Civil democracy
Individual trust and decision-making

Support Civil Democracy

One part of the current social crisis is that the tradition of group-based social organisation has fostered a culture of irresponsibility. We quasi-naturally assume that for every aspect of society there should be someone else responsible. But we overlook the fact that there new public goods that are only produced if someone starts the social movement to make them. And we overlook that sometimes the inner logic of social systems does not at all relate to their function but only to the codes derived from former forms of their function.

  • Unfortunately, normal social scientists and normal universities are primarily interested in in safely applying established methods in established contexts, even if this goes against really understanding the current crisis.
  • Unfortunately, normal NGOs are primarily interested in creating incentives to their supporters to continue support along established lines, even if this goes against changing the big picture.
  • Unfortunately, normal young people are primarily interested in keeping their degrees of freedom, even if this goes against really making a difference.

Civil democracy is a game changer. It is not normal, and it needs you being beyond normal.

Civil Democracy needs your support. 

We are currently looking for candidates for the GSC. People who are willing to run for it must be willing to enter the civil democratic process. As GSC candidates and GSC members, they will be in close contact and exchange with NGOs and other Open Actors about what decisions are pending and what options already exist, and they will receive new proposals for decisions and options for decisions from the Open Actors. The GSC constitutes itself and has the legitimacy to make many decisions itself. But its most important rule is that at any time a qualified minority of its members or the Open Actors supporting them can cause a decision to be made in the civil democratic process, so that ultimately the participating world population can directly make the decision on this issue.

In search for candidates we will start asking some members of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Most of them are professors of meteorology. We approach them being aware that their role will partly be one of transition: Academics argue on the basis of their special knowledge. They are used to making their expertise understandable to others, but they rarely see themselves as group representatives. At the same time, they have by far the longest lead in pointing out issues of global sustainability, and some of them have already gained some experience in the political process.

After these professors, we will turn to activists and publicists working on global sustainability issues, combining expertise and networking with a variety of stakeholders. The aim is to get a list of people here who are ready to really run for office – that is, to go through a competitive selection process in which others may end up being chosen and not them. Saving the world should be worth to leave behind one's own vanity.

Help us to convince NGOs

When we have such an initial list of candidates, the real revolution begins. Those political actors who have the knowledge, reputation and public trust to choose between them as options are the actors of global civil society, ngos like Greenpeace, the WWF, Friends of the Earth and many others. Some, or perhaps all, of the candidates will also directly solicit voter support. But a profile that combines knowledge, awareness and trust must be built with energy over time, and people always have limited resources available, while organisations like Greenpeace can bundle the energy of many people over a long period of time and bring them together in a tradition.

Yet it is a revolution to address them: ngos have accumulated some experience of participating in political decisions. But it will be a completely new experience for them to stand for this in a transparent electoral process. Their organizations will have to change internally if they are to compete not only for resources of active and financial support, but also for the support of voters, and if at least this support from voters (and in the long run probably also the financial support) is transparent to the outside world. For many of them, it is not too much of a change, but it is definitely a change for them. But here lies the statement of the book title: As long as organizations such as Greenpeace are adamant about assuming this responsibility, the world will not be saved.

You can look at the candidates yourself and consider which of them you would like to support, and to what extent, in order to be an open actor yourself by revealing these assessments. Maybe you will join forces with others. It is certainly helpful if you give yourself a distinguishable profile that will enable you to evaluate options for upcoming decisions in the future and thus participate in them.

But then, perhaps triggered by the example of your appearance as an Open Actor, there will also be the first existing ngos that can get involved. Some civil society actor will find it exciting to be the first to support certain candidates and later certain decisions as the mouthpiece of a global electorate. And when the first ngos get involved, others will follow suit.

Help us with funding

Until then, however, the civil-democratic model only exists as an idea.

It is hence a real challenge for your imagination. How exactly is it possible for voters to give their support to Open Actors? And how can these evaluate options and let voters understand what has been done with their support? I have answered these and other questions in the fifth chapter of this book, up to pictures of what it would look like on your mobile. But this is still hypothetical. We need the opportunity to experience it. That is, we need money.

Maybe you're in the lucky position of helping us here with a larger amount, maybe even one that already makes it possible to start with a prototype. Maybe you are only able to help with a very small contribution. But in any case you can, and civil society actors who participate in the GSC as Open Actors can, spread a call for crowd-funding. A first call for a small starting grant is open and shall prepare a second, larger one for starting the GSC.

Until we start this crowdfunding, we need more to describe the civil democratic model than this book and the texts↑ I have written in recent years. We need a better website. We need a video. Can you put idea and concept in three minutes? I think so, but I can't do it myself. See if, at the time that you're reading this, such a video already exists, and if you find the existing website convincing. And if not, and if you are familiar with videos or websites, helping in this area would be a great way to support us.

