OneAction NZ

Democracy Co-operative

Human Limitations

Posted by Rhys Goodwin on August 31, 2023 · 6 mins read

Folks I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of human limitations. It’s a concept which connects with this project in a couple of important ways.

Undoubtably the things we humans accomplish is remarkable, but too seldom do we stop to consider our limitations. As individuals we hardly even understand our own minds enough to know why we do the things we do and think the things we think. At the societal level, we struggle to work together to solve problems and generate flourishing. Just watch the political section of the 6PM news shows. You might think, wait a minute, that’s them, it’s the politicians who are stuffing things up and bickering like children. But I think it’s a mistake – especially in a democracy – to see politics as separate from us. Politics springs fourth from us. What we see in politics today is nothing more than a reflection of us. And in so many ways we are limited human beings. Its as if we can glimpse certain ideals on the horizon, the way things could be, the way things should be, but again and again we stumble. And yet, so often we’re so sure we’re right, so sure that we have the answers.

Trying to organise our society, our economy, and take care of our world is unbelievably complex, and so often we get it wrong. So often we end up creating all sorts of unintended consequences and additional problems when we try to solve things. We’re just so limited. Limited in our wisdom, our intelligence, and our ability to see around corners and know which path to take.

I don’t say these things in despair. It’s ok that we’re limited and fallible human beings, and I believe that if we’re able to see ourselves and each other (including our politicians!) as creatures of limited capacity it establishes a foundation of humility to build on. It’s a place where we don’t need to be right, we don’t need to be so certain. I want to cultivate this attitude and ethos of humility and recognition of our limitation as human beings, both in myself, and as a foundation for this project. I believe this will give us a much better chance of working together across ideologies and across worlds.

The other aspect of human limitations which plays into this project is that we humans have continuously sought to develop ways to overcome our limitations. Just look at the technologies we’ve built, it’s just staggering. We’ve certainly developed a lot of political technology. As often as we get frustrated by parliament and the public service, it really is quite a remarkable machine. But the way we direct that machine is reaching the end of its useful life. By that I mean, the way current political parties operate is not fit for purpose. They are not striving to find common ground and bring people together. They are not working to empower us by involving us in decisions which shape our country. They are not tapping into the collective intelligence of the wider society. Rather, they are striving to “win” elections, and this drive to “win” creates a lot of distortions and perverse incentives.

Politics, as we practice it today, is not working for us folks, and the wheels are going to get increasingly wobbly as big issues like climate change bare down on us. And it doesn’t matter where you sit on that issue – it’s a massive issue either because of its effects and their consequences, or because of the policy which it is driving.

So, what to do about politics then? Well, it’s now on us, you and me, to develop new political technology which better serves us. I want to be clear here folks, I’m not talking about something radical. I’m not suggesting we need to up-end our parliamentary or voting system. Rather, I believe we have a solid democratic foundation to build on – and gosh we’re fortunate to have it. So, to be clear, what this project is all about is building a new style of political party within the existing system. A political party which starts with a recognition of human limitations and a foundation of humility. From this foundation the aim is to bring together people with diverse viewpoints and political leanings to work together to find common ground. And to do it at massive scale.

Now, I’m just a limited human being, lacking in so many ways. I’ve got something of a vision, and some ideas about how we might approach the problem, but I really need your help with this. I need help to solidify and communicate these ideas. I need people to share in and own this vision with me, and help me carry it. I need help with spreading the idea that we can re-invent politics and that it’s worth the effort.

The first way you can support this project is by committing less than 2 minutes per month to participate in the monthly TallyUp™

Secondly, if you want to get more involved in driving this project forward then please get in contact. You don’t need any special knowledge about politics or technology, just a willingness to get stuck in and work this thing out.

Aroha nui