– Requirements for a Competent Alternative Model
– Democracy of the Future: Cascade or Inverted Tree Representation
– Freedom Is Guaranteed
– A Process with Equal Opportunities
– The Harmony Between Functions and Capabilities
– The Creation of the Necessary Power
– An Example for the Nations Is Needed
– Complementary Quotations
In the previous chapters we made it clear the failure of the currently dominant models and why they will never be able to ensure a just and competent social order, especially with regard to the problem of the huge wealth difference existing between rich and poor countries (where two thirds of the world’s population live). In other words, we seek to clarify that such models (which today are generally seen as successful examples to be followed) will never be able to solve the challenge of overcoming the situation of exclusion and extreme poverty of so many millions that we see today. Therefore, we have now reached the moment when we must point out at least some general guidelines as to what an alternative political model would look like, which at least had the chance to substantially change this scenario.
We have already seen that the premise, that is, the vision of human being and humanity that underlies this new model, must be that which shows humanity as a universal brotherhood, which implies the recognition of the essential unity of human beings, as well as of large differences in capabilities.
What, then, would be the main characteristics of a new model of political organization, which would meet the needs previously exposed for a just and competent process for the selection of government officials, as well as the need to provide these rulers with sufficient coercive power?
As we saw earlier, the essential requirements that must exist simultaneously for a competent process of choosing leaders are: 1) freedom; 2) equal opportunities (or conditions) in political disputes; and 3) a good match between responsibility (which is always linked to the degree of difficulty of the functions) and the characteristics of the different levels of consciousness of the population (of different levels of capability, or of conceptual grasp). With regard to the generation of the necessary coercive power by the system (so that the governors can regulate and harmonize the actions of big organizations), the necessary requirement is that the political model promotes a cohesive organization of the entire population.
In view, above all, of the characteristics of the different levels of consciousness of the population and of the simultaneous need for the freedom of choice to be preserved, as well as for the guarantee of equal opportunities in the political dispute, the first conclusion is that of the total unfeasibility of direct elections involving large populations.
It is a total unfeasibility because these large mass elections, while preserving freedom, always result in a preservation of a kind of freedom like “fox in the hen-house”. In other words, a freedom in which there is no equality of conditions in the political dispute, neither a harmony between the levels of conceptual grasp and the levels of responsibility in selection process. The consequence of this is a total surrender of the process (so fundamental and decisive) of the choices of the most responsible positions in the hands of the economic-financial power (pluto), and in the hands of demagogy. In fact, the current so-called democratic models – centrally characterized by the elections of big populations (masses) – are not true democracies, but plutodemagogicracies. A truly democratic system means the government of the people, by the people and to the people, while in the present forms of Liberal democracies the government is of the people, by the people, but it never arrives to become to the people; the present forms of Liberal democracies are always in favor of economic power and demagogy.
At first sight, apparently, we find ourselves in a blind alley, that is, how to preserve freedom without direct elections by large populations (mass), together with equal opportunities in political-electoral disputes, and still maintaining harmony between levels of consciousness and levels of responsibility at different levels of political representation?
In reality, a little more reflection shows us that there is a consistent solution to this apparent paradox. It is a model that contemplates elections that are much less direct, and that ensures that these elections never imply processes of selection directly involving large masses, while preserving freedom and a strict proportionality between the various small, medium, and large electoral circumscriptions (districts).
Thus, this system would be based on small electoral districts (circumscriptions), such as small towns (villages), neighborhoods, small districts or small municipalities, preferably never exceeding a very human dimension, in which personal knowledge among individuals was not impossible or even very difficult to occur.
What number of people would we be approximately (roughly) referring to? This number may vary significantly in the case of rural or urban areas, since in urban areas of high population concentration the physical distances between a significant number of people are relatively small. In urban areas there may be large buildings, etc., and in these conditions of easier interpersonal communication, the number of voters in this first political-electoral circumscription could be significantly greater than in rural areas of great population dispersion, where people have much greater difficulties in establishing face-to-face contacts.
