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5 Controversial Ways to Turn Our Democracy Around for the Better

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“Good political institutions are those that make it as easy as possible to detect whether a ruler or policy is a mistake, and to remove rulers or policies without violence when they are.” ~David Deutsch

Sadly, for us, we do not live within a healthy political institution. Policies are underhanded at best and corrupt at worst, hidden beneath layer upon layer of malicious loopholes and oppressive agendas geared toward keeping the poor poorer and the rich richer. As for our political “leaders,” they may not be rulers, per se, but they are chosen by plutocrats at best and then entrenched by corporate lobbyists at worst. The entrenchment of power is the problem.

The façade is that we are a democratic republic. The sad reality is that we are a plutocratic oligarchy hidden behind a smokescreen of placated liberty and justice.

Power, in today’s world, comes in the form of concentrated wealth in the hands of a tiny cabal of corrupt global oligarchs. Unfortunately for us, they have failed miserably with this power. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Their character has been tested and deemed unworthy of sound leadership. Blinded by their own hubris and greed, they cannot see the error of their ways.

It’s time to upset this apple-cart of mostly rotten apples. It’s time for a complete system over hall, a rebooting of the Matrix. Here are five controversial ways to do precisely that.

1.) Replace involuntary vertical democracy with voluntary horizontal democracy:

“I do not wish to scrap the concept of democracy, but to maintain democracy as a radical ideal; that is, democracy understood as a state of affairs in which ‘the people’ have the power.  This is not only radical in the etymological sense of going to the root meaning of the word, but also in the political sense of seeking a fundamental transformation of society.” ~Brian Bernhardt

Top-down policy-making is old hat. Policy dictated from above and compliance expected at the bottom of an organizational hierarchy is outdated and parochial. Time, and much trial and error, have decidedly confirmed that it is fundamentally unsustainable and socially uncouth. It simply does not work for free-thinking reasonable human beings.

Horizontal democracy, on the other hand, is a social movement seeking self-management, autonomy and direct democracy. It puts the proactive citizen in the driver’s seat as the much-needed checks and balances to the overreaching entrenchment of power.

The important thing is this: such democracy must be voluntary lest it become totalitarian. Everyone must be free to participate or not, otherwise the ever-looming slippery slope into tyranny becomes that much more slippery. Even a voluntary vertical democracy would be far superior to the involuntary vertical democracy we live in now. But voluntary horizontal democracy remains the ideal.

2.) Lottery-in leaders, vote-out bad leaders (Sortition):

“If you vote, you have no right to complain.” ~George Carlin

The election-based system (especially representative elections) of appointing leadership has failed miserably. It’s time to usher in a new system of appointing democratic leaders.

Elections are ridiculously overrated. They attract power hungry egomaniacs at best and warmongering sociopaths at worst. People who seek power over others tend to be the least capable of handling it. There must be a way to guard against this kind of unhealthy power-seeking personality type in our democratic leadership.

One potential solution could be the implementation of a sortition-based system of appointing leaders, with assembly powers to vote out “bad seeds.” A lottery would balance out the system through simple probability, while empowering citizens and preventing power from corrupting, since voting-out would be the only time a majority vote would matter. Sortition through lottery, by way of voluntary assembly, would level the playing field, make lobbyists obsolete, prevent power from becoming entrenched, while educating the masses on civic-mindedness and maintaining a healthy egalitarian ethos.

Assemblies could be local and practical, growing out of an organic bottom-up approach that encourages proactive and informative citizenry which would see communities build county assemblies into state assemblies into national assemblies. All of which would use the lottery to elect leaders and voting to oust bad leaders.

3.) Replace militarized offense-minded policing with privatized defense-minded policing:

“The whole Good Cop/Bad Cop question can be disposed of decisively. We need not enumerate what proportion of cops appear to be good or listen to someone’s anecdote about his uncle Charlie, an allegedly good cop. We need only consider the following: (1) A cop’s job is to enforce the laws, all of them; (2) Many of the laws are manifestly unjust, and some are even cruel and wicked; (3) Therefore every cop has to agree to act as an enforcer for laws that are manifestly unjust or even cruel and wicked. Therefore, there are no good cops.” ~Dr. Robert Higgs

Ill-trained offense-minded policing has led to a corrupt and overreaching police force hellbent on meeting quotas which further leads to “legal” extortion. Offense-minded policing leads to militarized policing which inevitably leads to a police state. And though we’re not in a police state quite yet, we’re on the slippery slope toward one.

If, as Stefan Molyneux said, “The law is an opinion with a gun,” then it stands to reason that we should check such untenable power with a tenable solution. Privatized defense-minded policing is that solution.

Based upon the precept that for any free human being who is unable to protect themselves or their property, whether due to lack of skills, an ailment, age, or even plain cowardice, they are free to hire a defense-minded policeman or police force to help protect them and their property. As long as this police force remains defense-minded and doesn’t become offense-minded by forcing their values, ideals, rules, or laws onto others, then it is a morally tenable means of policing. It’s only when the hired police force (such as the state-driven police force we see in the streets today) violates defense-mindedness by becoming an oppressive, extorting, violent force with the monopoly on power, forcing its values, ideals, rules, or laws on otherwise free people, that it ceases to work well.

