complexity of the whole system
of relations , spaces and opportunities increases , and I imagine that
mapping tools ( relational data base and navigation )
<http://oikoumene.coforum.net/abstractobjectdimensions>will become very
useful in the new political paradigms to better understand where there are
opportunities and spaces for cooperation and partnerships between the
different alternatives and organizational channels.
Such a greater diversity should , hopefully , be able to provide the
increasing number of solutions and ( adapted ? / alternative ? ) initiatives
needed in increasingly complex societies.
PS : I found the link about Panocracy through Michel Bauwens delicious
Links in relation to Panocracy :
" A principle underlying systems of organisation that asserts that everyone
has the right to make and act on decisions about things that affect them and
that no one else has the right to take that away from them. "
Googling Panocracy :
Pasted from :
Replies: 2 Pages: 1
Registered: 20-Jun-2006 Panocracy Posted: 20-Jun-2006 13:17
There are three major problems with democracy, both as an idea and in the
ways in which it is practised:
1.It treats numbers of people as having a single will
2.It is a deceit: people are led to think that they have a voice in
decisions that are made on their behalf when in reality they often have
little or none.
3.The received wisdom that ?democracy is a good thing? discourages
critiquing the principle of democracy, the ways in which it is applied and
the search for alternatives.
The fatal flaw in democracy is the concept of demos, or the people. The
Universal Declaration of Human Rights promotes democracy in these terms:
"The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government;
this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections ...."
The problem is that there is no such thing as the will of the people. A
million different people have a million different wills.
The job of distilling these wills into one single will inevitably leads to
an adversarial process. ?The will of the people? has come to be synonymous
with ?the will of the majority? or more accurately ?the proposal that can
get the most votes?. When there are more than two proposals or candidates
representing proposals it frequently become ?the propsal that gets the
Democratic processes tend not to allow for:
alternatives to be pursued in parallel
the losers to constrain the majority
The losers depend on the benevolence of the winners for any influence and
frequently this is not forthcoming, as in ?you must abide by the will of the
majority?. The processes tend to encourage dogma such as privatisation or
choice rather than any proper analysis of problems and development of
The history of democracy has been the history of groups or individuals
competing for the mantle of representing ?the will of the people?. At its
best this involves people being given a choice between sets of proposals or
manifestos each of which will be a compromise between the wishes or wills of
its proponents. Hardly anyone would be satisfied with all elements of the
complete package. More often the choice has been distorted through
combinations of manipulation, coercion and bribery, including their modern
forms of media manipulation, tax breaks and pork barrel politics.
The result is, and always has been, to coerce people into giving up their
power to the same sort of people who would rule under any system. Crucially
it also enables the rulers to deny responsibility for their decisions on the
grounds that they are ?the will of the people?. We rarely hear politicians
saying ?I decided that ...? or ?I believe that this is the best option?. A
classic example in the UK recently is government ministers telling
parliament and the House of Lords that they must not vote against proposals
for a national identity database ?because it was in the Labour Party's
manifesto?. There is no hint of ?we coerced the Labour Party into putting it
in the manifesto?.
Though to all intents he is a dictator, Robert Mugabe was elected by
democratic processes leading him to claim recently (
"My people say I am right in the things I do and that's what I listen to."
Autocracy is in effect more honest than democracy. At least it is clear who
The great deceit is that democracy gives people a voice and that there is
nothing better. Why does the USA want to impose democracy on other countries
when its agenda is clearly imperialist? Assuming, that is, that they do want
to impose western style democracy rather than simply destabilising countries
in a process of divide and rule. What comes with the package is massive
corporate influence, control of the media and USA cultural imperialism. In
other words, the USA should be able to manipulate the ?will of the people?
to elect governments that will do the USA's bidding.
The deceit relies on the apparently unassailable assertion that democracy is
a ?good thing?. So, if the USA and its allies do whatever they think
necessary to impose democracy on a country, that has to be all right. The UK
government is democratically elected, so it is all right if they take away
human rights that have been fought for for hundreds of years.
Readers of OpenDemocracy will be well aware of these failings and there have
been various initiatives to try to overcome some of them. Direct democracy
gives people more opportunities to take part in decision making but it still
ends up with voting for competing proposals. Various forms of proportional
voting have been explored in order to try to ensure that policies have the
support of a clear majority or that representatives represent the true
balance of opinion in an electorate. Whilst these are some improvement they
do not overcome the fundamental flaws of democracy and at worst they give
credence to the idea that any democracy is ?a good thing?.
What, I suggest, people want or think they are getting with democracy is the
opportunity to influence whichever they want of the decisions that affect
them. Probably the nearest that anything called democracy comes to achieving
this is Participatory Democracy. The problem here is that it is not really
democracy because it moves away from the will of the people to taking
account of different wills. By so calling it, however, it still lends
credibility to the idea of democracy.
