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Our social integration partner C.L.O. (Latin American community) in Eindhoven organized an event to sociologically explain the Dutch democratic society to residents from another country. The event was motivated by the forthcoming municipality elections in which many international local residents are invited to participate. But what to vote for if you don’t know the system or local culture? What do the political parties stand for? How does the city council work, how does it influence our lives….and how can we citizens and residents influence the city maker’s choices or even work together with them?
This first C.L.O. event was in Dutch and started with inspiring presentations of sociologists Milagros Maldonado and Leny Raedts. On March 6th the STIR Foundation repeats the event in English in the Expat HUB of Eindhoven (17:30 till 20:00).
Who can vote during municipality elections in the Netherlands?
- You are 18 years or older
- You are either Dutch, a national from any of the communities of the European Union, or have a legal residence status of 5 years or more.
- You live in a Dutch municipality
What is the Dutch democracy based on?
The democratic way of dealing with societal choices goes already way back to Greek ecclesias or forums where elite people used to debate common issues and choices. Since the 17th century’s industrialization era, new elements were added to the discussion, such as the economic interests, the rich and the poor, those with a job and without, the massive movement of people to cities, the dramatic urbanization, etc.
Various wars were fought over the stress caused by such diversity of societal aspects of hierarchies, inequality and dominance of the elite (such as Kingdoms, later the industrialists, banks with money driven authorities in modern times). The French revolution under Napoleon left us in 1810 with the very first need to adopt a national constitution. The political democratic context was fixed around three sociological principles:
- Equality – from a political point of view this principle was very much adopted by socialist, left wing parties. Equality has many interpretations, such as equal rights to vote for instance. At the time only man with a fixed income could vote. Women were only included 100 years later! Equality is also an income and security’s issue. After worldwar II it became clear that inequality and lack of social security would be the reason for people to join radical movements. To avoid this the Netherlands developed itself into the so called “State of Care”.
- Freedom – again this important aspect of a democracy has a lot of interpretations. Freedom of speech, of choice, of religious beliefs, etc are key elements of our society. From a political point of view it became the home of Neo-Liberal parties.
- Brotherhood – yet again a sociological element of interest with a variety of interpretations. Brotherhood is typically an arena of belief and unification through external power (eg. religion, money, buildings, ground, etc). Often these brotherhoods were based on religious beliefs. Later it evolved into the representation of entrepreneurial, money and power focussed organizations. These were often referred to as right wing parties. Another movement can be defined as “sisterhood”, the feminist movement of female rights, gender equivalence to the old male dominance and reaction to female suppression.
Within this spectrum political parties appeared that defended certain insights, rights and interests. There is always an overlap as none of the parties is based on purely one element. Nowadays new elements are yet again added to the political spectrum. They go beyond the original basics and develop around environmental issues, elderly people, nationalistic identity issues, etc. With such expressions a large diversity of political parties appear that all demand the right to defend themselves and determine policy issues and regional development. Modern political expressions are difficult to place in one of the sociological areas as they defend a new dimension of issues.
Many consider this fragmentation of the political field as chaotic and unmanageable. In essence this is true and a huge challenge as well as opportunity. To satisfy so many political streams a concensus for progress is hard to achieve. And even if achieved it is so much deprived of ambition that it hardly addresses the complexity of regional development today. Small political parties hardly have resources to go deeply into the complex issues and have the tendency to leave the importance to the civil servants and the councillors put in place. The council looses track and unjust islands of power, mismanagement or abuse appear. There is a sense of need to evolve into a new practical way to focus while still maintaining the basic democratic rights and diversity of streams of attention.
The latest movement that originated in Eindhoven since 2009 (City of Tomorrow) is referred to as Sustainocracy. It refers to the basic democratic elements that together lack a common base of responsibility. We talk about human democratic rights that may have a large diversity of interpretations and expressions but never talk about evolutionary key responsibilities that affect the natural human wellness spectrum. Since the appearance of the “State of Care” attitude, society has grown very expessive, it took over responsibilities from the citizen’s and developed large political and economic hierarchies around care. The money and care dependence resulted into a speculative money driven political arena in which the core human values became secondary to financial interests.
Sustainocracy adds modern insights of core human values again to the spectrum of choices and shared responsibilities. A kind of sandwich in which we do not deal only with political interests but with priorities surrounded by rights and core values.
