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Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Re: Corporate Morality

I didn't mean to suggest that group participation in brain surgery or engineering is a good idea - of course it's not. But I've been back to your original posting, and in the section in which you make this comment you appear to be talking about problem solving in general, society-wide terms, not specifics. If  I've got my wires crossed here, I apologise.

I agree that very few people can presently be bothered to participate in anything at all, least of all politics. Why? Because the political process is not something that people believe they have much (if any) influence over, or because they are happy with the status quo, or (and this one always baffles me) because they don't think that politics has any relevance to their lives. A more general explanation would be that western society has become increasingly atomised, with the result that we have lost sight of how interdependent we really are.

The path to real democracy is to become a learning society, one in which we strive to acknowledge and understand this interdependence. This is a massive task, and goes much further than simply making a few alterations to the current system of representative (pseudo-) democracy. You hit the nail on the head when you say that "we get to vote on which of a set of unworkable proposals we want to implement" - why shouldn't "we" be involved in the design of those proposals from the outset?  I don't mean that random people should be dragged off the street to draft a thousand-page piece of legislation, but there are processes, such as citizens' juries (to give just one example), that could be used to ensure that those affected by policy (ie all of us) have a hand in designing it. With the desire and the expertise, it can be done: masses of people are already making decisions about how public money is spent across Brazil through the process of the Participative Budget - and the leader of the party that implemented this looks set to be the next president.


World Wide Democracy Network

Garold (Gary) L. Johnson wrote:

From: John Turnbull

> At the risk of joining this thread too late, I feel I have to take issue with Gary when he says,

>> The idea, for example, that a million non-thinking people can arrive at better solutions than a few

very intelligent, thinking people who study the issues seriously is simply silly.

> Who are these 'non-thinking' people, Gary? This is exactly the kind of attitude that has prevented real democracy from emerging, that has

> kept millions of people from playing a meaningful role in the conduct of their own societies' affairs.
If you really believe that a mass of people can make any sort of decision, I suggest that you actually try it. I accept that all people need to be able to “play 
a meaningful role in the conduct of their own affairs,” but I do not think that extends to obtaining opinions on matters which do require specific expertise. 
If you read all the post (a chore I admit) you will see that I believe that group participation is good for determining “how we would like things to be,” or “give a 
set of workable options and their consequences, which do we prefer (or non, so look for more option.” If you think this is elitist, consider having the people in the 
hospital waiting rooms vote on how to perform your brain surgery and then make the surgeon conform to the “will of the majority”.
> Somebody asked in an earlier posting 

> "what is wrong with democracy?" The answer is that we don't have any - all we have is pseudo-democracy, which has evolved for the

> purpose that is implicit in Gary's thinking: to exclude the masses and let those who 'know best' make the decisions. 
There is *no* such purpose implicit in *my* thinking. You are correct that we have problems with the way our democracy 
is organized. A major problem that we have is that we get to vote on which of a set of unworkable proposals we want to 
implement. Having lawyers attempt to design systems of any sort with a purpose to get re-elected is not a good way to get 
workable systems.

I keep hearing about becoming an informed citizen – has anybody tried lately? When a typical piece of legislation runs to
several thousand pages, much of which makes modifications to other multi-thousand page documents, and which is written to 
obfuscate in the first place, becoming informed is a hopeless task. In my youth I believed that this was the problem with 
government – that the information load was overwhelming – so that better information systems (knowledge systems, if you 
will) were a part of the solution. I now know that the problems are *not* simply a matter of information overload.

> If we are to have

> anything approaching a just society, ALL of the people affected by decisions MUST be have the opportunity to be involved in the

> decision making process. Democracy must be a learning process, with all of us learning from each other, not simply the 'non-thinking' 

> people being lectured at by those who 'know' what's good for them.
I agree. How many people in any volunteer organization actually participate? About 20% - 30% if the figures that keep cropping up are correct. What leads you to believe 
that this percentage will be different if we extend it to millions? We should make it possible for all of the people affected by decisions to have the opportunity to be 
involved in the decisions.
The idea of  simply the 'non-thinking' people being lectured at by those who 'know' what's good for them” is yours, not mine.
I will continue to insist that we should leave it to those affected to decide whether to invest the resources in a bridge, a mine, a satellite, but I do not accept that this
means that this same group should *design* that bridge, mine, or satellite. I have seen what happens when that job is tackled by an “elite” of college-trained 
engineers numbering in the hundreds of thousands – not a pretty site. Trying to accomplish this by letting everyone who wants to vote on the engineering required 
would never result in a project that works –it almost doesn’t now. The affected people *should* get more input than they do as to *whether* these projects are 
As a final point, we have a very select group of people on this forum, with a relatively narrow set of goals (relative to the total set possible) and even with this 
“elite” and several years of time, we have not yet been able to agree even on what it is we are trying to accomplish, much less how to go about doing it. There is 
good work being done by a few individuals, but the democratic process hasn’t been having a lot of success at developing a system that works.




Garold (Gary) L. Johnson