These differences of number of people at this first electoral level are of no great importance, since there will always be a rigorous proportionality between representatives and represented. If, for example, the coefficient is 50 to 1 at that first level, then, if there are 1,000 voters in a circumscription, there would be twenty (20) representatives of the first level. If another base district has only 200 voters, it will elect only four (4) representatives of the first level, and so on. The rigorous proportionality being an obvious requirement for equal opportunities.
The model of successive representations would gradually narrow like a pyramid, through the levels of Base Districts, Municipalities, Micro-regions, States (or Provinces), and from there to the National Congress, which would choose a cabinet with an executive chief, such as a Prime Minister in a parliamentary system. It should be noted, however, that this system resembles the traditional parliamentary system only at the top of the pyramid, the whole process of choice and selection being completely different from the direct suffrages of large populations, since the different electoral districts (circumscriptions) are articulated at various levels until it reaches the level of the National Congress.
If we consider the enormous advantages of this system in relation to the current ones, it becomes difficult to accept that such a system has not been seriously tried anywhere, as far as we have knowledge. Let us examine these advantages a little more in comparison with the present dominant systems: Liberal democracies and Marxist one party systems.
In relation to Marxist totalitarian regimes, the great advantage of this new model of participatory democracy is that freedom is absolutely preserved, whereas in so-called dictatorships of the proletariat, freedom is sacrificed. In this context, there is only equal opportunities for party members. In other words, there is no full freedom and, therefore, there is no equal opportunity in Marxist totalitarian systems, while in the democracy of the future this essential requirement is preserved.
As for the other aspects, participatory democracy does not lose anything to the Marxist model. Marxist systems have their strength in the balance between functions and capabilities and in the cohesive organization of a large part of the population. Now, these points are equally strong in the participatory democracy of the future, since it is similar in these particular aspect to the Marxist models, being, in reality, superior to the Marxist totalitarian systems, since these exclude many intelligent and capable people from the selection (electoral) process, only because they do not belong to the communist party or similar (as we can see, for example, in the model currently existing in continental China).
What about, then, the comparison of the democracy of the future with the system that is hegemonic in the world today, which is called Liberal democracy? The freedom that is the strong point of Liberal democracies is also fully preserved in this participatory democracy of the future.
In some ways, in fact, there is even more freedom in this participatory democracy than in the current models of Liberal democracies. First, because in democratic-liberal systems sometimes voting is mandatory, while in this participatory democracy of the future, voting is free. Second, because in Liberal systems candidates generally must be affiliated with some party, while in the democracy of the future candidates may or may not be affiliated with any party, depending on their free choices. In Liberal systems to be a candidate, the individual almost always depends on the choice of parties, but in this democracy of the future it depends only on his own decision. We see, therefore, that even under this aspect that is the strength of Liberal democracies, this new model of democracy owes nothing to it.
As for all other aspects, this participatory democracy of the future is far superior to Liberal systems. It guarantees immense equality of opportunity in electoral processes, while in Liberal pseudo-democracies only the materially privileged, the communicators and those who have professions linked to mass communication, in addition to demagogues in general, are the ones who have a chance to be elected to the positions of greater responsibility.
As for the adequacy between functions and capabilities, there is almost no need for comments, such are the advantages of the suggested model in relation to the mass suffrage of Liberal systems.
In this participatory democracy of the future there is a gradual qualification of the voters, who are those who were elected at the level immediately below. At each level of representation, a qualification occurs naturally (as to the increase in conceptual levels, or levels of social awareness), as these are those who were freely chosen as the most qualified representatives to defend the interests of their respective area or electoral circumscription.
The comparison is almost ridiculous, but what would be the percentage of those who would elect representatives to the National Congress in this new model who would not even be able to say what a Constituent Assembly is? Certainly this percentage would be practically zero, that is, none of the representatives of this high level would be unaware of such an elementary issue! Compare this with the 70.5% who, as we saw earlier, in Rio Grande do Sul did not know how to answer this very basic question, but who composed the very electorate to choose the constituents in 1986! Would there be a need for other comparisons? Is there any doubt that in this participatory democracy of the future we would have an extraordinarily more qualified National Congress?
