Tomorrow is Personal Democracy Forum's 2007 Conference. The theme this year is "The Flattening of Politics", a hat tip to one of the most important 'manifestos' of this millenium --The Cluetrain Manifesto.
The cluetrain was put together by a group of entrepreneurs, corporate communications experts, software engineers and new media scholars who saw 'the writing on the wall' with the new marketplace that was emerging with the rapid adoption of the internet. Yes, there was a time when many CEO's looked at the web with suspicion and with a "but how are we going to make money out of this".
Notwithstanding the 1999/2000 bubble and crash, the naysayers got it all wrong.
Of course, the internet has proved to be powerful as a tool for political resource building, but in my book, it has not been used powerfully enough.
Applied to politics, the Manifesto reads as a primer on how the internet squashes any pretences of republic-like politics. Gone are the days in which engagement is only mediated by an elite 'entrusted' by the masses with every single policy and political decision making that will end up affecting their lives.
People Powered Politics is just starting in this country, but we are not there yet. Still, I believe 2008 will go down in history as the last Plato-centric, republic-like elections. Yet, after 2008, I cannot imagine the US Electoral college system surviving because people will demand more and more direct engagement in every single aspect of the political process.
Democracy literally means people (demos) power (cracy). And no self appointed leader of anything ending with -roots will be able to rationalize a republic-like electoral system as people engage more and more with "social-technology" mediated "people power politics".
The 2008 hint at what is possible, but we are not there yet. If not, we would have had a candidate by now publish their own own 95 Theses for a new politics.
So let me take this opportunity to do it, if not for the candidates then for us, the people who are powering the movement that is flattening politics --even with this here blog. And to keep it in the spirit of the original, it would be cool if you "signed it" in the comments or with a link back to your blog.
So I give you,
The Cluetrain Manifesto for People Powered Politics
Networked political constituencies are beginning to self-organize faster than the governments and political organizations that have traditionally served them. Thanks to the web, constituencies are becoming better informed, smarter, and more demanding of qualities missing from most political organizations.
...People of Earth
The sky is open to the stars. Clouds roll over us night and day. Oceans rise and fall. Whatever you may have heard, this is our world, our place to be. Whatever you've been told, our flags fly free. Our heart goes on forever. People of Earth, remember.
- Constituencies are conversations.
- Constituencies consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
- Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
- Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.
- People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.
- The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.
- Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.
- In both internetworked constituencies and among intranetworked voters, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.
- These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.
- As a result, constituencies are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked constituency changes people fundamentally.
- People in networked constituencies have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for political party rhetoric about adding value to commoditized political interests.