By Daniel Raphael, PhD
In the 1,000 year history of the development of democracy in western civilization, several conclusions can be made, some of which are subtle while others seem obvious. The most subtle of conclusions is that the fear citizens have of social, political, and economic revolution gives way to the hope of conscious and intentional improvements in democratic processes. The hope of citizens increases and abates depending on how citizens perceive their ability to influence their democratic government to effect a desired outcome. When difficult circumstances arise in a democratic nation, as exists now in the United States, and citizens perceive that they have no ability to influence that situation, their hope can quickly turn into desperation.
This paper will outline two phases in the evolution of democracies and project them onto a third probable evolutionary phase.
Phase 1 —
The Emergence of Democracy under Monarchial Rule
First, when we examine the history of governance from the earliest of times, we see that there has been an ongoing two-dimensional oscillation between control by a central authority and riot, revolt, and revolution by the public against that authority. This continues today in some nations.
Second, when we examine the 1,000 year history of the emergence of democracy in western civilization its progress has also taken on a similar oscillation but in a three-dimensional spiral of evolutionary democratic progress.
Third, every evolutionary progression was always preceded by public outcry for greater consideration of citizen’s preferences.
Fourth, those successful evolutionary developments incorporated the means to satisfy the demands of the subjects by merging those improvements with existing processes of governance. This allowed for the continuation of governance but in a more evolved form of democracy, albeit still under authoritarian rule. In this conclusion lies the hope for the improvement of contemporary democracies.
Fifth, Phase 1 ends with the revolution of the citizens to remove themselves from under monarchial rule.
Phase 2 Democracies —
Elected Executive and Represented Rule of Democracy
Phase 2 begins with the formation of a “novice” level of democratic rule. The most successful novice democracies have been those that intuitively incorporated several of the six values of human material and social sustainability into their founding documents. The United States’ democracy is a typical, “novice democracy,” …not perfect, but definitely not monarchial.
NOTE: “Love” is in quotation marks because love is the primary value-emotion that the secondary values point to: Honesty, truthfulness, respect, loyalty, devotion, faithfulness, recognition, acceptance, appreciation, validation, discretion, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, authenticity, vulnerability, genuineness, listening, supporting, sharing, consulting, confiding, caring, tenderness and many more. (Source: Sacred Relationships, A Guide to Authentic Loving, Daniel Raphael, 1999)
The illustration above depicts the six values that have 1) sustained the Homo sapiens species for approximately 250,000 years; and 2) identify us as being human and humane. These six values provide the timeless and universal criteria that qualify all human social institutions and processes as capable of sustaining human social existence. The more consistently these values are applied by social institutions in their decision-making and policy formulation, the more likely those democracies will be sustained into the centuries and millennia.
Characteristics of the Values that Sustain our Species.
- Self-Evident — Ask anyone in the world if they wouldn’t like to have a better quality of life, to grow into their innate potential, and to do so equally as anyone else would or could. The responses are universally the same.
- Universal — These values are universal to all people of all races, cultures, ethnicity, nations, and genders.
- Irreducible — The first three values are the primary values of our species that have no super ordinate values above them.
- Innate — Archeological evidence is full of the history of human inventiveness. Even though I cannot prove it, evidence seems to suggest that these values are innate to our species and embedded in our DNA, as a part of our heredity.
- Timeless — These values seem to have been innate to our species from its earliest beginnings.
- Organic to our species — These values are not artificial values that we “think” we need to sustain our species, but have existed in our species as innate and organic to our being.
Founders of Phase 2 Democracies are almost never consciously aware they had used these values as the criteria for designing their new democracy. It is the inclusion of some of those values that have given novice democracies their longevity. Consider the values included in the most famous of sentences in the Declaration of Independence of the United States —
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
When we compare these truths to the values that have sustained our species for so many tens of thousands of years their similarities become quickly apparent.
Truths - Values
Self-evident - Self-evident
All People - Universal
Unalienable Rights - Organic and Innate
Life/Pursuit of Happiness - Quality of Life
In Phase 2 Democracies the values sustaining our species remain unrecognized as having provided the foundation that supported the longevity of that democracy. It is this very clear distinction that separates Phase 2 Democracies from Phase 3 Democracies.
Phase 3 Democracies —
In Phase 3 Democracies these values have become recognized as the essential criteria that qualify all decision-making and policy development as capable of sustaining that democracy into the coming centuries and millennia. When the awareness of the full set of these values becomes known, private, corporate, and public executives will choose to use them. They will choose to do so because incorporating these values into their policies and decision-making processes will give their organizations the capability of dominating the global scale of their enterprises in the long term. Short term goals then are easily seen in that perspective as contributing to long term goals for long term benefit.
