Tag Archives: Information Revolution

The Simple Concepts of Democracy and Fairness

WikiP says: Democracy is “a system of government in which all the people of a state or polity … are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by voting to elect representatives to a parliament or similar assembly,” as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary.[1] Democracy is further defined as (a:) “government by the people; especially¬†: rule of the majority (b:) ” a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.”[2] According to political scientist Larry Diamond, it consists of four key elements: “1. A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections. 2. The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life. 3. Protection of the human rights of all citizens. 4. A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens”.[3]

Our recent election looks a bit shaky at a number of the hurdles in that description. Government by the people? Majority? Active participation? Human rights and equality under the law. A way to get rid of the government if it turns out they misled the electorate?

Simple then, let’s start with voting reform to something “fairer”. Clearly we can’t trust politicians to do that because they will evaluate the effect of any proposed system on them, relative to the current system. That’s why the Greens, their idealism still unsaddled by any realistic chance of winning a significant number of seats, suggested an electoral commission. All the commission would need to do is to do is decide what is “fair”.
Members of all political parties fight for “fairness”, based on their own values. Political allegiance is almost entirely dependent on an individual’s concept of fairness. To have a definition of fairness is to take a political stance.

We may be caught in a loop. Democratic voting systems can only be changed by a decisive¬† minority winning the right to govern. I think that is called “a revolution”. Does anyone have any other ideas? Not that our elected ‘representatives’ seem to care much about what we think, now they have power, or that we believe anything they say. Democracy is broken and most of Them aren’t planning to fix it. Our only friends are the other losers.

“Losers Unite!”?

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Paths Through the Forest of Ideas

I wrote what hangs below on Facebook, before I saw the irony:

My current model of the creative world has everything as a multi-dimensional network of interconnected ideas, some of which may be ‘fictional’. Narrative is a path through the maze. Writers, teachers and consultants are all selling their services as guides to the pathways that can lead you to enclose a chosen ‘volume’ of ‘knowledge’. Or I’ve been sitting in a room on my own for too long.

It grows more difficult to gain funding for work that expands or enriches the network for the good of everyone and increasingly profitable to enclose information for profit. We appear to be approaching The Inclosure Act of the Information Revolution.

On Wednesday, I plan to attend the initial meeting of the Open Rights Group, Birmingham. See Meetup for details(!)

Free Anarchy

The following has been conceived and written in one day. Please consider it a first draft of the manifesto for the ‘share nicely’ revolution – the happy face of Anarchy in the UK.

As predicted, The Revolution will not be televised. It will however be streamed, live-Tweeted and blogged as the State has only just noticed that it has temporarily lost control.You’d think they’d be putting some sort of controls in place to limit our freedom of speech… They’ve what? Oh dear… Well that sucks!

This week, four ‘comfortably off men’, representatives of the UK’s State: Prince Charles, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband (in my unresearched order of richness) met to encourage young people who face a possible future of economic failure and joblessness to ‘get on their bikes’ and work for nothing for the good of The Big Society (them.)
Obviously only the richer kids will have a bike; just as only middle-class parents will afford to buy their kids a job by funding them during a couple of years of internship or an industrial apprenticeship. I imagine the ceremony to have been accompanied by a backgound chorus of press representatives singing “get a job, you scroungers” to the older siblings and parents of many of the assembled kids.

I fear I spot a discontinuity and I have to agree that Occupy, Anonymous and Russel Brand have a point. Something is seriously Wrong and I don’t know what to do about it either.

The problem for those calling for revolution is that we’re already having one and whilst I applaud our leaders for embracing the uprising of ‘Free culture’, I’m not sure that this is quite what most of us involved at the grass-roots level of the movement had in mind and we’re not ready to be ploughed-over just yet.

A brief review of my superficial knowledge of European history today has informed me that revolutions come in two flavours:

  • technological: (which travel in pairs, the second a direct consequence of the first) with ‘the management’ in charge but showing no real forethought, then
  • political: the violent response from an angry population that has somehow been displaced by the ruling class’s selfish exploitation of the change. This revolution results in major changes to political and economic systems.

The Industrial Revolution led to the start of modern Capitalism. The next one seems likely to end it.

Political revolutions are often inspired by intellectuals but implemented by people who enjoy the sound of boot on brain. Let’s hope we can avoid that outcome this time around, before Occupy take their Internet back. We’ve had the ‘Computer/Information Revolution’ and we’re in the ‘Information Sharing Revolution’ but They aren’t sharing nicely and I’m angry. A lot of people are. Science recently showed that 2-year old humans are pre-programmed to expect their fair share of the rewards from anything they worked for. Fairness is in our DNA. We’d like it now please.

Our economic revolution seems likely to remove capital as the primary constraint on human endeavour, as agricultural and industrial labour were devalued by earlier revolutions. The Information Sharing Revolution may make ownership of the means of production and mythical Intellectual Property rights and management of the state out of the hands of leaders. Hive society needs a shared purpose not management. ‘Leaders’, please collect your tools of control, today’s meetings are cancelled. We’ll govern ourselves thanks.