9th August 2018

How to Improve the British democracy?

The debate on how to improve the British democracy should be guided by four considerations:

  • Time – This is the most important element because it determines which actions are viable per se. Here we must be aware that since the last few years changes in almost any aspect of our lives have been happening at almost an exponential, rather than linear pace, the phenomenon difficult to absorb by human nature and that is a problem in itself.
  • The risk of doing nothing – Until now, such risks, as not improving our democracy, would have had consequences limited to Britain. However, the crisis of democracy has affected the whole world and therefore, one of the risks, which I call the risk of a Global Disorder is of a different magnitude and may turn through combinatorial effects into an existential risk. That risk, linked tightly to democracy and the world politics, is only one of the top 10 existential risks that may lead to self-annihilation of Humanity within a generation. However, if we are really unlucky, e.g. with artificially produced pathogens dispersed by air by a mad scientist, it could happen any day. Some of the risks, like that of Artificial Intelligence are close to certainty in maturing by 2030 in some aspects – e.g. losing control of the AI self-learning process, with initially territorially limited consequences, until the moment when a far superior Superintelligence starts treating us like ants.
  • Scope – In the above context, if the proposed changes in democracy are implemented in Britain only, what effect will they have on the world outside, and what effect the changes outside Britain will have on what is being proposed for our domestic agenda.
  • Pragmatism and realism – What can we do right now to improve democracy and what real effect it may have on our lives and the world beyond the British shores?

Anyone wanting to improve the situation and reduce the risks should take into account that:

  • Existential risks we face require fast action, while the world’s organisations act very slowly
  • People want more freedom, while we need to sacrifice some of our freedoms and sovereignty for Humanity to survive
  • Most people can’t see beyond tomorrow and act emotionally, while we need to see the big picture and act rationally

I provide extensive analysis of the above problems in my recently published book “Who Could Save Humanity From Superintelligence? European Union, NATO or… China?” Among others, in Conclusions, I propose 20 steps, in which we could make the world a happier and a safer place. One of those conclusions is that the long-term thinking must be embedded by default in any changes to our political system and be seen from the very start in a global context, ultimately leading in about one generation to the creation of a planetary civilisation. A natural conclusion is that whatever the feelings we have about our sovereignty, as well as the sovereignty of other countries, the only way to survive is to work within de-facto one large World Government. In my book I have analysed 10 potential contenders for such a role, definitely eliminating UN as one of the top candidates. Surprisingly, it was the European Union, assuming it becomes federated at a very shallow level, which came out at the top. Of course that would mean it could only partially play such a ‘global’ role since China or Russia would not be part of it in the foreseeable future. However, that is the risk we must take.

The most pragmatic way forward, is in my view to start bottom up and expand the existing and building new organisations such as the Danish Det Alternativet. Such organisations would press for fundamental changes to a democratic system. They should be united by a common vision of quickly converting those efforts into a strong movement, particularly within the EU, to create a critical mass in national elections. That would then help some top EU politicians to accelerate the federalization of the EU.

Translating that into some immediate proposals, to be completed within about 5 years, I propose the following steps to improve our democratic system, which at the same time would also contribute to an overall reduction of global existential risks:

  1. A written Constitution for Britain. Create sufficient support, especially within the House of Lords, to set up a Constitutional Assembly that would deliver a written British Constitution. Such an Assembly should be organized on similar principles as the Irish Constitutional Assembly of 2012 that was based on Sortition (randomly selecting the representatives from the electoral list for a period of about 12-18 months). I leave aside the actual articles of such a Constitution, which would be for such an Assembly to define, and which is a separate subject. However, there are already many such proposals around, including those in my book, where I have put forward a new model of democracy called Consensual Presidential Democracy. To create the necessary momentum for such a Constitutional Assembly, some key politicians from all parties should initiate the integration of various movements and organisations in Britain, such as Respublica, Common Vision, UCL Constitutional Unit, etc. That could culminate in a large demonstration organized via e-petitions, pushing for the Parliament to give consent for setting up such a Constitutional Assembly.
  2. Minimizing damage from Brexit. All efforts should go to minimize the damage arising from I cover this subject extensively in my book. This could not be more relevant in the context of the proposed fundamental changes to our constitutional order and improvements to democracy. One option could be for influential pro-Remain campaigners to try to persuade the EU leaders to accelerate the introduction of a multi-zone (multi-speed) EU. One such Zone, which I call – Single Market Zone, would be for the EU member states that are not currently supporting closer integration and thus could have opt-outs. The sheer promise of such a Zone in the future EU Constitution might be enough to keep us in the EU as well as satisfy some Brexiteers. But more importantly, it could give us at least some influence on the future development of the EU and shaping out future role within that organization.
  3. Global Wealth Redistribution Fund. Since we are just one of six countries that have set up a legally binding annual contribution of 0.7% of our GDP towards the UN SDG goals, Britain should leverage its political and economic influence world-wide in that area by launching a campaign to create, what I call the Global Wealth Redistribution Fund (full details in the book). That could be either a significant expansion of the current SDG in the size of the contribution by the ‘rich’ countries from the current 0.7% to about 3% GDP in 2040. Seeing the inefficiency of the UNDP I would rather suggest creating an entirely new fund, this time under the auspices of the EU and partially funded from current contributions to the UN SDG goals.

Of course there is a lot of detail behind these proposals, especially regarding the setting up of the technocratic government, such as a new electoral system or Universal Values of Humanity. There is some expansion of some of these ideas on this website.

Tony Czarnecki
Sustensis

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