The extent that those values are used or not qualifies that democracy as being an immature, juvenile, or mature Phase 3 Democracy. The degree is determined by how widely and consistently those values are used in the social-societal, political-governmental, and financial-economic structures and organizations of that democracy.
In Phase 3 Democracies the disparities of equality begin to disappear as all members of that society become equally responsible for their decisions, whether as individuals, organizations, governmental agencies, or corporations. This occurs because the primary core value “equality” assigns equal authority and responsibility to all players in that society, whether as individuals or organizations. The values that have sustained our species become the foundation for the construction of social, political, and economic ethics, morality, policies, proposed legislation that are applicable to every individual, organization, and every corporation.
Phase Change Difficulties
The transitions from one phase to another is much like what occurs in a slip-fault earthquake – there is no movement for long periods of time even as unseen stress builds up, giving the false illusion that all is stable and predictable. Then there is a sudden adjustment from the old “geography” to the new “geography.” The movement is significant and irreversible. After 240 years of almost static Phase 2 Democratic practices some US citizens will experience the shift to a Phase 3 Democracy as catastrophic, while for others it will be a welcome relief to be more directly involved and co-responsible with their public executives.
- What is difficult in each phase-change is the capacity to adequately articulate what is occurring so that the public is aware of the movement from one phase to another. Not everyone is appreciative of that movement. As each phase develops and becomes established, the inclusion of citizens’ preferences in public decision-making becomes more regular, making citizens more responsible for their participation and for the outcomes of their preferences.
Because of the immutable nature of the characteristics of the values of human sustainability, and because these values are easy to understand, the policies, statutes, and decision-making of public, private, and corporate decision-making will become much more transparent. Contemporarily these processes are nearly opaque, or cloaked with “smoke and mirrors” to conceal the real basis for decision-making. Challenges to the decision-making of executives in all realms of society will become far more potent and capable of revealing the sub-strata of influence by special interest groups, corporate lobbies, contractors, political-financial factions, and many others.
Priorities of Decision-Making
Solely using these six values in decision-making does not provide any insight into the priorities of topics and issues needing decisions.
The illustration below provides a clear schedule for prioritizing topics and issues needing decisions to create socially sustainable societies.
1. The first priority comes from the genetic mandate for Homo Sapiens as it is for all species, to preserve and perpetuate the species. This priority by it self commands our attention to attend to supportive educational strategies and policies, healthcare policies, and family socialization and enculturation programs.
Beyond the first priority we must devise artificial priorities that ensure the social sustainability of families, communities, and societies. To do so requires a symbiotic relationship of decision-making that not only preserves both the society of individuals, and those individuals, but also leads the way toward social stability and peace.
2. The second priority is to sustain individuals/families to support the continuity of our species and societies. Because our species does not have hereditary DNA instructions telling us how to create societies that will become socially self-sustainable into the far distant future, we will need to create those societies by using these values as the criteria for decision-making by individuals and all organizations.
In a society that sees no rational choice but to move toward social sustainability, the schedule of decision-making supports the maturing social evolution of family dynamics so that families consistently socialize and enculturate next generations to support a socially sustainable society.
3. The third priority is for organizations to willingly adopt these six values into their decision-making practices.
An irony exists that may not be readily apparent. While we are striving to create and preserve societies and communities, they exist only as amorphous aggregates of organizations and groups of people. They are not identifiable by address, GPS location, or boundaries on a map. Because of that, attempts to move a society toward social sustainability will fail until organizations within communities and societies become invested in the values of sustainability as the criteria for their decision-making to help sustain those communities and societies, as do individuals and families. Failing that, societies will fail, and so will the organizations and corporations of those societies.
Community and societal sustainability becomes possible when organizations are designed with the conscious intention and mission to become sustainable by making decisions that contribute to the sustainability of their host communities and societies; and to the sustainability of individuals and families.
Contributions by organizations to individuals/families and communities have three symbiotic functions:
1) To aid the sustainability of the species;
2) To aid the sustainability of the individual/family/community; and,
3) To empower individuals, families, and communities to reciprocate in that symbiosis by contributing their energies to the sustainability of their mutual society.
This symbiosis is only sustainable when individuals and families also make decisions and take actions that support the social sustainability of the organizations in and of their communities and societies.
Without a conscious and intentional working symbiosis between individuals, families, and organizations with their communities and societies, the sustainability of all is in jeopardy, eventually. And this is the situation of the United States, and well as other mature Phase 2 Democracies.
