Optimism is a political act. In fact, these days, cynicism is obedience. - Alex Steffen
The world is long overdue for a completely new system of governance. The need for political representation or a paternalistic and opaque authority has been removed by technology. Governance by nation states is now as arbitrary and illogical as city states were earlier found to be. Corporations have the freedom to live in a world without borders or social responsibility, to own property no individual can claim and to control a one world government and legal system, with insupportable consequences for the world's resources and individual rights. To effect the change we require in 2012, to give individuals control and responsibility, to bring regional systems under regional governance and protect the heritage of future generations, we need a new political model.
In any system where groups have power, individual rights are always at risk. Both pure democracy and communism have brought human rights horrors every bit as reprehensible as fascist states; in order to guard against genocide, torture, and other persecution of individuals in the name of the greater good, a system must safeguard individual rights above all other authority.
Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies that individual rights are to be applied equally without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. With the addition of age, this would prevent discrimination against any group. Groups are not individuals and no group is entitled to special and further rights or protections under individual rights.
A recognition of individual rights will include life, liberty, security of person, access to the basic essentials of life including knowledge, privacy and personal autonomy in matters not affecting the rest of society, free development of personality and potential, and a fair legal system which does not promote wishes of the group over rights of the individual.
Autonomous peer to peer user groups for systems
Governments up till now have been run by hierarchical groups, which act as the final authority on all topics for an entire region for an arbitrarily specified length of time or until they are overthrown by another group. What these authorities govern is a series of systems, controlled by the state or corporations, and run as dictatorships where workers' individual rights are exchanged for the basic necessities of life. These systems have profit for the top of the hierarchy as their objective; they are not set up to provide an efficient or superior service or product to the users.
If these systems were organized as autonomous, transparent, porous, peer to peer user groups, they would be far better governed by themselves. The current political structure does not recognize that every system is not of concern or interest to everyone in the region, or that some users have far greater knowledge and expertise in specific areas than others. We need a system where responsibility and control rests with the entire user group and expertise is acknowledged and put to best use.
Autonomous: each user group should consist of all people affected by the system and no people not affected by the system.
Transparent: all information related to the system must be fully transparent in order for users to participate in tasks or auditing.
Porous: contribution at all levels of each user group must be open to all users with acceptance by peer review.
Peer to peer: each user group should consist of users: audit and provide feedback, contributors: interested users who periodically present work for acceptance by the members, members: have acquired expertise and been accepted as full contributing members by the user group, and a core group: recognized by the group as having the necessary level of expertise to provide direction for the system.
Meritocracy: A side effect of these user groups is that they provide workers with the three motivators which provide the greatest job satisfaction, autonomy, mastery and purpose. People can work on anything they like, they are not required to submit resumes, acquire accreditation, seniority, or approval from an individual authority. If their work is good enough it will be accepted by the user group. Everyone can work on the system that interests them, doing the jobs at the level they are capable of, with as much or as little involvement as they choose.
Systems should be organized by user groups, not by nations or treaties. International systems would include things such as the internet, telecommunications and knowledge, local systems would include things such as transit, food production and social services, and in any situation where only one family or an individual is affected, the responsibility would lie with only them. Each local user group or individual would have access to outside user groups for trade, shared knowledge, disaster relief, etc., autonomous but networked.
Anything which is not only of global interest but also does not belong to any one generation cannot be destroyed and cannot be claimed as the property of any individual, group, corporation or government. Global commons would include space, the atmosphere and electromagnetic field, deep sea ocean, land and water masses of sufficient size to have global impact, areas of the biosphere which are rare or important enough to be of global concern, and knowledge. Knowledge includes discoveries, history, creative works, and the information people require in order to govern themselves and excludes personal information regarding individuals. There should be no restriction on the use of ideas, although creativity needs to be compensated and credited.
Anything belonging to the global commons must be held under stewardship of a porous and transparent peer to peer organization set up for the purpose, and the mandate for all global commons must include the protection and preservation of the commons. All systems which affect the commons must work with the commons in their design and implementation.
Image credit MauroB