The system, the system - stirring it is uncomfortable

08/12/2020

The system is on everyone's lips. There is skeptical, angry, defensive, glorifying or contemptuous discussion. But it is not questioned on principle. Even the skepticism that spreads also in the bourgeois milieu is despised. Yet there are good reasons to question this system in principle.

An unstoppable climate change, more than 65 million people worldwide on the run, a predicted pandemic - the end of a world order of well-being is within reach and can no longer be overlooked. And yet, at the beginning of the shutdown, more than 200,000 holidaymakers had to be brought back from party zones around the globe when the flights suddenly collapsed.

The countries that established the industrial society over the last 250 years and rolled out its system throughout the world are giving up on themselves. Britain is not even a leading country in Europe anymore, it took its exit and has made a clown its prime minister. The people of the United States, whose constitution has always been considered the foundation of modern democracy, have used their right to vote to turn a selfish racist, sexist and would-be dictator into the most powerful man in the world, and with him they are leaving one multinational organization after another. Hardly anyone but his voters seriously believe that this will make the USA great again.

One could say that the system we have is outdated, in fact, almost rotten. The system of parliamentary democracy, for which the right to vote is the primary asset, is proving unsuitable for dealing with the challenges of the times. And those who have shaped it present it as a caricature of itself.

This can be said, even if one does not want the Chinese system, or the Russian, or the Brazilian, or the Turkish, or the Hungarian, or any of the other authoritarian systems in which everyone must fear even speaking or writing their own opinion. But that does not mean, conversely, that our system is still the right one for the present time, let alone the future.

What Then?

Yes, that is the big question. What kind of system could society build itself with which to actively confront globalization, climate change, digitalization, and artificial intelligence? With which it could begin to shape, instead of merely reacting to one disaster after another - if at all? There is no answer to this question at the right now. It's not even the case that in the otherwise seemingly omniscient Internet you would come across any circle that is concerned about it. Because the system we have is the only one we know. It is the last part of the old order of the world which - at least in Germany - has not yet crossed the Jordan. Now to question this system itself makes people even more scared than all the catastrophes they face every day.

And yet, we should think about it carefully. With a look at the first and second mankind revolutions and how mankind has dealt with them. For we are in the middle of the beginning of a third mankind revolution, even if it does not yet have a name.

The First Two Mankind Revolutions

The first, the agricultural revolution, the change from hunting and gathering to breeding and cultivation, lasted from the Neolithic period 12,000 years ago to about 1,000 BC. Towards the end of these almost 10,000 years, the Greeks fought for several centuries to find the best form of democracy for themselves. They abolished the right to vote, which seemed to them to be one of the biggest shortcomings. Aristotle considered elections to be aristocratic and only the drawing of lots democratic. The free Greeks who did so were landowners, farmers, knowledgeable and educated people who thought about the course of the world and translated these thoughts into social reality. They were able to do this because the slaves, the women, the newcomers and the merchants prepared food for them while they debated in the agora. And because they were the recognized representatives of the agricultural revolution.

The second, the industrial revolution, began 250 years ago in Europe and the United States, and right at the beginning the free men of the new society, the nobles, the big landowners and, above all, the factory owners, created a kind of democracy that had nothing to do with the ancient Attic one. For the founding fathers of the USA, the right to vote was precisely the guarantee that the rich and the educated retained power in their hands. To this day, no one can start an election campaign in the USA without having millions upon millions at their disposal. In the beginning, you could only vote if you had to pay a certain amount of tax, and the women and blacks could not vote anyway. Also in this case the slaves, the blacks, the women, the poor made sure that the free white men had the time to gather in the Town Halls and draft the constitution of the new time. They stood for the future of the new industrial society.

The Nameless Third Mankind Revolution...

Today - at least in Germany and large parts of Europe - women, blacks and the poor also have the right to vote and stand for election. Everyone is equal and free before the law. But there is no class of people to whom anyone would entrust the shaping of the future. The Internet giants are not, the trillionaires among the financial investors are not, and the industry executives and their associations themselves no longer understand what is happening to them. The intellectual elite and the media of all kinds have no answers. Why don't we start to shape the future in a way that no longer has any individual groups calling the shots? Why don't we question the system and its strangely sacred right to vote?

In individual cases, commissions put together by drawing lots have shown that much better laws are produced much more quickly in this way. Take, for example, the new constitutional article that has been protecting the rights of homosexuals in Ireland too for a few years now and which has been supported by more than 60% of the people.

There is no need to follow the so-called lateral thinkers onto the Street of 17 June. They just want to shout out their fear and anger about the new reality that they no longer understand, that deprives them of party and luxury without remorse, and also the normality that is so important to them.

But we must think about what kind of future should come after the end of the known normality. How we can shape it. How we can ensure that people can live in dignity and mutual respect. I am looking for people with whom I can exchange such thoughts.

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