About Sound Politics

October 02 by Demogarchy

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About Sound Politics


bout Sound Politics


Had politics wrought half the progress that technology has wrought in our lifetimes, we’d be deprived of half our talking points. Numerous favourites, from the absence of accountability to the overload of corruption, would be yesterday topics, like worries about scurvy or witchcraft.

Earth operates, or claims to operate – 186 of 193 countries say they are democracies – on a structure two centuries old. It’s as if when Gottlieb Daimler produced his prototype the world had said “great, that’s transport, done” and we were now all driving around in replicas, doing fifty splattering clanking metres at a time.

Democracy’s sales case is “the rule of the people”. This was meaningful when it took over from the rule of kings, cardinals, aristocrats; whoever. It’s hollow now. A quinquennial X-millionth of a say over which clique gets to call the shots is “rule”? Where do I express my “rule” in the 1825 days between? Where do I express my “rule” over ideology-devoid things that pain me, like a school bullying outbreak being addressed too leniently or too fiercely?

The case for sound politics is that we need no more man-made fracturing of nations or withering of economies. We need no longer damagingly up act as if raising majority power means lowering minority power; as if more freedom for employers means more hardship for employees; as if fundamental peace, and the fundamental justice upon which it rests, are denied to humankind, or reserved for some halcyon era hundreds of years down the line.

The presentation you are now entering makes a single proposition: the political faults and flaws that make our stomachs churn are due to the inadequacy of politics.

That means they are not due to the inadequacy of, nations, individuals, any category of people, in turn means that no generations of learning or evolution are required to overcome them. What is needed is to give people as they are the role that they are cut out for. That means accepting that most people know little about politics and care less for it, and recognising this truth as a wasted strength – a greater strength than all or any constitutions or entrenched clauses.

In its barest essence, the society we now proceed to introduce is one where politicians, activists, ideologues, sociopolitical go-getters of every stripe, have unprecedented freedom to seek the targets that they believe are right for their world and their communities large and small. They just face one proviso. The ordinary people who they represent exercise more control than we are accustomed to now.

We do not by this mean 5% more control or 10%. We mean hundreds-fold more control. We do not mean a ludicrous order. To uninterested people to become interested. We mean a structure designed to do what, with respect, I think you will shortly see as the most natural thing for ordinary people to do. That is to apply the brakes when politics makes them nervous.

You may picture a strange brand of bus. It has ten steering wheels, in different people’s hands, and only moves when there’s an adequate consensus. Behind, all hundred passengers have a brake pedal.

When a different analogy: see democracy as we know it as the public holding the power holders on a long, floppy, elastic leash. See the politics to come as the same people holding many power holders on many leashes, all extremely short and stout.

The core result is one central phenomenon: politicians do what what their mandates tell them, yes, their usual. But they are not primarily scared of their mandates. They are primarily scared of the people in their own world, their own friends and family and community, who have not paid any attention to their mandate. They are scared of those who ignore the regular scheduled elections back to when danger emerges, turn up at no-confidence selections in the interests of stifling whatever it is that is concerning them.

That is, politics is made not by what politicians can get away with, but by what doesn’t frighten the timid character whose primary interest is not in this ideology or that one, but in being confident of life life working out today tomorrow, in old age, and for those who come behind.

 This essay introduces a political system that can’t break down. Dipping into it will do nothing for you. If you give it thought you’ll see it as watertight. In many parts of this brilliant beautiful barbaric brutal planet, it’ll be your sole certain prospect of a fair and stable public life for you and those who follow you.




I live in two nations, on the same terrain. Pavement Nation is the people I meet day-to-day. (“Sidewalk Nation”, some would call it). It is openhearted, warm, accepting and doesn’t care that I come from a once oppressive minority. Instead, when my pale mouth manages a “thank you” or “have a good day” in any of the Pavement’s nine vernaculars, there are gasps and cheers as if for an Olympian feat.

Then there’s Policy Nation, headlines and big names, thick with jealousies and finger-pointing.
The Pavement relationship is excellent, far richer than if everyone had grown up with the same heroes and same nursery rhymes. Policy Nation is tragic. It tries to create prosperity by order and equality by edict, while corruption proliferates and the economy shrivels.