Finally, also in terms of the ability to generate enough power in the hands of the freely chosen leaders, the model advocated here is far superior to Liberal systems. The proposed model organizes the population in a much more cohesive way, not in a loose and atomized way as in Liberal pseudo-democracies.
It is almost impossible to violently repress such a system. If, by chance, a military force prevented the National Congress from functioning, the entire population would remain politically organized, in a cascade (or inverted tree) of small assemblies, in most cases so small that they could meet in a large living room. How to suppress such an organization? It is an almost impossible mission.
All of this without mentioning the evident fact that perhaps the greatest political force in this participatory democracy of the future is the great, or at least much greater, qualification of its highest leaders (in comparison with those elected in the Liberal pseudo-democracies), which would guarantee, only considering this aspect, a much greater popular support than that devoted to the current rulers.
How different would be the qualification of these leaders when compared to recent examples of Brazilian politics, where we see cases and more cases of corruption, incompetence, demagogy, generalized unpreparedness for the exercise of the highest positions, of the terrible example for the population who has a very low concept as to the character of politicians. This was demonstrated in data previously presented, but in view of its immense importance we will repeat here:
“The table below, regarding the credibility of politicians, is very clear about the results of this process of selecting political leaders in the present forms of Liberal democracies. These data are about the credibility deserved by those who should be the best that a nation has, as they occupy the positions of the greatest responsibility. The survey is by Ibope (institute) and was published in Zero Hora, (newspaper) on 08/09/87. Needless to say, the Brazilian situation in 2020 does not look any better, with so many corruption scandals in the nation’s highest offices! The question asked was as follows:
– “Do you agree or disagree with the statements below used to describe the actions of politicians?” The tabulation presents percentages.
|Agree||Disagree||Does not know/
did not answer
|They are in politics only due to personal interests||
|They are concerned with the people well-being||
|Even the most honest end being corrupted||
|They do not act as they promised||
|They only defend who helped them to be elected||
|They enjoy too much benefits||
|They only remember voters before elections||
This disheartening picture is already a clear statement about the incompetence, injustice and corruption that characterizes this system of selecting political leaders.”
The country that first succeeds in adopting the model of political organization of this participatory democracy of the future will thus be serving the highest interests of its own people and will also be setting an example that will certainly help and inspire other countries. Especially those countries that are today poorer, generally subject to a neocolonialist dependency and with a past of centuries of colonial exploitation. This is because in this system there will be, in fact, a real chance for the necessary wisdom (intellectual and technical qualification, along with altruistic character) to reach the most powerful positions, and of the greatest responsibility.
In fact, this organizational change will only reach its truly democratic character (of the people, by the people and for the people), if it is preceded by a genuine great ideational reform at the level of the elites, that is, that part of the population possessing the minds of greater conceptual grasp. This aspect is not that easy to understand and, for this reason, it will be addressed in the set of quotations added at the end of this chapter, as well as in the texts that we will add, as annexes, to this book.
In view of the previous analysis, it seems unnecessary to further compare this model with those presently dominant worldwide. In all aspects analyzed, it is a much more efficient and fair model than the current ones, both in terms of the competence of the process of selecting the governors, and in terms of generating a much greater power in the hands of the leaders, so that they can regulate and harmonize the activities of the gigantic organizations. This is because, as we have seen, this new model, in addition to enabling much more qualified leaders to exercise their immense responsibilities, organizes the entire population of any society in a much more cohesive way.
Both the difference in the qualification of the governors, and in the organizational cohesion of the entire population, should substantially change the situation of conflicts and permanent injustices of all kinds that we have today. And this is something whose importance is difficult to exaggerate, especially for poor nations, which today have no hope, within the current models, whether Liberal or Marxist, of overcoming the vicious circle of extreme poverty and the so-called underdevelopment, in the same way that makes possible consistent solutions to the great problems that today afflict humanity as a whole, as in the concrete example previously chosen linked to the destruction of the natural environment.
