Deconstructing Democracy Co-Creating Eco-Governance
Part 1- Democracy: The Mindset
The Dynamics of Disconnect
The dynamic of disconnect that leads to social fragmentation and environmental destruction is inbuilt into the democratic system. The culture of disconnect in every sphere of life that stems from the mindset of domination leads to an implosion of the system from within.
The Primary disconnect from Nature
The health and future of humanity is entirely dependent on the health and vitality of the environment. Any governance system that disconnects its policies from the life force that sustains us is not only absurd and criminal, it sentences us all to a fate of inevitable disease and destruction.
The foundational principles of democracy focus on the rights of humans, but neglect the basic rights of the earth and other species. The mainstream democratic narrative perpetuates the myth that humans are separate from and superior to other beings and nature and as such has a right to exploit and dominate life itself. It does not educate citizens to honor the environment on which we all depend. The disconnect from nature has a profound impact on the well-being of children and society, and reinforces many of the physical and emotional diseases rampant in our current urban lifestyles.
The fundamental disconnect of the democratic framework from nature is responsible for much of the planetary devastation and human disease we now face. The governance system takes absolute control over the environment with very little understanding or respect for the complex web of life.
In many democracies today, the governance system disconnects people from direct access to healthy water, air, energy, food and natural medicines in order to control resources for the purpose of power. This power over citizens and resources is reinforced by an education system that does not educate about nature and the healthy functioning of eco-systems. Citizens thus do not have the knowledge or skills to recognize the way the environment is being plundered and so cannot take action in this regard.
Almost everything people are taught is mediated by government, media and education systems with vested interests. The disconnect from experiential learning in nature, and the oppression of instinct means that people grow up in ways disconnected from vital parts of themselves. Passive learning with little focus on experiential education and critical thinking creates dependent societies susceptible to manipulative information that will inevitably collude with environmental destruction.
In the name of progress, land is systematically taken from those who live in integrity with nature and whose families have worked the land for centuries. The land is then considered to be owned by nation states and corporations invested in maximizing profits for the privileged. Interested parties invest in massive media campaigns to present this plunder as progress. They invest in lobbyists to legalize their agenda, get the media industry to sell their agenda and rely on the military and police to enforce it. Similarly our food system has been entirely corrupted and contaminated by this dishonoring exploitative relationship to the land.
The Disconnect from Each Other
The democratic system is used not only to disconnect people from their natural environment, but also from each other.
The divide and conquer system inherent in democracy, promotes the notion that society is made up of separate groups that must compete among each other for allegiance, power, status, privilege and resources. It cultivates a culture of conflict rather than consensus and creative life-enhancing complementarity.
Dividing people among themselves into interest groups pulling in different directions (left and right, liberal and conservative or a host of other identity groups), weakens them so that they do not unite against those in power for the good of the whole. The divisive strategy is based on manipulating the human psychology of identity and belonging. Under the guise of win-lose tactics, it creates a lose-lose outcome. It instigates conflict among groups, wastes resources and creates dependence on government. No organization, family or community could thrive with this divisive premise and structure.
The Disconnect of Identity
Political issues are often framed in identity-based terms such as gender, race, culture, nationality, religion and class.
Democracies sell the idea that different identity groups have different and often contradictory needs and therefore require unique representation to promote their interests at the expense of others.
Politicians play on this fragmented, one-dimensional notion of identities to create fear by constructing a common enemy. In this way they use identity to rally loyalties and obscure the real issues. Politicians generally work to activate primal feelings of allegiance and belonging by idealizing their own party and demonizing the other. Patriotic loyalty is used to distract from local issues.
The fragmentation inherent in the domination mindset insists on allegiance to one part of a system, one aspect of identity, at the expense of others. The notion of loyalty to one part of a system over another is as counterproductive as swearing allegiance to the left arm over the right arm.
Given that democracy gets its power from divisiveness, it is not coincidental that so many democratic countries find their votes split almost precisely down the middle. The 50/50 divide is most often manifested in terms of “left” vs “right” or liberal vs. conservative.
This struggle in the two party system often represents a fundamental psychological struggle within all of us between the resistance to change and the desire for change, between fear and courage, self-interest and altruism. The struggle can never be resolved by any one side winning. It is doomed to repeat itself until we change the fundamental mindset of splits and polarities and attend to the needs of the system as a whole.
The democratic debate is always about whose interests will be looked after and who’s side-lined. It makes all leaders susceptible to the lobbying of special interest groups in order to gain and maintain power. It rarely, if ever, addresses the entire society and the human and non-human environment as an interconnected living system with common interests and shared destiny.
Most politicians are overtly focused on winning middle class votes, while flirting with the wealthy and ignoring the most vulnerable. This perpetuates the class based system and creates a disconnect between groups of people who are artificially set up to be in conflict and completion with each other. Privilege of the wealthy and oppression of the weak are built into the system that a-priori justifies a class based system. The middle class hovers insecurely between the two extremes while having to work increasingly more hours for less wages while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer
The Disconnect from Integrity
The way democracy is structured disconnects citizens and politicians from their ability to act with integrity. People often find themselves having to compromise their conscience on important issues. They are often torn when having to choose one party over another when they may identify with different parties on different issues. Politicians can find themselves torn between duty and conscience when they are required to vote along party lines. The game of bartering over votes to pass a law undermines honesty, conscience and integrity in law-making. The strategy of divide and conquer creates pressure, anxiety and conflict within society and within people’s psyches.
Both citizens and politicians are to a large extent kept in the dark about corrupt proceedings behind proposed laws, which further limits everybody’s capacity to vote on issues with awareness and integrity.
The Disconnect of Representatives from the People
The way democracy is structured often creates a deep divide between political representatives and the people themselves. Politicians usually come from a limited range of professions that do not represent the majority of citizens. The financial interests and reward system is designed to make them more attentive to their lobbyists than the will of the people. Given that many politicians are chosen by specific identity groups, they often represent the interests of only that particular group and neglect other groups which in turn heightens the divide and hostility between groups.
The Disconnect of Functions within the Government
The way governments are structured according to different ministries in charge of different functions, is based on a similar reductionist, atomistic and fragmented premise. Democracy artificially divides governance responsibilities into segments such as education, security, economy, environment, justice etc. despite the fact that these functions are entirely dependent on each other.
Ministries are set up and managed as isolated sectors that compete with each other for resources rather than creatively working together to promote common goals for the benefit of all. Lack of integration between ministries not only compromises each sector, it undermines the entire system. Ministries locked within narrow role frameworks with rigid structures obstruct real learning and resonance with the larger system.
The disconnect from the needs of people and environment is amplified by rigid bureaucratic structures that make the system particularly resistant to learning and to change. Governance structures and policies are thus often the greatest obstacle to the healthy evolution of our societies, and government employees are generally among the last to learn about and integrate global cutting edge solutions to societal challenges.
The dynamic of disconnect that permeates democratic society means that essential communication between the different parts of our human and environmental eco-system is disabled. The result is the immense dysfunction, conflict and disease that plagues our world.