What if Pavement Nation had more say? When the nation nationalises farmland and my district fears losing Farmer Jack, provider of jobs and food and tax, might we tell the nation “Excuse, you don’t mean this farmer”? And what when the nation replies “Oh yes we do, get in line!”

Can the paramountcy of the nation coexist with the paramountcy of the people who are affected? Might the true taming of power be the multiplying of power?

In what follows, these questions meet the answer “Yes”. We go further, saying that therein lies the step after democracy, to contain the 21st-century pressures that established politics can’t handle.






We seek sound politics, politics that works anywhere, always. “Sound” does not mean less wobbly. It means rocksolid, so ghouls who need flames and corpses are confined to the fiction channels. “Anywhere” means the principles are universal. They or cousins of theirs will in time be platitudes. “Always” means that once sound politics is installed, no uninstalling can be had.

Over decades, this theme has moved light-years forward in my head and in several widely unread books. The present document is state-of-the-art as at September 1, 2017, Spring Day. I’m proud to nutshell it to approximately an hour’s worth of reading (the outer edge of what I could imagine myself taking on as an unendorsed new theory).

Kindly know three things. (i) Many concepts in few words can cause speed-wobble. (ii) Your early response is likely to be bleak at best. (iii) Politics will within a generation or two be in line with the thrust of what is raised here.






To make politics make sense, first accept that most people are not very interested in it. Then arrange for the uninterested people to be its natural safety net.

Democracy as we know it may keep coping in the cosy nations. Most nations need Son of Democracy, the next step.  Its essence is more say for you, me, and the washerwoman. It does not treat a vote as a right, a privilege, a gift, an obligation. It makes the vote the key that locks politics into a web of inescapable order.




One name…


We’ll have much to say of “ordinary people”, for whom we will use a shorthand: “Mildred”.

Mildred is Saxon for “gentle strength” (uncanny). It was America’s sixth most popular girls’ name in 1912. Now, I think only in Africa will you find baby Mildreds.

Very ordinary Mildred is bored by politics, somewhat hostile, often scared. Politics rings of trouble: small trouble like jeering activists, middle trouble like names falling off the housing list, big trouble like fleeing your burning village.

“Everyman” and “the man on the street” were always both male and female. Mildred is male and female. She may be rich or poor, PhD or illiterate. She is apolitical, apathetic, agnostic, all or any.

Mildred’s day is coming. It couldn’t happen until democracy had (a) arrived and (b) started creaking. Our juncture is its dawn.


… Two words


One word is Consentience, the brother of Assent, but you needn’t say “Yes”. It’s enough to not say No.

Consentience lets you have your anonymous say when you want, on any issue from invading Peru to erecting a speed-hump. At times this may mean answering questions – “shall we invade Peru?” – but most people will say their say by appointing and dismissing leaders.

Consentience is the foundation of extremely sound politics. It makes every law a default law.

If your nation’s law says nightclubs close at midnight, that’s the national default. A province may prefer to let clubs go on until 1. Consentience is gauged: how many people take what view on this, how firmly? If the province goes ahead, its 1 a.m. law becomes the default law in that province.

But my village wants Joe’s Bar to pump all night.

We can’t do that, you say? Why not? Whose village is this, anyway? It’s ours. The nation is not our boss, the province is not our boss. Our voters, the villagers, are our boss.

Which means that our ruling councillors have CONSENTIENCE printed on their foreheads. If they plunge us into the bad books of our government, disfavour from our province, or troubles with our neighbours, we toss them out of power.

In the real rule of the people, no authority is higher than consentience.



The other word is Demogarchy. You know of monarchy, the rule of one, you know of anarchy, the rule of none, you know of oligarchy, the rule of few. Why no demogarchy, the rule of all who choose to rule? Because that state has never existed; development ceased at the prototype.

Demogarchy is an easy word, no mog or gog or guttural ggg, stress gar as in garden and rhyme with khaki – demO GAR key. (Take heart, not long ago you found “cellular” unfamiliar.)

Demogarchy is a structure in which communities define themselves and rule themselves, answering solely to their electorates. Demogarchy’s essential characteristic is that its politicians and go-getters are enormously free to explore better ways, make choices that matter to them, pursue their people’s fulfilment, subject to one constraint. When they cause anxiety to the ordinary people, and specifically the Mildreds, the apoliticals who in normal circumstances ignore elections, out they go.