Moving to a Phase 3 Democracy —
When an adversarial relationship takes on the specter of “We would rather make the other side lose rather than accept a compromise!” then you know that the benefits of adversarial resolution of public issues has far surpassed its usefulness. Then, it is time to search for other means of resolving political differences.
In the United States, this contrarian positioning began in the Clinton Administration and has gotten more and more extreme. It has continued to worsen to the point that American politics has taken on an intransigent nature. The archaic design of the Phase 2 Democracy has broken down without a reasonable means to create a solution, as it is designed. Trying to make this primitive blue print of democracy resolve the problems that are inherent in its design is much like turning the key again and again to start your car when you know the battery has been dead for days. It simply is not going to take you where you want to go, even as faithfully as it has performed for you in the past.
A Probable Evolutionary Development of Democracy. What follows are three necessary elements to transform Phase 2 Democracies to Phase 3 Democracies. What defines the one from the other is the movement from a linear democratic process to a systems process, where all of the players become connected, sharing the same information, with everyone sharing responsibility for creating the results.
The Primary Innovator and Facilitator —
At this time, in the whole of the United States it is all too obvious that there are NO players in the democratic process who are sufficiently neutral to broker that symbiosis for the benefit of all. Western culture adversarial positioning is far too ferocious yet for such an innovation. Perhaps a more familiar solution could bridge the differences more effectively now. We know that in labor disputes, contract problems, divorces, and child custody cases that the best outcomes are almost always brokered by some type of neutral facilitator.
Because of the vitriol and contentious nature of American politics, such a facilitator is desperately needed. It would require some organization that is steadfastly neutral and acts in behalf of the good of everyone, particularly future generations. As this function does not exist at this time, it would take some creative Innovator to design, initiate, and operate a staunchly neutral organization of an evolved democratic process to facilitate the best interests of everyone. That may seem like a fantasy, particularly when we see all around us the perennial and tenaciously persistent seeking of increased wealth, power, and fame — elements of self-aggrandizement that cause separation between the partners of the democratic process.
An Innovator and facilitator as this would present an incredible anomaly to American politics. The cynicism and pessimism of the American public would keep many citizens from coming to this Innovator’s aid and support. To counter that, the Innovator would have to present their cause with candor, transparency, even to be self-revealing in those areas where public suspicion may arise.
Such an Innovator would need to clearly define their
Operating Philosophy Mission(s)
And a short list of Objectives
The Intentions are most important to reveal because they would help reveal the motivation for promoting this innovation. Equally important is the Operating Philosophy. It is against these two primary factors that the public will judge the developments of this work.
What will make this innovation stand apart from contemporary politics are the inclusion of the six values that have sustained our species for so many tens of thousands of years, as the final criteria that will validate or invalidate what develops from this innovation.
Such an undertaking, in order to address local-to-national public issues and topics of discussion, would require a significantly large commitment to make it a feasible public presence. Consider that this facilitative agent would need the capability of reaching almost everyone in a democratic nation. And, because it is a neutral agent, it would need to behave as an informative and educational public subscribership; and because of the size of populations of cities, counties, boroughs, parishes, states, and a nation, it would necessarily become a “Public Media Subscribership” that would operate in some ways similarly to social media sites on the Internet in order to reach everyone.
To answer the question, “What are the social, political, and economic issues and topics of interest to the public?” would require a means to assess the answers to that question from subscribers. Again, being neutral would require that this facilitative organization provide neutral and unbiased educational materials for those issues and topics. …followed by a subscriber questionnaire, qualified by the demographics of the subscribership, to assess their preferences of those options.
But, where would those options come from? We already know that the innovative answers will not be coming from national social, political, and economic hierarchies. Meaningful social and political innovations have always come from the local citizens. The founders of the United States did not come from the royals of Britain, but from local, educated citizens as Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, and many others. I believe the solutions democratic nations need lie dormant in the minds of millions of democratic citizens. They only need a means to awaken their imagination to produce those options.
Local Community Design Teams —
The use of a neutral facilitator function in the democratic process would provide one half of the solution. The remaining half
would be provided by hundreds of Local Community Design Teams to produce validated, sustainable options. My own prior work to develop a proof of concept of an experimental team composed of untrained local citizens may be helpful.
Team Roles. The following roles develop a synergism as team members begin working through the Schematic, see the Link.
Organizer – This person represents that unique 1% of every community who sees that something needs to be done in their community and initiates and organizes a Local Community Design Team.
