I've been through the postings so far and, together with my colleague, Roy
Madron, tried to address some of the questions and concerns about the WWDN.
I hope this gives a clearer picture of what we're about.
I think the best way to proceed is for Peter to stay involved as a co-learner
- baa-unrev's eyes and ears at the WWDN. Then, a few months down the line,
we can start to think about the possibilities for colaboration.
I wonder what this forum thinks about associating - and in what manner -
ourselves (i.e. Bootstrap AND/OR Fleabyte) with the newly formed, London-based
organization that calls itself the World Wide Democracy Network, www.wwdemocracy.org...
On first sight, the organization appears to be non-partisan
The WWDN has no links with any political party (I’m assuming that’s what
you mean, Henry). Henry:
Might some people on this forum be interested in forming a committee to
look at the issue of locating, evaluating and co-operating with like-minded
organizations in a way that they become complementary.
We are entirely open to collaboration and are setting up a Discussion Forum
on the website to explore possibilities (should be ready in the next couple
of weeks). In the long run we are more interested in working on substantive
questions in face-to-face group-dialogues after conducting the preliminaries
electronically. Henry wrote:
Although seemingly somewhat different than what Doug has in mind, it does
have a bit of a NIC aspect to it as well, hasn't it?
Not sure what ‘NIC’ refers to here – can anyone explain? Eric wrote:
If we had a proposal, and could sign up a few such organizations as interested
in it, that might well make the project something the U.N. would want to sponsor,
and that individual countries might want to contribute to, as well
I’d be interested to know bit more about what preliminary processes/requirements
such approaches might entail Henry:
They (World Wide Democracy Network) have quite a bit of documentation to
wade through, but what I am gathering is that they are basically a discussion/learning
group, but one bold enough to look at alternative aspects within democratic
structures. From our point of view - certainly Fleabyte's – a principal requirement
is informed participation, something we seek to facilitate by digital augmentation,
especially of the individual by providing means for becoming a better
informed and, hence, better judging citizen.
Improving participation by electronic means is certainly something we are
open to. However, we want to avoid the idea that people have to be educated
for, to qualify for, to be approved as fit for citizenship. The need is for
finding hundreds of ways of thinking, acting and learning together as citizens.
If we learn from each other as part of the process of understanding and re-configuring
our societies we all become better citizens through generating and acquiring
shared knowledge and understanding. We will happily discuss the underlying
assumptions of Western Democracies in more detail on our Discussion Forum
or see "The Gaian Model of democracy", both on the website. Henry:
Incidentally, there seems to be some leadership potential in the Global
Agora. I do not know what strength there is in the WWDN.
"Liberating leadership" is a key component in the Gaian Model of Democracy
(see website). We have many ideas and much experience in this area. Peter:
their approach to leadership seems much more like concerted facilitation
of activation of public participation programs with the agenda subsequently
to be set and changed largely by the public concerned.
That does require that political leaders committed to the cause gain the
necessary leverage to set things rolling though.
Peter is quite right here: the task we face is primarily political and will
require leadership – liberating leadership (please see the paper on Gaian
democracy for more thoughts on this). We don’t believe, as some do, that civil
society organisations are the answer to the democratic deficit (worthy as
their aims might be). Real democracy can only come from a truly democratic
political system, not from unelected NGO’s acting as a counterbalance to government
and big business. Peter:
Their key example involves Brazilian cities where pro-public-participation,
pro-labour groups have gained significant standing, and where the public participants
may or may not be high-tech (they make no mention of any technology beyond
legwork). In fact, and this looks to me like a crucial point, in some respects
their whole ideal is geared towards avoiding reliance on the high-tech, armchair
politics of the nerd society (possibly of necessity) in favour of direct
social contact as the means to engendering positive community values more
We need to avoid processes in which individuals take a spare ten minutes
to fire off their ideas and then mainly spectate electronically. Such processes
have very limited democratic possibilities: citizens have no opportunity to
interact face-to face with others, to `think, act and learn together’ over
hours, days, months, years and - eventually - generations. A crucial part
of the PB is that the citizens actually reveal who they are to each other,
begin to develop collective purposes, understanding and knowledge whatever
their age, wealth, background or education. Within that context there is
much need of all the tools for thinking and learning that can be mustered;
but without that context the tools are just that - tools without a meaningful
task to apply them to. Henry:
It is the "BY" part in which we may play a positive role. As for the "FOR"
part, that scares me a little because of a slight odor of political propaganda.
Myself, I like to stay clear of left-right categorization - although anything
one says or writes is immediately placed in either of these trays. So, with
that risk, it seems to me personally that "transnational capitalism" (I deliberately
left out the word "corporate") is at once a motor for growth (the capitalism
part) and a slaker of certain kinds of global barriers. I am also worried
about that word "sustainable," which was an invention much promoted to foster
(especially India's) participation in the Rio summit on the environment. Capitalism
needs a lot of fine-tuning whereas "growth" a clearer definition of what
kind of growth in what kind of circumstance.
But, human nature being what it is, removing capitalism leaves little to
sustain mass incentive. Being just is good for Sundays, but hardly carries
us through the week. Besides, that word like "just" means all sorts of things
to different people as apparent, for example, by the changing juxtaposition
of poor-vs-rich to a media-fanned Arabic-vs-Western clash. At any rate, for
a group of people to co-operatively think about these matters and do so IN
A PRODUCTIVE WAY is good. (If not done in a productive way, all the talk will
only create even more discontent.)
Removing corporate capitalism of the kind that has grown up over the last
50 years does not have to mean removing incentive, or enterprise or innovation
– they managed quite well in Athens, Rome, Florence etc before capitalism.
I would refer you to the recent postings on baa-unrev following Ted Trainer’s
Let’s Scrap the Economy (heading: Ockham's Razor). Peter:
I was not suggesting that WWDN were tech-phobic in themselves. Merely that
the processes they are dealing with require appropriate technology - which
might in some cases mean no high-technology whatsoever.
We are not tech-phobic, though we would certainly benefit from an input
of technical expertise. This is something we hope to put right through collaboration
with others further down the line. Regards,