Our era treats “democracy” and “people’s rule” as synonyms. We call democracy a “fragile flower”, needing “fertile soil”. Where it fails, it’s said that the populace was “not ready”.

Through demogarchy’s prism, democracy is baby-steps towards people’s rule. It is a staging post on humankind’s pilgrimage from the power of the strong towards the power of you and me. It may be nearer the start than the end.

Democracy took the big step into equal human-hood, stunning the planet. But since then it’s been static. It has spread but has not grown. If motoring worked the same way we’d all drive one of Gottlieb Daimler’s prototypes, fifty spluttering clanking metres at a time.

For 21st-century purposes, democracy’s “rule” is hollow. It’s living a lie. To make “people’s rule” real is the next step of human coexistence. It turns that fragile flower hardier than cactus.

Its secret weapon is Mildred. No society on earth is short of Mildreds.





When political people see a 65% or 70% poll, they rage against the feckless 30 or 35% who are letting democracy down. But that 70% is not 70% of 100. It is probably 70% of 70%, or 49 of 100. A third or quarter of people won’t register; a third or quarter of registered voters don’t vote.

Of the half who do vote, we may guess that between a quarter and a half are duress voters. Some obey society’s injunction, that it’s their duty to vote. Some are browbeaten – “Go and vote! People died for your right to vote!” Some are fearful – “Your thumbnail is unmarked. Are you not behind Our People’s Party?” Duress voters seal the truth that “interest in politics” is a minority sport.

Of the 30-odd% who voluntarily vote, many are driven by identity, not “interest”. They inherit their Party from their parents, like their church or football club. Maybe fewer than 20% of people ever see more choice in a ballot paper than in the M or F on an ID form.

It’s wrong to see non-politicals as negligible. It’s as wrong to see them as thick, or depressing.

Normal people may (from experience?) see no link between electoral results and their life. You may trust no Party’s promises. Even your local election may feel too remote to notice, you and 10,000 others picking a councillor with no powers that impact on you.

Voters in favelas and squatter camps may fear activists who know where you live, and will blame you for a wrong result. Rampaging victors may mark the houses of the disloyal. Permits may be withdrawn and jobs may be lost, for taking a wrong side.

Mildred might want much of her society. A repaired footbridge, no-bribe policemen, running water, lawful trading on holy days, drunk teachers dismissed…and always, all majorities of all Mildreds, two mainstay features: peaceful continuity and honest use of public money. In most countries, Mildred doesn’t believe that any of these things have anything to do with the vote. Voting = politics = tribes/clans/sects = stay away, including from your own party, the one that throws weight around right where you live.  [

The system gives Mildred little reason to vote and much reason not to vote. Don’t blame her for not “living up” to a system that is meaningless to her. Change the system.




Majority rule


First base of any quest for better politics is: don’t try to shrink majority rule. Least of all try to raise the say of the better-educated. If such aims succeeded they would plunge us back to freedom-struggle. Happily they fail. Majority factions demolish them in rage at people claiming superior humanness.

Majority rule is a given. To root it soundly, make it be what it says it is. Make it let actual people choose what is best for them, free to amend, rethink, re-vote.

Poor people hate seeing the rich try to escape into political units of their own. When demogarchy is recognised as not a running-away from majority rule but a running-into a good deal more of it, there’ll be heartfelt welcome.



Interval 1


Step back a moment for a landscape view. The building-blocks get people expecting deep calculations, intricate formulae, frenetic voting. No, relax.

If we competed for the simplest political structure conceivable, I’d nominate this:

You can vote for your village, which can do what its voters want it to do; you can vote for your city, which can do what its voters want it to do; you can vote for your province or state or county, which can do what its voters want it to do, you can vote for your nation, which can do what its voters want it to do.

For simple, you can’t beat that.

By “sound politics” we mean the principle of ordinary people, including the apolitical multitude, being the footbrake of politics. Simple.

By “demogarchy” we mean a vehicle to implement sound politics by freeing communities to take charge of their interaction with each other. Simple.

