Citizen State is an exploratory project with a serious intent, underpinned by two simple assumptions:
- that the State is failing its citizens; and
- that we have everything we need to rebuild it.
There are no political beliefs or ideologies. Citizen State does not favour one citizen over another. The aim of this project is to change the architecture of democracy and the functions of the State to put people back at the centre.
Citizen State is iterative, which means that each step will inform the next. However, there are some core ideas, outlined below.
1) Prototyping State Functions.
The first step is to look at how we can rethink the core functions of the State. It involves looking at how key services can be delivered outside the State framework and whether these can be scaled.
We can also look at where there are gaps and where new approaches could be tested to fill these gaps. Naturally this has a global scope. The best ideas could come from anywhere in the world.
2) Engaging With Current Democratic Process
However successful stage 1 is, the current democratic system is a huge obstacle. Even if we are able to redesign all the services and start implementing them we will be at the mercy of the existing State.
But there is also a massive opportunity here. While many new political parties have risen to prominence over the past few years due to a single-issue focus (Green Party, Pirate Party, etc.) this single-issue has also been a stumbling block to wider acceptance.
After all, running a country is complex. People inevitably question how a party heavily committed to one thing, like the environment, will manage with health, or the police.
If we want to create a new political party with any chance of being a viable alternative to what we currently have it needs to be completely different. A new political party needs to set out from the very beginning with the intention of demonstrating its approach in every area.
3) Systemic Change to the Democracy
The aim of engaging with the current democratic system is to change it. Our current system of democracy in the UK is hundreds of years old. It doesn’t just pre-date contemporary society, it pre-dates most of our communications infrastructure.
One of the things we need to prototype in stage 1) is democracy itself. Our legacy system is outmoded, ineffective and unsustainable. There are many ways to rethink democracy for our age but some starting points might include:
a) Scaleable democracy, that gives people a say in the issues that affect them on whatever scale is appropriate to the issue. This might range from what happens in their street, to foreign policy.
b) Networked democracy, with a better understanding of the power of networks in driving change and individual representation.
c) Decentralised democracy, that redistributes power according to where people are, not where parliament is.
d) Real-time democracy, that rapidly speeds up the speed of participation to ensure that issues are dealt with in a timescale appropriate to their impact.
What’s the Next Step?
If you want to take part then on December 1 at 11am just do one or more of the following very simple things:
- Share a link to a good project that delivers a public service outside the State.
- Share a thought about how we could deliver a public service outside the State (maybe write a blog post about it).
- Share a thought about how democracy could be redesigned.
Use the hashtag #citizenstate in your tweets. You can also follow @citizenstate on Twitter or ask questions on here if you want to be involved. The ideas will be collated and re-shared. But most importantly they’ll be put towards the next stage. This next stage might involve crowd-funding, or local gatherings. If you have any ideas for this please share them too. It’s all up for discussion.
Finally, if you want some stimulation for thinking about new State functions here’s a list of topics. Please share this post but, more importantly, please share your ideas.