Common Themes

The large variety of different models still have a lot in common: Beliefs and attitudes, practices and the language.

New Models in Politics – A Paradigm Shift in Approach and Core Beliefs:

Depending on the country, political party systems came into being at the end of the 18th century and more so in the 19th century.

In the 21st century, we are still governing ourselves within structures that are more than two hundred years old. And this, although the world, our communities and we human beings have changed dramatically. And the pace of change keeps speeding up.

So where is the problem? Whilst the world keeps growing together and becoming ever more integrated, the way we do politics sets and keeps us apart. The Internet, economy, finance, research and many other sectors are operating within global networks. Knowledge and resources are being combined and shared to benefit more people or corporations.

Citizens cooperate in networks, too. Think of Wikipedia, for instance, or car or other sharing initiatives. Or take a look at all the civil society networks that have come into being.

Party politics, on the other hand, has always meant to be divisive and remains so to this day. The question is whether a divisive governance system and style are still adequate in a highly-interconnected world? Or does it nowadays much rather drive a deeper wedge between people and add to the challenges we are faced with?

On our website you find political models that take account of the complexity and inter-connectedness of our century.

The way they operate requires a change in the underlying beliefs around politics, which in turn leads to modified attitudes and alternative action.

Take a look:

“You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.”

– Buckminster Fuller

Historical Perspective / Timeline

Common Themes Old Models Common Themes New Models

Division and separation is part of the system’s nature and considered as desirable.

Focusses on power and order

19th century level of consciousness

Cooperation and collaboration is part of the system’s nature and considered as desirable.

Focusses on interconnectedness and togetherness

21st century level of consciousness

Beliefs and Attitudes

Common Themes Old Models Common Themes New Models

Responsibility for societies and political expertise lies with politicians. Governance is their job. For specific information they resort to civil servants, advisers and lobbyists.

We are all responsible for our societies. Everyone’s expertise is required, that is, from politicians, civil servants and experts but above all from citizens.

Citizens can express what they want by voting every few years for a political party or a politician.

Citizens can do more than cast the occasional vote.

A political party should speak with one voice, not least for credibility’s sake.

A large variety of views best represents the complex reality we live in.

Too many opinions lead to never-ending debates, which impede decision-making processes.

The more diverse the opinions, the better-informed decisions will be – a prerequisite in a complex 21st century world.

Hence diversity is an obstacle to good political process.

Hence diversity is a resource.

It’s up to the individual politician to cope with constant public negative feedback (political opponents, media).

Sharing knowledge and experience in decision-making means sharing responsibility for decisions. Group processes encourage openly addressing and dealing with opposing views and conflict.

You are on your own:

Personal development is a politician’s private matter. The burden of responsibilities and stress lies on the individual’s shoulders.

We are in it together:

Group processes provide for experiential learning and feedback, allowing for both reaching mutual conclusions and personal development.

Consequences: Consequences:

A few dominant political party views and ideologies poorly represent complex realities.(Side note: How can you advocate diversity in society if diversity is not sought within your own tribe?)

Bearing the brunt of responsibility for governing societies, politicians attract all the blame.

The constant pressure and blame heaped upon politicians tend to push many to seal themselves off or to resort to self-protection. Defensiveness and distrust may result.

A lot of energy gets wasted by this, limiting politics primarily to constant fire-fighting.

Harvesting the views and experiences of many – politicians, citizens and experts – best represents the complexity of our century.

Cooperative decision-making between politicians taps into the emotional intelligence of all and supports citizens’ self-empowerment, creating trust and a high degree of social cohesion.

With citizens feeling heard and getting involved, the responsibility shifts onto everyone.

The energy released by burden-sharing allows for both finding solutions to challenges and pro-actively co-creating new initiatives.

Practices

Common Themes Old Models Common Themes New Models

Political parties are the main actors in governing societies.

 

The instrument of party discipline helps get party politicians in line with party views.

Once elected, politicians take decisions on everyone’s behalf. Citizens delegate governance to professional politicians.

Political parties become less relevant since citizens and experts, i.e. party-independent views flow into decision-making.

Facilitators and smart decision-making processes are used to deliberately harvest and process a broad variety of views.

Politicians, citizens and experts co-create decisions together. They share responsibility for governing.

The communication practice is primarily based on talking (French: Parlament parler/parlare = to speak)

Decisions are taken upon debates followed by votes.

The communication practice is primarily based on listening.

Decisions are taken upon deliberation and consenting processes, moderated by independent facilitators and with the help of digital technology.

Apart from voting, there are limited ways citizens can be heard – referenda, ombudsmen, petitions.

Citizens are heard and get actively involved in a variety of formats – citizens’ assemblies, citizens’ councils, political laboratories, online tools etc.

Majority voting can lead to tight results such as 50% + 1, supported only by a small majority.

Deliberation and consenting methods take account of a large range of views and expertise, leading to mutually acceptable results, supported by many.

Consequences: Consequences:

Politicians are expected to have all the answers.

Decisions based on party lines, party discipline and input from experts and lobbyists alone provides restricted room for creativity. Important expertise and points of view get lost.

A multitude of citizens do not feel heard. Disenchantment with politics and often hostility follow. The cleavage between citizens and politicians tends to grow.

Majority voting can add to this, since close margins tend to create camps. The ‘losing’ 49% may contain important elements of knowledge or even the solution required for the question at hand.

If used in ill-informed referenda, majority voting can lead to results that nobody wants.

Political parties are struggling: internally over attempting to handle diverse views, and externally over the loss of trust and credibility.

Comprehensive decision-making provides a range of opportunities:

Decisions made take account of diversity, complexity and citizens’ lived experience; they produce informed and sustainable results and they are carried by a large number of people.

The gap between governing and governed draws together. Healing and co-creation start.

Neutral professionals in group facilitation allow participants to achieve results and share new learning experiences.

Digital technology helps to get large numbers of people involved.

The new role of politicians is to become facilitators of good ideas who listen to others.

The challenge at this stage is to make new practices better known, to share their successes and to attract more citizens to get involved.

Language

Common Themes Old Models Common Themes New Models

The political language of war is used in divisive party systems. The terminology includes: political opponent, battle or fight for or against something or someone.

Habit of defining objectives as something that is not wanted: fighting a financial crisis, climate change or corruption.

The collective focus is on the unwanted outcome.

The constructive language reflects cooperative ways of working. The terminology includes: participation, co-creation, cooperation, construction, etc.

Defining objectives as something that’s wanted: a sustainable financial system, healthy environment, fair and honest economic systems.

The collective focus is on the desired objective.

Consequences: Consequences:

Fighting phenomena or opponents not only consumes a lot of energy and creates resistance. It also means fixating your brain first and foremost on the problem rather than the solution. This is a limiting perspective because the brain is unable to focus on the problem and see a possible solution at the same time.

Focussing collectively on problems tends to make them grow, sometimes out of proportion like under a magnifying glass.

You might come up with a solution. However, it will probably be some enhanced version of something already in existence (e.g. stricter controls to fight corruption).

The language, together with the divisive structure and underlying beliefs, limits the possibilities right from the outset.

Defining what you want to achieve rather than what you don’t want, opens your brain up to possibilities. The broader range of options allows for something completely new to arise.

Together people dig into their collective intelligence. Brainstorming a whole range of solutions creates an energy of possibility and an atmosphere of pioneering and feasibility.

It gives rise to solutions that nobody thought of before.

The language, flexible structure and underlying beliefs open the horizon towards new and innovative ideas.

The opportunity that the new models present at this stage, is to bridge the gap that currently exists. They can engage with traditional models to initiate a transition to a more coherent and more productive society.