No PowerPoint images come in to this, no multi-coloured diagrams, no arrows bearing authority between squares and circles and baffling triangles. You vote as normal, this year for a ward councillor, next year an MP. You just may as have more forums, particularly a very local one.

Simple as that prospect is, you may worry that it is floppy. It doesn’t spell out who has what powers over what activity. It is potentially chaotic.

I offer a fundamental reply: no it is not, the multiple layers of overlapping voters are a security that has never been seen. It makes power an interconnecting web. The cardinal factor is that each layer of government can do things that matter to the overlapping voters’ lives.

If Hitler tries to steal the nation, the regional and municipal and local quarters of the web close in to see him off. If a regional king usurps the second tier, Tiers 1, 3, and 4 do the binding. A Village Mr Big? He’s put in his place by 1, 2, and 3.

Because each council can do whatever consentience agrees to, to flout consentience is a council’s suicide. To illustrate, an absurdity: my local council legalises hijacking of travellers. Well, (1) no car gets hijacked, because before that legislation takes effect the web of power has closed in. (2) The council loses power, because a rival faction calls a snap no-confidence election at which angry Mildreds turn out to punish the council that has made them a laughing stock.

The crux is that because demogarchy “allows” a village to invade Peru, a town to hijack travellers, whatever, the apolitical multitude becomes society’s safety blanket. Never mind no invading of Peru, no hijacking of travellers, no room is left for any brand of stupid politics.

We’ll go further into that, let’s do it with your mind uncluttered by assumptions of fancy legal footwork or tricky constitutional clauses. The real rule of the people requires only that the apolitical multitude can freely punish leaders who subject them to shame, cost, or jeopardy.

In summary: we establish that where we are going is using people, not ultra-vires rules, as our guarantors.

That’s fundamental, but it’s not all. We are going to meet scepticism and worse; we spare no effort to bring in all the building-blocks that might solidify sound politics.






In the archives I’m about to introduce to you, you’d find dozens of characteristics that would shore up an ideal political system. For now, short-version, I ask you only to embrace the notion that a wishlist on the theme is a useful thing to have. (And perhaps to wonder why it is not a commonplace?)

Here for instance are some sample features of the system’s job description:

  • Erase tyranny and coups. Which does not mean “outlaw tyrannies and coups”. All 721 coups/attempts of the last 50 years were illegal. Most tyrannies defy their own laws. Erasing them requires politics so certain to trip up the attempt, that no-one makes the attempt.
  • Abolish political violence. Same story. We don’t want political violence to fail. We want it to not be tried, thanks to politics ensuring that whoever tries it sets their own cause back.
  • Be unresisted. A political system is far from ideal if you need tanks and missiles to introduce it. Ideal politics must let no thought of taking up arms against it be born.


And what qualities might we expect of our system?

Simplicity, no constitutional conjuring.

Use natural channels to attract natural forces to natural paths.

Widen voters’ range of choice, give them myriad targets their votes might pursue.

Secure more than technical freedom; free voters’ minds and hearts as well.

If we talk “ideal”, we must surely contain features as yet unheard-of.

Teeth. Ideally no-one is impotent; everyone has teeth, and a hillock of power to call their own. We the small and weak also rule, bowing to consentience but not to bullies; we can be a tough nut to crack, we can be a thorn in the side of the strong. [We can be champion metaphor-manglers].

Fail-safe. Ideal politics would make rising political temperatures trigger their own coolant.

Social justice. Ideal politics’ wealth distribution mechanism must be unassailable. Not that talk-show hosts and columnists can’t take potshots, but that the interaction of the mass whose votes are their voice. Is the judgment that stills every squabble.






When our target has coagulated into lots of activists exercising lots of effort on behalf of voters, voters who hold those activists on a short stout leash, we ask the question “How?”

How do we approach that target? How does that leash get presented to the voters’ hands?

To start with we look for a constitution. We go wizened looking for that constitution, puzzling over forests of inelegant clauses that will occupy lawyers until the sun frosts.

Then someone makes, apparently, a joke:


Let the legislature pass an Act allowing communities– people sharing territory

– to run their territory as they wish, each answering to its own electorate.


We chuckle, but low-key; not a very funny joke.

