Why local representation makes for bad democracy

The picture below shows the level of support in my local area for my political views – pretty much the lowest possible!

Source: uk.isidewith.com

So what, you might ask? Well, what it means is there is a very high possibility that my local representative will (1) not share my views and (2) be responsible for representing more people who disagree with me than agree with me.  It’s just isn’t possible for someone to do both.

I have posted before that the need for local representation was originally created in previous centuries, when your representative living a long way off meant that effectively only the very rich, who could afford to travel, would have their voices heard.  But that is not the case in the early 21st century – we regularly hold long and meaningful conversations with people on the other side of the globe, never mind the other end of the country.

You could argue that I can always move, if I want to be adequately represented.  After all, a quick trip down the South Coast line, and I’d be in sunny Brighton, where there is the strongest support for my views.  Even a little shuffle sideways into Kent would get me pretty strong agreement with my views, and a much greater chance of being well-represented.  But there are two issues with that: the first is, why should I (and all the other people of all political hues) have to move to get decent democracy? And the second is, that would create even greater division within our country.

I know I’m a bit weird, a bit of an outlier, but does that mean I lose my right to representation?  And what about all the other outliers – to left and right of me – do they not deserve real effective representation too?  Or is it only the middle ground, those willing to toe the various party lines, who get to have democracy?

The answer, as I have said before, is to move away from a party-based system of local representation, and instead have our representatives elected on the basis of the issues that they are willing to take up. Here’s the post where I first suggested this: http://www.life7bn.com/are-we-truly-represented/


Don’t be fooled …

The new US President is no fool.

It seemed inconceivable even as little as 6 months ago that he could really become POTUS.  A loud, ignorant, brutish man, with little political savvy and even less sense of decorum.  And yet, here we are, with Executive Orders seeing long-term, legal, US residents getting removed from their flights home, and facing a three month wait before they can return, if ever.

But do not make the mistake of believing that Donald J Trump is an idiot. He has made a career – and a fortune – out of a negotiating style that uses bluff and bluster, and not a little sleight of hand, to get his way – to enrich himself.  This is what he has brought to the White House.

With his close team doing all manner of strange things, from eviscerating departments to describing blatant untruths as “alternative facts”, or seemingly mistaking a living civil rights leader for his dead father, we are kept on the hop. We just don’t know what’s real any more – and that’s the way they want it.

I would urge you to take a look at the similarities with the way Vladislav Surkov has used misdirection and confusion to hobble opposition to Russia’s President Putin (see http://clamour.co.uk/surkov-and-the-politics-of-confusion/ for more).  Trump’s team are showing many signs of using similar tactics; he may not be sophisticated, but he is not stupid.

When we focus on Sean Spicer’s (apparent) incompetence, or on Trump’s (apparent) thin skin; when we make pejorative reference to his (apparently) tiny appendages, or his (apparent) ire about unflattering photos; when we call him things like “orange man-child” (amusing though that is) – when we do any of that, we are playing into his hands, and allowing ourselves to become focused on the minutiae.

This level of “resist-and-react” opposition is not going to work. A pull back to the previous political landscape is destined to fail – the old politics was already failing, that’s why we needed a Trump, and we cannot go back.  The only way forward from here is to a different politics altogether, one where people of like mind can come together for particular issues, then dissolve and regroup in different ways, to create other things that matter. The days of bi-partisan “align-and-agree” are numbered.

Make no mistake, one way or another, we are watching the end of the current form of democracy.  It can go many ways from here – to a Trumpian dictatorship designed to enrich just an oligarch class of billionaires, or to a utopian experience of universal care and compassion that enriches the whole of mankind on many levels. Or anything in between – and how it pans out is up to us.

Just don’t underestimate The Donald – that would be a dangerous mistake.

Delusions of separation

When we define and label others we make them less.

A person who happens to have black skin.
A black person.
A Black!

A person who chooses to follow the jewish faith.
A jewish person.
A Jew!