If what you have is a horse then you do not call it a modified zebra. What
has been missing is a word for a truly participatory system of government
and organisation that clearly indicates what it is as distinct from
It is for this reason that I proposed some years ago the use of the word
panocracy. Pan meaning everyone so panocracy is rule by everyone. The core
principle is that:
No one has the right to make a decision on behalf of another unless that
person has given their specific and explicit consent.
The key words are ?on behalf of? and the issue is responsibility. Everyone
is acknowledged to be responsible for their own actions and decisions.
Panocracy does not require revolutionary changes to the ways in which we go
about things, though no doubt it would lead to the evolution of new systems
and ways of governing and organising. What it does imply is a fundamental
shift of power. Government by coercion is no longer tenable, government has
to be by consent.
Parliamentary panocracy is entirely possible and the ways in which it goes
about its business would have many similarities with any other parliamentary
system. The important differences would start with the members of parliament
being personally responsible for the decisions they make. In other words
they could no longer fall back on manifesto commitments nor claim to be
speaking on behalf of their constituents (as opposed to arguing for what
they personally believe is in the interests of their constituents). MPs
would no longer be representatives but appointees selected to do their best
for the government of the country and the interests of their constituents.
Implicit in panocracy is the right to dissent if I do not agree with
decisions that are made that affect me, especially if I was not part of the
process (even if I had opportunities and chose not to be part of it). If I
carry my dissent into action I may well face some sanction, parliament will
still make laws that provide sanctions for those who disobey them. But woe
betide parliament that makes laws in spite of significant opposition,
especially if people feel that they have not been properly involved. In
other words, parliament would need overwhelming consent for its actions.
At an opposite end of the scale of organisation, groups can organise in ways
that are based on panocratic principles. This can mean that there is no
fixed organisational structure. Of course, without organising nothing
happens but the organisation in such groups is ad-hoc, temporary and task
centred. If members of the group perceive a need, say, for a newsletter,
those who wish to organise to meet the need do so in whatever way suits
them. Such organisations will tend to be peer networks of people or groups
who subscribe to some common aim or set of principles. Membership of the
network flows from being committed to an aim or principles rather that
subscribing to some form of organisation.
One outcome of this way of organising is the possibility of pursuing
different solutions to problems or meeting perceived needs. For instance a
group can have several newsletters. They may compete or they may meet
different needs. Experiences with different approaches gives information
about what works how. Different groups of members who may be considering
mutually incompatible approaches are constrained by being responsible for
their actions. They cannot get some sort of majority to vote for their
proposal and relieve them of their responsibility.
Where groups feel the need to make some sort of collective decision making,
for instance the organisation of an event or a community organising
maintenance of a building, then panocracy is practical and a considerable
improvement on alternatives such as consensus. Panocracy does not require
unanimity, even of consent, except that everyone needs to agree that their
view or need has been adequately heard and acknowledged. There is a
responsibility on everyone to aim to ensure that all needs and points of
view may be aired and valued and each individual, either alone or along with
others, may take whatever course they decide in the light of this
The process of gathering supports panocratic decision making. Using
gathering, anyone involved in a discussion can start a gather whenever they
think it might be helpful. A gather is a summary of all the different needs
and opinions on the issue. If anyone thinks that the gather is inaccurate or
insufficient they may re-gather. The important rule is that a re-gather has
to be a complete gather, not just a correction to the previous gather.
Others can continue to re-gather until everyone feels that the latest gather
is good enough.
The result of this process is that everyone acknowledges all the different
points of view. A gather may amount to a decision, for example ?Several
members are proposing to do X and everyone else is content for them to do
so?. It also allows for ?Some members want to do X, others want to do Y and
the rest do not mind what happens.? If it is obvious that X and Y are
compatible then, again, there is a decision. In other cases, a gather
indicates the need for further discussion or problem solving but it will be
in the light of the issues having been mapped out.
Another outcome that is possible is for action in the face of dissent. A
minority may act in opposition to a majority or vice versa, but if they do
so they do so having heard the views of the whole group and they take
responsibility for their actions. A minority does not need to accede to a
majority view, nor can they block action in the way that may happen in
consensus decision making.
These are some illustrations of the ways in which panocracy can work. In
practice panocracy supports problem solving approaches and a meta problem is
how to organise and act in ways that acknowledge everyone's right to take
part in the decisions that affect them.
Many of the objections to panocracy are likely to be rooted in our being
brought up to believe in democratic decision making. Getting away from this
means people taking more of their own power. There is likely to be an
interplay between panocracy having an empowering effect and people acting in
ways that are more panocratic as they become more self empowered .
It is not surprising that one organisation that often uses panocratic
methods is Co-Counselling International (http://www.co-counselling.org) as
it is a peer network whose members focus is on working on their own self
development. Interestingly, however, the open source communities who develop
computer software and facilities such as Wikipedia and whose participants
one would not expect to be involved in self development, function in many
There are many things wrong with the ways in which we humans conduct
ourselves in the world. We are not unaware of this nor short of ideas about
what to do that would be better. Yet we continue to make decisions,
individually and collectively, that are blatantly not in our self interests.
I believe that democracy plays a crucial role in encouraging this behaviour.