Within Sustainocracy a new, cocreative reality appears in which all fundamental fragmented responsibilities (government, business innovation, human behavior and education) of a society jointo take responsibility together. The steering is not done anymore by the particular self centered interests of institutions, lobbies or hierarchies of power. The steering is taken over by core values based cooperative prioritization. In case of Eindhoven the “healthy city movement” through air quality (AiREAS) is a clear example of this new layer of societal participative care through sharing innovative progress.
United Nations sustainable development goals
The complexity is even larger. The United Nations defined sustainable development goals which are a global encounter with priorities that need to be addressed. From a sustainocratic perspective these goals are a noble reflection about significant symptoms and problems that have risen from the way old democratic and non-democratic nations work. The current political economic hierarchy creates huges differences for people and hence is responsible itself for levels of poverty and inequality (two important issues to attend). To address these issues we need to break the current power silos and replace them with new layers of shared responsibility.
Elections of March 21st
Everyone who has the right to vote can express their own preferences in the voting locations near your home. You go there with your identity card and the printed invitation to vote that you received from your municipality. The volunteers at the desk check your identity and provide you with the list of voting options. You go to one of the voting cabins to make your choice (make sure you use the red pencil and color within the circle of the option you choose, else you vote will be cancelled) and place the list in the bin that collects all votes.
All the votes are counted. The city council of Eindhoven has 45 members. The total amount of legally admitted votes are divided by the 45 council seats. This gives us a first divider, meaning the amount of votes needed for one seat. Then the amount of votes per political party are counted and related to the amount of seats they achieved according to the first divider. A few additional mechanisms are needed to fairly define the remaining seats simply because no political party will have always precisely the amount of votes for whole seats.
Once the process of dividing the seats has finalized the political parties need to create a coalition, unless on party gained enough votes to fill half of all seats plus 1. In our current fragmented arena of political diversity such single party dominance is highly unlikely. It is more likely that a coalition of various parties develop the mayority needed to manage the region for the next 4 years. Coalition discussions typically tend to unite likethinking parties of the traditional democratic basis (left, right, liberal) but now also can unite based on Sustainocratic values and shared (including United Nations) responsibilities. In the previous coalition negotations of 2014 the element of “regional health” was adopted for the first time and helped establish the current reigning coalition. This became a composition of left wing socialist (PvdA and SP), liberal (D66) and environmental expressions (Groenlinks), together good for 24 seats of the 45.
So what to vote?
16 political parties present themselves this time. Some of them have a large history in the region and come from way back the times of industrialized tensions among the human rights. These parties have a powerful presence on national level that affects the local chapter of the parties. Others fill the national and local spectrum of modern focal points such as the environment and elderly, starting at national level and now moving towards the local arena. In the Netherlands the political arena has three layers: the state, province and municipality. They all have their own voting moment. After a long period of centralization of power into the Hague there is again a decentralization movement placing important responsibilities at the level of the local municipality. The importance hence of the local elections are very high as they affect our perspectives of quality of life for the next four years. This gives rise to many local political expressions that defend the local priorities, often without a link with The Hague. Increasingly there is a fourth layer to take into account and that is the European Union.
Some local political parties, irrespective of their sociological direction (lef, right, liberal) start recognizing the Sustainocratic layer of direction. They have visited or participated with AiREAS, FRE2SH, COS3i or the School of Talents and got acquaianted with this way of working that was adopted by many people already but without yet a broad political following. This adds an unprecedented dimension to coalition options that can now gain compositions that previously were unthinkable of. The main difference with previous government structures is that the level of Sustainocracy requires not only a political concensus but also the multiple helix working format involving the local pillars of society (citizens, government, science and innovative entrepreneurship) together in pre-established priorities such as health, food securities, social integration, circular processes and economies, integral thinking and proactive attitude towards change. This demands a new attitude to public spending, legal formats of control and regulation, etc. This is a process that is not easily accomplished and needs also your democratic support, not just at the time of voting for your representative or personal political stream, but also in taking shared responsibility during the years to come, in between the voting times. Below you find a list of the 16 political parties that present themselves and a personal impression of their political coloring and commitment to for instance Sustainocracy. All this can change of course so it is a mere indicative overview, not a recommendation of any kind…
These two short examples are illustrative before we go to 2018 and the diverging/converging realities.
