Modern democracy is frustrating the very thing we need the most: collaboration.

Speech to Nexus Australian Youth Summit, Melbourne, 27 October 2014. (extract)

Here’s the so-called ‘Mother of all Parliaments’, with William Pitt the Younger, as Prime Minister, addressing the House.

At the same time in 1774, the American Founding Fathers did deliberate on alternative models for their Congress, especially the Athenian model, which had virtually no elections and included all men, rich or poor, chosen by lot, as in the jury.

But the Founding Fathers opted for the British model, in essence, but without a monarch, constituted of only rich men, elected into office by themselves.

The Founding Fathers called themselves a ‘Natural Aristocracy’, discarding the very term ‘Democracy’, as that word implied the Athenian model.

Several decades later, the Americans, (and everyone else) appropriated the word ‘Democracy’ for themselves, entrenching the misunderstanding of what democracy originally meant.

The jury, and that original democracy, is the inspiration for the work we do at newDemocracy, as we demonstrate that citizen juries have the capacity to make sensible decisions.

In Bob Hawke’s words, ‘Parliament is now a charade’.

In this crowded and complex world we need more effective ways to reconcile our differences.

Today, across the globe, in developed and developing countries, we naïvely expect lobby groups, political parties and their respective constituencies, to relinquish their brands to find common ground.

Modern democracy, as we know it, is frustrating the very thing we need the most: collaboration.

For me and my colleagues, the advantaged societies will be those reaching agreements: made and advocated for the people, of the people and yes, most obviously, by the people.

Luca Belgiorno-Nettis

October 27th 2014

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