The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Tuesday 31 October 2017

Let's Try Something Different

How long have we been giving away our decision-making power?  How long have we thought that others have more ability to make decisions?  How long have we negated out own expertise?

In the western world we have been doing all this for centuries.  Over one thousand years ago feudalism in Europe began to impose its rule over common folk.  Feudalism morphed into the system of royalty – the supposed “divine right” of kings and queens to rule.  Under these systems, the power of common folk to make their own decisions was wrested from them, often brutally.

Around 2,500 years ago, in the bottom right hand corner of Europe, a different form of public decision-making was being tried out.  Athens and other Greek city states created the world’s first democracies – literally rule of the people.  The Roman Empire saw democracy being tested and eventually done away with.

The Middle Ages saw some small pockets of democratic experimentation.  In 1215 the Magna Carta Libertatum (Latin for Great Charter of the Liberties) paved the way for the establishment of the English parliament.  Democracy was given another go.

Following the American Revolution the United States Constitution of 1787 provided for an elected government.  Two years later, Revolutionary France adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens, and set up the short-lived National Convention.

Modern democracy has evolved from these various experiments into the representative democracy that many of us know today.  Representative democracy owes many of its features to Athenian democracy, although, arguably, more to the Roman Republic.

The representative democracy of today has morphed yet again into a beast that steals our decision-making power yet again.  Certainly, we get to vote in elections.  But, can we truly say that a tick or cross next to a name on a ballot paper once every three or four years is a satisfactory level of engagement in our collective decision-making?  No wonder many around the world are withdrawing from the voting process.  Even in Australia, the 2016 federal election saw fewer people cast a vote than in 1925, when it became compulsory to vote.  In the US which portrays itself as the guardian of democracy, voter turnout for the Presidential election is less than 60%.  Although the past couple of years have seen the trend bucked slightly, voter turnout in Canada, the UK, and New Zealand has been declining since the 1980s.

A measure of dissatisfaction can be found also in the Brexit vote in the UK, or the claims by Catalans for independence from Spain.

Even once we have cast our vote, do we really believe that it is our voices which get listened to in the parliaments, senates and congresses of the world?  The voices that get heard and acted on are those of the trans-national corporations and their lobbyists.  In her 2015 book1, Beasts and Gods, Roslyn Fuller showed that the more money someone spent on a political campaign the greater their chance of being elected.  In other words – money buys political power.

Yet, we persist in thinking that our vote will change things.  We persist in thinking that if we elect a new set of politicians then we will get better decisions.  It is a little like Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

So, lets stop this insanity.  Lets try something different.

Lets ignore politicians.  Lets ignore elections.  Lets ignore political parties. 

Lets try direct democracy.  If we need to find a representative group to make public decisions, then lets try selecting them by lot (see here, here, and here for some posts about this process).  Lets hold onto our personal and collective decision-making power.  Lets explore together ways to utilise and optimise our decision making power.  We certainly could not do worse than the decisions that currently come out of the parliaments, senates and congresses of the world.

Lets try.

1. Roslyn Fuller, Beasts and Gods: How democracy changed it’s meaning and lost it’s purpose, Zed Books, London, 2015

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