Do our democracies need to be updated?

Do our democracies need to be updated? Image source: Intelligenthq


I often wonder, “Do our democracies need to be updated?” That I raise this question does not mean that I am against democracy, or that I am unconcerned about the political system. Not at all! It just means that I am looking for an improvement. But why am I looking for an improvement, you may wonder?

Well, probably for the same reasons that people might have looked to change the system in the past. In the past at various points there were considerable changes in paradigm for how our societies were governed. If we briefly review the types of organisation that have been used in history, at first we had leaders that were dominant Alpha males or females. These were often chiefs of the village. Later, a bit more of a sophisticated organisation was the realm, governed by a king, an empire by an emperor, and in the modern world, a president. At least that has been the progression in the political system of the Western world.

The organisation of our standard democracies basically have more or less the same structure. That structure is a legislative power with one or many chambers, the executive power, which is a president or a chamber of executives and the judiciary power, which is composed of independent judges. Variations occur in the way in which those powers are elected by the people. You might add a so-called “fourth power” which is the media. The media has the influence to challenge the power of the first three powers. So far so good, but why do we need to update our system?

Revisiting the past, I am pretty sure that at a certain time, each government type that I mentioned previously worked pretty well. A good, smart, strong and benevolent Alpha leader would have been what the members of the group were looking for to protect them from the enemy, helping them to find food and shelter. Such a leader would have also maintained a good social climate inside the group where everybody flourished up to the end of their lives. Allegiance would have been given to this leader without hesitation in those conditions.

Unfortunately, history shows us that we didn’t always have such nice types of leader. What’s more, there is quite often someone that thinks he can do better than the leader in place and that there is no reason why he or she should not deserve to be the leader instead one day. Depending on the degree of patience he or she had and the eagerness to feel the power running into his or her blood this person would eventually use any solution to take over the lead. Some of the approaches taken were bloodthirsty and cruel. In addition, the total number of people in each community had a part to play in making such a society work. With time, change occurred to mitigate the bad effects of such frustration and the political organisation of society changed to meet new needs. With the parameters, we have today in 2015, the democratic systems in place tend to appear as the “the best so far” political system, at least for some of us. Nonetheless, I believe an update is necessary.

Why do we need an update?

1. There are a couple of signs that draw my attention : 

  • We now number more than seven billion people on earth. Fifty years ago, we were three billion. That means our population has more than doubled in 50 years.
    Have the structures of our government have changed in the last fifty years to adapt to the increase or decrease of the population in most of the democratic countries

2. The complexity of activities that our societies have to manage have increased. 

  • For example, the resources of the oceans are vanishing, yet fishermen work regardless. This raises the question of what is the best answer without people ending up on the streets, to assure the future of our children? Are all the stakeholders invited to determine the solution? Are we treating the question locally or internationally? Time is running out and we must act rapidly to decide what to do.

3. The world has become global and any local decisions have an impact in other places on the planet.

  • Does it make sense to drain the land of California or the neighborhood states of California, to grow strawberries and almonds in a way that even doesn’t help the Californians themselves on long terms basis? Perhaps locally for economic reasons, yes. But what about if you consider the situation globally?

4. The redistribution of wealth could liberate the river of despair.

  • Our democratic systems are not perfect for sure, but getting the guillotines out is not the answer in my opinion. It is maybe time to answer this question.

5. The social network has become the fifth power :

  •  Would it be interesting to incorporate the social network into our democracies?

6. Should private companies be incorporated into the democratic process?

  • This question would probably make some people scream. But let’s approach the subject through a different perspective than the division between public and private. The 2014 revenue of Walmart is $476,294M USD. Meanwhile the 2014 “net tax revenue” of France is $323,520M USD. So Walmart, a company of more than 2.1 million employees is generating more money that a country with 70 million people. This is a fact. Now the question is: What is the implication of such financial power in the democratic systems?

7. Ultimately, democracies need resources

  • Citizens are a part of the answer.

What must be updated?

1. Increase the collaboration at each level of government between the citizens and the different powers. 

  • This would give the opportunity for a citizen to collaborate inside the government. It will also provide the government with the chance to grow its vision by having a wide spectra of opinions, idea and solutions.

2. Change the way the subjects are approached. 

  • Are you not tired as citizens of Yes/No questions? For or against? Life is not made with two options, is it?

3. Increase transparency.

  • Seemingly overnight countries become bankrupt. Despite the thousands of functionaries that work in public finance, this still happens. Why? Could it be that there is no real time update of the number that would indicate a trend and eventually react ?
  • Because a government changing of the strategy would go against the party’s ideology.
  • The control is null or corrupt and information comes out regularly.

4. Increase reactivity.

How To Move Forward ?

We are living in a time where a satellite can calculate the number of carrots growing in a square meter, where any phone has a GPS device, where payments can be made on the fly and most of the goods exchanged are scanned and computed instantly. This should give us real time access to the accurate number, in order to operate accurately. I am sure if all of the readers of this article would collaborate to devise other questions they have in mind we could enlarge the number of questions dramatically. We would also start to find some ideas, approaches and eventually some efficient solutions.

We could share it with the stakeholders to update our operate system, and our new form of democracy would be ready to release: a collaborative society. The societies in the democratic system have evolved their democratic systems in such a way that does not really help society to operate. We need to make an update of the democratic system to help us operate our political system and increase the satisfaction of every citizen. This would give them a better chance to express themselves and contribute to a better organisation and world, instead of just giving them the right to vote.

We already have technology to support this change, and collaborative tools in place as well.But before defining the specifications of the applications and the selection of the software and platforms a politicical will must emerge. Therefore, I am relaying this idea as a reflection. Then, each of us, if we want such change, must place this question on the agenda of the politicians.