Categories
- Consultation - Governance

Consultation and Governance

The practice of consultation has been a theme of multiple posts on this blog.  It is, obviously, a vital concept for governance, for it is the operating expression of justice in a way that empowers.

As the last post pointed out, a conception of governance that is informed by the principles of Oneness, Justice, and Power that were discussed in the last two posts, and that seeks to exercise a collective trusteeship over an interconnected and unified social body is dependent on effective consultation for collective decision-making.  Society’s current models of dispute and debate, of interest group competition, of “us” and “them” mentalities are entirely inadequate to meet humanity’s challenges in an age of social interdependence.

Consultation, in the setting of governance, needs certain prerequisites.  Those members of institutions must be sincere and systematic in seeking truth; they must be frank and loving when putting forth their views; they must be detached from their words, for once put forth, they belong to the whole group – to be altered, critiqued, discarded, or accepted.  Unity is to be valued above opinions, for it is unity that leads unto truth.  And diverse perspectives must be sought from all individuals, for a multi-faceted reality is illumined more by more insights – the minds of many is preferable to the minds of few.  Their goal must be the well-being of all humanity; their means the application of spiritual principles and a spirit of fellowship with the community in which they serve.  Finally, their mode of operation is a humble posture of learning, in which reflection on decisions made helps constantly improve and refine policies and their implementation.  This reflection is not simply a judgement of “good” or “bad”, but rather, “what did we learn?”.

From these thoughts and from previous posts on consultation:

How can these qualities be nurtured in organizations and in the area of governance?

How can these mature approaches to collective decision-making inform relationships between and among individuals, communities, and institutions?

Categories
- Governance Power

Alternative Elections

The idea of humanity as one, interconnected, interdependent, social body implies that each person is born into this world as a trust of the whole.  The role of governance, then, comes as an exercise of the power of collective trusteeship.  This idea of governance is irreconcilable with its current characteristics of competitive groups struggling for power to advance their own interests.  As our world has become highly socially, ecologically, and economically interdependent, the well-being of each part is dependent on the well-being of the whole.  The conception of government that is modeled after a contest for power – susceptible to economic corruption, diminishing the voice of the marginalized, and disregarding the interest of non-constituents including those unborn – has ceased to promote prosperity, has failed to address the needs of an evolving humanity, has served to oppress and divide.  Why continue?  Why cling?  Why allow humankind to suffer to keep an obsolescent system built on an anachronistic assumption?

One example of an alternate system is presented here, if for no other reason than to demonstrate that systems of governance don’t have to be contests of power.  The Baha’i community is developing a system that has proven effective in every culture, geographic location, and level of government.  It has an electoral process that is purely democratic yet free of competition – every adult is responsible to vote, is eligible for election, and has the duty to serve if elected.  There are no nominations, no campaigns, no parties; no manipulation, no slander, no economic influence.  Voters have the complete freedom to choose those who they think will serve the role the best – and these names are cast with secret ballot.  Those who are named most frequently on the ballot are then elected to serve on consultative institutions – and it is in these bodies where decision-making authority resides, and not with any individual elected member.  Of course, this system is evolving within a learning mode, and only works when certain conditions are met – for instance, that it is adopted in a voluntary manner and that certain values and commitments are cultivated in those participating (such as truthfulness, detachment, selflessness, and support of majority vote in decisions, just to name a few).

Where have you seen alternative models of governance that employ mature conceptions of power?  

What are ideas of how governance can be unifying?  How is power exercised in unifying and cooperative systems?

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