How would a monkey tell a fish what it is like to climb a tree? For the monkey it is difficult to explain. For the fish problematic to understand. They both live in different worlds. The fish and monkey excel in their own living environment, context and behavior yet can hardly imaging each other’s world because it does not belong to their daily reality. They would even deny each other’s existance.
Then there is the inspirating story of the flatlanders. These are imaginary beings that live in a two dimensional world. In their world there is no up or down, just forward and backward, left and right. How do you explain these flatlanders about the existance of the third dimension in which we can deal with depth and height too? That within these 3D we can find endless amounts of 2D worlds that run parallel and even could cross each other? And that these worlds have no idea about each other’s existance. Each of these flatlanders would also be capable of denying the existance of the other ones.
When we talk about Sustainocracy as societal alternative we also find such perceptions at human level. Sustainocracy is a different reality than what we have been used to for generations and were educated into. Just watch these 10 minutes of James Wildman showing us how we fool ourselves:
Sustainocracy is also a new dimension that has been added to our society. That is new and difficult to understand. It does not require much explanation for those who have made the step already. For those who encounter the ideology and practical reality for the first time, they tend to stay in their old patterns of reasoning. They mirror Sustainocracy against their own known and accustomed way of living. That does not work. Just like a fish will never climb a tree if it keeps swimming in the water.
On the other hand why would an ape want to convince a fish? Or should the 2D world want to understand the 3D reality? That indeed is not at all necessary. Unless one can get clear benefits from the cross over. That is one of the reasons why new realities such as Sustainocracy came about. The current (old) human reality is destroying our habitat, including our relationships among each other and our environment. The consciousness that develops involves “it needs to be done differently”. This is already a step into the direction of a new dimension of connectedness and behavioral adjustment.
The advantage of any human being is our capacity to evolve in awareness (understanding new things) in which new dimensions become visible and challenge our behavior and lifestyle. In essence we can evolve from swimming into climbing trees and learn to manage both. We are also capable of reasoning in 2 and 3 dimensions while opening up our personal and collective evolution towards 4 and 5D consciousness. The human being has unprecedented evolutionary possibilies even during a single lifetime. This also means that certain people advance in this sooner or deeper than others.
That is how the situation arises in which different realities start to appear, diverge and mingle, colliding or strengthing each other. That does not only go for the individual but also for institutions, governance and business enterprises. In 2018 new dimensions and realities manifest themselves structurally (not ad hoc anymore) as optional next to the old one.
In Sustainocracy we position “the human being” and our core natural values at the kernel of our thinking and dealing with reality. It is all about the wellness we create together, our continuity and evolution as a species. Then suddenly different rules count than the current political and economically geared situation that made us dependent of a costly hierarchical structure. For many only this single reality exists because of their dependence on it. “It is as it is”, people state with apathy. With this attitude they reason about everything as soccer player that wants to play basketball by using only soccer rules. That cannot be done of course. It is not as it is, it is the way we interpret our reality and act accordingly. Big challenges such as pollution, deforestation, destruction of life on Earth, inequality, climate change, illnesses, etc get us to think differently. To that understanding belongs new models and behavioral patterns.
2018 stands for new societal structures that at first function next to eachother with engagement of three groups of people and institutions:
- Those that hold on to the political economic reality and their own fragmented role in it,
- Those that structurally engage with level 4 participation (like Sustainocracy), reasoning and dealing from a holistic approach and symbiosis,
- Those that get stuck between the two realities.
This situation we will also encounter during the city council elections in 2018 in which core human values and cocreation have penetrated the political agenda too. An example is the Brabant Health Deal.
More and more citizens group together to take responsibility for their environment and quality of life, looking for partnerships in equality and purpose with the local policy makers. Also the political economic hierarchy has no other choice than to engage in order to avoid liabilities that can be connected to the old governance model. The new reality hence gains momentum.
Still there will be regions in which so called Trump effects can occur due to the conservative capitalists that see their position weaken. The effects are being analyzed by Otto Scharmer (Theory-U) in his recent blog. He sees it all as a prelude needed for the awareness boost that precedes change.
Anyhow, and concluding, the new realities manifest themselves, show what they are about and win engagement through self aware citizens, governors, innovative entrepreneurs and institutions. This gives both tensions and positive flows. But in 2018 for the first time they will stand side by side and fight their differences in an evolutionary battle for our sustainable future. Nature itself will add to it too assuring that it will be another challenging year full of threats and opportunities. How we deal with this duality will determine our own flow.
