[P2P-F] Fwd: "The Public" is way deeper than "public opinion"

Michel Bauwens michel at p2pfoundation.net
Thu Nov 7 04:11:13 CET 2013

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Tom Atlee <cii at igc.org>
Date: Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 11:11 PM
Subject: "The Public" is way deeper than "public opinion"
To: Michel Bauwens <michel at p2pfoundation.net>

TOM ATLEE'S CO-INTELLIGENCE JOURNAL . The Co-Intelligence Symbol . What
this message is about: A good description of "the public" as a collective e

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Tom Atlee's Co-Intelligence Journal
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. The Co-Intelligence Symbol .

*What this message is about: A good description of "the public" as a
collective entity potentially able to think and respond as a whole.*
"The Public" is way deeper than "public

Dear friends,

This remarkable description of systemic problems in the quasi-democracy of
the US, and of the proper conception of "the public" and its role are very
resonant with my own perspective. It comes from David King of Grassroots
Democracy Incorporated<https://go.madmimi.com/redirects/1383775784-59ce21654ec525300355b1fc3e191092-6d61607?pa=18091620490>in
British Columbia, Canada. His note appeared in a discussion forum of
the National
Coalition for Dialogue and
David gave me permission to share it with you.


One of the realities that bedevils voting is that, in an adversarial and
two-party system, partisan messages and media comments suggest very limited
(bi-polar) choices. People who see nuances, or prefer collaboration, or are
seeking a 'third way', or reject confrontation are actively discouraged
from voting. In an adversarial and two-party system, the only (apparently)
valid reasons for voting are: (1) to elect the good guy; or, (2) to make
sure the bad guy doesn't win. Anything else is described as a wasted vote
or worse, an undermining of the 'strategic' (blocking) vote.

In terms of citizen engagement, we have a problem in that the sense of "the
public" is very weak and is being undermined, constantly. *The public is
not merely an aggregation of individuals, not is it a temporary or specific
or instrumental phenomenon, nor is it detached from its surroundings, nor
is it a contractual relationship. The public is greater than the sum of its
parts. Something transcendent transforms an aggregation of individuals into
"the public" in a time and place. The public is enduring, organic, and
embedded in its ecology. The public is relational: it is covenantal (for
better or for worse, through sickness and in health, until death do us

I would argue that both politicians and conventional media have reasons for
wanting to dissolve "the public" and replace it with "public opinion",
which is temporary, specific and instrumental, and detached from its
surroundings. *In the minds of some politicians (and political machines)
and in the minds of some editors, it is not helpful that the 67% of the
population who support their position on gun control (for example) today
should stick together for consideration of another issues (such as health
care) tomorrow. They may not espouse the position the politician or editor
wants them to espouse. They may discover that they can disagree and remain
in right relationship. They may learn ways of coming together that don't
involve the politician or the editor. They may discover that issues are
complex, inter-related, of enduring significance. They may decide that they
want more sophisticated responses than politicians and editors are prepared
to give them.*

A poll that suggests that X% of the surveyed population holds a certain
position in response to a few carefully chosen questions is not a
manifestation of "the public".

In respect of both points, there seem to be three underlying problems. The
first is the mis-myth that democracy is 'finished' -- that what we have is
as good as it gets. We tend to believe that our Constitution, and our
electoral laws and practices represent the best model in every significant
respect, and there is nothing left to do except perhaps tinker around the
edges. The second is the mis-myth that citizens are consumers of democracy
(and government), whose only role is to go into the marketplace from time
to time and hire a household manager who will thereafter make all the
decisions. The final problem I would mention is that most political
problems are not technical problems, so experts are not the best people to
deal with them. Most political problems are challenges to our wisdom.
Expert knowledge can be very helpful in knowing where we are, but it is not
necessarily helpful in knowing what we should do.

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The Tao of Democracy<https://go.madmimi.com/redirects/1383775785-e987084a3c29b23f479e4138e7e9ad93-6d61607?pa=18091620490>and
           Reflections on Evolutionary
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