Democracy 4.0Posted: November 27, 2011
Day 2 of the IV National Assembly
The first National Assembly was held at the beginning of June, during the acampada in Sol. The second was held when the popular marches arrived in Madrid at the end of July. The third was held in September at the Retiro Park, when I was marching to Brussels. And now, the current National Assembly is the first to be held outside of Madrid, here in the workers’ paradise of Marinaleda, Andalusia.
It doesn’t take long for me to notice certain things which seem to contradict Marinaleda’s claim of being a kind of Utopia. I have seen a beggar, for example. They shouldn’t be here. They belong in the capitalist world. Just like the annoyed youngsters I have seen driving around in BMWs with their stereo blasting so loud that you could hear them all around the village. But most significant of all, I have noticed that the windows of all houses on the ground floor are barred. Obviously, people are afraid of something. But of what? I can’t say, but I myself wouldn’t want to live in a Utopia with bars on the windows anywhere.
Then there’s the mayor. With his long greying beard his appearance is somewhere in between that of Fidel Castro and Karl Marx. I’m sure he carefully nurtures this image. He has probably done so for a long time, because he has been mayor of Marinaleda for thirty years. It seems to confirm the thesis that communist regimes are unable of regenerating themselves. They usually turn from young and revolutionary states into repressive bureaucratic gerontocracies. Then they die out together with their founding generation. I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar is going to happen to Marinaleda.
This morning the National Assembly divided up itself into various working groups. Most notably Environment, Occupations, Education, Communications, Legal, and Regional (Andalusia).
In the afternoon the Assembly got together for an assessment of ideas. Nothing spectacular. No grand initiatives have been adopted. The focus was mostly on coordination, and improving the communications strategy.
The most interesting proposal came from the Legal commission. They want to give birth to a Constituent Assembly, which is supposed to write a new Constitution. A first meeting is planned on December 17th in Sevilla. Another meeting is planned for next year, the 19th of March, to mark the 200th anniversary of the ‘Cadiz Constitution’.
This document was styled by some of the most enlightened thinkers of the age in the wake of Spain’s liberation from Napoleon. It was generally regarded as the most progressive constitution that was ever written up to that date. Unfortunately, Spain wasn’t ready for it back then. Hopefully things are different now.
Another very interesting subject that we touched upon was the idea of ‘Democracy 4.0‘. It has been going around on the web for some time, it’s easy, and it’s brillant.
It comes down to this. People will not be called to vote once every four years. They will be called to vote whenever there is something to vote about in parliament, and they will do so electronically. Of course it won’t be obligatory, but the more people actually vote, the better.
Take Spain for example. There are 35 million Spaniards eligible to vote. There are 350 seats in parliament. This makes a hundred thousand votes per seat. If half of the voters would vote on a subject, like privatisation for example, they will represent 175 seats. A vote by regular members of congress will be reduced accordingly, and worth only half. Etc.
People will have the possibility to decide themselves, or if not, leave the decision to their representatives. When the entire populations votes, there’s no representation needed.
People can also present popular proposals to parliament if they gather a pre-established number of signatures, like 50.000 for example. It would bring government to the citizens, it would mean ‘democracy’.
It’s a bit like internet banking. But instead of a pin pass you could use your passport. Almost all passports have chips in them by now. This is a grave danger for people’s privacy and an enormous potential for control on the part of the government, but it could also be used to implement Democracy 4.0. You identify yourself with your passport chip and you vote on the proposals you find in your email.
Proposals can also be tagged. ‘Economy’, ‘Ethical’, ‘Education’, ‘Foreign Affairs’ etc. As a voter you can subscribe to a certain tag if you want to have a say in it, or vote on everything, or nothing.
Democracy 4.0 is the fastest road to direct democracy. We could implement this system tomorrow if we wanted to. It won’t happen of course, because our ‘representatives’ are scared sick of people actually exercising their popular sovereignty. As a movement we will have to adopt it ourselves first, and then maybe, sooner or later, there will be a little country or a little region brave enough to start a real trial of real democracy…