3rd Year Week 4 HT05

Topic: Democracy

Gaian Democracy - A New Way Forward

Reviewed by Peter McCaig in Green Scene magazine, June 2003.

Translate the following two paragraphs into Chinese


Leading with a concise and accurate account of how our society is organised, exposing its shams and hypocrisies - not least our so-called system of 'representative democracy' - this book is as insightful and revelatory as any I have read. It pulls together strands from previous writings of many luminaries of social and political thought and manages to link them together in a way that shows the overall pattern and instruments of the deception we are all bewildered by. One of the startling facts reiterated in this book is that because of the US dollar's pre-eminence as a 'reserve' currency America is effectively receiving a $425 billion per annum tribute from the rest of the world, while propagandising it's generosity in 'giving' $10 billion in aid. As the author's say 'not so much a free lunch as a free army, navy and air force.' Just this chapter alone as a kind of primer to the global brainwash would make it worth the purchase, but the book is not meant merely as a critique. This analysis merely sets up the authors' proposition of a way out.

To illustrate the systemic nature of the problem and to point towards the solution the book introduces us to systems theory, with explanations of some of its terminology such as 'wicked' and 'tame' problems. Tame problems are easily diagnosed and cured. Wicked problems are those that resist any direct attempt to cure them or merely divert the problem to another area. These demand a different tack than the repressive or interventionist approaches commonly prescribed to alleviate them. Needless to say our society is riddled with wicked problems which are the 'emergent properties' of an ailing system. Boldly and radically the authors do not advise any further cure or adjustment to the system - all such attempts are futile - but it's wholesale displacement by a new system based upon a self organising people-powered model which embraces a constant process of individual engagement in decision making and opinion forming. Or as they call it Gaian Democracy