Then someone says “that would certainly end corruption”, and talk turns to how multiple clout-carrying tiers of authority necessarily disable bad behaviour by any one tier.

Then we notice that if each council answers only to its electorate, all Parties must become allies on some things and opponents on others.

So we see the unpolitical people acquire multiplied reasons to use the ballot, and minimised fear. Which means that politicians acquire something wholly new, a healthy fear of non-voters, or the people who have always been non-voters. Next we behold a way of voting that we haven’t seen, where the norm is low polls but in troubled times there are bursts of no-confidence elections with polls rising as more Mildreds chime in to say “Watch it, politicians! Get your act together or we’ll kick you out in favour of neutral people who don’t make us nervous”.

In summary here: you, good reader, might care to draw up your own wishlist of ideal politics (it’s fun). At the end, count how many of your wishes are automatically answered by several overlapping communities holding four (or more) governments’ feet to the fire.

Be stunned, with respect. This strange simplistic enabling Act probably fulfils every wish your wishlist can think of.

We confront two extraordinary propositions. One is that the extraordinarily simple act of liberating Mildred changes politics. The other is that the extraordinarily simple act of saying “Okay, people, rule!” liberates Mildred.


I say this again because I mean it from deep down, and I don’t think you accept that, yet. Politics’ next step forward will come from Congresses and Parliaments passing what could be (though it won’t) a one-line Act – “here, people, this power thing, that’s caused all this strife all these centuries, take it away…” That action will be the delivery of real power to the people. It’ll happen everywhere, sooner or later, in some form or other. It will mean the placing of inter-human relationships on a higher rung.






You surely see a hundred instant holes – how chaotic this will be, how costly, how dangerous. Shocked predictions end in the assurance “but it will never be allowed!”

Recall our hypothesis: the reason democracy half-works is that it’s halfway to people’s rule. Recall that people’s rule means we don’t need permission. We need consentience; the acquiescence of those who have a view.

On what matters to the majority, the majority wins. If wider society dislikes what Mildred’s council is doing, the council’s opponents call a no-confidence election. Normally, Mildred responds “‘Our cheeky council brings us trouble, away with it”. Abnormally she says “Our brave council fights for our rights; stand by it”. Whereupon consentience goes to work, likely via a flurry of no-confidence elections.


On too many powers –”Shantytown can legalise hijacking!” “Brickfields can let people drown witches!”

Yep, those statements must be true, with their important little word “can”.

To make people’s rule coherent, people must seek any aim by their votes. It’s because any wild thing can be pursued that no wild thing happens. The paradox of demogarchy: stability depends on no source of instability being debarred. An entrenched clause – “Brickfields may not drown witches” – looks like a precaution. No, it’s sabotage. To entrench anything admits a higher authority than consentience. That introduces a contradiction. Wannabe despots cry “We can’t drown witches as our God or culture requires. Boycott the oppressor’s sham elections, take up the sword!”

For no drownings and no swords, leave the aspirant despot no escape from his own supporters. Leave no question-mark over their ability to anonymously tell him “you do not speak for us”. Unfiltered sway for those people is not extreme, not purist, not an optional extra; it’s crucial. People who never attended a riot, a looting, a rally, a march, are the filter, of leaders’ ambitions and ego. Maximise the appeal of the polls, minimise fear of the polls. When all is subject to consentience nil can be subverted.


On too many governments:

A council that does not provide value folds, automatically. Its community ends it. One that does provide value is not “too many”. Each demogarchic council adds an upside, a stitch to the fabric of order. There is no downside to any number of councils. Each is the business of the community that carries it. No community sustains a council that costs more than it delivers. If a freak case sets out to be obstructive, consentience closes it.


On the chaos:

Mildred supersedes democracy’s checks, balances, and ultra vires regulations. She does that not by her imagination or industry but by an infinitely dependable human trait, inertia.

When her rule begins, a body of law exists. To invent a new function or adopt an existing one, a council must satisfy her that it is neither wasting money nor causing disturbance.


On the cost:

A demogarchic council surrounds office bearers with rivals who have an incentive to blow whistles and access to the platforms of information. Against that, you can’t siphon public money. Your peers and neighbours do the paying, so you can’t extract fat salaries. You are in it for the rightest reason, to mould your world to your values, or you aren’t in it.


