Open Future Image Governing Ourselves Well
The application of democratic principles is weak or non-existent in most countries. Political power remains with a self-appointed elite class, supported by family wealth, or corporate wealth, or military power. The destruction of Earth is the result.

The Myth of Effective Democracy

Decentralising Power

Destroying the EarthThe tide of history is the progressive transfer of power from the King, to Parliament. Then from a parliament that wasn't representative of the community to a parliament that is representative of the voters. Today, voters are demanding even more transfer of decision making power away from the centre. They seek greater local control of local affairs. Even so, at every opportunity, those who seek to corrupt that process play their role. None of the old style "democracies" are democratic by modern standards, though they all claim that status. The Arab Spring of 2011, indicates a wind of change, and the kick-back by the military and the ruling class of the old regimes, tells us oppressive government in favour of the rich and powerful is not about to end.

Local LinkAlvin Toffler was telling us 40 years ago that as citizens we need to be much more active in making our democracy work. We have to do that ourselves. We can't rely on our politicians to act in the interest of the community.

System Complexity

It's not possible for the political process to control everything. That was a key problem in the old Soviet Union, a problem still facing many nations today. Decisions need to be made about what to control and what to leave to the natural pressures of relative scarcity or abundance. When you look at the Local Link"World Problématique" the www link Club of Rome tried to wrestle with, you can see how complex the whole system is. For the last hundred years financial power has dominated decision making, destroying the environment and community life, to turn a profit. That unbalanced process has to end, or continued human life on Earth is in peril.

Transparent Government

Information We cannot rely on politicians and the press to give us good information. www link Transparency over governance needs to be built into the system, so that those in power can be held accountable. For instance freedom of information acts are useful, but wherever they exist, rules also exist to keep the most important details hidden from view. www link The alliance between governments and business interests is often used to hide government action behind a cloak of "confidential business" matters. Such an alliance creates favours for business interests as consideration to party patrons. When governments choose to do things they don't want people to know about, they can employ a business partner to do it, and hide behind a commercial sensitivity barrier. This is unacceptable, especially unacceptable in countries that pretend to be democracies.

Who's Interest is Served?

Typically in every society, powerful vested interests control decision making. Their purpose is to ensure that government action protects those interests, as a first priority. Those with power use it to entrench their position if they can. So we need to ask these questions.
spacer How, where and by whom are decisions made in your community?
spacer Who gets to write the law and the rules by which decision are made?
spacer What principles guide decisions and what gets decided?
spacer How involved are the general population in the decisions made and the effect of those decisions?
Every government is subject to pressure to favour the interests of powerful government sponsors. Only the power of a well informed and politically active public can counter-balance that power. Sustainable development can only occur if government plays it's proper role in making economic, environmental and social factors equally important, as each decision is made.

Market Systems for Decision Making

Because of these competing pressures, governments often try to dodge the issue by turning to markets as a decision making tool. The financially powerful generally favour that process too, because the market prices for environmental goods and services, and for social connection are "missing", and human capital has little bargaining power. Governments must be active in creating "prices" for the use of natural and social capital which businesses need to internalise as part of operating cost. Local LinkProper prices recognising the real cost of activities are a powerful tool. However, markets are a complete failure if governments refuse to fulfill their function and govern in an even-handed way. Market systems can also fail because of the lack of world wide governance. Tax havens and differences between the regulations in various countries allow the evasion of national laws and regulations and taxes. This works against the interests of sustainability, and signals a need for world-wide governance of business and international trade.

Worldwide Government?

So many of the significant problems of the world require Local File worldwide governance, but there is no such force. In fact there is widespread opposition, especially in large and already powerful countries to the idea of worldwide governance. Nation states are unwilling to submit to binding international rules which constrain their future actions. Much greater control of financial and corporate groups is needed. If corporations have the ability to avoid transparency by moving their HQ, or by operating from a tax haven, or by seeking to produce in the country with the most lax regulatory framework, then sustainability can never be achieved. It's essential to establish a global framework for international governance. That will not be possible if the world consists of a few powerful countries and many weak and impoverished countries. Fundamental changes are required to the way the world is governed. One day a democratically elected World Assembly might be possible. Sadly, today, even within nations there is a struggle between democratic forces and the forces of powerful vested interests. For the immediate future we have what we've got.