As far as most historians are concerned, democracy, meaning rule of the people or people-power first appeared in Athens, Greece around 508 BC. Apparently, Athenian men decided that only adult male citizens who owned land should be the ones to make the decisions for all of society. Thus, in terms of people being able to participate directly in the decision-making processes of society, this limited form of democracy was a step in the direction of a pure or real democracy. However, because it only permitted eligible adult male citizens to participate, it was not actually a real democracy of “all” the people of Athens, but a democracy of only eligible adult male citizens of Athens.
Fast forward from the days of ancient Greece to modern-day democracies and you will find around the world that people, for the most part have even less opportunity to participate in their democratic-systems than they did in those days. See, for a democracy of the people, by the people and for the people to be REAL (as opposed to just an idea or a belief in their democracies as is mostly the case these days), requires that all of the people of the democracy really have the opportunity to participate equally in all of the decision making processes of that society. Thus, when it came to the democracy of Athens, Greece, it wasn’t actually a democracy of “all” the people, but only of adult male citizens who not only had to own land, but also had to have had the opportunity, time and money to actually participate equally in all of the decision-making process of that democracy. So, let’s consider for a moment what “the opportunity to equally participate in the decision-making processes” would actually entail. Because this is the point in which we will be able to honestly assess the degree or quality of democracy that really exist within our societies.
I’ll say it again: for a democracy “of the people” to be real, requires that all of the people of that democracy actually have the opportunity to participate equally in all of the decision-making processes. Let’s think about that for a moment. In your respective democracies of your nations and societies, how much opportunity do all of the people actually have to participate in the decision-making processes? See, this is where we begin exiting the realm of fantasy, brainwashed and indoctrinated beliefs of democracy and enter into the reality that, our democracies, especially at the national level have never ever been democracies of the people, by the people and for the people. It’s all been an illusion.
Instead, what our democracies have really been, going all the way back to the times of ancient Greece, is nothing more than small groups of the wealthiest individuals making the most important decisions in order to maintain their power and control of the people mainly by way of their control of the money system, which in turn has enabled them to control the military system, judicial system and so on all the way down to the education-system which has been designed specifically to keep the people dumbed down, indoctrinated and brainwashed into believing that we were the ones in control.
Ever wonder why students are forced to spend so much time studying to memorize huge amounts of information that is useless for anything beyond filling in multiple-choice standardized tests? It’s because, the last thing that most of the people in power and control want, is for you to have any free time whatsoever to actually begin questioning and investigating the purpose of the systems that manage and control the people. Fortunately, with rapidly evolving technology and a new understanding of democracy, we the people now have an opportunity to change the situation by redesigning our so-called democracies to new systems wherein all of the people will have the opportunity to participate equally in all of the decisions-making processes of society.
Imagine how life on planet earth might change if we all had access to the best technology and could all decide where and how much each wanted to participate in the decision-making processes of our societies. What would you be interested in focusing on and where would you most care to participate?
In which form of democracy would you most care to participate?
Imagine that you lived in a community of 100-people enclosed in an environment (like earth, but much smaller) with the most modern information communications technologies and enough resources to sustain all of you forever as long as you all cooperated to manage all of the resources wisely. How would you choose to participate in such a community; or more specifically, how would you as one of the 100 care to relate to the other 99 and how would you care to have them relate to you? Would you choose (A) to participate in a Hierarchical-based system wherein one or a few live like kings and queens in control of most of the resources, making all of the most important decisions and all of the most important rules while the rest of the community spend their lives competing against one another just to survive? Alternatively, would you choose (B) an equality based system, wherein each member of the community is afforded an opportunity to participate equally in all of the decision making processes – within as many or as few as each one cared to participate? Take some time to think about this question and perhaps discuss it with your friends and classmates. Then, make your decision as though your future and future of humanity depends on what you decide.
If you chose (A) a Hierarchical-based system wherein a few live like kings and queens in control of most of the resources, making all of the most important decisions and all of the most important rules while the rest of the community spend their lives competing against one another just to survive, congratulations you’re in luck. Because, on a much larger scale, you are just where you care to be in terms of modern-day democracy in the community of humanity in an environment called the biosphere on a planet called Earth. However, if you chose (B) an equality based system wherein each member of the community is afforded the opportunity to participate equally in all of the decision making processes (within as many or as few as each one cares to participate), unfortunately, you are not so lucky, but that does not mean you have to accept the status quo. For example, even though so many people have been indoctrinated and brainwashed into believing that food and water are commodities that must be bought and paid for by money earned in the servitude of others, the fact is that such resources (except for the human labor involved) are provided freely by earth.
