My new book: From arrogance to intimacy – a handbook for active democracies
We have a problem. Our democracy is broken, we distrust politicians, despair at the rise of bureaucracy and we feel ignored. In ‘From arrogance to intimacy – a handbook for active democracies‘ Martin Sande and I want to challenge you to improve how our representatives are chosen, policy is made, budgets allocated and services delivered. And to do this we need to rebuild democracy so it becomes inviting and inclusive or, as we call it, intimate.
Our governments often don’t reflect the communities that they are supposed to serve, they have become arrogant and controlling. Many of us are starting to question this misuse of power. We’re voting for ‘none of the above’ and turned off from traditional political parties. People are refusing to accept closed, opaque, slow and sly democracy. But there’s a risk that the more we turn away from democracy, the more unaccountable it becomes and the less it works for us.
If we become active citizens, things can change. We believe that it’s time to see society as a network and democratic actions happening right across it. Networked democracy means focussing on mutuality, trust and co-creation. When we do, we start to become intimate and co-creating. Where we do, we create an intention to shift power. No longer used ‘against’ us, power is used ‘with’ us; for the benefit of all not the privilege of the few.
Today, language is used to obscure facts, evidence is chosen to fit the policy and shadowy figures manage, manipulate and control our democracies. It’s not just politicians or civil servants but lobbyists, public affairs and corporate agendas getting in the way of the truth. Too often democracy seems to be working to the advantage of the few and that’s to the disadvantage of the rest of us. We feel that this is wrong and decided to draw on our experiences working in democratic settings in Sweden, the UK, New Zealand and around the world to help you understand why, what went wrong and how we can start to fix it together.
Our new book explores the historical problems, then provides a framework for change and the tools to start creating that change where we live, for ourselves. We’ve devoted a section of the book to digital tools but make it clear that digital is not a silver bullet when it’s the process that’s broken: what’s wrong with democracy can’t be fixed with a new app.
And we’re big fans of creative disruption, agile methods and learning to fail. We don’t have all the answers, so we can’t build better democracy unless we trust ourselves to fail occasionally! This book as a conversation, we invite you to share it, improve it and to help us co-create future versions of it with us!