[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] Indexes: Main | Date | Thread | Author

Re: [ba-unrev-talk] [Fwd: World Wide Democracy Network Newsletter02]

Dear Bootstrappers,

I've been following this list for a few months now, so I am very encouraged - thrilled, in fact - to see that the WWDN has stirred up so much interest.
Collaboration with groups such as yours is a major priority for us.

Various questions/concerns have been raised in the postings so far. I won't be able to address them over the weekend, but will come back to you early next week.


John Turnbull
Network Associate, World Wide Democracy Network.

PS - Peter, for some reason I haven't received your request to become a co-learner yet, but I will add you to our list.

Henry K van Eyken wrote:

Thanks for coming through with your quick evaluation.

I am a little surprised by your their tech-phobia. Quoting the writer, John
Turnbull, "We will also be migrating to the Linux
operating system, one of the inspirations for the WWDN's open-source approach."

They talk about wishing to change from:

OF      - the people
BY      - interchangeable sets of political professionals
FOR    - the pursuit of economic growth through transnational corporate capitalism


OF    - the people
BY    - thinking, acting and learning together
FOR  - the co-creation of just and sustainable societies

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.)

Maybe we should put the comments on on our own forum to groups such as the WWDN. In
the meantime, your signing up as a learner is a good step. I appreciate that.

Like to hear from some others.


Peter Jones wrote:

I have attempted to sign up as a 'co-learner' with the WWDN in order to find out
They seem nascent.
Reading the material on their website they certainly don't have the same type of
Northern hemisphere PhDs adorning their web pages as at globalagoras (which
might not be a bad thing), and 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.

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

I think there might be opportunities for bootstrap-type tools in that mix though
(on the assumption that the Brazilians don't already have their own - which they
might, as they seem pretty fired up).

----- Original Message -----
From: "Henry K van Eyken" <vaneyken@sympatico.ca>
To: <ba-unrev-talk@bootstrap.org>
Sent: Saturday, September 14, 2002 5:25 AM
Subject: Re: [ba-unrev-talk] [Fwd: World Wide Democracy Network Newsletter 02]


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 -
principal requirement is informed participation, something we seek to
by digital augmentation, especially of the individual by providing means for
becoming a better informed and, hence, better judging citizen.
Bootstrap/Engelbart perceives of a digital augmentation of the co-operative
aspect, i.e. informed citizens tackling problems and thereby enhancing the
process of critically evaluating and, where found necessary, reshaping
aspects of  democratic processes and structures. Here I see the complementary

Question is, do we have - on our forums to begin with - the oomph for
effectively doing our  bit in this complementarity? How would we handle
Clearly, we have to move beyond chatting. We need a reasonably firmly
agenda. Some elements of strength are there, notably the Nexist-centered
and, hopefully, the Alliance-forming effort, Maybe that latter effort might be
molded toward the kind of NIC forming among like-minded institutions. It may
from that NIC that a credible leadership comes forward that can also go after
the kind of financing you talked about.

Incidentally, there seems to be some leadership potential in the Global Agora.
do not know what strength there is in the WWDN. Maybe Peter Jones, with his
right in the U.K., could find out more and enlighten us here.



Eric Armstrong wrote:

Yup. Exactly what I thought of when I saw your proposal.

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.

Lord knows, the goals are laudable enough.

(Note: That's something that needs confirming. Unfortunately,
one does have to be careful of organizations with high-sounding
political ideals...)

Henry K van Eyken 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?


Eric Armstrong wrote:

Fascinating concept. If we had a project, I'd rate this a high
priority, if only to gather use cases, motivation, and an
eventual testing ground for the project.

Henry K van Eyken wrote:

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


On first sight, the organization appears to be non-partisan -
I wouldn't even consider bringing this up. I do believe it a good
for small, grassroot organizations to team up.

How well are the principals of this organization known in the U.K. and
internationally, etc.

You may be interested that from the Fleabyte end we are in touch with
organization called Global Agoras,


The development is slow here because of "understaffing." Might some
people on this forum be interested in forming a committee to look at
issue of locating, evaluating and co-operating with like-minded
organizations in a way that they become complementary. Etc.



Subject: World Wide Democracy Network Newsletter 02
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 20:12:06 +0100
From: John Turnbull <jt@wwdemocracy.org>
To: undisclosed-recipients:;



  1. Introduction
  2. WWDN news
  3. Getting the WWDN up and running
  4. 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


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 have:

OF      - the people
BY      - interchangeable sets of political professionals
FOR    - the pursuit of economic growth through transnational
corporate capitalism


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


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 .

Network Associate
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 newsletter.


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

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 (jt@wwdemocracy.org )


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 democracy itself."
(Paulo Freire, formerly Director of Education for the city of Sao
Paulo, Brazil, Education: the Practice of Freedom Writers and Readers

To read the complete proposal, please visit www.wwdemocracy.org (the
'2002 Programme' section).
We are sending you this edition of the WWDN newsletter either because
you have had contact with the WWDN in the past, or because we believe
you would be interested in the WWDN's work.

If you wish to be removed from the WWDN mailing list, please reply to
this message with 'STOP' in the subject field.

We apologise if you have received multiple copies of this newsletter.
Please let us know if this happens.