Simply put: Healthy policing is an extension of healthy self-defense. Self-defense turned violent and overreaching is no longer about self-preservation. Similarly, defense-minded policing turned violent and overreaching is no longer about protecting and serving. Violence should only ever be used in self-defense and never as a means toward enforcing one’s values, rules, or laws onto others, no matter how popular they are.

4.) Replace profit-based prisons with rehabilitation-based prisons (for violent defenders only):

“Absolute freedom mocks justice. Absolute justice denies freedom. To be fruitful, the two ideas must find their limits in each other.” ~Albert Camus, The Rebel

The profit-based prison/jail system is the height of human wickedness. The total prison population has grown by 500 percent over the last 30 years. It is human governance at its worst. Fundamentally immoral and sickeningly outdated, this system of punishment has become a grotesque abomination of our lizard-brain kneejerk reaction to crime, and our out of control plutocratic system of governance. Equal parts extortion and slavery, it does nothing in the way of rehabilitation and therapy, and everything in the way of profit and criminal relapse.

Furthermore, prisons and jails are ridiculously bloated with non-violent “criminals.” Prisons and jails should be for violent offenders only, with rare exceptions of extreme theft or fraud. Those committing petty offenses or drug “crimes” should never have their freedom taken away from them unless they are violent. These should be settled through fines, rehab, psychiatric counseling, and/or probation. Another controversial perspective that deserves its own section but won’t get one: All drugs should be legalized with focus on education rather than prohibition.

Apropos, those free individuals who decide to opt out of the voluntary, sortition-based, horizontal democracy should be allowed such freedom, with the explicit understanding that they waive any direct benefits and that they abide by the non-aggression principle. Should they, or anyone for that matter, violate this most fundamental social principle, they waive their right to personal freedom and will then be placed into a rehabilitation-based prison for violent offenders after a fair trial of due process.

5.) Balance funding between military, education, healthcare, and infrastructure:

“Once weapons were manufactured to fight wars. Now wars are manufactured to sell weapons.” ~Arundhati Roy

As I wrote in 5 Things Nobody Tells You About the Military Industrial Complex, “Let’s stop kidding ourselves. The elephant in the room is a long-nosed, heavy-breathing, militant asshole with its trunk up our skirts. Even worse, it’s a flappy-eared, terrorist-generating war machine with an American flag tattooed on its flank. But nobody wants to acknowledge it. It reeks to high-hell of rotten peanuts and drone strikes, but nobody wants to admit that it’s standing right freaking there!”

The U.S. military is larger than the next seven militaries in the world, combined! Let that sink in. World military spending totaled more than $1.6 trillion in 2015. The U.S. accounted for 37 percent of that total. If that’s not a bloated military, I don’t know what is. It’s time to scale back. It’s time to see the military industrial complex for what it really is: a terrorist generating war machine propped up by profiting weapons manufacturers. As Brigadier General Smedley Butler made clear, “War is a racquet conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the very many.”

The propaganda machine that the military industrial complex uses to convince its citizens that it needs more money is based on blind patriotism and a myopic nationalistic pride that imagines the money is going to our brave military men and women. Nothing could be further from the truth. It goes toward $200 million B-52 bombers and faulty F-35 fighter jets costing $400 billion each. Each! That is the height of insanity. Just imagine what good use that money could go towards.

And yet we all just go about our day imagining that the government knows best. Meanwhile, our education system falters, our health care is being eroded, and our infrastructure crumbles. As Chris Hedges poignantly surmised, our “inability to be self-critical and self-aware, coupled with the cult of the self, has lead to a collective suicide.” We can no longer see the error of our ways. As Noam Chomsky said, “The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.” And here we are, not even knowing that we don’t know.

God forbid we wake up and smell the oil spill, or realize that it is mathematically impossible to ever pay off our national debt, or that an automated resource-based economy is far superior to the outdated monetary-based economy that currently runs (ruins) the world. God forbid we take seriously the wise words of Antisthenes, “The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what is untrue.”

God forbid we try to get over the hump of our current failures as a species. Or admit to ourselves that we are fallible, imperfect, and prone to mistakes, while also realizing that we can, and have, improved when we put our imagination and determination to the test. Sure, progress is difficult and self-improvement, enlightenment, and utopias will always be elusive, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. It’s all the more reason to try harder. As Baruch Spinoza said, “All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.”

(Featured image: Shuttershock)

Typos, corrections and/or news tips? Email us at [email protected]

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UK Queen’s Statues Torn Down Amid Anger Over Mass Graves for Indigenous Children

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This year may have had one of the most muted Canada Day celebrations, but this didn’t stop Indigenous protesters from making their anger felt – especially in the wake of the discovery of over 1,000 children’s bodies near the residential schools run by the Canadian state and church authorities.

