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message no. 527

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Monthly Summary, Topic V, (March 10- April 7, 2003)
Creating a movement for global democracy and a WP

Arnaud BLIN
WP21 team





Abstract

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 work.

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.

Organizing teams

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 citerrestrial embassies

Direct participation

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. *

True democracy

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*

Qualitative democracy

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 training.

World Democracy

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 authorities.

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 regionally.

The fifth multilateral. Encourage world citizens and national policy makers to develop such democratizing changes multilaterally.

Art

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.

Nature

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. *
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