|Graphic by gratuit|
Others look at the beauty of the world and see a rosy future. Others are optimistic about the future of the human race.
Some point fingers at our political leaders and say that they are not doing the jobs for which they were elected. Our political leaders are not facing up to the realities of the world.
Others start campaigns and join groups to fight against; corruption, big business, pollution, poverty, hunger … you name it, there will be a campaign to oppose it.
No matter what view you have or what your political leanings are, all of this basically comes back to how we make collective decisions. No matter whether you worry about the disasters befalling us, or whether you seek harmony, peace, and prosperity, the question remains: how do we make collective decisions? How do we collectively make decisions for our “social” welfare?
This is the realm of politics. Before moving much further, let me refresh our memories as to the origin of the word politic. The word comes from the Greek polis, meaning a city. Polis then provided the Greeks with the word politikos (πολιτικός) – meaning “of citizens, or pertaining to public life.” Politic then, in its most basic meaning, is about how we come together as citizens to make decisions for our common good and welfare.
This is at the base of all of the above. If you see the messiness of the world then at the base of that mess is how we make collective decisions. If you are otherwise inclined, and wish to disregard the disasters, and seek positivity, then how do we make the decisions to bring that about in our public and collective spaces?
Irrespective of your worldview or philosophical stance, our present public and collective decision-making structures do not allow this to happen. Politics has come to mean government by elected representatives over the past few centuries, particularly in western-influenced nations. However, this system has run its course, it no longer – if it ever did – provides a mechanism for collective decision-making. It fails for one very good reason.
It is not representative.
Take a good look at your parliaments, senates, congresses and council chambers. How many “representatives” come from amongst the common citizenry? When was the last time the plumber, the hairdresser, the garbage disposal worker, or unemployed person, got to represent us? Very rarely.
Our “representative” democracy has become less and less … representative. The representativeness of governments has become highly contracted and restricted. Indeed, we no longer have representative government – we have restrictive government.
This lack of representativeness is not only a diminishment of fairness, it also seriously restricts our capacity to make wise and informed decisions. Why? Simply, because we no longer gain the benefits of diversity and “common” sense. Yet, these benefits are exactly what we need in a world of growing complexity.
A Systems View
If we step back and take a look at democracy from a systems approach, particularly using the insights of Chaos Theory, then it is possible to discern a change coming in our public and collective decision-making systems.
Chaos Theory tells us that a dynamic system is self-organising, unpredictable and spontaneous. The theory also tells us that prior to change in a system the system will undergo fluctuations, sometimes enormous fluctuations.
Looking around our political and governmental systems, this is what we see – fluctuations. Think of Brexit, the Trump presidency, the calls for independence in Catalonia, the rise of extremism in political parties throughout Europe. All examples of chaotic fluctuation. If you look closely within your own communities you may even see such fluctuations occurring at local or regional levels.
So, maybe within the so-called chaos of the world we can glimpse some hope for a new form of democracy that allows for full representation, and one that utilises our collective diversity, wisdom and common sense. We just have to see the chaos for what it truly is – Chaos Theory playing out in our most basic social system of how we make collective decisions.