DEEP DEMOCRACY: The Alternative to the Dark Deep State

The website in German and in English and the book in German present a conception of a “Deep Democracy.” This has various elements. First there is an urgent need for a different way of conducting politics, and in particular to remove the stranglehold of parties. This subject is dealt with at a separate website: with concrete proposals on the design of a superior parliamentary democracy. But the equally necessary task of rejuvenating business and society, and notably the world of work, cannot be done by even the best politicians and structures without branch and root changes of attitude in the areas directly affected. These changes must and can come from below. But how?

The great virtue of the Anglo-Saxon tradition in governance is that it is not confined to parliamentary conventions. There is, in parallel, the justice system with the principles of juries drawn from the population at large and volunteer magistrates who are not formally educated in law. Granted, the systems work very imperfectly, but they are not yet broken. They can be rescued, and in any case there is nowhere anything quite as good in terms of answerability to a broad base of citizenry.

In a highly anonymised society there is an erosion of the reputational checks which help keep most conduct within certain bounds of fairness and decency. A lot of outrageous conduct fails to meet the high bar needed for pursuit and punishment under the law, and the law itself often falls short of what commonplace morality demands.

“Morality” is of course a much abused word, but it involves two elements which it is important to distinguish. These are character and judgement. A sociopath or their like may have superb judgement, but of course appalling character – they suss people out in order to manipulate them. At the other extreme there are many whose character is fundamentally benevolent, but they are not discerning and robust enough to weather successfully the storms of decision-making. Often, their weakness is due itself to a naive understanding of morality. There is a great deal that can be said about morality to distinguish it from blind righteousness, legalistic thinking and misplaced tolerance, but this is said and propagated too little. It is against this background that there is a wealth of material on this site (and in the German book) discussing the nature of morality and ethics (which are distinguished) in different ways and from various perspectives.

The core message of the site, KlasseVerantwortung in German and rendered into English as “Class with Responsibility,” is a plea for a novel kind of CLASS SOCIETY. Traditionally, the professions have regulated their own members. But there have always been problems with this sometimes informal self-regulation, either because of indulgence and excessive leniency to those of their number who overshoot the mark, or else ganging up on members of the profession who speak out or press for change. Meanwhile we have countless new professions; some formal, some emergent.

What is advocated is that, instead of any given profession regulating itself, it should be co-regulated by representatives from other professions. This principle is one element in what I have called, as an umbrella term, DEEP DEMOCRACY.

The corollary of professionals being subject to oversight of their proper character and judgement in their professional conduct (but not in their personal conduct outside the world of work!) is that those who fall short, as determined by due process, should be excluded temporarily and possibly permanently from the profession they have exercised. There would then be a class of professionals, which would be distinct from other classes of people, these other classes enjoying different privileges, freedoms and responsibilities.

It has become (or maybe always was) fashionable to denigrate the idea of democracy. The position taken here is that a deep democracy (including, but not confined to fuzzy democracy and the self-regulation of the professions) comes as close as humanly possible to governance by the force of reason. It generates reasonable consensus. Much as science can approximate the realities it seeks to map. The words “fuzzy” and “deep” indicate things fall short of perfection, the single-minded pursuit of which, incidentally, like the pursuit of extreme justice or equality, rapidly proves counter-productive.