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From Hierarchy to Real Democracy: We Need A New Legislature

Author 75493
Message Andrew Mckenzie

What does the Internet mean for politics in the West? In the Middle East, WikiLeaks, Al Jazeera, and social networking sites have been credited with putting social and democratic movements on steroids, having played a large role in bringing millions of determined revolutionaries into the streets. Closer to home, Bradley Manning remains in military prison; his alleged leaks have been an inspiring example of information power. The young are beginning to pry at the secret corporate and military data supra-structures of Western societies and the state from the comfort of their own homes. With the entire state, corporate, and personal information infrastructures online, "Hacktivism" will leave an unforgettable mark on our era.

The Internet is a place for the freedom of ideas, actions, and information. But possibly the most important Internet-related change has been that it has connected nearly all of us together, and provides simple structures for the interaction of millions in a way never before possible.

On the streets, the Occupy movement embodied one very important message, the recognition that elite interests, not democratic, or human ones, have controlled our political institutions for far too long. Fortunately, new alternatives to the current political order exist, and those of us determined to find a quick exit from the status-quo, must consider what types of political action and organization have been made possible with the Internet. Access to information and the possibility of applying direct political participation into the decision making processes of Western states may set the stage for a new age of human development, where hierarchy can be broken, and a real democracy can be built.

Can the People Run the Government?

The Internet makes open and democratic societies possible and implies a fundamental change to the current political hierarchy. In every country of the West , we have informed publics, saddled with unpopular governments, and for the first time in history, there is a medium through which millions can be connected and engaged with very minimal expense. This provides an opportunity to direct the legislative sovereign political power with the fingertips of the people. We should demand what has been denied since the advent of hierarchy - a voice in the decisions that most affect our lives.

If the entire banking system can run smoothly online, so can a more transparent and radical democracy. Instead of building parties, the Internet provides the opportunity for activists to effectively organize more democratic legislatures online, in a powerful act of civil disobedience. Instead of calling for democratic "reforms' to fix undemocratic regimes, activists should initiate these reforms themselves, by pirating our governments, essentially posting the bills of legislature online and calling on the people to vote - not just once every 4-5 years for a party - but on every bill. Put simply "all power to the people." Facebook, and other sites have shown people in their millions can be organized online, so progressives of all stripes should not miss the opportunity provided by the Internet to build a political network which will unleash the political consciousness of our nations, and for the first time, make government the footstool of the people, letting the politicians write the laws and the individual decide on them.

A New Mirror

The collection of greater and greater amounts of information, and its unscheduled releases on the Internet will also have a profound impact on how well we can understand economic and political systems and our own realities. The brave leak of US intelligence attributed to Bradly Manning has given us a detailed, and importantly truthful account of international politics and the horrific "War On Terror" in a single act of civil disobedience. Manning's arrest marked him as the most desperately persecuted of the new breed of political prisoner - their crime: releasing previously hidden information to the light of day.

On an individual level, our own digital footprint appears to be an immortal and intimate mark of our own existence, scratched into cyberspace for eternity. We cannot be sure how our grandchildren will judge us, but they'll certainly know nearly everything about us. Future generations will have access to our various profiles, uploaded pictures, and thousands of personal messages to friends and family. They may even go so far as to say we created our own virtual resting place, for unlike our bodies which will decompose, and our graves and memories which are eventually lost, there is no time horizon on our digital footprint.

The digital footprint of every individual also has important political consequences for the state and for its enemies. As citizens, we fear the loss of our privacy, we can be sure corporations as well as our own governments are keen to follow our clicks and messages. Online surveillance in some form or another is now a reality in much of the world, presenting worrisome opportunities for repression and control unimaginable just a decade ago. In contrast, our information society is becoming a very leaky one. Anonymous and other "Hacktivist" groups have used this new landscape to obtain and publish sensitive information to expose and embarrass political enemies. These two trends have proven one startling fact, no individual or institution can be sure information they would rather keep hidden is ever far from the public eye.

In the West, the Internet is quickly turning into a powerful political tool with a wide range of possibilities. An age without a future spawns a revolutionary generation, a generation who's fingers are online not on triggers. A path to peaceful co-existence and a more human-oriented society requires democracy and freedom. Freedom of information and freedom of political organization. It is time humans learned to trust each other in the active governance of the nations; a tangible and effective democracy need only be just around the corner.

I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Leonard Cohen


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Bio: Andrew is a activist and student, involved with the Occupy movement in Toronto, Canada. He is a co-creater of the prototype cyber Canadian legislature
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From Hierarchy to Real Democracy: We Need A New Legislature

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