Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Oakland! Occupy Portland! Occupy Boston! Occupy LA! Please read this. Please try to understand it. Please try to implement it.
One of the highest VALUES paraded in every protest we see is the word DEMOCRACY. And the protesters ALL want “better” democracy. What philosophers have long understood, and what the average person does not understand, is that the form of democracy established by the Greeks, in either its representative or direct form, was FATALLY FLAWED! They quickly found that out. It only lasted in Athens for 40 years! That flaw is commonly referred to as the “tyranny of the majority”. We also know it as “majority rules” or “lynch mob democracy”.
What that means is, in short, no matter how well we control voting access, or fraud, as soon as a VOTE is taken, the minority (the losers of the vote), do NOT get what they want. Their freedoms are suppressed. So, why do we put up with this? Why don’t we change it? Because, for 2500 years, people thought this was the best alternative! They thought it was the ONLY way for people to get “a voice”. This “voting” process is cherished like a shrine by the whole Occupy movement. While they realize there are major flaws with representative democracy, their response is to grab on to direct democracy, failing to acknowledge the fact that the direct democracy voting principle itself is still flawed.
SO, I’m on a crusade to END this tragedy once and for all. And yes, not only have I recognized this flaw, but I’ve constructed a solution for it. I’m only going to summarize it here. To read a more complete description, please look at A3society.org , the Democracy tab, Tyranny of the Majority and Fixing Democracy pages.
In short, the flaw in the principle arises because we view the voting process in light of our two party system. To align with that system, we CONSTRUCT laws in a TWO OPTION format. We then vote on the two options, i.e. A vs. B, or yes vs. no, and end up with ONE result. This is then forced on everyone. Again, most people can’t even imagine that there might be another way. But a very simple example shows us a very different approach.
Let’s say a group of people decide to go as a group to the beach. Using our current model of democracy, two people, Jim and Jill, are selected to prepare lists of things which the group needs to take. A vote will be taken on which list to use – MAJORITY RULES! Sounds fair, right?
Jim presents his list: 6 coolers of beer, pretzels, 6 Frisbees. Jill presents her list: hamburgers, buns, potato salad, green salad, soda for the kids, napkins, hand wipes etc. 3 pages! Two other people are then selected to “debate” the lists. Joe speaks for Jim: “short and sweet list; not much to carry.” Jane speaks for Jill: “Our list is much better. Jill considered everyone. It’s an all day event. We’d starve if we accepted Jim’s list.” Joe responds, “Jill’s list is hopeless. There’s no beer, pretzels OR Frisbees.”
OK. Time to vote! The vote is 53%/47%. 8 men, including the bachelor on the block, voted for Jim’s list; 7 women voted for Jill’s list. Jim’s list was the winner! Well – almost. The women then had their own meeting and decided to boycott the event. So, the beach was cancelled and everyone lost.
While this is obviously an overly simple example, it is an accurate analogy to show how the democratic system of voting we have now is DESIGNED for failure. Here are some reasons:
The process immediately limits (over constrains) the choices. Only 2 alternatives are available to pick from. This is a major failure of a two party system.
By limiting the choices, it creates a simple, black and white, adversary environment. The use of just 2 options, yes / no, or A vs. B, “characterizes” the process as a contest, thereby implying “opponents”. This model feeds on strongly inherited psychological drives which tap into strong human emotions.
To develop a “winning” strategy, the issues are exaggerated to clarify them and “polarize” the voters. People are then FORCED to select from sets of exaggerated options that neither side really wants. The process changes from a “selection” process to an “avoidance” process – voting to NOT GET something we most don’t want.
To avoid losing votes, many issues that might have value to many voters, but are controversial for a few, are left out, further narrowing the result.
Because of a similarity to warfare, also typically a 2 party process, people are pushed to take “sides” early, so personal animosities can be added to the processes, losing site of the real issues. The vote may then be decided based on social issues ( political parties ) rather than any of the real issues involved.
When the choice is finally made, only those items included in the winning package are kept. Any “good” items in the losing package are lost.
The significance of the individual is lost. The outcome is a conglomerate number, e.g. 53% / 47%.
But how can this process possibly be done any other way? We have to VOTE, don’t we? Fortunately, there are many alternatives. Most of them are pretty SIMPLE, once they are explained. Let’s plan for beach day again. This time, however, NO VOTING!
Jim and Jill “volunteer” to be supply “coordinators. Jim offers to start. “I think we need beer, pretzels and Frisbees. “This is where the process changes. He asks, “Who wants beer?” 12 hands go up, some with one finger raised, some with 2 fingers. Jill counts the fingers and writes down: beer – 18. “Who wants pretzels?” 6 hands go up. Jill writes down: pretzels – 2 bags. “Frisbees?” 4. Jill also has some ideas, “obviously we’re going to need food, drinks for adults and kids, utensils, games, toys. Let’s start with the food. Any ideas?” The group replies, “hamburgs and hot dogs for sure; sausages here; I’ll make potato salad; Phyllis has to bring her apple pie; I’ll do the photography … etc. ”
Let me list, specifically, how this is different.
There is NO “conventional” VOTING. But voting is actually going on. In this case it is “inclusive” voting. That is, each individual person is “voting” their assent to include something.
There are NO constraints on the choices.
There are NO adversaries. There is NO contest. And when the issue of cost comes up, since each person will be expected to “pitch in” for the things they receive, that also becomes a decision totally in control of each individual.
There is NO need or value for exaggeration. People get what they want, in the form they want, at the level they want. They also DON’T GET what they DON’T WANT.
The choices are not limited any more because “some people” might not want them.
There is no longer any reason for “taking sides” or aligning with a group to get what a person wants. Choices become completely personal and are made entirely based on issues, not affiliations.
No one is denied what they want because it was not in a “package deal”. Every item is decided on individually. Furthermore, during the process, if someone overhears someone else list “chocolate fudge brownies”, which they didn’t even think of, they can ADD those to the list, without causing any hardship to the other person who came up with the idea. That is, NO ONE is forced to forego anything because it was on the losing side of a vote.
And, NOTE WELL, the FREEDOM of EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL is no longer lost down to the smallest detail, because we have chosen a poor process! This was no longer an 8 to 7 vote with 7 losing and 8 going along with Jim’s limited viewpoint. Every person’s voice was TOTALLY included. And, more profoundly, this approach would work just as well if 100, or 1000, or 1 million people were going to the beach with us!
This is how bills before congress should be constructed. THIS IS HOW THE OCCUPY GENERAL ASSEMBLY SHOULD LEARN TO DEAL WITH HUMAN FREEDOM.