I myself made my choice already over 20 years ago as a person. In 2009 STIR Foundation was created to host the engagement of people and institutions that wanted to shape the core human values through innovation. And since 2012 it has its own name, framework and common denomination under Sustainocracy, which expresses itself through level 4 movements such as AiREAS, FRE2SH, COS3I and School of Talents in Eindhoven, Brabant, Netherlands, Europe and the entire world. In view of this evolution 2018 will be for me individually and collectively at the side of Sustainocracy, a wonderful year.
Every person has authentic talents that make a difference within our sustainocratic movements in the “City of Tomorrow”. It is remarkable how people florish when they get the opportunity to engage and deploy their skills in freedom and equality with everyone else. We realize that every person is unique, with his or her unique contribution to the eco-system that we live in.
When we formulated our 5 core conditions for sustainable progress as guiding principle we automatically abolished the need for hierarchical structures. We introduced the dynamic human clustering around priorities through engagement. Anyone can participate. Any newcomer brings in his or her specific energy and habilities affecting the group(s) as a whole. Each cluster contains numerous entities, from citizen’s to government officials, innovative entrepreneurs, scientists, etc. All primarily get involved as human being, skills and institutions are instruments. No one is more important than the other. Every one is valued for their unique contribution and added value to the process.
The result is impressive. A new human eco-system appears that functions as a powerful contrast to the political economic hierarchy that we got used to for many millennia. Many thousands of individuals engage within the different clusters and create their own abundance to share. The awareness rises in the groups that our cocreative reality is much more powerful and resilient than the structured dependences we created or subdued to before. And it is a choice we can all make.
In the twilight between two different realities it is at first difficult for people (and institutions) to make the choice. On the one hand there is the powerful presence still of the old dominant system that imposes itself. On the other hand there are the guts, determination and trust needed to let go and embrase a new way of life initially full of uncertainties and challenges. As time evolves the choice becomes easier because of the precedents, good example and existing platforms that show the way. People say when they encounter us “it exists, we want this too”. This awareness is the first step. Then two other steps appear:
- The abstract phase to define something concrete: People agree with the Sustainocratic core values, they identify with the level 4 cocreation process but find it difficult to apply it to their own country or region or circumstances. “Can you make it small for me” we often hear. Then we reply “If we do then you’ll be doing the work for us. If you do it then you do it for yourselves”. Once people get the hang of determining their own priorities, step out of the wheel of dependencies and into the arena of shared responsibilities, then the flow really starts. In such stage we can become partners and share best practice, consultancy, networks, instruments, etc while learning from each other.
- When people make up their mind, determine their priorities and come up with a powerful, high impact innovative change program, they tend to come with the question “is this okay?”. We then needed to explain that if it feels right, it contributes to the higher purpose and they stand behind their own choices…. than why ask anyone for permission? Go for it! Flow….
Once people get acquainted with the flow than they cannot be stopped. The new reality is then irreversible.
With thanks to Laszlo Zsolnai and Ove Jakobsen I was invited to participate in the publication of this valuable book published through Emerald Publishing. My contribution is about the Participation Society, an analysis of the evolution of our societal structures and the emergence of taking responsibility together as citizens and policy makers when dealing with our core human and natural values.
The entire publication: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/book/10.1108/S1572-8323201726
My chapter on the Participation Society: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/S1572-832320170000026013
Our current food reality is highly difficient and needs revision in order to provide resilience of our health and continuity as a species. Life science shows that we do not just eat proteins, vitamins and carbonhydrates. We eat molecular and energetic information which is processed into our own living system.
With this information we need to review our nutritious means. Decades of tests with food in different environments show that food which appears the same has totally different nutritious values, depending on the type of environment it grew in. Experiments with biophotonic equipment in relation with effective soil base management and coherence among species has delivered very positive results.
With FRE2SH we intend to create communities of people that begin to rely entirely on the type of food that we produce together in our food resilience programs. We wish to see if we can show health and vitality improvements. This is important to reduce our dependence on health care and the related costs that tend to become unsustainably and exponentially high. It is also important to improve the wellness, engagement and productivity of our communities within a general sense of quality of life.