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A Day in the Life
“I read the news today, oh boy…”- John Lennon
“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert”. - J Robert Oppenheimer
Last time we looked at the one-size-fits-all political systems and institutions that we currently live and die under. This time we're going to find out a bit more about everyday life in our 'bespoke' panocracy. (Or rather, I'm going to take a few guesses at what life will be like.)
Our objective is a State that is entirely administrative in its day to day operation.
An analogy would be your bank. Your bank cannot, for example, transfer your money to a different account or donate some of it to charity without your explicit permission. Current governments can do these things - and lots more - under the claim that you have given them your consent by electing them. This is quite frankly ludicrous and I don't know why we continue to put up with it.
I'd like to say that I know exactly what life will be like under a panocracy. I'd like to say that I know that the human race is going to disappear in a flaming hell of its own creation (see next post!); that a Carrington event (https://orbitaltoday.com/2022/08/15/the-carrington-event-and-its-effects-on-the-uk/) will knock out all our telecomms next year and leave the younger generation whatsappless and stumbling about like zombies for the rest of their lives; that a new and deadly virus will appear and take millions of us (oh, wait ...). However, I am just as ignorant as the next man about the future and my ignorance of it is complete. Remember that the next time a next man lectures you about Saving the Planet.
Mostly life under our panocracy will be pretty similar to what it is now. Of course the sky will be bluer, the grass greener, the corn taller …
You won't have to watch the ugly mugs of narcissistic politicians pontificating on your telly box or social media channel and selling you the latest incarnation of their 'narrative' at every newscast opportunity. This is because they will be an extinct species. Come on, admit it – you'd love it if you never had to listen to these clowns again.
You will still vote – much more often than you do at the moment – but you will likely have an agent to do it routinely for you. You can take over yourself if you're especially exercised about something. If you do vote yourself you'll probably do it via your smartphone or other device but you might want to vote by letter or even ordinary phone, especially if, like me, you don't much like smart phones. All the technology exists to allow us to do any of this securely.
You won't vote for people or parties – you'll vote for or against proposed laws or resolutions. This is the task that we currently delegate to our elected representatives. There will probably be more bills or resolutions than are now presented to parliaments as the system will allow each one to be far more specific but your view will count directly on each of them. So your view won't be diluted when a proposal for one thing sneaks in a few secondary clauses for something else entirely.
You might talk to your agent sometimes to make sure that they are continuing to represent your views properly. And you'll be able to get a record of how they voted on your behalf whenever you want. If you don't think their votes matched your expectations then you will be free to change your agent, to realign them with your viewpoint, to require the offending votes to be removed or in extremis to see the agent face misrepresentation charges.
If you're especially keen about some issue you can start a Request For Comments (RFC) yourself or join the debate around an existing one (Panocracy 5 – The Open Agenda). Participating in an RFC debate will be a bit like an online petition or the comments section in a social media site like substack or unherd. I hesitate to mention Wikipedia as it has been recently criticised for its political bias. If this is accepted then this aspect of the panocracy (RFCs) must draw lessons from Wikipedia's failure and not fall into the same trap. Other people may get involved until the RFC has been knocked into a good enough condition to be formalised by the Panocracy Architecture Board (Panocracy 5) and voted on by the citizenry. Whole new industries may grow up to help and advise people making RFCs, just like they do now to help people get their websites up the search engine rankings.
In the UK we have a rather obscure provision in our constitution called Royal Consent (different from Royal Assent) and it's explained at https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2013/01/26/tom-adams-royal-consent-and-hidden-power/ This is an effectively hidden power of the government as the monarch tends to take the advice offered and that can be to suppress a proposal before debate. This kind of thing may not be unique to the UK but would certainly be absent from our panocracy.
You won't pay as much tax simply because the apparatus of government will be a lot smaller. We’ll get back to this in more detail in a future post but we won't need the hangers-on that we currently have: politicians and their salaries and expenses, second homes, duck ponds, mistresses, plus their acolytes who exist to make the business of government look a lot more rigorous than it actually is. They do this by wrapping it up in arcane procedures and overbearing language, while stirring in some ceremonial claptrap, which all need a bureaucracy with its ever expanding remits and petty emperors.