On ruling parties stopping the launch of sound politics:

Demogarchy isn’t about which party rules. It’s about how government works. It will shrink the pedestals of mandarins, yes, but it is unlikely to hurt parties. Normally, a ruling party expects to win the greatest number of new councils, creating new focal points for its ethic and outlook.

Anyhow, few ruling factions can object to demogarchy’s introduction. A cabinet that says “steer clear” is telling its lieutenants “we the bosses want you under our thumb, not equipped with discretion of your own”. It invites its branches and regions to defect.


Of “this can’t work in our situation”, people being too poor, too stressed, too gang-ruled:

I respect those who strive to bring order to violent, desperate slums. I accept that in the thick of harsh reality, panaceas emitting from suburban studies are revolting.

I also submit that however hard it is to get going, only one phenomenon stands to truly terminate the reign of the warlords: clout in Mildred’s ballot.

On “but what about the Constitution (and/or Bill of Rights)?”

Structurally it makes no sense that a roomful of bygone dignitaries can chain the real rule of the people. One might also question the worth of constitutions that promise peace, dignity, housing, and other things they don’t fulfil.

No matter; at the time demogarchy starts, the values of the constitution exist. To repeal those values would take huge consentience. Therefore the constitution stays in place, not as the envelope of what is allowed but as the embodiment of society’s intentions.


On “but the poor just vote to loot”.

A familiar middle-class mythology has it that the hands of the poor are best kept far from the levers of power. This was always a mistake. It helped extremists and it hurt moderates. It let the Stalins and Robespierres make hay with their gulags and guillotines, no one holding powers to gainsay them. It may hold the record for the most self-defeating philosophy in history. Still, in bloc politics one can understand why it happened.

People’s real rule is not bloc politics. Anyone can alter an allegiance at any time, as circumstances shift. People seeking what’s best for themselves have one eye on tomorrow’s contentments and the other on old age’s security. They gravitate to what merges those aims. That does not include routes that drive other factions to obstructive opposition.





To the recurring question “How does the financing work?” the only answer is, with apology, the glib one: Like the people want it to work.

Demogarchy is born into a society that has financial structures. It expands the ways to change those structures, subject to a changeless rule: offend consentience and you will cry.

If your suburb thinks it can provide better refuse removal or wage policies or anything else, fine. Negotiate takeover, rates adjustments, offsets, the lot. Keep in mind that fixing what isn’t broken helps your rivals persuade your voters that you’re a hazard.

Not everything is simple profit/loss. Cosy quarters will put time and energy into invigorating demogarchy in afflicted quarters. They’ll be sharply motivated to do that, to cultivate votes that say “we’re doing fine” and deter votes that say “fleece the rich”.





A demogarchy (or whatever name sticks) doesn’t need adjusting-time or evolving-time. It happens in an instant, the signing of a statute. That turns our nominal rule to real rule; guaranteed not by paper laws but by living majorities. From there it grows and deepens until its time is overtaken.






In people’s real rule, the nation can’t tell my village what to do. It’s not our boss. The council’s only boss is its electorate, most of whom mainly ignore it. They pay rates and get on with their lives and are glad that some people keep an eye on drains and buses and human rights, etc.

But crunches happen. Stuff comes up. History, complexes, envy. Politics has been known to kill.

If we councillors cause the world around us to huff and puff, our Mildreds can speedily expel us.  99 of 100 times, we steer clear. The hundredth, something big is up. A vital interest is at stake. Headlines. Tweets fill the ether.  Consentience sweats. Party bosses scan the tickertape of relevant elections, reading the way the wind blows, assessing when to a call no-confidence. If tension stays up, a second no-confidence vote may follow, a third. With each, the poll rises. More Mildreds are rolling up. With each, fewer voters care about the politics and more want the sounds of silence. Seeking that, they raise the role of reason. You and I and each single Mildred may be as unreasoning or unreasonable as we like. Our unreasonablenesses cancel each other out as partisanship recedes and balance rises.

