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From Metagovernment - Government of, by, and for all the people
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The Metagovernment project supports internet tools which enable the members of any community to fully participate in governing that community. We are a global group working on numerous projects which further this goal.

Who makes the decisions in your life?

In every aspect of social life, you rely on someone else to make decisions for you. Not just in national, regional, and local government, but also in every other community you belong to: schools, unions, professional societies, clubs, condominiums. In all of these communities, you cede your decision-making power to other people and hope they will do the right thing.

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

Thomas Jefferson, 1816.

Those people don't represent you

As the size of an organization increases, so decreases the incentive for representatives to represent you personally. You are granted limited options to choose between, which may not even represent a political view anything near yours. In smaller organizations, you may have a voice, but control is often rooted in an entrenched individual who is not open to input from you or others.

This leads to apathy

When looking at all the different decisions being made for you, and how little control you have over the process, it is difficult to imagine anything that you could do. The common result for many people is to just give up: we are really busy and have to pick our battles.

Apathy encourages leaders to get away with anything

The more apathetic we get, the more leaders feel free to do whatever they want. In fact, due entirely to the absence of a viable democratic alternative, an apathetic populace is a desirable commodity.

Now there is a way to break the cycle of apathy

In the past few years, the internet has opened up new ways for communities to organize. We have discovered that collective decision-making, if combined with good technology, can result in much better decisions.

Governance can be open and free

There is a new breed of software oriented toward providing collaborative governance. Many of these software development projects are participants in this coordinating group.

This is not your fathers' direct democracy

This is not like a referendum where everybody votes on an issue, the majority wins and the minority has no alternative but to be coerced into acceptance of results with which they do not agree. Collaborative governance is much more nuanced, sophisticated, and solutions-oriented. People work on issues they care about, and if they can build a consensus, then policies are established. Better yet, they can work directly together to identify and refine their common objectives, engage affected stakeholders, and marshal the necessary resources to achieve those objectives.

The potential is limitless

Instead of relying on politicians to make all the important decisions in your life, there is a real and feasible way for you to take control. This is the true promise of democracy; something which could never be achieved in previous eras when people were not able to communicate and coordinate instantaneously around the world.


Basic principles

We envision a world where every person, without exception, is able to substantively participate in any governance structure in which they have an interest. We expect new forms of governance software to be adopted in small communities and to spread outward with the potential to gradually replace many institutions of representative democracy with collaborative governance. We envision governance which is not only more open, free, and democratic; but also which is more effective and less fallible than existing forms of governance.

Common principles

The following two principles are generally held by every group and person participating in this community.

  • Government of, by, and for all the people – Anyone may contribute to any collaborative governance structure.
  • Openness in everything – All aspects of governance will be as open as possible, under the principle of radical transparency. All software and systems used to run administrations will be free, open source software and systems. All of the data gathered and processed in these systems should also be in open (nonproprietary) format that can readily be shared across systems.

Suggested principles

The following two principles are held by some member projects, and are suggested as mechanisms to make collaborative governance more sustainable in the long-term.

  • Without consensus, there is no law – Unless consensus can be reached on how a policy could address an issue, then there will be no policy on that issue.
  • Consensus through synthesis – When opposing views are presented, preference is always given to synthesis rather than either conflict or compromise.


Transition

Collaborative governance is a new and untested idea, and it is not yet ready to take on the administration of huge national governments. Rather, we expect that small communities will be the early adopters. As these smaller groups use and adapt the software, we intend to evolve it to be able to handle larger and larger systems.

Adoption of collaborative governance requires no official mandate. Members of interested communities will set up an instance of open source governance software and invite members of that community to begin using the software, they will eventually invite the entire community to switch its formal governance mechanism over to the new form.

This transition scheme allows any community, from a small club to a large government can transition to collaborative governance.

You can take the first step by beginning to document your own goals and objectives in open format on the Web. Then you can encourage others to do likewise and the network effect can begin.


More information

For more information on how collaborative governance works, have a look at the FAQ. To explore more of the site you can use this Map.

You can make it happen

Join us in building real democracy for everyone. You can help by participating in this project or by investigating and joining one of the many active projects.

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You can make it happen.