Thursday, November 24, 2011

Social revolutions need Software Solutions

A fine time to address the issue of social revolutions, lot's of them going on right now. The Middle East is aflame with them; Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen - all in the throws of social upheaval.

Even in the Western World deep murmurings are to be heard, the political ground is beginning a tremble that may lead to social change that is right off the Richter Scale. The 99% are beginning to occupy the mind of the 1%, there is a strong difference of opinion in the air. I'll call anyone a fool who claims to know where all this will lead, but we all know it is leading somewhere.

When the Forces of Evil are overthrown, what then? Typically, revolutions are followed by stumbling attempts of a citizenry to come to grips with some sort of equitable social change, usually ending badly after which the power vacuum is filled by yet another strong man or absolutist institution. Some decades must now pass before the cycle repeats itself.

Already, the citizenry of Libya are thrashing about with no sense of how to go about setting up a means for the equitable distribution of resources, and the eventual outcome is more than likely fo be less than wholesome.
Egypt has always been dogged by dictatorship, backed up by an institutionalized army who's generals are for all intents and purposes, the reigning oligarchy. Behind them, the Muslim Brotherhood eagerly await their turn to wield their religious cudgel to bludgeon the population.

Over the past Century and on a grander scale, we observed Russia convulse with the overthrow of a Tsarist regime, only to be convulsed by the cult of personality in the guise of pseudo Communism. When the USSR nightmare dissolved, it almost immediately morphed into an oligarchy, and from there into a autocracy of ex-KGB cronyists.

In all these instances, what we see are a peoples momentarily casting aside their chains of oppression, but with no means of effecting an immediate legitimate procedure of public debate that may set in motion the proper institutions to secure their hard won freedoms.
Indeed, it is this floundering that attracts and brings forth the opportunists who are ready to fling themselves upon their vulnerable prey.

The main obstacle we need to overcome is our mindset. We have always thought of politicians as a necessary profession, and of course that was very true until the revolution in communication. Even in a republic democracy, politicians played a vital role. We elected them to represent us in the corridors of power, and a central location of rule was vital because of the limitations of distance and time.
What do you need a representative for, when you can do it yourself? The disadvantages of an elected representative are many:
The representative can never fully represent the myriad views of any individual citizen. Furthermore, a representative is prone to corruption, financial gain or blackmail, and finally there is always the lure of absolute power.

However, with this new age of rapid communication technology, distance and time have been swept aside. The only inhibitor that prevents every individual from representing their unique wishes as the sole sun of the representative body, is a means of organizational communication which would allow for such a system to function.

Is there a solution to this endless cycle of repression? Ironically, the solution to untying of this Gordian Knot, is the technology that allowed the Middle Eastern revolutions to succeed in the first place, namely the cell phone and the internet. What us urgently needed for the human race is a scalable 'Roberts Rules of Order' software so that large bodies of people can rapidly come together and make decisions that have the authority of a mandate.

This would make it hard for political predators to insert themselves into the process during this vulnerable window where a power vacuum exists.

In more benign situations where the governed have a stable government and the luxury of time, the citizenry can run a system like this as a 'shadow government', in parallel with the existing government. As it becomes apparent that the electronic system better represents the people, the transfer can take place in gradual stages.

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