The system is failing, so we've designed a better one.
Now all we need to do is change it.
The status quo is not sacrosanct. Electing a political elite is no longer the best way to achieve effective and efficient government. The rules by which we are governed are not set in stone. It's time to change them!
Politics is bankrupt.
According to the 2017 Edelman Annual Trust Barometer, more than 60% of us think the system is failing. Only 23% of us have trust in government, while only 19% of us trust politicians to "do what is right".
Most of us still vote every five years in the hope that one political party or another will somehow make our lives better. But they don't because they can't. Politicians are caught in a web of powerlessness of their own making. Unable to improve our lives in any meaningful way, they have obfuscated, manipulated and distorted reality to the point where we no longer believe what they tell us, nor do we accept the veracity of even the mainstream media channels that facilitate the broadcast of political disinformation. Meanwhile, pressing issues go unresolved, inequality is increasing and society itself is losing cohesion.
This is not to suggest that all politicians are bad. They are simply the product of an outdated system that requires them to win confrontational elections to gain power, that encourages governments to retain power at all costs, that renders any opposition relatively ineffective and that naturally promotes self-serving narcissists to high office. It's a system that insulates politicians from reality and rewards them for putting the interests of their party, their donors and their own prospects of re-election ahead of the common good.
"We’ve never had a debate about whether the present system is the best we can
come up with for administering a country, let alone a continent or a planet."
Our system of government was conceived at a time when the available technology meant that the only way to have representation in parliament was to choose a local man to put on a horse to the capital. It persists in an age of instant interconnectivity simply because no viable alternative model of democracy has been offered, until now, and because our only remedy has been to vote every few years to maintain the status quo. We’ve never had a debate about whether the present system is the best we can come up with for administering a country, let alone a continent or a planet.
The problems that now confront us stem from the failure of representative democracy to cope with the complexities of the modern globalised world. If elected politicians cannot deal with the domestic crises surrounding social security, wages, housing, the economy, immigration, the tax aversion of big business or the NHS, what hope have they got of resolving the existential threats and challenges presented to the whole of humanity by climate change, environmental degradation, overpopulation, migration, armed conflict, inequality and the loss, within the next 30 years, of perhaps one third of all the current jobs in the world to so-called disruptive technologies?
"New centre-ground parties won't solve the problem and neither will minor reforms such as
abolishing the House of Lords or introducing proportional representation."
John Adams, one of the American founding fathers, thought that a democracy’s representative assembly should be "an exact portrait of the people at large". The English philosopher John Stuart Mill thought it should be a place "where every interest and shade of opinion in the country can have its cause even passionately pleaded in the face of government".
It's abundantly clear that Westminster is no such place. Neither does it show itself to be capable of meaningful reform. New centre-ground parties won't solve the problem and neither will minor reforms such as abolishing the House of Lords or introducing proportional representation. The problem is more fundamental than that.
Proof of its scale can seen by clicking here. The Edelman research shows that the problem is broadly the same everywhere in the world apart from in those countries that have benefited the most from globalisation or have authoritarian regimes. This means the failure is systemic. People everywhere live in fear and are desperate for change.
The solution is democracy. But not as we think of it now.
The Ordinary Peoplemodel of global governance (please click the link for a description) is a viable, sophisticated alternative to the current system. It does away with government by career politicians. It reduces government to a single, linear level, considering the whole of humanity as a community in which other local, regional, national and international communities with both common and diverse interests co-exist. It enables citizens to govern themselves from within their own communities, giving them the means to manage their own economies through the use of complimentary regional currencies, as well as conduct national and international trade through the use of conventional fiat currencies.
"Decisions will be made by thousands of minds acting on a problem rather than by
a few hundred elected politicians who are restrained by factionalism and dogma."
We no longer need elected politicians to represent us in a central parliament. Technology allows for government to be decentralised to a linked network of community assemblies. These institutions will be places where decisions on policy and legislation are made by deliberation on the basis of evidence and life experience by a representative sample of citizens (a mini-public) selected at random (like jury service). Decisions will be made by thousands of minds acting on a problem rather than by a few hundred elected politicians who are restrained by factionalism and dogma.
Allocated citizens may serve for approximately three months — long enough to become confident decision-makers but short enough not to lose touch with everyday life — and receive their normal income in compensation. They don't need specific expertise. Work done by the Jefferson Center in the US and the newDemocracy Foundation in Australia shows that people take responsibility when given it.
Policy is enacted by a collegiate executive of expert administrators whose members are chosen on merit by the allocated members of the assemblies. This means that the Department of Health, for example, is run by a health practitioner rather than a politician appointed by patronage. The executive, and therefore the civil service, are directly accountable to the people via the assemblies and can be removed at any time by a vote of no confidence.
"It enables citizens to govern themselves from within their own communities,
giving them the means to manage their own economies."
By fostering collaborative, interconnected and self-sustaining social, political and economic communities, the Ordinary People model significantly strengthens resilience to threats and challenges, enabling government at local, national and international levels to act quickly, with legitimacy and with an irrefutable mandate.
A model of government is complex — it has a lot of moving parts that act upon each other to form a functioning system — but the Ordinary People model is actually a more streamlined system than the one we have now. Most of its key elements — separation of powers, checks and balances, negative interest complimentary currencies and even sortition in place of elections — aren't new, but have proven to be effective throughout human history. Its merits are argued here.
