Mivote – Our message to Scotland

Guest article contribution from Adam Jacoby – Visiting with us on the weekend of 3/4th March to lead a workshop on Digital Democracy.

Mivote – Our message to Scotland

George Orwell said, “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”

We live in a time when we are awash with mass shootings, mass surveillance, corrupt political systems, perpetually debilitating inequality, rampant racism, misogyny, tribal division, scapegoating of minorities and state sponsored propaganda. We witness daily attacks on the judiciary, perversions of the rule of law, erosion of civil liberties, endless terrorism, white supremacy, religious zealotry, entrenched political hypocrisy, dangerous hyper-nationalism and corporate oppression, all willingly facilitated by governments throughout the globe.

There does not appear to be anything particularly intelligent, nor wise about the direction we are headed. Whilst we can take comfort in the proverb that ‘it is always darkest before the dawn’, this presupposes that the circumstance of concern will change. In the proverb, the dawn rises washing the darkness away, providing a remedy for the difficulty endured.

But what is the catalyst to counter our darkness? What will change this global direction? Where is our dawn?

We can no longer count on the system to correct itself. The idea that benevolent people in power (particularly those sitting in different lands) will come to our rescue is as naïve as is it disempowering. Our economic and political instruments have been tinkered with, recalibrated, to ensure that those with power maintain it and those without it find it ever more difficult to exert control over their own lives.

Big business, media, tech giants, banks and politicians work together. They are a symbiotic self- benefit group fuelled by money and power, underpinned by oppression and greed and protected by obfuscation and opaqueness. Their collective responsibility as it relates to the average citizen is; work us harder for less reward and benefit, remove our rights and protections, offer us propaganda to misinform and distract us, collect our information to enrich business and monitor us and legislate against our will and our best interest.

They provide enough ‘entertainment’ and ‘hope’ to keep us from questioning the status quo and entrap us with materialistic driven debt and economic uncertainty that we simply cannot justify risking what little we have for the real possibility of something so much better.

Under the current system our voices should not be given a platform to disrupt the status quo (outside of elections in which media interests can carefully manage the message). On the rare occasion when the Peoples’ voice can be heard, for example Brexit in the UK and marriage equality in Australia, incredibly we still see situations where majorities are ignored. The Scottish people have an impotent voice in their own future by virtue of a system that values an English voice above their own. In Australia, politicians armed with the will and voice of their community chose to deliberately ignore that voice. Both examples are crimes against democracy.

Brexit, One Nation and Donald Trump are not isolated examples of ignorant masochism. They should not be dismissed as displays of mass racism and idiocy (although there certainly is some of that). Simply, they demonstrate that the people are unwilling to perpetuate their oppression by maintaining the status quo AND in the absence of something better, they will choose whoever and whatever looks and sounds different to what came before, even if the result is burning the system to the ground.

We risk our humanity by embracing the change offered by these opportunists and anarchists. Yet, we cannot trust the entrenched powers to unclench their fist and cede their authority for the benefit of the many. So, what are we to do? Where does that leave the 99%? Where does it leave you? And me? Where does it leave Australia and Scotland?

“The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage.”- Thucydides

We must embrace the levers of disruption, rendering the tools to control us impotent. There are many ways to do this, which will exert the power of the people. Some of these interventions include:

  • Embrace cryptocurrency as the banks and big business do not control it – there is a reason they don’t want us using it and it has more to do with protecting their power, than protecting us as users;
  • Seed participatory budgeting as the first step to decentralised decision making – after all it is your money being spent, surely you should have a say in where it should go;
  • Stop reading their papers, watching the television stations and buying their content – our emancipation begins with accepting that access to information is a human right and its usage should not enrich media owners. There is a reason that MiVote offers up hundreds of research reports on each side of every policy vote for free. People deserve to understand the ramifications of their decisions and financial means should not dictate that knowledge;
  • Support open source software and platforms;
  • Use encrypted communication channels and leave the smallest digital footprint you can (yes this is very difficult but it is a choice); and
  • Only vote for candidates held genuinely accountable to the will of their constituents.

Our reality is that whilst we are dying a death of a thousand paper cuts, we cannot expect to employ the same strategy to win our emancipation. The horses have indeed bolted but rather than trying to capture and tame them, it is time to build a new conveyance and forget the damn horses altogether.

MiVote believes that real democracy is characterised by some critical underlying principles. These and the operating model are deliberately designed to ensure that every citizen’s vote is equal, all voices are heard, citizens are informed and no one can buy political outcome. By design, we attack so called ‘fake news’ and information echo chambers and unashamedly end careerism in politics asking us once again to embrace the idea of genuine civic service.

“When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.” – Victor Hugo

The world revolution is loaded. It conjures up violent and bloody imagery. It reminds us of uncivilised means to questionable ends. There are so many instances of the revolutionary becoming the oppressor. Too often, too much thought has gone into winning the revolution and not nearly enough given to what happens when it is won. How do you really make the system better? How do you entrench change? How do you disrupt with purpose, with accountability and with humility?

To be clear, I am not advocating for a bloody revolution. I am not advocating violence of any sort. I do however contend that the changes required for the people to win back their self-determination are only found in actions that turn the world upside down. For it is the complete dislocation of the powerful to their power that will be the catalyst for lasting and positive change for everyone else.

We cannot merely wish for change, hope it will arrive. It will not.

We must create it.

I ask the great Scottish people if they are ready to own their voice, their future and their power again.

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digitalscotland Digital Scotland is a volunteer community network for building a world leading Scottish digital nation.


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