If we are to make any significant progress towards a better world, one of
the essential things we will need to do is to move towards more panocratic
ways of working and leave democracy behind.
I have set out a Manifesto for Panocracy (
http://www.dpets.demon.co.uk/panocracy/manifesto.html) as a basis for a
panocratic network of people who support this idea. I invite anyone who who
would see themselves as part of the network to contribute to the promotion
of panocracy and the development of panocratic methods in whatever way they
think may help.
Message was edited by: John Talbut
Registered: 21-Jan-2007 Re: Panocracy Posted: 21-Jan-2007 19:46
in panocracy is the right to dissent if I do not agree with decisions that
are made that affect me, especially if I was not part of the process (even
if I had opportunities and chose not to be part of it). If I carry my
dissent into action I may well face some sanction, parliament will still
make laws that provide sanctions for those who disobey them. But woe betide
parliament that makes laws in spite of significant opposition, especially if
people feel that they have not been properly involved. In other words,
parliament would need overwhelming consent for its actions."
I don't quite follow how this is different from representative democracy, as
it still allows the few to sanction the many for disobidience of the few...
Registered: 20-Jun-2006 Re: Panocracy Posted: 27-Mar-2007 19:55
few would not get away with sanctioning the many unless they had sufficient
An important part of the way in which democracy is used to control people is
the belief that we have to obey the law and are powerless to do anything
about it. Panocracy recognises that we obey the law if we choose to. Either
way there may be subsequences. I can choose to disobey the law and risk some
sort of sanction. Or I can choose to obey the law and, for example, risk all
that might follow from allowing my identity to be taken from me and put on a
government database. In other words panocracy supports people taking direct
action when they disagree with something and if sufficient people do a law,
for example, will fail.
This has two effects. One is that those appointed to make decisions will
need to seek sufficient consent for those decisions. This means that people
will need to feel that, even if they do not agree with a decision, their
standpoint has been taken into account and the decision was made in a
reasonable way. The other effect was pointed out by Lao-Tzu over 2000 years
ago, which is the effect of wu-wei or doing by not doing. By not trying to
force people to obey the law they are more likely to feel that it makes
sense to do so. This contrasts with the current regime in the UK which
results in people only obeying the law because they might get punished if
they do not and doing so reluctantly or not at all if they think they can
get away with it.
(I use the word "subsequences" rather than "consequences" because there is
usually not a direct causal relationship between something happening and
what follows. I do not cause a policeman to report me if I use a mobile
'phone while driving, nor do I necessarily cause an accident.)
Replies: 2 Pages: 1
Dante s post :
*Not blocking each other , but maximizing opportunities*
2007-1-15 7:14 pm
I notice , by having a quick look at certain forums that discuss the
development of CS,
that very often people try to discuss what for them seems right or wrong.
I have the feeling we seem to be waisting alot of energy in this.
This will change, as New opportunities are opening up right now.
Offcourse , not everyone has Programmer or Designer skills , but I m happy
to see that the code is opening up , and individuals will be able to develop
their own tools if they have the skills , the motivation , or can gather
other individuals that have the skills and motivation.
So "individuals have the potential to feel empowered to do their own thing
if they feel it is the way they would prefer and if they feel it is worth
I m looking forward to see "several approaches developed" , and then people
can just put together whatever tools or preferences they want , and there
would be no need for a small group of people to argue about what is best ,
and how they think that the thousands of other people should experience CS.
Off course, some people just like the "sport" or arguing.
Sometimes it is useful , but very often it is a waste of energy for all ,
often only imposed to others by some peoples ego´s.
So , my preference is not to see CS is a "Collectivist" environment or tool
Travelers using CS ( and developers of the site too ) are , it seems to me ,
using a individualist approach , yet cooperating with other individuals.
And it seems to me it is not some kind of competitive individualism either.
It seems to be something that I will call
( hmm , did not find wikipedia entry - maybe someone knows other related
words? if not , maybe it will be worth a new entry on wikipedia - we could
talk about it at the collective and find out more in detail what we could be
meant by "Cooperative Individualism" )
So in my view we do not have a collectivist approach , as everyone can have
space for individual choices , and there is no universal truth of an imposed
and it is not pure competitive individualism either , since we work together
, and the opportunities the network offers would not be created without
supporting and cooperating with each other.
So it seems to me that , yes , we can work with concensus ,
but that does not mean that everyone has to agree with the same concensus.
I can have my own concensus with myself , and if I find other people that
share views and objectives , then I might have a (temporary? ) concensus
with them, and work with them,
WITHOUT HAVING TO IMPOSE OR BLOCK other people and other peoples initiatives
because of my opinion.
Other people can CREATE their own concensus , and have the space to work on
And the broader community could be connected through the concensus of
leaving space for each other and having a system that maximizes
opportunities , respecting each other , and cooperating with each other in
whatever concensus we might have :
MAXIMIZING OPPORTUNITIES AND INITIATIVES
When initiatives , even those we dont agree with , get developped , it are
the users that can then choose to use what works best for them.
Ok , just felt like sharing this.
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