A true democracy
A true democracy cannot be imposed from above. It must be rooted in the local community. The basis of democracy must originate in the local community, and a regional democracy is the organisation of local democracies.
The local community should elect its representatives to sit on its local council.
Each representative should be elected by the local community to have primary responsibility for a particular role in the local community.
Primary roles could be
Provision of food and disposal of food waste and sewage.
Provision of clean water and treatment of waste water.
Provision of safe housing, building and planning.
Medical provision and resources.
Commerce and Trade.
Security and policeing.
Resolution of disputes, judge of local issues.
The members of this council should deal jointly with all issues that only impact on the local community.
Each member of the local council should sit as a member of the district council committee for that primary role.
For example All the members of local community councils elected to be responsible for the provision of medical services and resources will form a district committee responsible for provision of medical services and resources for the whole district.
Each such committee should elect one of its members to sit on the main district council, and the same member to go forward as the member of the committee for that primary role of the regional council.
It is the role of the District Council to deal jointly with all issues that only impact on the district community, but not to usurp the role of local community councils.
Any issues that are shared with neighbouring District Councils should go forward to be the responsibility of the Regional District Council
A true community based democracy like this is a very resilient society that can cope with natural or man made disaster. A community isolated from the district or region knows that it is responsible for any organisation needed at its own level, and it knows how it should be reaching out to its neighboring communities to re-establish the district and regional councils.
Where democracy neeeds to be re-established in a region, it should not be imposed from above. Democracy should start at the community level. As this local democracy is established it should be linking up with neighboring democracies to from the district and regional councils.
The regional council is formed from the representatives in each sphere of society elected from the tier below. there are no national elections for national representatives.
Any community will not be able to contribute to the district council until their representatives are elected democratically and secretly by all the adults in the community.
No civilisation can place rights before duties. If all citizens claim their rights, and none perform their duties then civilisation collapses.
Human Rights - Human Duties
If all citizens perform their duties then what is currently demanded as a right is accorded to everyone through the duties of others.
The concept of duties starts within the family at the earliest age of the child.
It is the duty of the parents to teach this to the child.
To use only a reasonable and sustainable share of the resources available.
To contribute to the best of their ability to the day to day tasks of a familiy.
To develop a responsibility for the welfare of others in the family.
To develop a responsibility to abide by the rules and regulations needed by family and society.
To develop a responsibilty for the resources of the community.
To extend these duties and responsibilities out to the wider society
A Democratic Vote
It must be a first requirement of a democracy that a vote can be cast and counted in secrecy, and that after any vote it is possible to check that any vote has been counted correctly without risk of destroying that secrecy.
All votes taken by a democracy, whether to elect someone to the next tier, or to vote on a proposal, should be a secret and verifiable ballot.
Any attempt to subvert a vote in any way should be regarded as the most serious crime in a democracy.
This applies to any threats, bribes, or inducements to vote in a particular way. This also applies to any attempt to hide the facts or truth behind any situation in which a vote is taken.
A simple method of conducting a secret ballot where there are two alternatives.
Take packs of playing cards, each pack to be distinctive, until there is one card for each voter.
The cards are shuffled well, then placed in a container.
Each voter takes one card from the container, or is given one card by a trusted person, and secretly looks at the face and back of the card, so that they can identify it again.
They then secretly post the card into one of two boxes (yes or no).
It is essential that any observer can count the number of people voting - hence the total number of cards in the two boxes.
When voting is complete the cards in each box are counted in the same room (at opposite ends )in front of the voters and then put on public display, so that each individual card can be identified.
All the voters are then asked to verify that their card is visible in the correct display (they should examine both the yes display and the no display to keep their choice hidden). Any observer should be able to count the total cards on display.
Any voter whose card cannot be identified as their correct choice should register a complaint (without revealing their card).
[problem here if the no vote all complain even though their vote is correctly recorded!!]
Should the number of cards not match the number of voters counted then the result is declared void.
Should the number of complaints be greater than the difference between the yes and the no vote then the result is declared void.
Otherwise the result is declared as a democratic vote.
Law, Order, Crime and Punishment
It is the duty of all members of society to obey its laws. A police system cannot impose order on a society that does not accept that duty. The purpose of a police force is to support the society, not to impose discipline on it.
No society can survive for long if its members do not accept their duty, and teach their children to accept their duties and to support their society.
Society must have sanctions against those who do not accept their duties to be law abiding citizens.
Any sanction should not be excessive, and should be related to the risk of re-offending.
Imprisonment should not be used unless there is a continued danger to society.
