Shifting Democracy: Can Government Change?

6a. Can Government Change?

If life on earth is to continue, the global political and economic structures need to be dismantled and the local structures need to engage with their communities.’

An analysis by mathematicians shows that human society has become too complex for representative democracy to work. Jason Koebler, in an online article ‘Society Is Too Complicated to Have a President’ writes:

It is absurd, then, to believe that the concentration of power in one or a few individuals at the top of a hierarchical representative democracy will be able to make optimal decisions on a vast array of connected and complex issues that will certainly have sweeping and unintended ramifications on other parts of human civilization.”

He quotes Yaneer Bar-Yam, the New England Complex Systems Institutes (NECSI)’s director:

There’s a natural process of increasing complexity in the world and we can recognize that at some point, that increase in complexity is going to run into the complexity of the individual. And at that point, hierarchical organizations will fail. We were raised to believe that democracy, and even the democracy that we have, is a system that has somehow inherent good to it.

Hierarchical organizations are failing in the response to decision-making challenges. And this is true whether we’re talking about dictatorships, or communism that had very centralized control processes, and for representative democracies today. Representative democracies still focus power in one or few individuals. And that concentration of control and decision-making makes those systems ineffective“.

During the time of ancient empires, large-scale human systems executed relatively simple behaviors, and individuals performed relatively simple individual tasks that were repeated by many individuals over time to have a large scale effect.

We cannot expect one individual to know how to respond to the challenges of the world today. So whether we talk about one candidate or another, the Democrats or Republicans, Clinton versus Trump. The real question ultimately is, will we be able to change the system?

We’ve become fundamentally confused about what the decisions are, and what their consequences are. And we can’t make a connection between them. And that’s true about everybody, as well as about the decision-makers, the policymaker. They don’t know what the effects will be of the decisions that they’re making.

We end up with people who will say, ‘I will do this, and things will be better.’ And another person who will say, ‘I will do this. And things will do better.’ And we can’t tell. Right now the danger is that we will choose strategies that will really cause a lot of destruction, before we’ve created the ability to make better decisions.”

The notion of sovereignty developed from the idea that people were stronger in groups. They would appoint a ‘leader’, who would often give fealty to a group leader, such as a regional King or Monarch. Later this sovereignty became invested in the Senate or Parliament where it now resides.

From the UK government website comes:

In the UK dissolution is the official term for the end of a Parliament. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 a general election must be held in the UK, and a new Parliament elected, every five years. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 a Parliament is dissolved 25 working days before the general election.

Parliament may be ‘prorogued’ a few days before being dissolved. At prorogation all parliamentary business ends, although that Parliament would still exist until dissolution. The 2014-15 session of Parliament was prorogued on Thursday 26 March 2015.

When Parliament has been dissolved the Monarch issues a royal proclamation summoning the new Parliament. The royal proclamation is published in the London and Edinburgh Gazettes. The Prime Minister asked Her Majesty to summon the new Parliament to meet , when the business was the election of the Commons Speaker and the swearing-in of members. The State Opening of Parliament then takes place.

When Parliament is dissolved, every seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant. All business in the House comes to an end. There are no Members of Parliament. MPs revert to being members of the public and lose privileges associated with being a Member of Parliament.

MPs are allowed access to Parliament for just a few days in which to remove papers from their offices. The facilities that the House provides for MPs in Westminster during a Parliament are no longer available to them from 5pm on the day of dissolution. Until a new Parliament is elected, there are no MPs. Those who wish to be MPs again must stand again as candidates for election. The Speaker is no longer an MP once Parliament is dissolved as there are no longer any MPs until the new Parliament is returned. Like every other MP, the Speaker must stand for re-election at a general election if he or she wishes to become an MP again. If the Speaker stands as a candidate in the election they stand as ‘Speaker seeking re-election’.

Members of the House of Lords are appointed, not elected. Members of the House of Lords retain their positions, but all business in the House comes to an end when Parliament is dissolved. While Members of the Lords can access the premises of Parliament, only limited facilities and services are available to them.

It is customary for the Prime Minister to recommend new life peerages for some former MPs to the Queen at the end of a Parliament in a Dissolution Honours list.

The Government does not resign when Parliament is dissolved. Government ministers remain in charge of their departments until after the result of the election is known and a new administration is formed.

The Prime Minister is appointed by the Sovereign. Ministers are appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. These appointments are independent of the role of MP. Ministers retain their ministerial titles after dissolution, but those who were MPs can no longer use the MP suffix.

The Cabinet Manual sets out the main laws, rules and conventions affecting the conduct and operation of government.”

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