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  • I don't know.

  • Kyoto, Kyoto, everyone.

  • I want to talk to you today about democracy, about the struggles that it's experiencing and the fact that all of us together in this room might be the solution.

  • But before I get onto that, I want to take a little detour into the past.

  • This is a picture from Athens, or more specifically, it's a picture of a place called the pin ICS, which is we're about 2.5 1000 years ago, the ancient Greeks, ancient Athenians gathered to take away their major political decisions together.

  • I say the ancient Athenians, in fact, was only the men actually was only the free resident property owning men.

  • But with all those failings, it was still a revolutionary idea that ordinary people were capable of dealing with the biggest issues off the time and didn't need to rely on a single, supposedly superior ruler.

  • It waas.

  • It was a way of doing things.

  • It was a political system.

  • It was, you could say, a democratic technology appropriate to the time fast forward to the 19th century, when democracy was having another flourishing moment, and the democratic technology that they were using them was representative Democracy Theo idea that you have to elect a bunch of people.

  • Uh, gentlemen, in the picture here.

  • Well, gentlemen, at the time, of course you had to elect them to look after your best interests.

  • And if you think about the conditions of the time, the fact that it was impossible to gather everybody together physically and of course, they didn't have the means together, everyone together virtually it was again, a kind of democratic technology appropriate to the time fast forward again to the 21st century.

  • And we're living through what's internationally known as the crisis of democracy.

  • What I would call the crisis of representative democracy, the sense that people are falling out of love with us as a way of getting things done, that it's not fundamentally working.

  • And we see this crisis state many forms in many different countries.

  • So in the UK, you see a country that now at times looks almost ungovernable in places like Hungary and Turkey.

  • You see very frighteningly authoritarian leaders being elected in places like New Zealand.

  • We see it in the nearly one million people who could have voted at the last general election.

  • But who chose not to.

  • Now these kinds of struggles thes sort of crisis of democracy have many roots, of course.

  • But for me, one of the biggest ones is that we haven't upgraded our democratic technology.

  • We're still far too reliant on the systems that we inherited from the 19th from the 20th century on.

  • We know this because in survey after survey, people tell us, they say, We don't think that we're getting a fear share off decision making power decisions happen somewhere else.

  • They say We don't think the current systems allow government to genuinely deliver on the common good.

  • The interests that we share is citizens.

  • They say we're much less differential than ever before and we expect more than ever before.

  • And we want more than ever before to be engaged in the big political decisions that affect us.

  • And they know that our systems of democracy have just not kept pace with either the expectations or the potential of the 21st century.

  • And for me, what that suggests is that we need a really significant upgrade of our systems of democracy.

  • That doesn't mean we throw out everything that's working about the current system because we'll always need representatives to carry out some of the complex work of running the modern world.

  • But it does mean a bit more Ethan's and a bit this Victorian England, and it also means a big shift towards what's generally called everyday democracy.

  • And it gets this name because it's about finding ways of bring democracy closer to people, giving us more meaningful opportunities to be involved in it, giving us a sense that we're not just part of government on one day every few years when we vote.

  • But we're part of it every other day of the year.

  • Now that everyday democracy has two key qualities that I've seen proved their worth time and again in the research that I've done.

  • The first is participation because it's only if we as citizens, as much as possible, get involved in the decisions that affect us.

  • That will actually get the kind of politics that we need that will actually get our common good served.

  • The second important quality is deliberation, and that's just a fancy way of saying high quality public discussion because all very well people participating.

  • But it's only when we come together and we listen to each other.

  • We engage with the evidence and reflect on our own views that we genuinely bring to the surface the wisdom and the ideas that would otherwise remain scattered and isolated amongst us as a group.

  • It's only then that the crowd really become smarter than the individual.

  • So if we asked, what could this abstract idea this everyday democracy actually look like and practice?

  • The great thing is, we don't even have to use our imaginations because thes things are already happening in pockets around the world.

  • One of my favorite quotes comes from the science fiction writer William Gibson, who once said, The future is already here.

  • It's just unevenly spread.

  • So what I want to do is share with you three things from this unevenly spread future that I'm really excited about in terms of upgrading the system of democracy that we work with three components of that potential democratic upgrade on the first of them is the citizens Assembly.

  • The idea here is that a polling company is contracted by government to draw up, say, 100 citizens who are perfectly representative of the country as a whole, so perfectly represented in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, income level and so on.

  • These people are brought together over a period of weekends or a week paid for their time and asked to discuss an issue of crucial public importance.

  • They're given training on how to discuss this.

  • She's well with each other, which will all know, of course, from our experiences valuing online, if nowhere else is not an ability that we're all born with.

