This is what democracy looks like

It’s not neat, it’s not easy, it’s not a once in every three or four years thing.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Occupy movement is not about politics as usual. It’s not about left or right. The political class has complained that it doesn’t understand what the movement wants.

Let me make it easy for you. The movement wants power. It wants to take the power from the political class and those that pay for the political class to do its bidding and give the power back to the people. What the movement wants is direct democracy. Power concedes nothing without demand.

Direct democracy is democracy without politicians. Or rather we all become politicians. Your interests are no longer represented by a politician or a political party. You vote directly. Direct democracy is pure democracy. Think of it as network democracy for the network age. Real democracy.

Forget parliament, drop congress, goodbye senate, you make the call. Hell, it’s your government anyway. Your taxes pay for it. Why should politicians have all the fun? (You want a slogan? How about no taxation without participation.)

Direct democracy is the natural evolution of the present political system. Politics today is driven by polls. Just take it the next stage and automatically poll votes from everyone who pays tax, remove the political class and get on with it. No more parties, no more lobbyists, no more gridlock. Better yet, no more corruption.

Now a lot of political pundits will shake their heads slowly and tell you that direct democracy won’t work, that it reduces politics to mob rule.

Ah, yes, mob rule. “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind” was written by French intellectual Gustave Le Bon in 1896. This is a man who never met a crowd he didn’t like. Le Bon was a conservative, distrustful of fashionable democratic ideas of the times. According to Le Bon, in a crowd a man became a barbarian. Nice.

More than a hundred years later, this prejudice still sticks. Which is weird because it’s not even true.

John Drury, a psychologist at Sussex university who studies crowd behavior, finds the idea that crowds induce irrational action and erase individuality just isn’t supported by the evidence. First, most crowds aren’t violent. The crowd in the shopping mall or at a music festival is usually calm and ordered. Even crowds that include conflicting groups like at football matches are more likely to be peaceful than not. Second, even when crowds do turn violent, they aren’t necessarily irrational.

Panic? What panic? Fifty years of research has shown no evidence of panic behavior in crowds, even in emergencies. Help and co-ordination and co-operation is a universal phenomenon in emergencies. We are biologically predisposed to help one another. It’s how we’re made at a molecular level.

The crowd is not the problem.

The crowd is the solution.

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