For example, a lawyer who has stolen a clients money is not a continued danger to society if they are not allowed to handle any other money or accounts. A more useful punishment would be to instruct the lawyer to spend half of each day providing free legal assistance for those who cannot afford it.
Even in a case where a person has been killed, there may be no increased risk of another person being killed, and imprisonment is not appropriate.
The first consideration in crime and punishment should be to ensure that support and education should be available both to the culprit and to the victim, to prevent the situation happening again.
The culprits, from antisocial behaviour to serious crime should not be grouped together where they can exchange notes and develop a criminal society. Young people in particular should be placed in a situation where their behaviour does not give them any sort of 'status' in their society.
However this should not be seen as a lenient strategy that would allow criminal activity to continue. Restrictions on movement and/or activities must be sufficient to strongly discourage or prevent re-offence.
Another aim of sanctions against those involved in antisocial or criminal activity must be to ensure that no-one benefits from the crime, and so far as is possible restitution is made to the victims.
Marriage and Property
A partnership between a man and a woman living together should not be a mechanism to transfer property or rights from one to the other either during the partnership, or if it ends, when it ends.
The property that either owns at the start of the partnership should remain theirs at the end of the partnership.
On death, either partner should be able to leave their property to whoever they wish.
The ownership of any property acquired during the partnership should reflect the contribution that each has made to the value of that increased value.
Where the two partners are not making an equal contribution to the running of the home, in time, effort or material or financial value, then there should be a transfer of value from one to the other to reflect the difference in the contribution made.
A balance may be achieved where one partner may make a contribution in time and effort, while the other partner contributes more financially.
Community funded Property
Any property which has been funded by the community should remain the property of that community and if it is no longer needed for the function for which it was obtained, then it should revert to that community. Even if it has been administered by another organisation.
For example, a place of worship paid for or built by the community and administered by a religious organisation for many years, reverts to that community when no longer needed as a place of worship.
For example a school playing field purchased through subscription of parents of children at the school reverts to the community from which those parents came, if the school is closed or moves.
It cannot be sold off by the schools authority independently of the local community.
Risk and Compensation
It should be a rule that no-one should profit from the mistakes of another.
The action to be taken against the person who caused an accident, and the person who suffered from an accident should be entirely separate.
The action taken should not depend on the chance sequence of events that followed the mistake, but on developing strategies to prevent such mistakes in the future.
The compensation for the victims of an accident should not depend on who, or what caused the accident, but on the needs of the victim. Where such compensation is paid in money, it should be paid from a general fund, and not taken from the person responsible for the accident.
The concept of property and the balance between the rights of the higher councils and the rights of the local councils and the individual is a very difficult one.
Some would argue that a majorty vote would decide the issue, but I think this is a recipe for disaster. Consider two population groups living in an area of limited resources.
One group through education and debate decides to live within their resources, to limit their own population, and to limit their standard of living to a prosperous but sustainable level.
The other group lives for the present, maximising their standard of living and allowing their population to rise rapidly.
This latter group soon starts to run out of resources, and promotes the idea in the joint regional council that the resources of the whole region should now be made available to them. With their large population, on a per head basis they can out vote the sustainable group, and through continuing to use resources at levels that cannot be sustained, bring disaster on the whole region.
[Of course they could then continue down this route, annexing the resources of the next region using the same arguments, until their expanding sphere of influence has taken over the entire known civilisation.]
I think that there has to be an incentive to husband resources without risk of these being annexed by another group in the next village, town, city or country.
For this reason all resources need to have an owner identified at the level nearest to the individual or village. It has also to be accepted that this ownership cannot be over-ridden by a higher council. A majority cannot vote to take over the resources of a minority group.
This ownership may extend to the traditional fishing grounds of a village, a forest used by a tiny nomadic tribe, or the oil beneath the ground.
It extends to the individuals house and property,and the common lands of the village.
Where ownership is shared then this should be stated as a proportion of the available resources. For example the water resources of a catchment area may be traditionally shared by many different groups of people. In a year of drought, or lack of snows in the mountains, or melting glaciers melting away, the total quantity of water available to the catchment area may change considerably. These water resources should be shared in proportion to the established ownership useage. It would not be reasonable for those groups nearest the source of the water to continue taking the same quantity in a drought year, or to increase the quantity taken for irrigation to the detriment of other users downstream.
The ownership of shared resources should also be tied to a binding requirement not to damage the quality of the shared resources. This may be applied to the quality of water passing downstream,and to any pollution that may spread through dust, drainage, or any other means onto any other resource.
Copyright Peter Thomson 2007 2014