Monthly Summary, Topic V, (March 10- April 7, 2003)
Creating a movement for global democracy and a WP
This was the theme of this month's discussion : How can we create a movement for global democracy and a world parliament and invite everyone to participate? The debate started with criticism of the forum, which in turn drew responses defending the initiative. There were also some disagreements regarding the need to adopt a universal language. The discussion moved on to fundamental topics such as direct participation, true democracy, qualitative democracy and world democracy. Finally we also looked at the importance of such things as art and nature relative to the construction of a World Parliament.
For the 5th month of our six month discussion on a World Parliament, we
asked the following question : How can we create a movement for global
democracy and a world parliament and invite everyone to participate?
Recapitulating where we stand at this juncture, we started organizing the
development of a Working Group to guide the process with the idea that this
may develop into some type of a Coordinating Committee that could represent
all of the different people and organizations that are participating in the
organizing process. In time this might develop into the creation of an
actual Delegates Council with representatives or liaisons from local and
regional assemblies and participating organizations.
Criticism of forum
A number of participants voiced some criticism about the forum, arguing that
the discussion is too homogeneous with a majority of contributors having
similar backgrounds, for instance with organizations active in global
governance. In the opinion of some, these trends tended to show that the
forum might be heading towards the construction of an organization
altogether not so different than the ones that already exist - such as the
U.N. - and that fall short of enacting a truly global and diverse
participatory process favoring the emergence of a * third way *. One
participant summed up this feeling thus : * I fear that a WP will become in
the future a place for absolute, dictatorial power, controlled by a few
individuals. This is a major risk and personally, I want none of it.*
Altogether, an equal number of participants responded to these criticisms by
arguing that the process leading to a WP is arduous, difficult and fraught
with obstacles but that these that should not deter us from continuing the
A common language
Communication and transmission of knowledge is a basic need for any type of
organization. When we started the general discussion a few months ago on
the * common values * for a WP, language was one of the first topics brought
to the table. As we now move towards practical matters, language remains
one of the key foundations for the construction of a WP. Ideally, the WP
would be culturally neutral (which English, the prime candidate, would not
be). Esperanto or its derivative, the Ido, were designed to meet such a
purpose. They would fit the bill in terms of values but would it be feasible
to ask all participants in a WP to learn one of these languages? The Ido
can be learned in 12 days to three months, making it a viable option. One
could thus propose the systematic teaching of the Ido as a secondary
language in the schools, allowing youngsters of all cultures to communicate
among themselves without problem
However, a few contributors noted that establishing a common language might
only hamper an already difficult process and that international
organizations work well with four or five languages. Going even further one
participant suggested that Pluralism should actually be the foundation of a
WP. Thus, why try to transform our languages into a universal language?
Language is an element of culture, civilization and identity. Thus, it is
important that a WP let as many languages express themselves as possible.
Since the topic of the month is to find practical ways to organize the WP,
one participant suggested the following plan based on the creation of *
teams * (24 in total) and including a coordination team, a fundraising team,
a team of relationship with the politicians or a team of creation of the
One of the challenges of future governments and international organisations,
including a World Parliament, will be to make individual citizens truly
participate in decision making processes. For this, modern technology should
be exploited as a tool that will enable us to create new forms of social
organizations whereby direct citizen participation in the political process
at the local community level can lead to the empowerment of state, federal
and finally a world parliament. It is one of the challenges that a World
parliament will have to undertake given that not everybody on earth has
access to information technology..
In light of this, one must be careful to avoid what one could call a tyranny
or dictatorship of the coordinators, representatives or carriers. We should
not, as one intervener said * set ourselves up to be a structure of control
but a structure of reason. We need to establish methods of control over the
elected officials that do not fulfill the will of their people. We need to
be the conscience of the world within what already exists. *
While direct democracy may be an ideal that one should strive to attain,
true democracy is another goal that should be upheld by a world parliament.
Is true democracy possible? One participant suggested that developing true
democracy would be possible :
1. * Without the principle of majority * in the decision-making process to
prevent the tyranny of the majority. The system would be based on * the
principle of consensus * and on the right of veto for all deputies.
2. * Without the elections * of representatives. One would install
*well-trained professional politicians * like we do it with our judges. Whom
ever will become professional political representative, will have to declare
that he or she is absolutely consensus-willing and common welfare has
priority to all particular interests.
This approach was corroborated by another participant who suggested that *
We have to set up a structure of reason in all the existing democratic
institutions on local, regional, national, continental and world level. We
do not need elected officials but well-trained professional deputies who
will have the necessary time, background and experience to do the very dense
intellectual work of finding consensus coordinating the matters of the
different will of people all over the world*
A high number of participants have shown impatience or even sheer disgust
with * politics as usual * where public life only serves as a means to
enhance the interests of the groups or individuals participating actively in
the process. One contributor summed up this sentiment : * I happen to
believe that the true power in all government comes from the people. Our
governments fail us now because it has lost our voice. We have become silent
in the bureaucracy of national political power. And we all now suffer from
our own past ignorance. *
There is thus a great need to enhance the quality of representation and of
democracy in general. Thus the idea of * qualitative democracy * (or
consensus democracy) developed by one of our contributors attempts to go
beyond the *quantitative democracy * of traditional majority rule.
Qualitative democracy would be based on legislation dominated by priorities.
These priorities would be elaborated by a new breed of * professional
politicians * who would elaborate lists of priorities. The voluntary
professional would be trained in the WP and be selected rather than elected.
They would go through * Independent Political Academies * to get proper
For many participants, the issue of a WP is directly linked to that of
global or world democracy. One way to think about world democracy might be
through the following approach, relevant to communities of ideas.
The first is educational. Encourage public authorities, educators, parents
and citizens to develop critical capacities and socially co-operative
self-confidence of children from the time they start to learn a language and
other communication skills and develop intensive and extensive * ad hoc *
deliberative committees of citizens .
The second is communitarian . Encourage those organizations that are
converging to gain more influence with the UN and other supranational
The third is administrative. Encourage merging of ongoing developments of
proposals for a World Parliament outside the UN
The fourth is national. Encourage national governments to develop consent,
and as far as possible consensus, on national legislation and constitutional
evolution to increase democratic governance locally, nationally and
The fifth multilateral. Encourage world citizens and national policy makers
develop such democratizing changes multilaterally.
Art often has more power than all the discourses in the world. In the end,
Shakespeare or Van Gogh touch more people than any political theoretician or
political figure. Art knows no boundaries and its language is universal.
Thus, it is imperative that the World parliament create an art committee
where members could publish their comments on world art activities; exchange
their art experiences; make decision for world art activities and express
their ideas on world affairs from the perspective of the artist.
By the same token, one should also pay more attention to nature and the
construction and functioning of a WP would be well served by observing the
laws of nature. For instance, as one participant suggests, * If we allow
organic principles to play a part, building a World Parliament will become
an activity of pleasure instead of sheer hard work. *
Everyone remembers the analogy of the "Tree of palaver" for a WP. One could
also compare it to a seashell : it begins its life cycle as a small almost
invisible little creature but its shape is already that of a fully grown
specimen. Thus, * the blueprint for growth is present at the very beginning
of its life cycle. *