In conclusion, there follows a set of quotations that aim to corroborate the ideational perspective presented in this work, above all to assist in understanding the decisive role of elites and their corresponding responsibility for the general well-being, not only of the human family (either organized in national societies, or in the collectivity of the world as a whole), but of all life and the natural environment of the planet:
Politics Involves the Welfare of All and Demands the Best Heads With Desinterested Spirit
“Politics, which involves the welfare and progress of all who constitute the State and affects other States, is a serious business which calls for the best heads with a disinterested spirit, and should not be a game of power played with the stakes of personal and group interests.” (N. Sri Ram. On the Watch Tower, p. 82)
Universal Brotherhood Is a Law in Nature, Not Only an Aspiration
“Brotherhood, then, in its full meaning, is a law in nature. Stress has more than once been laid on this in our meetings, but not too much stress has thereon been laid. For it is the very object, the desire, of our work that brotherhood shall become practical in society, and it will never become practical until men understand that it is a law, and not only an aspiration. It is a common experience that when men have discovered a law of nature they no longer fight against it. They at once accommodate themselves to the new knowledge. They at once adapt themselves to the newly understood conditions, and in that very way we have preached brotherhood. And yet brotherhood is but so little known in our world.” (Annie Besant. The Spiritual Life, Vol. II, p. 160; emphasis added)
Out of these Differences Grows Up All the Possibilities of an Ordered Society
“That great principle (or Law) of Reincarnation must ever go hand in hand with the principle (or Law) of Brotherhood if Brotherhood is to be applied, if it is to be made a working principle of ordinary life. For it is out of these differences of age that grows up all the possibilities of an ordered and happy society amongst ourselves.” (Annie Besant. The Changing World, p. 80; emphasis added)
How to Find the Best, That Is the Problem: To Solve It We Must Realise the Hopelessness of the Present Systems of Government
“The Ideal is that the best should rule; but how to find them, that is the problem. Every one of us who studies must try to solve this problem, and the suggestions I am here making may perhaps give some hints for the solving. But you will not try to solve it, until you realise the hopelessness of the present line of ruling – or not ruling – and accept the Ideal that the best should govern.” (Annie Besant. The Ideals of Theosophy, p. 30; emphasis added)
The Fetish of Mass Suffrage Without Any Qualification Whatsoever
“Undoubtedly each man is competent in his own sphere, to say what he wants for his town or village and who will serve best it among those he knows. But when it comes to a question of deciding intricate issues of national and international import, it is but common sense that only those should exercise a vote who have some knowledge of what the issues are. Therefore it was that Dr. Annie Besant urged consistently, while she was concerned with these matters in Indian politics, that India should not, in shaping her Constitution, adhere to the fetish of mass suffrage without any qualification whatsoever. (…)
She did not think that the rule ‘one man, one vote’ was good for any country, at least of all did she favour it for India.” (N. Sri Ram. On the Watch Tower, p. 81; emphasis added)
There Has to Be Skill and Wisdom in Dealing with the Outer Differences
“It is not enough to realize our underlying brotherhood, but there has to be skill and wisdom in dealing with the outer differences, the inequalities of development and circumstances.” (N. Sri Ram. Thoughts for Aspirants, 2nd Series, p. 122)
India Should Evolve a New Model of Democracy
“If India can evolve a form of democracy in which there is some chance for the needed wisdom to come to the top, she will thereby be serving the best interests of her own people, as well as setting an example that might help and inspire other peoples.” (N. Sri Ram. On the Watch Tower, p. 82)
Proposal of a System in Harmony with the Law of the Universal Brotherhood (Annie Besant, N. Sri Ram and Jai Prakash Narain)
“Some time ago Pandit Nehru, in one of his speeches, threw out rather vaguely the idea that some day, instead of the present manner of elections to the Indian Parliament, some system, less direct and more suited to conditions in India, might be considered.
Since then, Mr. Jai Prakash Narain (…) has more definitely proposed, in the place of the present form of Democracy in India, a system somewhat similar to that proposed by Dr. Annie Besant in the days of her agitation for India’s Freedom.
She did not think that the rule ‘one man, one vote’ was good for any country, andleast of all did she favour it for India. Therefore she outlined, in her The Commonwealth of India Bill , a system which would be broad-based at the village (and corresponding town) level, with adult suffrage and a very large measure of autonomy, and then gradually taper like a pyramid through the District and State (or Province) levels, up to the Central Government. The franchise for the Councils at these higher levels was to be based on increasingly higher qualifications of service, experience, education, etc.