Such crowdfunding will perhaps bring enough money directly to enable coding a civil democratic platform. In any case, it will open the door to raising money from foundations. One of the negative aspects of the current world situation is that there are many very rich people. But at least this has the advantage that some of them have recognized the seriousness of the situation and are willing to give something back to society from their privileged position and establish foundations. Such foundations have the problem of always being confronted with a very large number of projects, all of which may be worth supporting. That is why foundations use limitations and fixed schemes, and that is why it is difficult for really new ideas as civil democracy, i.e. ideas which do not fit to pre-existing schemes, to be considered by foundations at all.

Many foundations however are willing to give a try to projects that have already been able to set up a crowdfunding campaign. In that case, their boards of trustees do not have to bear the responsibility of judging the project on their own. You have already relieved them of this responsibility, in a small part.

Help us to realize the project

With the money raised we can start coding the core of a civil democratic trust storage and decision-making system.

I deliberately say “the core”, as civil democracy will soon need offline interfaces as well, since for good reasons many people do not want to entrust such private decisions as trust in civil society actors to the internet, or because in some societies the norm is not sufficiently observed that nobody should be persuaded to disclose what he or she enters on his or her mobile phone in terms of trust transfer or option ranking. These are challenges that we, as a civil-democratic movement, must see and address. But not at the very beginning.

An essential core of civil democratic trust storage and decision-making will always be internet-based and will work using the mobile phone as interface. At least among the more educated and younger people in wealthy societies there are enough who are able to defend the privacy of their decisions and not be deterred by entering of what they really think – not even by the unlikely but existing possibility that their data could be hacked. For those who don't have that assurance, we will find other, more secure ways to enter. But to demonstrate what civil democracy can do to save the world, it is enough to start with this core group.

For them, and hopefully also for you, we will program a civil society platform with the money raised. In order to make sure that when counting the votes no one writes some code snippet that unfairly favors certain options, the entire civil democratic process will have to be pursued as an open source project. And this means that other programmers can also participate than those we will hire to write code in the beginning. In fact, open source projects have their own dynamics, which I'm almost completely unfamiliar with now that I'm writing this. But maybe you are? Support in this area would also be very helpful.

Once this platform is programmed, it starts with presenting, negotiating, and making decisions for the Global Sustainability Council. The first decision to be made will be about the first composition of the GSC. Which of the candidates will be mandated to be the first GSC to represent the world's population? This will immediately be followed by the first decision on the matter, namely on agenda-setting and procedure. How will the GSC work at the beginning, what internal structure will there be, how many and which topics will be addressed in the first round? This is a whole field of questions that are at least in part important enough to be included in civil society decision-making. Now that I am writing this, I myself do not yet have a complete overview of this field. Perhaps you have similar experience and can help in advance?

One of the functionalities of the civil democratic platform will be that participating Open Actors can address the supporters they currently have access to and ask them to support them on the platform. And on the other hand, it will also mean that voters who know and find a civil society actor trustworthy who does not yet participate will be able to ask him to also participate as an Open Actor in the civil democratic system. In this way, participation in the civil-democratic project will grow soon.

Another important part of the realization will be further research. The social and political sciences have for such a long time been preoccupied solely with the existing institutions of partitioning representation that Civil democracy is far from having answered all questions. The number of related research questions is large↑, so if you as a researcher or in a position to organise and enable research have the opportunity to support this research, use it!

Accompany the work of civil democracy

Now the GSC and with it global civil democracy begins to work. GSC members will find a way of cooperation and a form how they can behave and be perceived externally as the voice of the world population and global civil society. They will find a working rhythm in which they present upcoming decisions to the world's population and global civil society, and will thus regularly draw the attention of global media to how many people in the civil democratic model participate in these decisions and what they decide together.

In this stage it is important to stick to the project – the idea of the representative democratic part of civil democracy, and thus the basis of its stability, is that the semi-interested people are also involved through their representation in civil society. But in contrast to representative democracy, the special advantage, apart from actor openness, is the possibility of participating responsibly in decisions of interest. The more people actually participate responsibly in decisions and thus show their willingness to bear the costs associated with a decision that they consider to be good in their daily lives, the greater the persuasiveness of the civil-democratic project.

Direct participation in civil democratic decisions also increases the contribution to saving the world. Saving the world will not be possible if we are not prepared to change our individual behaviour in important areas. Once the work of civil democracy has begun, make it a habit to see what decisions are pending, what your Open Actors think about it, what arguments there are and what you think of these arguments, and use the opportunity for direct democratic co-decision making.