The Collective Mind – Politics in the technological age

We are told democracy emerged in ancient Greece
And that democracy is an ongoing experiment
Running only for the last number of centuries

Until recently, due to the limitations of technology
The democratic platform necessitated the use of a representative system
So representatives could act as agents for their electors
– In running state and local matters

The two main reasons why a representative system was preferred to the more “natural” democratic choice- the referendum, are:
Lack of space – there was no hall big enough to contain all the countries citizens
Lack of time – there was not enough time, to give every citizen an opportunity to review and discuss any small or big matter

Today, due to communication technology,
New circumstances have been created
…We shall return to them later…

I’ve been participating in demonstrations lately
And have noticed that each time,
While several dozen people are demonstrating
A quadruple amount of people are at a nearby mall
And at least a triple amount of people are driving in vehicles, passing us by

In these demonstrations
We carry banners
We stand and make speeches
As though we were still in Athens 500 B.C
An not at the margins of an intersection in the 21st century
… One of at least 5,000 unmanned intersections of the same size, in our country alone…

Where it not for photography and the kind reviews of some supportive media
Our demonstrations would have fallen within the category –
Referred to by the Zen question:
“If a tree falls down in a forest, and no one is there to hear It, Does it make a sound?”

And even with media coverage –
Our demonstrations drown in a sea of other entertainment programs…

It is a common view that there is a growing mistrust of the old political system
– Not only in Israel, but all over the world…

The voters have gotten used to the fact that promises aren’t being kept
So they vote out of habit,
Out of hatred for their opposition,
Or out of sheer despair
– Without any research, care, or attention…

The public feels as though they have no influence over their public lives
…No influence on the way things are managed
…And frankly…They are quite right…

Because we:
Green movements
Human rights organizations
Workers unions
Peace movements
Animal rights organizations
And many more
Are mostly engaged in rearguard actions

We frantically run from crisis to crisis
From one case of corruption to the next
Putting out fires instead of working at the core

The many important campaigns that we organize
Even if successful
Are just cures for random symptoms –
Instead a treatment for the disease
Instead of the management of a healthy governmental lifestyle

The political game – As a computer game…

If politics had belonged to the category of computer games
Computer game designers would have remarked that:

1. Politics is not interactive enough – as the user only makes a mere – one single action every number of years.
2. Politics is not responsive enough – as the user cannot receive a real-time-comprehensive- picture of what is actually going on
3. Politics is not user friendly enough – as the public only receives a very limited perspective, especially on foreign relations –
While on the rest of the issues – such as economy, infrastructure, energy, environment, health, education – the public receives an incomprehensible and partial blur intended only for professionals…

The public votes every number of years
And hardy sees or knows anything –
About what their representatives have been doing with their vote

One action every number of years…
Hard to get, unclear and partial feedback… instead of real-time, user friendly feedback:

Who would like to play such a boring computer game?

It is no wonder the general public is so indifferent to the political game…

It is not the economical, social or emotional state of the public
It is the accessibility of the political process
That is at fault

As written at the beginning of this article
A new reality of global communication networks is upon us:
The Internet

This new reality can give rise to a new form of democracy
A democracy that returns to its original vision:
A people’s government –
By the people – For the people

The internet is gradually giving birth to a new entity – “The collective mind”
You can already see the birth of a shared mental resources system:
You can find current information on various subjects from all over the globe
You can find ideas and solutions on various subjects from all over the globe

…But you are still out of the decision process
Unable to makes decisions
Unable to cast your vote on matters

We are in need of a governmental-communication system
That is like an ongoing online referendum –
Like a social network with real power

Humanity, through communication technology can think & act as a collective mind
If we give it real Input & Output:

1. Input – A Governmental Transparency System
A vast system of photography, recording, transcription and content editing –
Of every decision made in government and all its branches –
And every execution of every policy –
Available to every citizen on a user-friendly website

Current democracy is blind
Because we have no way to know what government is doing
We have no way to detect corruption and favoritism
We have no way to truly tell how policies are made or executed

Every public servant must agree to pay the price of privacy-
As he or she must be a model of diligence and integrity-
And a transparency system is the only way to verify that

2. Output – A Referendum System
The creation of a secure referendum system
In which citizens can vote on a large number of state and local issues
From their own personal computer at home
And according to their views, their good conscience
and based on the information they receive from the Transparency System

(In the smaller details of issues, which it is impractical for citizens to vote on
They can choose between representatives and professionals
Who have to relinquish their privacy to public scrutiny)

In summation,

Old politics “sells” the public ideals and policies
New politics “sells” the public a governmental communication system
– In which the public can decide for themselves

…Parties should not only suggest new visions for the ecology, economy and such
But also a new vision of the democratic process…

It is vital that we give the public the tools to be informed
And the tools to make an influence
And not merely offer ourselves as representatives

If the public could be informed
And the public could act
Most of our campaigns would be over before they even begin

Because whether left or right wing
Capitalist or socialist
Religious or agnostic
Most of an informed public would agree on most social and environmental issues

There is a broad range of things which can be accomplished in a networked referendum system – and are stuck due to the representative system

It is my opinion that emerging political parties nowadays
Can be like Start-Up companies who try to get funding

A party can design a theoretical prototype of a new Democratic Platform
Which it can present to the public – On Election Day

Implementation of this system requires governmental backing and resources –
But its design only requires a few imaginative and clear minded people

Slogan – “The Green Movement – Planting the seeds of a New Democracy”

🙂

– – –

About the author

Oshri Hilznerath

I am a Yoga teacher, film director and computer game designer,
a member of the Israel Green Movement


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