Who was it that decided that a small minority of people should rule over the vast majority? Who was it that decided those same people could control most of earth’s resources while charging the masses for the water, fruits and vegetables that earth provides for free? I don’t recall voting on any issue that asked us if we wanted to give fifty percent of the world’s wealth to just one percent of the population, do you? Of course not, because our so-called democracies only allow the ninety-nine percent to vote every two to four years and even then, our choices are extremely limited to say the least. Think about it! Even if a truly honest, good person gets elected to the presidency, it will have cost a huge amount of money. Where do you think most of that money comes from? It certainly doesn’t come from the poorest people, the ones with the most need.
Unit 3: Representative democracy vs real democracy
The problem with today’s democracies is that, they do not provide all of the people with an opportunity to participate equally in the decision-making processes of society. Take for example representative democracy, wherein an extremely small minority of the population, usually from the wealthy class, make the rules and the laws for all of society. They decide which history books we study in school, how long we have to stay in school, when to fight in wars, who is allowed to travel and even which chemicals are allowed in our food. Perhaps, in the days of horse travel and printed news, this form of democracy made sense because people did not have the technology to access information and it was not possible to include all of the people's voices in all of the decision-making processes. Nowadays, however, we do have the technology, which gives us the ability to provide all of the people with the opportunity to participate equally in as many or as few of the decision-making processes as they are able.
Imagine how different things would be if we human beings took back our power from the elite and began making our own decisions. Think about where you personally might get involved in changing things. Would you still allow 1% of the global population to have and control 50% of the global wealth, the land and the resources? I wouldn’t allow it and I don’t think that the majority of humanity would either. Yet, this is how it currently is based on the current design of our democratic systems. Not to worry though, because a mass awakening is occurring and with this awakening comes opportunity to stand up and become the change that you would care to see everywhere.
Real democracy is simply a form of collective/group decision making, wherein the degree of democracy expressed is equivalent to the degree by which "all" members of the collective have the opportunity to participate equally in all of the decision-making processes that affect the collective. For example, let’s say there are 10 members in a collective wherein 100 relevant decisions are made each year. If all 10 members of the collective have the "opportunity" to participate equally in all of the one-hundred decision-making processes, then we would say that their democracy is a pure or real democracy. Why? Because it is functioning at 100% of its potential.
In other words, regardless of how big the community is, as long as all of its members have the opportunity to participate equally in all of the decision-making processes, then that is considered a real democracy because one-hundred percent of the people have the “opportunity to participate in one-hundred percent of the decision-making processes. It’s like “truth”; anything less than 100% is not actually the truth, but a fraction of a lie.
Thus, it is that real democracy is also a collective expression of real equality, wherein all members of the collective have the “opportunity” to participate equally in any and all of the decision-making processes that affect the collective. Consequently, if 99% of the members of a collective are only permitted to participate in one or two of the decision-making processes every 2-4 years, as is the case with most representative democracies around the world, then it would be incorrect to say that those democracies are real or true, simply because the decision-making opportunities do not apply equally to all members of the collective. Remember, for something to be true or real, it must apply equally to all.
Unit 4: What is the biggest influence on people’s opportunity to participate?
In this unit, we are going to explore the factor that most influences people’s opportunity to actually participate in the decision-making processes of society. For, once we understand what the biggest limiting factor is to our current forms of democracy, we are then able to focus our attention on changing or correcting it for the purpose of improving the functioning of our democracies. So, what do you think is the biggest factor of day-to-day living that mostly influences or limits the amount of opportunity that people have to participate in their democratic systems?
If you guessed money to be the biggest factor or aspect of day-to-day living that influences the extent of people’s opportunity to participate in their democratic systems, then you guessed correctly. Why money? Because, like it or not, the money-system dominates (and therefore defines) all other systems such as the education system, the legal system, transportation system, military system, government system and so on within and throughout most of humanity. Consequently, even though many may believe that our democratic systems of government are designed to be fair and give everyone an equal opportunity, the reality is that, no system of government (as of yet) has ever managed to supersede or override the power and control of money. Therefore, as a result of the way the current world system is setup, the more money one has, the more opportunity or power he or she will have to participate in the democratic (decision making) processes of society. Remember the saying, money is power? Actually, money is just the representative of power within the world system of humanity.