  • Innate Lee more's the pity, um in the citizens assembly, people are also put in front of evidence and the experts, and they're given time to discuss the issue deeply with their fellow citizens and come to a sort of consensus recommendations.

  • So these kinds of assemblies have been used in places like Canada, where they were used to draw up a new National Action Plan on mental health for the whole country.

  • Assistant Assembly was used recently in Melbourne to basically lay the foundation off a new 10 year financial plan for the whole city so these assemblies can have real teeth.

  • Riel Wait.

  • The second key element of the Democratic upgrade participatory budgeting.

  • The idea here is that a local council or a city council takes its budget for spending on new buildings, new services and says, We're going to put a chunk of this up for the public to decide, but only after you've argued the issues over carefully with each other.

  • And so the process starts at the neighborhood level.

  • You have people meeting together in community halls, in basketball courts, making the trade offs, saying, Well, are we going to spend that money on a new health center?

  • Or are we going to spend it on safety improvements to a local road, people using their expertise in their own lives?

  • Those discussions and then sort of pushed up to the suburb award level and then again, to the city level and in full view of the public, the public themselves makes the final allocation of that budget.

  • And in the city where this all originated Porto Alegre and Brazil, a place with about a million inhabitants, as many as 50,000 people get engaged in that process every year, the third element of the upgrade online consensus forming in Taiwan.

  • A few years ago, when uber arrived on their shores, the government immediately launched a new online discussion process, using a piece of software called Palace, which is also coincidentally, we're not coincidently what the ancient Athenians call themselves when they're making their collective decisions, and the way Polish works is it groups people together in the in using machine learning and a bunch of other techniques.

  • It encourages good discussion amongst those participating.

  • It allows them to put up proposals which have been discussed, knocked back refined until they reach something like 80% consensus.

  • And in the Taiwanese case, within about four weeks, this process had yielded six recommendations for how people wanted to see uber regulated, and those almost all of them were immediately picked up by the government and accepted by uber.

  • Now I find these examples really inspiring.

  • People sometimes ask me why I'm an optimist, and a large part of the answer is these kinds of innovations, because I think they really show us that we can have a kind of politics which is deeply responsive to our needs, their citizens, but which avoids the peril off the threats to human liberties, the threats to civil liberties that authoritarian populism descends into.

  • They show us that even though we live in what looks like quite a dark time.

  • There are things that act a bit like emergency lighting, guiding us towards something better.

  • And although these air all ideas from the Western tradition, they can also be combined with adapted by indigenous traditions that also value turn.

  • Taking in speech and consensus decision making and the thread that binds all these traditions together is essentially a faith in other people of faith, in people's ability to handle difficult decisions of faith in people's ability to come together and make political decisions intelligently.

  • In the policy example, we'll see that government can be agile and nimble in the face of tech disruption.

  • In the participatory budgeting, we see that we can build systems that are disproportionately used by poor people, in which deliver infrastructure that is a basic quality than the traditional systems in citizens assemblies.

  • The experts who observe from time and again say that in those good conditions, people's ability to listen to others to engage with the evidence and to shift from their entrenched views is consistently astounding.

  • And that's a really, really hopeful finding because, you know, I think we live at a time where you see right around the world huge suspicion of other people of other citizens huge doubts about whether people are really able to bear the burden of decision making that democracy places on them.

  • But if you're worried, for instance, about whether a lot of people out there, uh, you know, I miss informed we're fallen prey to online propaganda What better way to push back against that thin?

  • By ensuring that they're placed in forums.

  • Forums like the New England Town Hall meetings shown here forms where they have to come face to face with other people, or at least being close virtual contact where they have to justify their opinions, have to deal with the evidence and are encouraged to step away from their prejudices.

  • The Canadian philosopher Joseph Heath says that rationality, our ability to make good decisions isn't something that we achieve as individuals.

  • If we achieve it at all or something we achieve in groups, our best hope of rationality is each other or to put the thing a different way.

  • The problem with democracy is not other people.

  • It's no other citizens.

  • The problem is theme, the situations in which they in which we all have been asked to do our democratic work The problem is the outdated democratic technology that we've all been forced to use, and so what the's examples show to me, The reason I find them inspiring is that I think they demonstrate that if you get the situations right, if you get the technology upgraded than actually the things that we do when we come together as citizens can be astounding and together we really can build a form of democracy that's genuinely fit for the 21st century.

  • Thank you very much.

I don't know.

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B1 TED democracy people democratic upgrade century

3 ways to upgrade democracy for the 21st century | Max Rashbrooke

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/02/25
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