A person with light hair
A blonde person.
A Blonde!

A person who is very good with computers.
A technical person.
A Nerd!

The more succinct the label, the more likely it is to carry some degree of pejorative energy, making the person less (than us?)

All these labels focus on only one aspect of the the person, and seeks to lump them all together with other people ‘like them’ – separate.
Something judgeable, “Not like us” (whoever the heck “us” might be!)

And they ignore all the multifaceted gorgeousness that the individuals are.

When we name them ‘something-or-other’ we are making them not something else – maybe even not everything else?

Black; not white
Jew; not my religion (or not the other religions)
Blonde; not brunette (or not bright, or not undesirable, or lots of other loaded interpretations!)
Nerd; not social
… even Conscious; not stupid!

What if we were all part of one big thing, mankind, even consciousness?
What if every attempt at creating separation – at being separate – was just a false concept, designed to keep us unconscious, unconnected, divided, impotent?

And what if we could choose something different? Right now.

Living the dream?

I just read The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly – it’s a nice little tale of a business that wakes up to its role in helping the people who work for it to be the best version of themselves they can be.

The way they do that is by appointing a “Dream Manager” whose job is to help employees to first dream up, and then realise the things they really want from life.  In the story, that’s everything from owning their own home to simply having a proper Christmas.

It got me thinking – maybe the real reason organisations exist is not, as I have thought up until now, to help people bring their talent to the world, but simply to help them be happy.  Of course, they can probably be happier if the work they do is intrinsically meaningful, but perhaps this ‘dream manager’ approach is a good way to deal with those who find themselves having to do mundane work.

What do you think?

What are organisations really for?

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while – I think modern organisations – especially corporate ones – have forgotten what they are really for.

History of organisations

Back when people started to organise into collaborative groups, aka tribes, the purpose was initially strength in numbers. Over time, individuals gravitated to the tasks they were best at; and the tribe came to rely on them to get that task done. Whatever someone had a penchant for doing, so long as the tribe found that activity useful in some way – including pure entertainment value – the tribe would adjust itself to allow ways for each person’s special talent (or Genius, in my lexicon) to be used as fully as possible.

As tribes became cultures, and then societies, and then economies, they became too large to operate as a homogeneous whole, and they split into smaller units, each with a need for certain tasks too be carried out, and opportunities for those with a penchant for those tasks to provide value by doing them.

The first real commercial organisations were the crafts guilds, providing a way for talented people to learn a trade and bring their value to the world. From these came small businesses, with a Master taking on Journeymen and Apprentices – still with the purpose of making it possible for the individuals to bring their genius and value to others.

Rise of the Company

Then, at a certain point in history, mechanisation meant that if someone made a large investment in machinery, it was possible to generate more value from the same number of workers. And that was when the focus shifted from collaboration aimed at helping the individual’s talent reach the customer, to organisation aimed at getting the most from the machines in which the owners had invested their capital. Getting a return on capital took over as the primary concern; capitalism had arrived.

For a long time, capitalism played a valuable role in fuelling human development, and made significant contributions to improving mankind’s lot. The returns expected by the owners of the capital seemed justified, given the contribution they were funding to a better life. People stopped dying of preventable disease (in the developed world at least), and life-spans grew longer.

Shareholder Focus

Somewhere along the way, some bright spark had the idea of getting lots of people with money to each put in a bit of capital to buy machinery, build factories, develop new products, all in exchange for a share in the company – in the form of share certificates. So now, instead of one beneficial owner with a clear vision of what the business is there to do, there are multiple owners, who may or may not agree on its purpose.

Add to that the fact that these multiple owners then worked out that if you could get a nice return from a share in one business, you could probably do even better with shares in several. So each owner’s focus became less clear too – a recipe for confusion about what each business was supposed to be achieving.