The row ends when consentience gets one set of Mildreds thinking, “tsk, let those other people have their way”. As to which set of Mildreds this may be, we know two rules:

  • A bias favours the larger community. Mildred is instinctively loth to be out of step.
  • A bias favours the more reasonable cause. People who know that their side’s cause is out of line part from their side more readily than those who believe they are being sat-upon.

Demogarchy contains a fail-safe. The higher the temperature, the more reasonableness it injects.


Interval 2

What, Good Reader, do you do with this? Let it percolate. What has been 30 years trickling into my head is pouring into yours in 60 minutes. It’s abrupt and brief and from nowhere. “Consentience” aside, it hardly even has reassuringly learned-sounding words. You aren’t expected to believe it. Yet.

But you might ask yourself questions.

– Do you want a fairer world, or the warm fuzzy solace of singing praises to absent fairness?

– Do you envisage your kids/grandkids living life as respected citizens in a contented nation?



That simple base is all there is. The nation does what its people say. The province does what its people say. The city does what its people say. The suburb does what its people say. You and I say our say as and when we want. If any of us go ape, we get squelched – not by the oppressors spies or snipers or riot police, but our friends, our families, the anonymous truth that no-one outs when they are visible and audible and identifiable.

Oh, and there are those two small clauses. 1 – a no-confidence election is quick and easy. If our council offends us on Monday it could be out by Thursday. 2 – a year of banns before a law takes effect..




Square deal


It’s taken for granted that the political bell curve has a Left hump, a Right hump, and a gap in the middle. That can’t be right. Most of us are in the middle.

It’s taken for granted that to satisfy the poor, politics must upset the rich, and vice versa. That can’t be right. The best possible way of Have-Nots getting more is that Haves, in their own interests, need them to have more.

Imagine, a moment, that history had played out otherwise; that the strong had been less able to command the humble, and had needed to request support.

If such a practice had set the tone, we wouldn’t now know “class war”. We’d have varied levels of cooperation within a common ethic prioritising wealth-generation.

History didn’t go that way. In no era did the rich “need to request”. For a thousand generations the humble were given orders. For five or fewer generations they/we, including poor people and female people, have picked the clique that gives the orders. The rich have sometimes been penalised, sometimes stayed dominant, but have never depended on earning the approval of the Mildreds around them.

Picture now a country with hundreds of councils ruling by consentience.

Richie Rich wants to move to the gorgeous hill over my Shackland precinct. He approaches our council. We leaders with Little Red Books frown on Richie’s kind, who have too much because we have too little. But we can’t work up a good hate on an applicant. Worse, our Mildreds can think of nothing better than Richie moving in.

We hoist the Welcome flag. We then put heads together mapping out how his money-making tax-paying wage-paying presence among us will satisfy him and us. If we push for too much, he’ll find a gorgeous hill in another precinct. If we settle for too little, our Mildreds will listen to Trotsky calling “vote for me and I’ll make the bastard bleed”.

Upshot: raising the bottom becomes the business of the best-paid minds and the highest skills. These minds are not driven by an imposed policy that they are tempted to outwit. They’re driven by the fire within. Their own success will be no success without this success, too. They aren’t into scoring points by starting ventures from which they can later sidle away, rolling their eyes. They acutely need projects that give lasting viable employment.

Trotsky doesn’t go away. He keeps telling Mildred that things aren’t equal enough, pushing her to re-raise the bar. Uncle Tom in the opposite corner urges no killing of the goose that lays the golden eggs. He has inertia on his side but must be sure that she tastes the egg.

The game changes when one of two states arrives. She either comes to the view “I have enough, who cares what Richie has”, or she says “Oops, better boost the rewards of the skilled, or we’ll lose the dentist”.


Sociologically, the less-wealthy nations face a crunch. Annual waves of school-leaving youth live on a portion of grandma’s pension. Technologically, all nations face a crunch. Algorithms may give everyone survival but at the price of a hundred years of nothing to do. This is a good time for politics that focuses high-flyers as sharply on public fulfilment as they focus on personal gratification.




Local tinges

Thirty years ago my world fitted between Cape Point and the Limpopo. Life was about extricating from apartheid. One side wouldn’t do normal voting, a swap from Afrikaner rule to African rule. The other side couldn’t do skinny voting, as if a dark citizen was a lesser being than a pale one. I proposed muscular votes, more-than-normal. That was shot down inter alia for seeming to put us a rung below regular democracy, as if we needed special treatment.

