How to Improve the British democracy?

The debate on how to improve the British democracy should be guided by four considerations:


  • Time – This is the most important element because it determines which actions are viable per se. Here we must be aware that since the last few years changes in almost any aspect of our lives have been happening at almost an exponential, rather than linear pace, the phenomenon difficult to absorb by human nature and that is a problem in itself.
  • The risk of doing nothing – Until now, such risks, as not improving our democracy, would have had consequences limited to Britain. However, the crisis of democracy has affected the whole world and therefore, one of the risks, which I call the risk of a Global Disorder is of a different magnitude and may turn through combinatorial effects into an existential risk. That risk, linked tightly to democracy and the world politics, is only one of the top 10 existential risks that may lead to self-annihilation of Humanity within a generation. However, if we are really unlucky, e.g. with artificially produced pathogens dispersed by air by a mad scientist, it could happen any day. Some of the risks, like that of Artificial Intelligence are close to certainty in maturing by 2030 in some aspects – e.g. losing control of the AI self-learning process, with initially territorially limited consequences, until the moment when a far superior Superintelligence starts treating us like ants.
  • Scope – In the above context, if the proposed changes in democracy are implemented in Britain only, what effect will they have on the world outside, and what effect the changes outside Britain will have on what is being proposed for our domestic agenda.
  • Pragmatism and realism – What can we do right now to improve democracy and what real effect it may have on our lives and the world beyond the British shores?

Anyone wanting to improve the situation and reduce the risks should take into account that:

  • Existential risks we face require fast action, while the world’s organisations act very slowly
  • People want more freedom, while we need to sacrifice some of our freedoms and sovereignty for Humanity to survive
  • Most people can’t see beyond tomorrow and act emotionally, while we need to see the big picture and act rationally

I provide extensive analysis of the above problems in my books “Who Could Save Humanity From Superintelligence?” and in “Democracy for a Human Federation”. Among others, in Conclusions, I propose 20 steps, in which we could make the world a happier and a safer place. One of those conclusions is that the long-term thinking must be embedded by default in any changes to our political system and be seen from the very start in a global context, ultimately leading in about one generation to the creation of a planetary civilisation. A natural conclusion is that whatever the feelings we have about our sovereignty, as well as the sovereignty of other countries, the only way to survive is to work within de-facto one large World Government. In my books I have analysed 10 potential contenders for such a role, definitely eliminating UN as one of the top candidates. Surprisingly, it was the European Union, assuming it becomes federated at a very shallow level, which came out at the top. Of course that would mean it could only partially play such a ‘global’ role since China or Russia would not be part of it in the foreseeable future. However, that is the risk we must take.

The most pragmatic way forward, is in my view to start bottom up and expand the existing, and building new, organisations such as the Danish Det Alternativet. Such organisations would press for fundamental changes to a democratic system. They should be united by a common vision of quickly converting those efforts into a strong movement, particularly within the EU, to create a critical mass in national elections. That would then help some top EU politicians to accelerate the federalization of the EU.

Translating that into some immediate proposals, to be completed within about 5 years, I propose the following steps to improve our democratic system, which at the same time would also contribute to an overall reduction of global existential risks:

  1. A written Constitution for Britain. Create sufficient support, especially within the House of Lords, to set up a Constitutional Assembly that would deliver a written British Constitution. Such an Assembly should be organized on similar principles as the Irish Constitutional Assembly of 2012 that was based on Sortition (randomly selecting the representatives from the electoral list for a period of about 12-18 months). I leave aside the actual articles of such a Constitution, which would be for such an Assembly to define, and which is a separate subject. However, there are already many such proposals around, including those ones in my books, where I have put forward a new model of democracy called Consensual Presidential Democracy. To create the necessary momentum for such a Constitutional Assembly, some key politicians from all parties should initiate the integration of various movements and organisations in Britain, such as Respublica, Common Vision, UCL Constitutional Unit, etc. That could culminate in a large demonstration organized via e-petitions, pushing for the Parliament to give consent for setting up such a Constitutional Assembly.
  2. Minimizing damage from Brexit. All efforts should go to minimize the damage arising from Brexit, the subject  also covered in my books. This is very relevant in the context of the proposed fundamental changes to our constitutional order and improvements to democracy. One option could be for influential pro-Remain campaigners to try to persuade the EU leaders to accelerate the introduction of a multi-zone (multi-speed) EU. One such Zone, which I call – Single Market Zone, would be for the EU member states that are not currently supporting closer integration and thus could have opt-outs. The sheer promise of such a Zone in the future EU Constitution might be enough to keep us in the EU as well as satisfy some Brexiteers. But more importantly, it could give us at least some influence on the future development of the EU and shaping out future role within that organization.
  3. Global Wealth Redistribution Fund. Since we are just one of only several countries that have set up a legally binding annual contribution of 0.7% of our GDP towards the UN SDG goals, Britain should leverage its political and economic influence world-wide in that area by launching a campaign to create, what I call the Global Wealth Redistribution Fund (full details in my “Who Could Save Humanity From Superintelligence?” book). That could be either a significant expansion of the current SDG in the size of the contribution by ‘rich’ countries from the current 0.7% to about 3% GDP in 2040. Seeing the inefficiency of the UNDP I would rather suggest creating an entirely new fund, this time under the auspices of the EU and partially funded from current contributions to the UN SDG goals.