Trading away purpose

And then another bright spark came up with the idea of an “exchange” where you could sell your shares, so now investors could easily get away from their involvement with the companies if they became irksome to them, or if things started going a bit pear-shaped. And yet another bright spark came up with the idea of putting your spare money (capital) into a “fund” that someone else would run, investing your money for you, in lots of different companies. And finally, a whole bunch of bright sparks came up with the idea of “derivative” investments, so they weren’t even investing in companies at all!

At every stage, ownership and control moved further away from any connection with what the business was actually for. Investors are no longer nobly contributing to something they want to see getting out into the world, they are just too far removed from what’s actually going on inside the companies. The only way they can know if their money is being used effectively is by the amount of profit they see getting paid out as dividends. The profit motive has now usurped the proper purpose of a business.

Real purpose

I believe if you go back to the origins of organisations, the proper purpose of any organisation, whether commercial, public sector or charitable, is to enable those who work in it to use their skills, talents and unique genius to make the world a better place for some group of other people – whether that’s by designing and building smart motor cars, by putting on amazing and amusing entertainment, or by providing the wherewithal to bring clean water to communities in the developing world.

And my question is: how can this true purpose retake the primacy that the profit motive usurped?

Are we truly represented?

Is our geography-based system of representation still the best form of democracy?

After all the shenanigans of the Brexit referendum here in the UK, I have found myself pondering upon what democracy really is, and how best to design a system of representation that delivers it.

Democracy is generally understood to be government of the people, by the people, for the people.  In practice, that usually becomes not by the people, but on behalf of the people.  We elect representatives to re-present our views in a parliament, and we have to trust that they will do so.

I’m basing this article on the UK, but in most democracies, like the UK, we elect our representatives based on geography.  That has practical advantages – we can trot along to our local MP’s (or equivalent) surgery and tell them what we would like them to find important.  And if they are a good MP, they will take the matter up.  But it is also based in the premise that all the people in a geographical area want roughly the same things and find the same sort of things important.  The recent referendum showed how false a premise that is, with most votes being in the 51-60% range in favour of one side or the other.

And we cannot realistically expect MP’s to take up something that we are the only ones to have raised, if there are other matters that more local people are more concerned about.  MPs have limited bandwidth, and so does parliament.

That has the effect of marginalising ideas that are at the edge of the consciousness of a society.  You may say that’s as it should be – if it’s on the edges of what people are interested in, why should it get air-time in parliament?  The problem with that view is that nothing will ever change, because that leading-edge thinking gets suppressed, not by government dictat, but by it simply not getting discussed in the corridors of power.

Let’s try a thought experiment, these are not real numbers, but let’s say there are maybe 5% of the population overall who would like to see a kindness-based system of government.  With 650 MP’s, that would mean we should have 33 of them willing and able to re-present that idea in parliament.  But because each individual MP is elected by a majority (well, technically a minority much of the time) of the people in their geographical area, unless there are maybe one or two areas where the 5% of the “Kindness Rules” tribe congregate and can create a majority, they will probably not manage to get anyone at Westminster.  So they are reliant on their local Tory or Labour MP bringing it up, which is unlikely, because (quite rightly) they are focussed on what the majority who elected them want.

I find myself asking: why do we continue to define constituencies by geography?  It made sense when the system was originally designed – centuries ago – when difficulty of communication meant having someone local was important.  And most people’s major concerns were about local issues, the wider world having little effect on them.  But with modern technology enabling the communication and discussion of issues much more widely, could we not select our representatives from across the nation, based on their views rather than where they live?

There are all sorts of difficulties with putting such a system in place, not least the potential length of the ballot paper in each polling station!  But again, technology could provide an answer – perhaps with voters selecting their choice electronically.  The risks associated with that are amusingly demonstrated in a fictional US Presidential election in the movie “Man of the Year” with Robin Williams, but I am sure it is not beyond the wit of C21 man to come up with a solution – perhaps mini-printers in polling booths printing off physical ballot slips?  Or a list of candidates posted on the wall with reference numbers for voters to copy onto ballot papers.

