A little while ago, whilst reading about modular design principles, I sent out feelers for ideas around what a modular politics might look like. Just about the only thing that came back was the Pirate Party's Pirate Wheel (above)
Shocked acquiescence stems from the joint effect of a system that is too large and securitised to change or effect, and an understanding that even if a replacement was attempted, there isn't actually a concrete and popularly acceptable proposal for a better alternative. That's not to say there aren't proposals for an alternative, but these visions are paralysed between the established radicals of the extreme left and right and the newbie greens and pirates leaving the alternative vision unacceptable, fractured and incoherent to the mainstream. Meanwhile the homogenous center grows larger and more vapid.
Albert O. Hirschman's model for political dissent only allows for conflict with the ENTIRE edifice of the political system, rather than specific grievance with specific parts.
Change the whole thing
The perception is that change of the scale required to deal with the world as it is and will be, requires total change - an etch-a-sketch governmental shakeup. Reform is most often proceeded by the word 'gradual' and rarely the word 'shock.' As mentioned earlier, we assume here that political activity has become about sustaining a status quo rather than enacting change and that we are in a 'post-political' situation
What interests me then is an idea of modularity in power, politics and governance. Modularity is a design principal that allows for individual components of a system to be changed according to their requirements - whether they are damaged, become obsolete or require upgrading, often with a view to future needs. This is interesting in itself and there's lots of long daunting reports looking at this but what interests me above all is that this principle accepts failure at stage 0.
The best-worst system of political change we have suggests that a framework for rule is theoretically and economically constructed, then implemented. If it fails (if it can be proven to have failed) it is up to someone to design and implement a better replacement, through whatever means - revolution or gradual reform. This version can't accept that these frameworks could fail, they are perfect in the eyes of their creators (usually even after their death.)
Stagnant vs. Iterative vs. Evolutionary vs. Modular
If we continue along this idea of applying basic design principles to governance, then at some point we get to that old classic, the iterative process where we try an idea, learn from its failures, reiterate and so on until we get to one that works. To me this sounds very much like a 'best-worst' scenario, but if we step it up, then we get evolution. Unlike iterative, which suggests an end=point at which you have the thing you wanted at the beginning of the process, an evolutionary approach suggests there is no end-point. Again there's a sense of fallibility, but is that mental framework good enough? If it only evolves to suit its circumstances rather than the force or option being availiable that could make it better than its circumstances?
Stagnant: This is the best-worst system we have, so until a better one comes along you'll have to work with it.
Iterative: Iterating through failed systems until one is found that works. But then circumstances change and the system has to be reiterated.
Evolutionary: The systems evolves and changes with circumstances in order to survive.
Modular: The system adapts and changes to suit circumstances, but also holds the potential to by adapted beyond them.
As always, constructive thoughts, links and suggestions welcome. I'm also working on some of the ideas around 'technology as a territory' that will be published externally at some point. I may well get something on here too.