Gwynne Dyer and Democracy for all

Gwynne Dyer has written a concise, logical article titled: “Why the Arabs can handle democracy”

Dyer’s view of the human condition is that in our long history, we’ve spent most of our time in a default mode of equality:

“Every pre-civilized society we know about operated on the assumption that its members were equals. Nobody had the right to give orders to anybody else.”

He explains that in small hunting-gathering societies everyone had input into decisions. It was agriculture/civilization that led to us living in unmanageably large groups where tyrannical leaders could emerge.

“The mass societies had many more decisions to make, and no way of making them in the old, egalitarian way. Their huge numbers made any attempt at discussing the question as equals impossible, so the only ones that survived and flourished were the ones that became brutal hierarchies. Tyranny was the solution to what was essentially a communications problem.”

But the relatively short obstacle of the communications problem, what Dyer says is .1% of our total history, is probably over.  The “West” may have been the first to develop mass communication, (and I’d argue that the West still hasn’t perfected the use of communications technologies nor has it educated it’s citizens about these as it should)  but as these technologies spread and are used more effectively, we can ALL reclaim our human heritage.

“You don’t have to wait for Facebook; just invent the printing press. Wait a couple of hundred years while literacy spreads, and presto! We can all talk to one another again, after a fashion, and the democratic revolutions begin.”

As humans, we all own democracy!

One Response to Gwynne Dyer and Democracy for all

  1. I just noticed how much in parallel Gwynne Dyer’s idea is to what I’ve always loved about Clay Shirky (and the title of Shirky’s latest book says it all — “Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age”

    See for the full review. Here’s a quote:

    “Shirky argues persuasively that this cognitive surplus-rather than being some strange new departure from normal behavior-actually returns our society to forms of collaboration that were natural to us up through the early twentieth century. He also charts the vast effects that our cognitive surplus-aided by new technologies-will have on twenty-first-century society, and how we can best exploit those effects. Shirky envisions an era of lower creative quality on average but greater innovation, an increase in transparency in all areas of society, and a dramatic rise in productivity that will transform our civilization.

    The potential impact of cognitive surplus is enormous. As Shirky points out, Wikipedia was built out of roughly 1 percent of the man-hours that Americans spend watching TV every year. Wikipedia and other current products of cognitive surplus are only the iceberg’s tip. Shirky shows how society and our daily lives will be improved dramatically as we learn to exploit our goodwill and free time like never before.

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