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Revise democracy

What is ‘democracy’? Simply said: democracy is about having the right and opportunity to be part of the process of reflecting, deliberating and making decisions that concern us all. And thus democracy is essential in this modern age - which is populated by headstrong individuals like you and me.

In the 21st century it is simply no longer suitable that people are not actively involved in building and forming the society of which they are part. And that is not only obvious when we are talking about a dictatorship somewhere on the other side of the world. But increasingly more people see that parliamentary democracy as it now exists in for instance Europe or North America also has its shortcomings. Being able to vote once every four years and then - passively or frustrated - watch and see how decisions seem to be taken by people who are not connected to the reality of everyday life, to notice how strongly legislation is influenced by the economic interests of just a few and how it is almost impossible to impose any influence at all – that is a poor interpretation of democracy.

 

But democracy is more than elections, according to Belgian cultural historian and writer David Van Reybrouck - and he's right. Democracy should also include an open discussion, exchanging points of view and arguments, deliberating and (re)thinking to come to a mature judgment as a basis for the decisions that are to be made.

Van Reybrouck argues for example that laws and regulations should be formulated by people who are randomly selected by lottery (the same way juries in some countries are also selected). This group, consisting of people who are chosen by lot, will certainly better reflect the population than the politicians who are now democratically elected in parliament (or in other democratic bodies) via a ballot box. Subsequently, this group, consisting of people who are drawn, organizes the democratic consultations, discussions and deliberations as described above to study the given issues. These open deliberations will ultimately lead to balanced decisions based on thorough reflection by all involved.


This would probably reinforce democracy. Van Reybrouck is convinced that this will bring about better democratic decisions and has given several striking examples in his essay that corroborate this.

 

His proposal to strengthen democracy with organs that consist of people who are drawn, is an important step in the right direction. Even more so when we would go one step further and add another important insight: democracy can only be used for subjects and themes that concern us all, such as: the rights of people who are sick, the elderly and children. What duties do they and we have? How do we distribute the workforce to achieve a certain level of prosperity?

 

What kind of society would we have when such issues would be democratically dealt with via open but thorough ‘democratic conversations', leading to balanced decisions. And when all other issues (such as all questions related to the content, (working) methods and nature of education, healthcare, arts and science, for example) would simply be left to the parties (experts) involved!?

 

On our website you’ll find an expanding collection of articles that deal with new ways, visions and insights that deal with for instance equality and democracy

 

John Hogervorst

October 2016


John  |  2016 10 20  |  Permalink  |  Share

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