And with churches being likely targeted by arsonists for the crimes of Catholic clergy, protesters are now attacking the symbols of Anglo colonialism – namely, statues of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.

More than 200 children’s bodies were discovered buried in a mass grave in May, with several hundreds more being discovered in June at unmarked gravesites near Indian residential schools in June.

About 150,000 First Nations children were forcibly separated from their families and communities and forced to attend the religious schools which were established in the 19th century to assimilate Indigenous children into the Anglo settler-colonial culture of Canada.

Former students have testified to the horrific sexual, mental and physical abuse they suffered while enrolled at the schools. Myriad children died from preventable diseases, as well as in accidents and fires. Others disappeared when trying to escape. The Commission has denounced the schools for institutionalizing child neglect and for being organs of “cultural genocide.”

The discoveries have churned up deep-seated anguish and memories of the suffering visited upon First Nations peoples, with many lashing out at the symbols of colonialism.

At least seven churches, all but one of which were Catholic, have also come under apparent arson attacks throughout Canada in recent weeks.

In June, a statue of the late Pope John Paul II at a Catholic church in Edmonton was splattered with red paint and red handprints.

On Thursday, July 1, residents in Canada also held organized protests and pulled down the statues of the top figurehead of British colonialism: Queen Elizabeth II, as well as that of her great grandmother, Queen Victoria. Sky News reports that the toppling of the statues was accompanied by the chant, “No Pride in Genocide!”

In Ottawa, protestors gathered en masse at Parliament Hill chanting ”Cancel Canada Day” and ”shame on Canada,” urging an end to the national holiday over the deaths of Indigenous people.

Indigenous groups and Canadian politicians are demanding an apology from the Catholic Church – specifically Pope Francis. The event could take place by year’s end, according to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

However, it remains unlikely that the British crown will offer the same amends to Canada’s Indigenous nations who, like many across the globe, suffered greatly in British Colonialism’s worldwide search for riches and glory.

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3 Reasons Why Introverts Are Undervalued in Today’s Society

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It’s undeniable that our society favors assertive extroverted personalities with strong communication skills and underestimates the quiet ones. If you are an introvert, you have probably learned it the hard way.

It could be that you felt unseen in the classroom as a child or teen. Or you may have watched your less competent co-workers get a promotion thanks to their social skills.

It feels unfair, but if you think about our society, it makes perfect sense. The consumerist mindset that has become our second nature inevitably affects the way we treat other people. It seems that everything, including our personal qualities and worth as human beings, is translated into some kind of market value.

In other words, to make other people see your worth in personal or professional life, you need to be able to ‘sell yourself’. Yes, this expression alone tells it all.

You need to know how to make a good first impression, say the right things, and be assertive. If you can’t do it, you are perceived as incapable and uninteresting – whether we are talking about a job interview or an informal social gathering.

But it’s not the only reason why introverts are undervalued in our society. Here are a few more:

1. They are less efficient in teamwork

Communication and teamwork skills are required for all kinds of jobs. It seems that without being able to work in a team, it’s impossible to do your job even if your duties don’t involve interaction with clients.

Introverts are much more efficient when they work on their own and are given a certain extent of independence. They thrive in quiet environments with few distractions and interactions. This is when a quiet person gets the chance to unleash their creative self and make good use of their analytical skills.

Most office jobs don’t give employees this opportunity. Office meetings, group projects, phone calls and all the other attributes of a 9-to-5 job make it almost impossible for an introvert to be productive.

2. They don’t like to be in the spotlight

Sometimes it feels like we are living in a society of attention seekers. Today, you are expected to go public about the most personal matters, such as your relationship and family life.

People share their most intimate thoughts and feelings on social media, post updates about the most trivial events, such as what they had for dinner, and upload countless selfies.

Introverts are among those who still value privacy. They are less likely to showcase their lives online or share the details of their personal affairs with the whole world.

At the same time, the quiet ones don’t like to be in the spotlight at social events. An introvert will never interrupt you. They will listen to you and talk only when they have something important to say. This tendency to avoid attention can be mistaken for insecurity and even a lack of intelligence.

3. They prefer to be real than to be ‘nice’

If you want to make a good impression on others, you are expected to be nice. But what does it mean to be ‘nice’ anyway?

In an introvert’s mind, it equals saying things you don’t mean. Quiet personalities will never bombard you with compliments or say meaningless social pleasantries just to win your fondness. But if an introvert said something nice to you, then be sure that they truly meant it.

Small talk is another component of social relationships most introverts struggle with. To them, it embodies utterly dull, uncomfortable, and pointless conversations they can perfectly do without. For this reason, introverts are often mistakenly believed to hate people.

The truth is that they don’t – they just crave stimulating, meaningful conversations and choose their social circle more carefully than extroverts.

In my book, The Power of Misfits: How to Find Your Place in a World You Don’t Fit In, I write about the reasons why so many introverts feel inadequate and alienated from other people in today’s society. It all goes down to social expectations this personality type has to deal with from a very early age.

But the good news is that every introvert can overcome the negative effects of these expectations and find the right path in this loud, extroverted world.

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