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a great new society

The story of the human race consists of many threads of history woven together across time -- containing narratives of the birth, advance, regress, prosperity and extinction of various civilizations. Of these threads, the thread of government, or, in general, societal organization under a code of law, in its various forms, is uniquely interesting.

Diverse forms of government have existed among various peoples at various times. A sweeping view of history suggests a trend from absolutism to democracy, from centralized monarchies to decentralized representative forms. This is a good thing.

History bears witness to the endemic nature of corruption in government -- as innate, it seems, as the necessary depravity of the men and women who constitute it. At its best, perhaps realized nowhere except in myths and poetry, government is society's designated steward of justice. At its degenerate worst, it becomes the means and instrument of systemic oppression and grave evils.

The rapid progress of information & communication technologies has served to shine a light on the institutionalized injustices in government. Recently, this has led to the rise of popular movements around the world, such as for e.g. the Tea Party movement, the Arab Spring protests, India Against Corruption, etc., that have attempted to address government corruption by highlighting the need to make government more accountable, transparent, efficient and/or small and limited. These movements have spanned the spectrum in their various manifestations around the word -- ranging from peaceful protests to civil disobedience to revolutionary and violent overthrow. While some were ideologically driven (see esp. the libertarians underpinnings of the Tea Party), all have been populist.

An important outcome of these movements has been the laying bare of certain flaws in representative democracies and large governments. The advance of technology has made possible new experiments in furthering the decentralization of government and in leveraging the wisdom of the crowds. This emerging brave new polity parallels the emergence of the brave new economy based on sharing and crowdsourcing. The following articles and links provide an overview of the important concepts and ideas.

Collaborative e-democracy or super-democracy is a democratic conception that combines key features of direct democracyrepresentative democracy, and e-democracy (i.e. the use of ICTs for democratic processes). 

Direct democracy (also known as pure democracy) is a form of democracy in which people decide (e.g. vote on, form consensus on, etc.) policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then decide policy initiatives.[2] Depending on the particular system in use, it might entail passing executive decisions, the use of sortition, making laws, directly electing or dismissing officials and conducting trials. Two leading forms of direct democracy are participatory democracy and deliberative democracy.

Deliberative democracy or discursive democracy is a form of democracy in which deliberation is central to decision making. It adopts elements of both consensus decision-making and majority rule. Deliberative democracy differs from traditional democratic theory in that authentic deliberation, not mere voting, is the primary source of legitimacy for the law.

Participatory democracy is a process emphasizing the broad participation of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems. 

Open-source governance is a political philosophy which advocates the application of the philosophies of the open source and open content movements to democratic principles in order to enable any interested citizen to add to the creation of policy, as with a wiki document. Legislation is democratically opened to the general citizenry, employing their collective wisdom to benefit the decision-making process and improve democracy.

Collaborative governance is an emerging form of governance, based on direct democracy, supported by internet technologies ("ICT"). It enables any interested individual to collaborate in the decision-making of a community.

Open government is the governing doctrine which holds that citizens have the right to access the documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight.[1] In its broadest construction it opposes reason of state and other considerations, which have tended to legitimize extensive state secrecy

The metagovernment wiki maintains a list of active projects in this emerging area. Some interesting ones (including some not listed there) include:

The title of this post -- a great new society -- is a play on words (or, a portmanteau, if you like) on two of the most ambitious and well-intentioned, and yet, fatally flawed and failed progressive experiments of the 20th century -- namely, the New Deal and Great Society. The intention is that this phrase would represent a new and, perhaps, a better way forward for the human race to organize itself, along libertarian lines -- where government would be small and limited in scope, transparent and accountable and efficient.

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