The Death of Globalisation Might Help Catalyse Radical Openness and Strengthen Direct Democracy

A marble bust of Pericles. Pericles also fostered Athenian democracy to such an extent that critics call him a populist. Credit: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Globalisation is receding and its proponents have their backs to the wall. Populism now leads the way because it has offered people an alternative that speaks to their collective heart.

Whether the populists turn out to be successful or not is besides the point. The writing is on the wall. Globalisation is irredeemable because it doesn’t lend itself to radical openness. I cannot emphasise enough what I mean here. We need openness and participation that RIVALS anything that today’s formal institutions can provide and the death of massive, unaccountable global institutions like the EU will be the catalyst for launching a global enquiry in to alternative structures. Radical openness and open source governance will be that new structure.

I am talking about the kind of openness that makes men and women of power cringe and squirm in their chairs. I am talking about openness that would bring the police at your doorstep. The kind of openness that would make even its proponents second guess it everyday because it is just too radical.

Long ago, democracy was once considered a radical experiment but the Ancient Athenians, led by Pericles went for it and it served them well for a significant period of time. America was, at its inception, the most radical experiment in representative democracy amongst all other fledgling republics. And it worked. But now it is in need of rejuvenation. The Americans have chosen Trump to lead this rejuvenation.

I would argue though that that rejuvenation will instead come through the maturation of tech-enabled direct democracy at scale.

Allow me to explain: look at the America today, or the world for that matter. There are roughly 300 million Americans and more than seven billion people on Earth. That’s seven billion points of unique hyper data points in thought-space that must somehow be averaged out into a coherent whole that can be processed by the representative democratic republic machine. This is a potential recipe for disaster and America’s founding fathers too struggled with the question of adequate representation across such a vast swath of territory for a long time.

Direct democracy allows for better participation but it can only work up to a certain point before it becomes a cacophony of factions against factions. Kind of like what the Soviets and the Nazi government became during their existence; a bunch of factions hitting at factions. The solution to all this problem could come in the form of decentralised, radical openness.

Look at Libya today. No one trusts anyone at all over there. The only thing that managed to unite the country is the common-held fear for one man. Now that man is no more (we have NATO, a globalist institution to thank for that) and no constitution, army or global institution (the UN is currently struggling unsuccessfully to get a parliament living based in Tobruk to work with government based in Tripoli to rebuild the nation) may ever be able to unite this country fully again.

Unless, perhaps, they submit to the idea of radical openness. Radical openness entails that you commit public information to your counterparts, even if it compromises you, in order to render your intentions clearly. This “public ledger/wiki” can become the decentralised arbitrator of trust between groups because it would lead to the end of secrecy. And without secrecy, mischief cannot thrive.

Anyone who fails to contribute to this ledger or absolutely refuses to participate in it may quickly become ostracised if enough peers subscribe to the public ledger. This may seem harsh at first glance but, as Pericles may or may not have declared:

We do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all.

If there is radical openness between groups then factionalism based on ambiguous information becomes untenable and may even become a demerit because ALL relevant information is public in a legally binding, decentralised state that is self-enforcing, meaning no single organ has influence over its contents and it is able to execute legal action in an autonomous manner. Such a ledger/wiki is technically feasible today.

But what if the information contained in the public ledger is faulty? Enter the vanguard of truth that is Wikileaks. The Wikileaks model is interesting because it helps to actively set the record straight when it comes to information. Wikileaks has actually made investigative journalism great again. Secrecy becomes a liability because you invite the potential for controversy when the Wikileaks boogeyman's comes knocking at your door. It would be much better to declare all relevant information into this “Open Public Standard Ledger” because if one doesn’t, the act of not contributing turns the Ledger into the biggest political liability ever. It could be used to demerit your reputation (think of a S&P rating system for ANY and ALL organisations) because you are judged by an open standard.

We can actually see this model of radical openness at work today: in the business of cybersecurity, many organisations and scientists publish their work so others can benefit. This increases their merit and helps everyone to rapidly adapt. The sooner you contribute relevant information about an attack on your systems, the better for you and everyone else who might be using similar systems. It is radical but it is working, atleast for the software industry.

We can keep going: this radical openness mechanism can be used to keep in check ANY kind of organisation or person of power. Be it media corporations, internet corporations, pharmaceuticals, governments, NGOs, the UN, the EU, militaries, legal institutions, et cetera. It can keep even its own proponents in check. It will be the ultimate book of truth for the humanity. And its success will be the final death knell for unaccountable globalism.

Because when it really comes down to it, everyone has an agenda. It would be nice to have a solid and complete understanding of what that agenda really is, a legally binding, exhaustive declaration of intentions, even if it insults what we would consider the limits of public knowledge.