Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Trickle-down economics is the greatest broken promise of our lifetime The richest 85 people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5bn. That should be a wake-up call to the deepest sleepers

Article in "The Guardian" : Trickle-down economics is the greatest broken promise of our lifetime

The richest 85 people in the world
have as much wealth as the
poorest 3.5bn. That should be a
wake-up call to the deepest

Friday, January 10, 2014

Democracy Upgrade : moving on from democratic dictatorship

Reblogged from
An amazing speech/essay by my hero, Birgitta Jonsdottir, Icelandic activist and member of Parliament:

The marrow from my speech at FutureEverything 2012 - a big thank you to Jodi Rose for making this beautiful PreziTation for me to use as a frame for the keynote.

What is democracy?
Who is the system to serve?
What is a parliamentary representative?
Who does he pledge alliance to?
Who writes our laws?
What are the cornerstones of Democracy?
What is the purpose of a constitution?

I want you to think about these questions and find out what their content means to you.

I am an activist in parliament. The longer I serve, the more I think about the meaning of the questions I have just posed. The more I understand how the system works, the more obvious it is to me that there is a serious system error. The system is like the hard drive on computers you would have to defrag in order for them to work, the bigger the files the less efficient the computer would work. The problem with our systems is that they are too big, too alienated from the people they are supposed to serve. It is too difficult for the public to be able to influence and have impact on the (re) in the rePublic. Sometimes when the computer is too fragmented the best solution is to zero it in order for it to work, sometimes a complete system upgrade is the only way out. We have reached the point in our democracies that we need to zero the system and install a new system. We need to move away from the big complex to the small fast system, where each and every person has to understand that we are the stuff that makes the system. We are the system. We are the government. We are society. We are the power. We are the law. It is not beyond us, unreachable nor undesirable to be it, the system is a reflection of who we are.

In order to empower people to act on this awareness and to start to apply changes through our only means: through action, we need to have direct democracy with the liquid add-on. We need to craft our constitution for and by the people. (Constitution is the agreement of a nation on what sort of society they choose to be). Law is currently crafted by and for the 1% - we need to simplify our laws and make sure we agree on the spirit of the law, rather then adding on their complexity with endless patchwork.

The cornerstones of society are freedom of information, expression and speech. The Internet is the last free world, that has enabled us to connect, share, be informed, act and resample our creativity. The internet is now under serious attack, as the corporations and governments are trying to place their reins of power on it, in order to industrialize it and to have absolute control over how we connect, share, be informed, act and resample our creativity.

I am a hacker in parliament, I went into the system in order to understand how it works and my conclusion is clear: Install new system with a new form of democracy of the future, where we move away from democratic dictatorship with many representative heads to a direct responsibility of direct liquid democracy. Are you ready to be the co-creator of your society? Do you understand the importance of your participation? We are running out of planet, so for the future of everything it is time to wake up and start co-creating.

(note: by 'zero' I deduce she means 'format')

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Manifesto : A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry Barlow

Shared from Birgitta Jonsdottir's blog (who's a hero to me! Look up
Iceland, "Pots, Pans and other Solutions")

This is still highly relavant even if it was first published February 8,
1996. Think of the legal monsters waiting to be grounded in laws and
norms such as SOPA, PIPA, ACTA. Everyone who cares about the freedoms
online should read and share... and resist.

Thank U John Perry for the vision and for the groundwork. Here is the

"Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and
steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the
future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome
among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I
address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty
itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building
to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us.
You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of
enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You
do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie
within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it
were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature
and it grows itself through our collective actions.
You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did
you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture,
our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more
order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use
this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems
don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we
will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own
Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions
of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself,
arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a
world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or
prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station
of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her
beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into
silence or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and
context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is
no matter here.

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by
physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened
self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our
identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The
only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is
the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular
solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are
attempting to impose.
In the United States, you have today created a law, the
Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution
and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison,
DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a
world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you
entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are
too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments
and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts
of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate
the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United
States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting
guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the
contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will
soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate
themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to
own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas
to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our
world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and
distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no
longer requires your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same
position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who
had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must
declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we
continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread
ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.
We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more
humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

John Perry Barlow
Davos, Switzerland
February 8, 1996"

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A frank audit of schooling for the poor

This is for all the people working in educational sector for the poor and who are pushing for getting every child into the present conventional educational model which is the usual kindergarten, 10+2 model with a 10th and 12th board exam.

Wanted to just share a dissenting thought process I've been having. Acknowledging the ground realities of under-resourced schools, do you think it's a good idea to cram 30 children under a tin shed for 4/5 hrs everyday in the name of educating them? For the time period that it will take to build an infrastructure that is worthy of their attendance, wouldn't they be better off being where they themselves wish to be? What evidence is there to suggest that they won't learn essential life skills by being out rather than being crammed into those dehumanising spaces day after day? Who gave us the right to decide that forcing them like this is better for their future?

I'm just trying to highlight the extents of what suffering we can inflict upon these children in the name of helping them, because of failing to pay attention to the devil in the details. Liberal education may be perceived to be for  just the rich in this country right now, but I see a real need and potential for democratic education models for the poor. What if the children crammed into that room were given free access to this classroom 24/7, and were given the right to exercise the "Law of two feet", under which if you don't want to be part of something going on, you simply get up and walk out without anyone restricting your right to control where your body locates itself? I think those kids will be able to get themselves educated much better in such a model, plus they will escape the fate of being indoctrinated into an inherently anti-democratic and inhuman way of life.

A common defense I hear is the mid-day meal scheme. I have a serious issue with that:
Should the mid-day meal provision for these kids who need it, be an institution-membership conditionality? Shouldn't we rather use those funds to set up community kitchens that feed every child living there regardless of whether or not they're enrolled? Why is a life-and-death situation being used as a hook for getting kids into school? To me, this looks like the equivalent of putting a gun on the child's head and telling her parents that their child shall allowed to live only if she gets enrolled in my institution.

And then, of course, the obvious "without a 10th pass/12th pass certificate they won't get admission to college, jobs"...
Then in light of the ground realities of people being able to learn and master valuable skills regardless of certification;
In light of our own realities of large numbers of us thriving in job roles that we were never formally trained for,
Or in light of the fact that majority of the syllabus we were made to "learn" for 12 years isn't of any use to us or we don't remember most of it,

Shouldn't all the millions we're currently spending in education, be rather directed towards lobbying and getting colleges and companies to alter their intake criteria? (which they selectively alter anyways for some extra cash or on basis of referrals) Wouldn't that be a much more efficient usage of resources, rather than a 12-year roundabout method that has a proven pathetic turnover ratio plus disastrous side-effects? Are all the people wanting to make a better future for the children of this country really incapable of convincing some 1000-odd industrial bosses and ministers, that we have to instead resort to making millions of children jump through a series of inhumane hoops? Why are we still sticking to an assumption despite it having been thoroughly disproved? Taking a realistic audit of resources available, efficiency of alternative paths and output realities, where should we rather be directing our energies?

Am I better off putting my child through this anti-democratic, disempowering, traumatizing system for most of her childhood and youth, or will I have better luck simply investing all that time, energy and resources in creating opportunities for my child that will sustain her even without a bloody certificate?

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