Democracy – From Power to Process
For as long as there have been humans, there has been some form of central authority to manage decision-making. Whether it has been the elder, the shaman, the chief, the king or the president, most societies throughout history have established their decision-making around a central figure or group which it deems most wise or knowledgeable. The problem with a central authority is that it almost always generates corruption. Of course, most of us are probably very familiar with the renowned phrase coined by historian Baron John Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” but we never stop to consider whether a central power is actually necessary.
Research conducted at the beginning of 2012 has now confirmed this intuitive understanding; power does indeed corrupt, and here's why: Power is extremely addictive, so addictive, in fact, that it has been said to be an equivalent of cocaine (yes, cocaine). So what do we know about addiction? What are its effects? Apathy, irrationality, selfishness... sound familiar, don't they? We couldn't come up with more accurate descriptions of our elected politicians and corporate leaders if we tried. So with this said, what if I told you there is another way? What if societal decision-making didn't have to be orientated around central individuals or groups, but an emergent knowledge base and methodology? An ever-evolving referent which grew as our collective understanding grew. In such a dogmatic culture human decision-making can never be free from bias. Instead we must adopt a new approach, one rooted in scientifically tested, universally applicable knowledge and methods, housed in a database, which can be queried to arrive at the most appropriate resolution for a particular problem at that given time.
This is a similar approach used in scientific communities around the globe today. Research is conducted and conclusions are made, which are then verified by other research groups and eventually the knowledge and methods are acknowledged universally. On a societal scale, such a system could enable a decentralisation of social operations. There would be no need to have social and economic power in the hands of people, but rather decisions would emerge from the processes conducted by decentralised groups of voluntary participants. And in a system which decentrally verified the results, corruption would not be possible. This is the democracy proposed by The Zeitgeist Movement, void of any one person's self-interest, dogma or limitation - a holistic, interdependently verified process. The Global Redesign Institute is a project currently being set-up by The Zeitgeist Movement to allow such an environment to grow and facilitate the development of sustainable alternatives to our current infrastructure.