Remember the example of a real democracy wherein one-hundred percent of the people had the opportunity to participate equally in one hundred percent of all of the decision-making processes? Imagine how it would be if each person’s opportunity to participate in the decision-making processes were based on how much money or wealth each one had. For example, imagine that one dollar or one yuan equals one vote and the more money each person had, the more votes he or she could cast. Obviously, the people with the most money would end up making most of the rules to administer and control most of society. And even though we might call it a democracy, it still wouldn’t be a real democracy of the people, by the people and for the people. Rather, it would actually be a democracy of the money, by the money and for the money, representing (for the most part) the people with the most money.
Remember, just because we decide to call our governments, representative democracies, doesn’t mean that such democracies are actually setup to represent all of the people equally. Sure, today’s democracies are indeed for the most part, representative democracies. Unfortunately, the degree by which people are actually represented by their democracies is based not on the value of life, but the value of money. And this my fellow human beings is the underlying cause of the devolution of humankind.
The distribution of wealth as it correlates to the functioning of our democracies
Although it is not feasible to quantify every-single factor that determines and/or limits how much opportunity a person has to participate in the decision making processes of society, it is quite easy to calculate the extent of a person’s ability to participate in terms of how much he or she can afford to participate. For example, imagine there are two identical twins of the same physical strength and the same IQ who both want to participate in the democracy of their nation. One of them has millions of dollars to play with, while the other one has to work ten hours a day, six days a week just to pay the bills to support the family.
Which one do you think is going to have more opportunity to participate in deciding the direction of the nation? As the wealth of an individual is clearly the greatest factor that determines and/or limits one’s opportunity to participate in any aspect of human society, we can therefore, use the distribution of wealth (within a nation) to grade that nation’s democracy. Basically, the more equally a nation’s wealth is distributed, the better its democracy will function, because people’s opportunities, based on how much time and money they can afford to spend on that participation will be more equally distributed. Thus, a possible solution to low functioning democracies would be to redistribute the wealth more equally within that democracy.
Have a look! In modern-day democracies, less than 1% of the people have the opportunity to participate in all of the actual decision-making processes of society. This means that, if we were to assign a grade (for example) to the representative democracy of the United States, we would give it a failing grade of less than 1%. Why? Because, that is the percentage of people that actually have the opportunity to participate in all of the decision-making processes. Thus, if we look past the brainwashing of our education systems and the propaganda of our corporate owned media, we see that, modern-day democracies are not even close to being democracies of the people, by the people and for the people. Why? Because only a tiny fraction of the people have the opportunity to participate equally in all of the decision making processes.
Furthermore, as the inequality between those who have the most opportunity to participate and those who have the least opportunity to participate is directly related to the distribution of wealth, the most obvious key to increasing participation in our democracies is to decrease wealth-inequality within our societies. Does this mean that the wealth of nations should be redistributed more equally to all of the people? Perhaps, but this would require designing and implementing a new economic system, such as the Living Income Guaranteed model proposed by the Equal Life Foundation.
Solutions for low functioning democracies
The problems of humanity are not going to be solved by themselves. If we, the ninety-nine percent really want to improve the quality of our democracies, we are going to have to work together, peacefully from the ground up to build a new system based on the principles of equality in consideration of what is best for everybody.
This requires that people begin taking on more responsibility by investigating the problems, communicating with one another, designing solutions and then deciding among ourselves which solutions we are going to implement. Specifically, don’t expect the one percent of the population that is in control of our governments, to redesign our systems of government. This does not mean that many good intentioned people at the top of the system do not want to change the system, but that they by themselves are simply unable to do so by themselves.
The bottom line is that, in order for us to correct or improve the functioning of our democracies, we’re going to have to improve the distribution of wealth, i.e., find ways to provide everybody with enough money and resources so as to equalize the opportunities that people have to participate in the decision-making processes of society. Doing this requires that, we upgrade from representative democracy to a more direct form of democracy, wherein people would be able to use the most modern technology to ensure that everyone at least have the opportunity to participate or vote in whatever areas they choose to participate.
The fact of the matter is, we as a human race have already entered into the final stretch of the human race and what we do now and do not do right-now will have a tremendous impact on the quality of life for generations to come. Perhaps it’s time to redesign our world systems by eliminating the rules that promote inequality and replacing them with the principles of equality, oneness and what is best for all. After all, even after all is said and done, we are still one. Thus it is my intention and my hope that, from this new understanding of democracy, you will begin to take it upon yourselves to push for change by becoming that change. Always remember that real change starts from within.
Again: the collective expression of real democracy is simply the collective expression of real equality of opportunity to participate in the decision making processes of the collective. Of course, it is not a state that humanity is going to attain instantly. Rather, it is a process wherein every move we make to change ourselves in the direction of real democracy is a step in human evolution. Anything less is unfortunately devolution.