WORLD WIDE DEMOCRACY NETWORK NEWSLETTER No.
2, SUMMER 2003
- WWDN news
- Getting the WWDN up and running
- WWDN’s WSF 2003 Proposal: a summary of the WWDN’s proposal to run a
series of workshops (entitled ‘Liberating Democratic Systems’) at the
next World Social Forum (Porto Alegre, Brazil, January 2003).
The World Wide Democracy Network (WWDN, www.wwdemocracy.org
) has been set
up to link people in a process of mutual learning.
Many recognise that we are facing a set of complex and urgent global
problems, such as widespread inequality, environmental degradation and
societal breakdown. Such problems cannot be solved within the existing
‘democratic’ regimes because their design has evolved to achieve a totally
different purpose - that of unsustainable economic growth coupled with high
levels of inequality. It follows that we need to rethink our ideas of democracy
and citizenship; if we are to build a just and sustainable future, we need
a new paradigm of democracy.
To borrow from Abraham Lincoln, we need to advance from what we currently
OF - the people
BY - interchangeable sets of political professionals
FOR - the pursuit of economic growth through transnational corporate
OF - the people
BY - thinking, acting and learning together
FOR - the co-creation of just and sustainable societies
Through the WWDN we will explore how to apply to political processes
the insights of soft-systems thinking and complexity theory developed
in other fields. These are of fundamental significance in bringing about
change. It is these insights that teach us that our task is essentially
one of mutual learning.
For more information on the history and purpose of the WWDN, please
see WWDN Newsletter No1, March 2002
To become a WWDN Co-learner and take part in our online discussions
(available soon) please contact us here
, remembering to include your
name in the body of the message. (Other details, such as address, occupation
etc. would be welcome, but are not essential.) Alternatively, visit our
website at www.wwdemocracy.org
2. WWDN NEWS
55 people have signed up to become WWDN co-learners. The WWDN’s main
aim in 2002 is to establish contacts with people and organisations interested
in developing viable strategies for political change at all levels from
local to global. If you would like to join us please press ‘reply’ (making
sure not to reply to all) and type ‘co-learner’ in the subject line, or
visit our website at www.wwdemocracy.org
John Turnbull has been appointed Network Associate for the WWDN. Formerly
a researcher with a firm of management consultants, John will be responsible
for the day-to-day administration of the network, including managing the
contacts database, moderating the discussion forum and editing the quarterly
3. GETTING THE WWDN UP AND RUNNING
We have spent the last couple of months thinking about how we want
the Network to function, acting on advice about software and technical
issues, and learning what works for us and what doesn't. So far, we have
a new design for the website, and soon we will be unveiling the WWDN discussion
forum. We will also be migrating to the Linux operating system, one of the
inspirations for the WWDN’s open-source approach.
The response to our request for participants has been very encouraging.
Our 55 co-learners are from a wide range of backgrounds, including economics,
systems thinking and consultancy. However, this kind of background is
by no means a requirement - the WWDN is open to anybody who is interested
in developing viable strategies for political change and working towards
a more just and sustainable future. (See above for instructions on registering).
Our intention is to make the WWDN accessible to as many people as we
can. This means publishing our site and our newsletters in as many languages
as possible. If anybody is interested in undertaking translation work (on
a voluntary basis), I would be very keen to hear from you.
John Turnbull (firstname.lastname@example.org
4. A PROPOSAL FOR A 3-DAY PROGRAMME FOR THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM
– “LIBERATING DEMOCRATIC SYSTEMS”
This is a summary of the proposal for a programme of events we are hoping
to have considered for the next World Social Forum. The proposal is very
ambitious and there is no guarantee that it will be accepted in full; however,
it gives a good indication of the direction the WWDN is taking.
In his closing words to the second World Social Forum (WSF), held in
Porto Alegre, Brazil in February 2002, the Nobel prize-winning poet Jose
Saramago issued a challenge:
"Everything in this world is discussed, from literature to ecology,
from expanding galaxies to the greenhouse effect, from waste treatment
to traffic congestion. Yet the democratic system goes undiscussed, as if
it were a given, definitively acquired and untouchable by nature until
the end of time.
"Well, unless I am mistaken ... among so many other necessary or indispensable
discussions, there is an urgent need to foster worldwide debate on democracy
and the causes of its decline…"
The main blockages to radical change, he implied, stem from the in-built
systemic defects of our so-called democratic systems.
WWDN proposes that the third WSF, to be held again in Porto Alegre
in January 2003, responds to Saramago’s challenge through a programme of
co-learning designed to enable the participants to explore and define:
- precisely why it is that the current systems of democracy are defective
- what is wrong with their design and purposes; and
- what are the essential components of an alternative democratic system
capable of meeting the needs of human societies and of the whole human
family in the 21st Century? What, for example, is the nature of the relationship
between democratic leadership and people power? And how, in practical
terms, can such democracies be created?
On the basis of a shared understanding on these and related issues,
WSF 2003 could launch a global dialogue with two interlocking dimensions:
a theoretical dimension concerned with the development of coherent models
of alternative systems of democracy; and a practical dimension based on the
experience of the Participative Budget processes in over 100 cities in Brazil
and South America, and especially in the city of Porto Alegre itself.
To sum up: the intended outcome of the programme is to respond to Jose
Saramago's challenge by initiating a purposeful global dialogue aimed
at increasing our shared understanding of what needs to be done to remedy
the systemic defects of today's democracies.
"Democracy and democratic education are founded on faith in men,
on the belief that they not only can, but should, discuss the problems of
their country, their continent, their world, their work, the problems of
(Paulo Freire, formerly Director of Education for the
city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Education: the Practice of Freedom Writers
and Readers Co-operative1974.)
To read the complete proposal, please visit www.wwdemocracy.org
(the '2002 Programme'
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