Those are just off the top of my head, I am certain the geeks can come up with something equally as robust as what we currently have.

Of course, we probably won’t ever see anything like that, because the sheer variety of candidates and views has the potential to destroy the relevance of political parties, so they would probably all use the massively-undemocratic “three-line whip” to defeat anything that came close, as the major parties have with PR in the past.

But imagine if we did – what if you could elect someone who genuinely represented your true views about the way you want the world to be?

Why they want us beFUDdled …

Have you ever wondered why governments and the mainstream media are always so keen to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt by reminding us how much danger we are in, everywhere and every day?

Whether that’s from ‘a massive influx’ of refugees, or being ‘swamped’ by immigrants from other parts of the EU (substitute other neighbouring state if you’re not from the UK); from drugs gangs or wildfires or just people of some other religion; or from the latest ‘unstoppable’ health pandemic (that mysteriously stops almost overnight – or at least doesn’t get reported any more).  Or any one of dozens of things that we are told could harm us / kill us / ‘destroy our way of life’.

Because their mates in the Military Industrial Complex want to sell them more tanks and guns and missiles, right?

Well, no, not really.  Or perhaps I mean ‘not only’ – that is certainly one of their objectives.

But there’s a far bigger reason why propagating an atmosphere of fear is good for those who seek to control us.

Physiologically, there is a big effect that fear has on us: it puts us into “Fight or Flight” mode.  As well as diverting resources away from our organs to our extremities – the bits we need to either hit people or run away – it also closes down our finer reasoning ability.

There’s a good evolutionary reason behind that: we really don’t want to be having an internal debate about that sabre-toothed tiger’s intentions towards us, and whether we might be able to avoid conflict if we talk to it nicely.  We just want to – need to – either lop off its head, or leg it! Any other thought process is redundant until the threat (feeling of fear) has passed.

And there’s a good political reason behind ‘our masters’ wanting us to be constantly afraid: it stops us getting wise to what they are up to.

When we are in a state of constant fear (or uncertainty, or doubt), our critical thinking is impaired, and we don’t see what is going on.  We don’t notice our rights being slowly eroded, in the guise of protecting us from what they have made us fear.  We don’t see the subtle (and not-so-subtle) diversion of our tax money to their mates in the arms and drugs companies.  We don’t realise that our economies are being slowly undermined by fake ‘money’ that is nothing more than bits and bytes in a computer programme.  And we don’t see that cash is steadily being outlawed – and it’s the only way we get to operate outside of the electronic net (hmmm, interesting use of language there) they have us all tangled up in.

The simple reason fear, uncertainty and doubt is so valuable to those who seek to govern us, is that it stops us thinking straight!

Has technology been holding us back?

I was participating today in an Access Consciousness vision body process class, and we were discussing how maybe being issued with glasses was making our eyes lazy, relying on the corrective lenses rather than strengthening their own ability to correct weakness.  That got me thinking about all the other tech we have come to rely on, to help us do stuff we don’t think we can do without it.

What if all this tech as actually just getting in the way of us finding more natural, innate ways to do what we have turned to tech for?

Continue reading “Has technology been holding us back?”

Why “to the seven billionth power”?

It’s simple really. With seven billion of us here sharing planet earth, everything any one of us does has the opportunity to impact, directly or indirectly, any one of the other seven billion.

Each action affects those around us, and cannot help but affect the actions they take – maybe only in small ways, maybe greatly.  And each of their actions affect those around them. Actions squared.  And theirs affect the next layer.  Actions cubed.  Then actions to the fourth power … and 5th, 6th, 7th, … all the way up to the 7 billionth power.

Nothing we do, think or say in life is insignificant; everything has the potential to go the to 7bnth power.  Life 7bn

This site is where I share my more far-out musings and ponderings on how we create a world that is more compassionate, more effective, and more fun to live in.  Feel free to challenge anything I post – the deeper the conversations go, the more chance we have of changing the world.

Continue reading “Why “to the seven billionth power”?”