Her scheme, if it had been backed up by the other political leaders of the time, particularly by the Congress party, would have been acceptable to the people of India as a whole. The principle of a reasonable qualification for the vote and for membership of the Councils would have been firmly established. But her pleadings went in vain. Mr. Gandhi stood for mass suffrage, and that decided the question.
Mr. Jai Prakash Narain also envisages a strong and practically self-sufficient village base to consist of Village Councils, village meaning also a town, ward or borough, but indirect elections from these Councils to District Councils, from the latter to State or Provincial Legislatures, and from these to the Parliament of all India.
Mr. Jai Prakash Narain’s is as yet a lonely voice in the wilderness of the present political conditions in India. The description of them as a wilderness may seem an exaggeration but when one looks at the various sectional interests which are so clamant and the variety of councils on different matters to which it utterance is given, one cannot but feel the truth of Dr. Besant’s description of democracy in its present form as government by multi-headed ignorance.” (N. Sri Ram. On the Watch Tower, p. 86; emphasis added)
Participatory Democracy (or Democracy of the Future), in the Vision of Professor C.B. Macpherson
“Let me turn finally to the question of how a participatory democracy might be run if we did achieve the prerequisites. How participatory could it be, given that at any level beyond the neighborhood it would have to be an indirect or representative system rather than face-do-face direct democracy?
If one looks at the question first in general terms, setting aside for the present both the weight of tradition and the actual circumstances that might prevail in any country when the prerequisites had been sufficiently met, the simplest model that could properly be called a participatory democracy would be a pyramidal system with direct democracy at the base and delegate democracy at every level above that. Thus one would start with direct democracy at the neighborhood (…) – actual face-to-face discussion and decision by consensus or majority, and election of delegates who would make up a council at the next more inclusive level, say a city borough or a ward or township. (…)
So it would go on up to the top level, which would be a national council for matters of national concern, and local and regional councils for matters of less than national concern. At whatever level beyond the smallest primary one the final decisions on different matters were made, the issues would certainly have to be formulated by a committee of the council. (…)
This may seem a far cry from democratic control. But I think it is the best we can do. What is needed at every stage, to make the system democratic, is that the decision-makers and issue-formulators elected from below be held responsible to those below subject to re-election or even recall. (pp. 108-109) (…)
To sum up the discussion so far of the process of a pyramidal councils system as a model of participatory democracy, we may say that in the measure that the prerequisite conditions for transition to a participatory system had been achieved in any Western country, the most obvious impediments to a pyramidal councils scheme being genuinely democratic would not be present, and, therefore, a pyramidal system might work. (…)
It is much more likely that any such move will be made under the leadership of a popular front or a coalition of social-democratic and socialist parties. (…) The real question then is, whether there is some way of combining a pyramidal council structure with a competitive party system.
The combination of pyramidal direct/indirect democratic machinery with a continuing party system seems essential. Nothing but a pyramidal system will incorporate any direct democracy into a nation-wide structure of government, and some significant amount of direct democracy is required for anything that can be called participatory democracy. At the same time, competitive political parties must be assumed to be in existence, parties whose claims cannot, consistently with anything that could be called Liberal democracy, be overridden.
Not only is the combination of pyramid and parties probably unavoidable: it may be positively desirable. (pp. 111-112) (…)
One question remains: can this model of participatory democracy be called a model of Liberal democracy? I think it can. It is clearly not dictatorial or totalitarian. The guarantee of this is not the existence of alternative parties (…). The guarantee is rather in the presumption that no version of the model of participatory democracy could come into existence or remain in existence without a strong and widespread sense of the value of that Liberal-democratic ethical principle (which is the heart of its main models): – the equal right of every man and woman to the full development and use of his or her capabilities. (…)
As long as there remained a strong sense of the high value of the equal right of self-development, the model of participatory democracy would be in the best tradition of Liberal democracy.” (C.B. Macpherson. The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy, pp. 108-115)