So there will be far less bureaucracy to pay for. This will have the effect that working practices and procedures will be less invasive so your job will require a lot less form-filling. This brings us back to meaning – your job will be more meaningful as a result because more of your time will be spent doing it rather than the unnecessary overhead of ritual reporting or dodging the attentions of bureaucrats.
The polarisation of Left and Right will gradually disappear. In fact, most people already hold 'left-' and 'right-' wing views on different aspects of society at the same time. For example you can be fiscally conservative but socially liberal – meaning you think the State should draw in its horns but you also support the idea of, say, expanded civil rights, which, statists would argue requires state intervention. Your agent will support both these positions in votes where they matter: your vote will go to a Bill balancing the budget over huge spending plans; you'll vote for a Bill to increase or enforce fairness in the workplace. This doesn't fit into the polarised left-right model and so cannot be represented by a right- or left- wing politician. So panocracy represents you better than any politician ever could.
There will still be laws to obey. What those laws are will be up to the electorate as a whole and not the preserve of the elite. A lot of the laws will be similar to the ones we already operate under.
At the moment laws and regulations are created by vested interest groups, drafted by public servants and approved by politicians most of whom have a very limited understanding of what they're voting for. Often there's a party line to follow and so the new law has even less moral integrity.
In our panocracy laws will be developed using the RFC system and vetted by a large number of people many of whom will have specific legal expertise or knowledge of the subject area or are astute at spotting potential harms. We just don't have that breadth at present.
We know that every society has its villains and we also know that they're a small minority otherwise no one could make a living. The elites have shown that they have more than their fair share of villains and so to get a better society we must pass decisions about what laws we obey back to the people who will live under them.
Your immediate reaction to this will perhaps be something like “so we can all go round thieving and murdering, then!” Not even common thieves, let alone the overwhelming majority of decent citizens, would agree with that as then they would have no one to steal from and would of course run the risk of being murdered themselves. If you do think that way, then you're probably the CEO of a large corporation - or a government official.
We'll still need the police and the armed forces. The police are there to 'keep us right' – Jiminy Cricket in blue uniforms. The armed forces will be there doing what they mostly do now: training. It seems less likely under a panocracy that they would be sent out on 'policing operations' to Afghanistan or Iraq or Norwich. The electorate would have to be assured that the trade-off between the cost in blood and treasure and gain in national security is worth it and that will be a lot harder than it is at present. No more ‘dodgy dossiers’.
There's a mismatch between having highly hierarchical organisations like the police and the armed forces and a State that has no 'commander-in-chief'. The panocracy will require some 'rules of engagement' under which the military will operate in peace and in war. Fortunately, we have a country full of people who have served in the forces and who have studied history and warfare. These people will be happy to come up with workable proposals via the RFC system.
Institutions will respond to the electorate and not to newspaper or social media campaigns. If you get a police officer calling you up to 'check your thinking', as did ex-policeman Harry Miller, then the outrage generated will likely prompt a reactive RFC, a lot of public support and the police will be made to check their own thinking.
And this begs the question: will the electorate respond to media campaigns organised by pressure groups in a panocracy? Undoubtedly such campaigns influence substantial parts of the population but they also fall flat on most and alienate the remainder. People rarely reveal their true feelings until they have the opportunity to exercise them anonymously. Such opportunities are very rare under the current system and are managed and manipulated by the political parties but they’ll be frequent and specific under a panocracy. So we can expect a lot of knock-backs to 'controversial' proposals at voting time if they even get that far.
Take the 'woke' agenda – a set of memes that have been circulating in the West for a decade or so. If anything like a majority of citizens adopted its deranged notions there would be no need for the constant social pressure and media propaganda. The kind of nonsense we've been having to put up with just wouldn't get any traction in our panocracy.
Next time we're going to look at Global Warming and the 'Net Zero' agenda as examples of how a less hysterical system of governance will work towards a saner, happier and fairer society.