Brexit is tearing the British political establishment apart. The consequences of Brexit, in whatever form it eventually takes, will open the door to new solutions. We need to reconcile both sides of the argument to the proposition of taking control for real. Brexit can be an opportunity to take Britain back to the future, to build a confident, dynamic, resilient and democratic society that leads the world in innovation. We need to act now!
The politics of hope rather than fear.
Rather than have ever-greater austerity imposed on us from the top down with no end in sight, rather than live in fear of a world that appears to be running out of control, rather than being at the mercy of corporations whose economic power is filling the political void, rather than face a dystopian future in which we lack any sense of security or agency or wellbeing, the Ordinary People model gives ordinary citizens the means to take control of their own futures.
The legitimate way to change the system isn't easy, but it's surprisingly simple.
Revolutions aren't necessary. We, the people, merely need to beat the political class at its own game.
The role of Ordinary People Governing Themselves in the process of change is to facilitate, encourage and support you to do it yourself:
- Start (or join) a community group in your political constituency. Call it 'Arise [the name of your constituency]' (but check with us first to find out if one already exists nearby).
- Form a national political 'party-of-convenience' (a practical necessity under British electoral law) with Arise groups in other constituencies to campaign together on a platform of system change.
- Raise a campaign fund (rather like we're doing now on Crowdfunder)
- Do what political parties do: hold regular meetings, take to social media, talk to neighbours and knock on doors.
- Choose an able candidate from within your group to stand for election as your MP on condition they sign a pledge to resign from office the moment transition to participative democracy is completed.
- Achieve a majority at Westminster as well as in the devolved Scottish and Northern Ireland Parliaments and in the Welsh Assembly.
- Hold a referendum. If the majority in a British referendum can be persuaded to vote for something as potentially destructive as Brexit, then it’s not unreasonable to imagine that a majority could be persuaded to vote for something as potentially productive as the right to participate in government.
Think it can't be done? Remember that Emmanuel Macron's La République En Marche came from nowhere to win both the French Presidential elections and an absolute majority in the National Assembly elections in just over one year.
Of course the establishment will resist, but together we can win!
About Ordinary People Governing Themselves
Ordinary People is not a political party. It is a non-partisan association (a thinktank) that exists to propagate an idea, not just in Britain but also around the world. That idea is a system of government that reconciles a diversity of political opinion, so you are very welcome to join us as an associate irrespective of whether you belong to a political party. There's no fee to join. Simply email, like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to be kept abreast of developments.
If you decide to become an activist for system change in the manner described above, we'll do everything we can to support you. We're going to make history together!
If you have questions (you're bound to have questions!) please ask. We'll respond as quickly as we can. A successful Crowdfunder campaign will enable us to respond faster and more efficiently so your pledges and donations are vitally important to the momentum of our campaign for change.
The money we raise will be used to stimulate and facilitate debate, create awareness and mobilise support for the idea, not to fight elections or become involved in partisan politics. By pledging for one of our rewards you will help us to build our organisation and create awareness of the idea at same time.
We will develop a comprehensive website, produce materials for use by community groups, arrange public meetings and organise public relations campaigns. Meeting our target will allow us to open a small office, purchase equipment and hire an administrator.
We'll communicate regularly with our associates and supporters as our grassroots grow. Give us your ideas. Suggest ways the model can be improved and implemented. Please share this Crowdfunder campaign as much as you can on social media and tell your friends about it. Pledge or donate whatever you can.
#TakeControl (for real).
Hello. I'm Martin Wilding, the founder of Ordinary People Governing Themselves and the primary designer of the Ordinary People model (with ideas borrowed or adapted from Tocqueville, Montesquieu, Gessel, Aristotle, the Athenians and a host of others). I blog occasionally in the Huffington Post (here and here). I have appeared on television and radio, and have been interviewed in the press about the principles expounded above. I am currently writing A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Government, which will be the subject of a separate self-publishing fundraising campaign in the near future.
I am old enough to have lived through a period of history when the Vietnam War came to an end, Nelson Mandela was released from prison and the Berlin Wall came down as communism collapsed in Europe.
All of these events appeared unlikely beforehand, the issues preventing them seeming too intractible ever to be resolved. Yet happen they did. This leads me to believe that anything is possible — even the adoption of a radical new political system in the face of powerful opposition from vested interests — given the resolve to make it happen.
I realise this sets me odds with an establishment intent on maintaining the status quo. But I believe that, given the opportunity to take control of their own lives, enough people will stand with me to achieve change for the common good.
The Ordinary People model is the result of years spent studying the mechanics of public administration, considering solutions that have proven effective throughout the course of human history, and combining them in a model that will achieve more stable, effective and efficient government based on a legitimacy derived directly from the governed.
The aim of the model is to achieve the form of democracy Abraham Lincoln described as "government of the people, by the people, for the people" so that all of humanity "will have a new birth of freedom". I think it conforms to that lofty ideal.
We are arguably at a fork in the road between a utopian and a dystopian future. I am striving for the former rather then the latter. It would be great if you were to join me on this journey.
All the best, Martin
Heading photo credit: Julien Lagarde - Creative Commons 2.0