"Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world" - Arthur Schopenhauer
The word 'politics' comes from the Greek word, 'politikos', meaning 'of, for, or relating to citizens', and is generally used to describe the running of state and government affairs. In representative democracies around the world, people elect politicians to represent and execute their collective will. So goes the fairy tale.
The reality is quite different. In many cases, politicians have a profound influence over policy in fields they have little or no background in. Take George Osborne, currently the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer, who studied modern history at Oxford and has no significant background or experience in economics. In other words, we have someone with no relevant qualifications whatsoever in possession of decisive power over economic policy that affects millions of people.
When it became clear that his policies were not working, were in fact detrimental, a large group of real economists, true experts in their field, sent an open letter to Osborne, practically begging him to try their 'Plan B'.
But no...stay the course.
If you need a solution to an economic problem, you go to an economist, or even better, a group of economists. This is obviously preferable to trusting one woefully unqualified person, who may be following a radical agenda of his own or his party; so obvious it is embarrassing to write such a statement. Yet we nonetheless persist with this ludicrous state of affairs.
We have considered just one example, but there are politicians in power in representative democracies all around the world who have no significant background or experience in the departments they are responsible for. Why are politicians trusted with so much power when all the great advances for humanity have come from the citizenry: academics, doctors, scientists, artists, writers and activists? How many politicians have significantly advanced the progress of the human civilization?
The theory, of course, is that politicians will listen to their scientists, economists and other experts before formulating policy, but alas that is not the case. Policy is dictated far more by lobbyists for big corporations. Imagine health policy being written with help from representatives of McDonald's and the like. You'd scoff at the very thought, wouldn't you? Oh.
Ironically, the spirit of the idea of David Cameron's Big Society is a very good one, namely a society in which the aim is 'to create a climate that empowers local people and communities, building a big society that will take power away from politicians and give it to people'. This is the kind of language that we often find in party manifestos, a benign and expansive claim lacking any details, but it is coincidentally the theme of this blog. Is David Cameron really advocating a direct democracy, where the power is truly in the hands of the people, not the politicians?
Sadly, he is not.
Put briefly, a direct democracy is a system in which committees of experts formulate policy. These experts are carefully vetted to ensure they do not have conflicts of interest, like payments from lobbyists or documented advocacy of corporate interests. These policies are created by consensus then presented to the people to be voted upon. These votes could take place just twice a year, or more often in emergencies.
In the past, this was almost impossible for various reasons, not least cost and inconvenience. However, the internet now reaches into almost every home in developed countries. Software is available to ensure there is no voter fraud. Websites like the UK government's E-petitions demonstrate that it is perfectly viable for large numbers of people to vote online. For those few people who still have no internet access, other arrangements could be made, such as using public libraries as voting centers.
Under such a system, politicians would simply not be required; only a civil service charged with administrating the will of the people. As a great added bonus, with the extinction of politicians, corporate lobbyists would also be crippled as they would have no powerful individuals to influence behind the scenes.
Imagine it: dietary experts writing food safety policy; scientists creating energy policy; education experts making education policy. It's a litany of the bleeding obvious...and a sad, sad comment on the dysfunctional nature of our current so-called democracies that we do not already follow such a system.
Representative democracy has failed - demonstrated as eminently corruptible - leading to unnecessary misery for millions while an elite few possess obscene amounts of wealth. Direct democracy would remove from the equation all the factors that corrupt true democracy. My free book (see postscript below) serves as an introduction. Overcome system justification and open your mind to a new system of government.
'The 99.99998271% - Why the Time is Right for Direct Democracy’ by Simon Wood is available for free download. In this 70-page book, the current state of human rights and democracy is discussed, and a simple method of implementing direct democracy is suggested.
Simon Wood on twitter (simonwood11) and Facebook or at his blog.