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In the book “Law and Resistance: American Attitudes Towards Authority” the author Laurence Veysey introduces his well curated work by briefing you about the kinds of sources he's picked to highlight ideas about resistance to law in America. He says that these sources are “a highly varied group of Americans, many of them well known, others undeservedly obscure.”

Undeservedly obscure. This is the phrase which best describes Volek's work: ‵Tiered Democratic Governance′. Undeservedly obscure.

We live in an age of ubiquitous dissidentism. The idea of pointing out your select pet flaws of the government or a critical faction of it is commonplace. This is a kind of drama generated by disdain for some aspect of contemporary or ancient political history. To cry foul and let loose the dogs of discord is the modus operandi of modern democracy. Yet for each person who is actively dissenting there is an aligned ideology which is also deserving of dissent. It is this ideology which has been accepted by that individual as the “solution”.

Yet the current dramas and problems emerge from the dramas of the past which themselves were never properly resolved. As such the wheel of dissent is turning faster but getting us nowhere new quite quickly. Everyone is fast to point out a problem but all solutions seem to stretch back in time to some attitude which, for all their resolve, never worked in the first place.

Perhaps we must return to the initial American constitution, though that document will be as easily corrupted as it was in the first place. Otherwise maybe a return to Marxist ideals will assist us, even though communism descends into no less corruption than any other political system. Maybe more reliance on public votes and referendums will solve our problems? Yet the mob killed Socrates, and the Founding Fathers knew it was the exodus of the minority which is caused by too much freedom. Brexit was predicated on manipulations of the mob to accomplish it. Then perhaps we need more capitalism? Yet unbridled business has left its own scars as well. I've met one young lad who says he wants to create a “New Sparta”. It's a return to stoic, isolationist militarism and a loathing of individual weakness which will save us surely. And there are those who worship at the table of socialism, ignoring the flames all around with the refrain “everything is fine.” Finally, there is the Venus Project which hopefully looks to future technology and behavioral psychology to solve our woes. But after I have watched all of their documentaries and having read much in the way of their literature, I believe they offer far more in ideals than true ideas. They know what their end goal is but not the steps needed to actually get to a new society. These are the meat and potatoes of any plan for a new world. Instead you just donate money and time to these old ideas—and go nowhere fast.

The dissident who wants to change the world must hold themselves to a higher standard than their opponents.

Alternatively, Dave has an idea for actual change. It isn't a set of ideals nor is it an ideology. It is an actual set of political mechanics that works from the ground up and from the present forward based upon a sound and thorough critique of the limitations of modern democracy. This idea should not be taken lightly nor does it deserve to be grossly simplified.

I've read a few people's evaluations of TDG. Very few people seem to truly get it. In one Reddit forum, it is argued that TDG “sounds like federalism without checks or oversight.” This gross over-simplification considers this new and well considered idea nothing more than a modern parliamentary system that uses a lower house legislature to elect higher level politicians. Yet in TDG we begin in small communities of 150 without ever forming a legislative branch with special powers. Tiered Democratic Governance holds no reason to consider itself a Federalist political system. It is rule of the people from the very bottom up into microscopic, non-legislative tiers.

The same poster had other criticisms of the TDG. The number of politicians would swell the cost of politics, that there would be less representation, there wouldn't be a usefulness to the scale of the politics, that the complexity would be a failure and that in most cities the idea of community knowledge would fail to allow for people truly getting to know their neighbors enough for voting to matter. Yet all these problems are addressed by Dave in his “Anticipating the Critics” section of his book. He didn't come up with a simple set of ideas but instead he envisions a comprehensive system that counters these problems.

For example, the initial Neighborhoods tier, which provides for the bulk of political involvement, is a volunteer position. Being an unpaid position with only a few local responsibilities, once we start tallying up the wages of higher-up politicians we see a price tag much smaller than that of the ad campaigns which go into modern politics. Yet the TDG entirely absolves the need for such campaigns. It saves money rather than wastes it.

The idea that there is less representation and that people don't know each other locally are also weak counter-arguments. As demonstrated by Dave, there is no way to truly get to know local representative of a major party due to the granularity between a politician and her region. Over time, a small community can get to know itself with care and effort quite quickly. Why be embroiled in entirely impersonal politics when only a little effort can give you some personal and truly local political representation? By choosing to know the local NR personally one has a reliable chain of communication up the polity to the top.

Between gross over-simplification of this TDG idea and our reliance on using past ideas to relieve ourselves of the burden of creatively inventing new ones, it's hard to see Tiered Democratic Governance pushing forward and leaving its mark on people. This problem is clearly in the disposition of people and is not rooted in the value of the work itself. For if people had the courage to truly challenge the status quo, the TDG is the kind of new idea we would select for.

However if you are one of the rare few with the courage to create and test new ideas, this is the place to begin. Don't just read it passively and in doing so, become a meek supporter. While This TDG idea was founded by one person, it needs many more people to develop it. Think deeply about the ideas presented here, especially the foundational tier and its relationship with higher up tiers, its consultative bodies and the massive power of the people and their experts that stand behind it. Think about your local community and what it would take to build some of those foundational tiers and councils. Think about ways to improve on the idea and find like-minded people to help you develop it. So many people demand your money, your time and your patronage so that they might master a single idea while you passively consume it. Nothing gets done. TDG requires none of your money, and Dave asks for no more time than it takes to read the book. Instead he hopes that you go out into your community and test the political theory for yourself. If there are even just a hundred such courageous people out there we can get the data to know how TDG truly works in the real world.

This is the kind of idea which might be found hundreds of years later by struggling nations. These future people might look at this idea and balk at the ignorance of the people of the past. “How could they ignore such a great idea?” they may ask. Much as the Feudal world which emerged into Monarchy ignored the insights that Athens and Rome had to offer politically until the American Founding Fathers, desperate for an alternative to British Monarchy, did. But why should we wait until then to implement these new ideas? No, it is we now who have an imperative to explore and expand upon TDG until it is robust enough to lead the world into a new era of fair politics.

This era would be based upon trust instead of manipulation and skillful statecraft rather than skillful marketing. Based upon you and I rather than our political parties.

Spencer Ferri
Philosopher & Author
Post-Existential Transhumanism
May 2017

Click here to start reading “Dave Volek's Tiered Democratic Governance.

© 2009 Dave Volek.
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