I know now that the apolitical stabiliser is the rung above, and is universal. Can South Sudan move forward? It has Mildreds. Can the Middle East erect solid sounding-boards? It has Mildreds.

No more do I link sound politics to a country. But I acknowledge that deeply divided societies need it most. Home is one of those. It has many intractable features that will vanish without trace.

Take, first, the use of people. In current society, segments of our youth put lids on their life. They hide their skills, suppress their abilities, and crimp their ambition. They fear being resented for a privileged past, or accused of identifying with privilege. In people’s real rule, Mildred wants all talent on deck.

Second, the sounds of protest. Current course gives glamour and fame to flingers of rocks or of faeces, and wreckers of facilities. In sound politics those people will answer to their own community, their friends and neighbours and aunts, through their own people’s own chosen leaders.

Third, national identity. Current course has minorities as not-quite-compatriots, keeping voices down and accepting passenger status. In demogarchy they, like anyone, have founts of power, alliances and links. To treat them as part-citizens will be patently artificial; to respond with vehemence will be natural.

Fourth, the political game. On current course the race identity of government is stifling. Many would treat an opposition electoral victory as grounds for a new liberation war. In demogarchy, political energy is divided between many tiers, with alliances and rivalries in constant flux. Sound politics heightens the “Aims” scale and lowers the “Grudges” one. It does that by unassailable means – amplifying voters’ choices.


Fifth, pure self-interest. Wielded by people with crops to grow, trains to catch and clock-cards to punch, the flexible ballot entrenches what works and ditches what doesn’t. That is not in reach when power is owned by intelligentsia with egos to defend, scores to settle and complexes to work off.


Sixth, common goals. To some people the economy is a heap; if I take a big scoop you go short. Others see it as a flow; to constrict it keeps the poor in poverty. To some, “transformation” asks for sharing by those who have grabbed unfairly. To others it is a free ride for passengers, the death-knell of growth.

In thrall to contending ideologies, there is no meeting of these perspectives. When end users have the decisive say, best practice will prevail.


Current politics offers holds out a maelstrom of pecking-order squabbling and vain protest. Demogarchy slithers race to the edges and thence offstage. Protest is replaced by keeping power-wielders on their toes.


Morning TV has a mail-order ad on the theme “but that’s not all”. A vacuum cleaner will fry eggs, but that’s not all, it polishes shoes, but that’s not all, it writes sonnets, but that’s not all…

Presenting demogarchy feels like that ad. It makes stability, but that’s not all, it makes respect, but that’s not all, it makes justice…

I’d rather claim less but I can’t escape the logic. When conditions are met, results follow. Put a hole in the bucket, and the water can’t help running out. Put ordinary people’s free will in charge of politics, and soundness can’t help happening.

That sounds overly big. It feels wrong. But which part is wrong? The condition cannot be met? Or it can be met but deliver a different result?

The overall question “can sound politics happen?” tempts the loose answer “No, it’s too much”. The question divided into those two parts is harder. It’s hard to envisage a strongman shooting his way through four layers and thousands of stitches in the fabric of order. It’s harder to envisage ascending levels of non-politicals using the polls to ask for higher hostilities.


To the Right, bottom-up power is harebrained leftism, and demogarchy seems its ultimate. To some on the Left, bringing the affluent down is as big an aim as bringing the afflicted up. Short response to both is that when/if they allow settling-time, the picture changes.




Sound politics is well versed in the responses “utopian”, “nonsense”, and “if it’s real it’s astounding but it can’t be real or it’d be known”. At some time these will switch to “grab the ball and run”. The principle of apolitical people being politics’ guarantors will be taken up, perhaps in ways not here envisioned.

Thank you for getting here. There’s more at or  Bear in mind that once this theme gets to first base, with a modicum of voices saying “yes, right”, the strangeness will evaporate at an accelerating rate and the wearing-in will start becoming easy and eventually clichéd. Of course there’s no knowing when first base turns up. All the sooner if you add, subtract, develop as you see fit. Or grab the ball and run.


Khotso. Sterkte. Allbest.



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