A New Way to Decide
As humanity begins another chapter of its journey into the unknown, we are faced with tremendous challenges. However, with the right tools, we can transform those challenges into opportunities, into a better life for everyone. The Democratic Quality Vector holds significant promise of improving the quality of our decision-making process in business, politics and civil society. This book will explore this profound data shift and give us the tools we need to equip ourselves. This will not only ensure we not just to keep up, ride the wave of this change and come out ahead.
However, some of us might be happy with our Democracy the way it is, and wonder if a DQV is necessary. As we already know Social contracts within democracies protect the rights of the individuals living within them. Therefore, it is somewhat ironic that any person who is born into a democratic society initially has no democratic ability whatsoever to decide their fate in the world. The completely helpless condition of human newborns leaves us at the complete mercy of our caretakers and the social contracts that they choose to impose upon us. As we grow from a newborn into childhood, the normative social contract is deeply conditioned into us from the earliest age, in the form of the socially acceptable behavior of our guardians. All through our young life, we obediently adopt the normative values of the social agreement imposed and enforced by our caretakers and the state institutions that govern their behavior. We are encultured through explicit and dominant narratives repeated over and over in our families, schools, communities, and media and reinforced through peer behavior. When such a fundamental right is stripped away from children at an early age, and powerful conditioning applied, one can argue that such powerful behavioral conditioning is the most difficult thing to change.
For each one of us, the normative social contract is often one that was forged through a long history of dialogue, disagreement, and sometimes even violent insurrection. This social contract arrives at the doorsteps of our lives with the enormous inertia that history carries. It is the accumulation of generations of refinements of political rules, each generation better than the previous, each one fixing some problem or injustice not previously spotted. In addition we strengthen the social contract each time we comply with the rules of our society. For example, each time we drive under the speed limit, we are reinforcing accepted norms. Each time we vote for a politician, abide by the law and court system, or pay our taxes, we are strengthening the rules. Often, we do not think we have a choice in this process.
Moreover, in spite of the incredible struggle to get to this point, the modern form of our social contract is still far from perfect. In reality, it can never be static, but rather is a continuing work in progress, as each new generation discovers its own set of social injustices that require policy changes.
There are dangers in this process. As the French thinker Paul Virilio has argued, the Industrial Revolution’s technological inventiveness has unleashed a string of new kinds of catastrophes. The invention of the automobile gave birth to the car accident; that of the boat to the shipwreck and invasive species. Furthermore, the emergence of the airplane gave rise to the plane crash, and the threat of rapid global disease spread; the emergence of industrial food production systems has given rise to biodiversity loss, species extinction, eutrophication and cardiovascular and diabetes epidemics; and of course, fossil fuel contribution to climate change to name but a few.
Something similar can be said to take place in the political sphere. The French political philosopher Pierre Manent speaks of the phenomenon of the “organ-obstacle” or “instrument obstacle,” whereby once beneficial policies become significant obstacles in themselves. We can cite two examples that Manet provides. First, the law, which has the aim of protecting the weak from the strong. often results in privileging the strong over the weak. Second, the sovereign state, which was founded to guarantee peace among individuals, has itself become a significant vehicle for declaring war.
With all of this in mind we might ask about conventional democracy itself and wonder whether it too has brought forth new kinds of political catastrophes. Does our democracy as we know it contain certain inherent harm that is not otherwise intended?
As It does not require a great deal of imagination to come up with a list of grievances and concerns about contemporary democratic practices, the answer to that question could be yes. For example, democracy is government of the people, by the people, and for the people, as Abraham Lincoln famously put it. One, then, would naturally expect the very best among any given people to serve in its structure. Democracy should be an opportunity for the most talented at applying their skills on behalf of their fellows. Often, however, the opposite is the case. Thus, democracy can suffer from becoming a series of choices among mediocre representatives – or worse.
Another problem is that social media has also proven easy to hijack for nefarious purposes. Bad actors use phony accounts and bots to spread fake news that has created extreme political polarization and has even tipped elections. The short-termism of four-year voting cycles does not allow important long-term issues to gain any traction, resulting in the sidelining of essential issues.
The inertia of the democratic political process also creates long delays in passing legislation. Democratic governments are also infected with dark money that buys political favors, making a mockery of the democratic process.
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