Constitution Design Gatherings

After we have declared our collective authority to create and evolve the governance of the nation in accord with the collective declaration of freedom that set us on this course in the first place. Jefferson's "Declaration of Independence" stands as a universal declaration of human freedom even if the subsequent history is marred by significant restrictions of those rights and its legacy in an unfinished battle to secure those rights for all. Within the restricted scope of white men, our experiment in constitutional representative democracy has been quite successful.

The biggest problem that has developed is the tendency of the democratic istitutions to be captured by monied interest groups with the predectable outcome of transferring more of our collective wealth into fewer and fewer hands. Although history shows this is counterproductive as economies reach a tipping point where the bottom of the economy where all the production happens is starved to the point that it is forced to reduce consumption, leading to general economic decline and losses for all. We are near an economic crisis point that is likely to be an intensified version of historical crisis. There is no reason this has to happen except that the monied interests so control the language of the public debate that they are forcing it through the levers of the current political structures.

I think many would be calling for new constitution, but would good would that do if the monied interests can still control the process to their ends? The only way it could be done is if we can invent and develop in practice vital new processes to reinvent governance from the bottom up. We can do this work in commons spaces that we collectively create to hold and share the work. We will need a great many systems and subsystems to be designed and developed, all complex institutions must do this work. Much of the work will be valuable to many throughout the growing network; freely sharing common knowledge and infrastructure will produce economies of scale as a core strategy for building common wealth.

Now, in the era of block-chain (BC) currncies, it is likely that these emerging technologies will be critical to building the distributed infrastructure of global-to-local production and development. Much of the BC world is being built on open source (OS) infrastructure, a mature space of commons based peer production (CBPP), therefore it is natural that BC will be a key design element for CBPP institutions and infrastrucutre. In virtuous feedback cycles, one production commons provides services and value to the rest and they all grow together with their co-produced ecosystems.

Gatherings for a Distributed Constitution Design Team

Many of us are no doubt ready with lists of limitations and problems with the current setup, some of the causes and symptoms are hinted at above. That wouldn't be that much help at this point as our first task in the project of constitutional redesign is the establish the scope and goals of the project. Many designers and architects are presented with an existing conception of the project, but in this case, we are our own customers and have the luxury of defining the project. It doesn't have to be a single project, but it does need to be unified with respect to the existing legal and constitutional frameworks that it seeks to change. In this light, there are a number of projects that have already self-organized for specific projects, an example would be any publicly organizing to pass ammendment. Another would be any work to litigate constitutional decisions and precident. Unfortunately more is being invested in these fights by the enemies of democracy. 

Of course this would be subject to collective governance decisions, but I would expect that an emerging CBPP network would want to focus resources on the other side of this fight. As we establish the solidarity and win some battles that we have been losing, power will shift and we will have much greater power and capacity within the current system. At that point it will be time for the big picture to come into view.

We can't be naive about the response of power to being challenged. The history of bottom up democracy is of slow progess and bitter losses, but it is also one of hope. Small resistances are crushed in vengeful fits of pure power, but always a small kernel of the story survives to inspire solidarity in a struggle that always seems a lost cause. If our designs to change the system do not serve to defend the small weak voice of truth against violent oppression, then there is no point to the work.

I don't know how or when or where, but we must begin to gather in the name of freedom for the purpose of collaborating in the design of a new constitution that truly is of the people and by the people under a much broader conception of "we" than the world has ever seen. We can model good governance by bottom-up emergence within the CBPP institutions that we co-create. This won't be so much a creation from scratch, but more like the emergence of new institutions in an existing network united by shared goals and missions. Many of the existing organizations doing their parts of the great work could be more effective with a few more resources, but bigger than funnelling more money or volunteers to these important projects is the bulding of collective wealth.

Many leaders in this space spend more time getting the attention they need to command necessary resources than working on their missions. By connecting these efforts in multiple commons of production, we will make visible the importance of each part of the work and what groups have the capacities to address the work that is collectively prioritized. Rather than having groups compete for scarce resources in a psuedo-darwinian competition that actually makes collaboration more difficult,