Facilitator – This person facilitates the work and social flow of the team. He/she is NOT a leader or “head of the team,” but an equal member of the team.
Recorder – This person does NOT record verbatim, but records the occasional “Ah-ha!” and insight that is shared; and notes the change of topics as the discussion suddenly changes course. This allows the team to pick up the “lost line of inquiry” of the preceding discussion.
Inquiring Members – These members have the crucial work of asking insightful, connecting questions that open up the topic of discussion. Understanding the “arts of inquiry, discernment, and reflective thinking” are essential for the development of topics. Everyone on the team is an inquiring member, and in many ways everyone assists in all role functions.
“Consultant” – When needed, the “Consultant“ offers the Team a strategic perspective to help the Team see how their project fits into society’s progress to move toward social sustainability in terms of 50-500 years.
A procedural format of inquiry. The synergism of the team comes fully into play when team members, acting in their roles, work through the procedural format below. The wisdom and ingenuity of a team of individuals committed to solution-creation has the capability of producing great designs for the projects that they are working on. Because so many people today already work in information industries “knowledge workers” abound who would be very comfortable working in a team setting in their community.
After the team members complete the top half of the format, they can begin anywhere in the bottom half of the format, though most teams usually begin with column #6 because they usually have defined the result or outcome they want to achieve.
At some time along the way, all entries will have to be challenged by the criteria of the Organic Values in Column #10. This ensures that the results of the team conform to the standards of social sustainability. This is particularly helpful with policy formulation as those standards are universal and applicable to any society anywhere in the world at any time. Using the standard of these six values takes
the “wiggle room” out of policy development to prevent the influence of special interests and political agendas.
[See the author’s manuscript, "The Progressive’s Handbook for Reframing Democratic Values" for more detailed explanations of the above topic.]
Tapping the Potential —
Any innovation necessary to move Phase 2 Democracies to become Phase 3 Democracies must be capable of being easily integrated with the existing doddering democratic processes to transform the staid linear democratic processes into a dynamic democratic system.1
Using the six values, teams could begin creating the options for consideration by the subscribers of their shared Internet public media site. This would allow teams across all democratic nations to collaborate on solutions; and allow subscribers to form into groups who support a specific issues or causes locally or internationally, allowing them to collaborate and work together to support proposed sustainable legislation, as example.
The innovative organization that maintains and manages the Internet Public Media site would need to remain staunchly neutral to become an effective mediator and facilitator of the dialogue that will emerge between public and their public executives. To be fully effective, this organization would need to capture the demographic information of its subscribership to make statistical projections onto the larger state and national populations, allowing those who are not subscribers to develop informed preferences regarding those issues and topics.
1 - Senge, Peter (1994) The Fifth Discipline, The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, Currency Doubleday
Monitoring Social Change. These innovations would provide an ongoing educational function to the public and to help public executives keep their finger on the “pulse” of social change of their respective constituencies. Public executives would be continually aware of social change as it occurs. Such an innovative, facilitative democratic system would make any democratic government far more capable of adapting to social change than at present. Examination of measurable social changes over time would provide a means for following the “trending” of public issues and topics. These data would help reveal when the public is becoming desperate concerning some public issue.
The fundamental thinking of this paper is that citizens are incredibly intelligent, particularly when they are involved in a team approach for solving problems and creating solutions. Involving citizens in their own local community with friends and neighbors will overcome the perennial separation of the public from their public executives.
Hope. It would appear that now, the fall of 2016, is a particularly ideal time to come forward with these innovations for our aging democracy. People are bewildered by their lack of influence with their public executives. A very large portion of Americans see no hope of ever changing this situation, and no options appear in the media.
The fiery hope of the Progressives who backed Bernie Sanders was extinguished when he chose not to contest the campaign any further. Unfortunately, they continue to dither about looking for solutions for this 2016 campaign, when they should be looking for radically innovative possibilities for the 2018 and 2020 elections.
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You may be wondering what urges me to move these ideas along. I’m tenaciously persevering. I’ve pursued the idea an evolved form of democracy for over 40 years, and I know its time has come. We have the technologies, expertise in team processes, and the ultimate criteria in the values that have sustained our species for a quarter millions years to evaluate these innovations, the input of citizens, and the work of their public executives.
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I believe the cartoon was created by Boynton, but definitely published by the Washington Star Syndicate, Inc. circa the 1970s. A search of the Library of Congress Archives for the Washington Star Syndicate revealed about 350 cartoons but none as this one. The phrase is a variation from Walden & Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau.
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things".