Democracy and The Leaderless Revolution

In a speech on Nov. 11, 1947, Sir Winston Churchill reminded the UK’s House of Commons that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those others that have been tried.”

Carne Ross, an British ex-diplomat, wrote an interesting book entitled The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power And Change Politics In The 21st Century.

He mentions the following statistics:

  • The top one percent of the population in the US takes home nearly twenty-five percent of all income, the highest percentage since 1928.
  • Across the globe, more than one billion still live on less than one dollar per day; two billion live on a pathetic two dollars per day.
  • In 2009, one in seven Americans was living in poverty, the highest proportion of the population for fifty years.
  • For the first time ever, more people now dwell in cities than the countryside.

He proposes that even in democratic countries what we have is not true democracy. All we are doing is voting people into government to make decisions for us. It is not what he terms “direct democracy” or ”deliberative democracy”.

In addition he highlights that research suggests that when measures are in place to protect people from risk, they tend to indulge in more risky behaviour. Criminal frauds like Madoff are actually made more feasible by the presence of institutional authorities designed to prevent them.

He suggests that if people do not have responsibility, we should not expect them to behave responsibly and that the more that government seeks to act to tackle particular problems, the less that individuals are likely to feel responsible for them.

However, ideas like participatory budgeting and deliberative polling are growing in popularity.

He recommends looking at what makes you angry. Choose goals that are truly epic as the spirit soars for such challenges. Even small deeds when accumulated by many people towards such goals can make significant differences. Address the issues of those that are suffering the most. Look at how money can influence. Pressures from investors and campaign groups can have a big influence, when directed properly.

Carne Ross’s websites are :

Carne Ross Ted Talk : The Accidental Anarchist | Carne Ross | TEDxSkoll - YouTube (15 mins)

Carne Ross - One hour interesting documentary entitled : Accidental Anarchist - YouTube (59 mins)

Also interesting Ted Talk by Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig explaining how the nomination process in the US is controlled by only 0.02% of the population : Our democracy no longer represents the people. Here's how we fix it | Larry Lessig | TEDxMidAtlantic - YouTube (21mins)

His proposed solution is the Citizens Equality Act that would include the following components :

  1. Citizen funded political campaigns.
  2. Ensure equal representation by radically changing the way districts work.
  3. Equal freedom to vote by ensuring voting day is a public holiday.

But please watch the video as it explains much more than these short notes.