Of course there is a lot of detail behind these proposals, especially regarding the setting up of the technocratic government, such as a new electoral system or Universal Values of Humanity. They are expanded on this website and in my books.

Tony Czarnecki
London 21.4.2018

One thought on “How to Improve the British democracy?

  1. Tony Czarnecki’s comment on the article – “After Brexit comes the battle for the soul of British democracy” published on the LSE website
    By Michael Cottakis on 4.02 2020 –

    An excellent article and as a stronger Remainer, I entirely agree with the author’s main premise – a deep reform of the British democracy. Therefore, I am really pleased that Brexit has happened. Surprised? Here is an explanation.

    Firstly, if we did not have Brexit, there would have been hardly any pressure to fundamentally restructure our democracy including having a written Constitution and, crucially, a new settlement between the four nations. The latter one must now include, a much deeper level of devolution, so that the new constituent parts like London, Yorkshire, Kent, Cumbria, etc, would have roughly an equal political and economic strength in a new Federation of the British Isles. Such general intent by all political parties would immediately stop the tendencies to rip the UK apart by creating independent states of Scotland, Anglia or Wales, with N. Ireland almost obviously re-integrated with the Republic of Ireland.

    A new Constitution should deal with the aspect of the new constituent parts of the United Kingdom, including the role of the Monarch, the electoral system, Citizens Assemblies, and other elements of a new democratic contract with the British people, as the author suggests.

    To all those that think it will take decades before it can materialize, I would suggest to consider just one thing: change is no longer happening at a linear pace, it is almost exponential in all walks of life, not just in technology, although it has been the result of an incredibly fast technological progress.

    Secondly, and here I agree with the Brexiteers that have commented on this article, the EU needs really deep reforms. For example, the selection of the President of the EU Commission last year did indeed lack transparency although on the surface it did not break the legality of the process. The way that the EU democracy works following the Lisbon Treaty, results from what was possible to achieve when the Treaty was ratified. Politics is a very messy business and as they say, it is an art of achieving what is possible and not what should be done at the movement of making a decision. We know how difficult it is to achieve an agreement in our own Parliament. Now take into account the interests of 27 countries that have to be somehow aligned in order for the whole EU to exist at all. And exist it must, not so much for commercial reasons, as the Brexiteers always remind us and the Remainers rarely contest it. Yes, trade has so far been the driving force of the EU raison d’etre, and the carrot behind the integration process, with almost no stick as an alternative. But the main rationale for the EU’s existence has been the maintenance of peace in Europe and fighting more effectively various existential risks that we are being exposed to, such as climate change, or the danger of creating a malicious Superintelligence.

    However, the Brussels’ political village, similar to our Westminster village, a true coterie of interests, can no longer drag its feet and procrastinate efforts such as those by the European loner – President Macron, to make some fundamental reforms in the EU constitution. That means, putting it bluntly, if the EU does not become a federation soon, it may disintegrate reasonably quickly. Therefore, Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, where we always were pressing on the breaking pedal, has created a sudden opportunity for making some fundamental changes, by drafting a new Constitution, a potential end product of not yet formally launched the Future for Europe Conference.

    Unfortunately, we have missed the boat. Instead of being fully engaged, accelerating the integration process in the direction that we might agree with, i.e. a very shallow centralized federation, with most of Brussel’s current powers devolved back to the states, we may be knocking again at the door of possibly a federated Europe, on which shape we have decided ourselves not to have any influence.

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