TIMES ARE CHANGING: Citizens' assemblies and independent politics.

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What if there were a way to rapidly evolve the functioning of our democracies, precisely now, when we urgently need it to face challenges that affect the whole of civilization?

We live in times in which political parties are hardly respected, We have engaged in a competition to support the "least-bad" in order to avoid the "worst. and rather than helping to build a people and dialogue, what the party structures are doing is usually the opposite, at a time when great agreements are needed for great transformations that can no longer wait.

As if this were not enough, the vast majority of these parties also have unbreakable ties with the financial structures (big banks and investment funds, the too big to fail) that maneuver and demand that their own red lines are not crossed, slowing down and corrupting the functioning of democracy. Among other things because the parties normally owe them money, and therefore, a certain obedience.

Undoubtedly, the time has come to look for alternatives: Here I present two that are already underway.

On the one hand We have the French model of the Citizens' Assembly. The country that revolutionized politics 250 years ago has done it again, and again, a little forced by circumstances and by civil society. A tax hike wrongly called "green" - if they are not redistributive, they are not green, they belong to the elite -, provoked unrest and ended up leading to a revolt that had an international echo, that of the Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) against President Macron. The latter was forced to react and called the so-called Citizens' Climate Convention.

He must have thought, if you don't like my measures, let's see what you propose. The result was very interesting: 150 people chosen by lot, representing the diversity of the French population, took 149 measures after being advised by climate experts and after a face-to-face process of deliberation. Of those measures only a few have been implemented unchanged, in breach of Macron's own promise to implement them "without filter". Which proves two things: one, ordinary people propose much more ambitious measures than the political parties, and two, the traditional political parties are a barrier even when they promise to move away.

All this has at least started a process whereby many countries around the world are implementing similar assemblies, and thereby stimulating the media debate on the most crucial issue of our generation: how do we make the transition to change the energy model so that we don't completely destroy climate stability and biodiversity? Our civilization is far more dependent on these two crucial factors than is generally understood.

Even so, we must be fair, the process is not perfect for one simple reason: We live in times of infoxication, fake news and hoaxes. Switzerland, for example, recently rejected the new Climate Law in a popular referendum. And it has done so largely because of the media campaigns made by the great economic powers that -oh, surprise-, control the big media.

Perhaps there is no other way than to regain, at the same time as a certain political control, a certain control over the media.

Continuous misinformation cannot be legal. Otherwise we expose ourselves to the risk that proposals and reforms will continue to be launched which, no matter how well informed and well advised the representatives elected by lottery are, will not be accepted by society itself, as they erroneously perceive that they work against them due to the previous brainwashing. When, undoubtedly, there is nothing more against the people than to continue with this system as if nothing happened.

A few days ago, the French Press Association (AFP) exclusively released a draft of what will be the sixth IPCC report -the scientific body in charge of assessing the state of ecosystems and climate change-, and the conclusions are terrifying. Textually speaks that we have already lost control, that is, whatever we do, it is likely that we can no longer avoid an escalation towards what the leading experts have called Hothouse Earth, a scenario in which the very warming already unleashed will uncover feedback processes, which will lead us to a situation in which "...".humanity will not be able to overcome what is coming", end of quote. And just a reminder, the IPCC, working by consensus among multiple voices, tends to err on the side of conservatism, which is why successive reports have always been corrected for the worse.

However, this does not mean that all is lost, on the contrary, it means that it is more urgent than ever to start reacting and fast.

And that is why I am telling you the second option, even more transformative, but which does not exclude participatory processes such as the Citizen Assembly, on the contrary, it is nourished by them. Also after a process of revolt in the streets -I am sorry, but it is evident that if not, we will not move-. a small democratic revolution is taking place in Chile.

In the constituent elections of a few weeks ago there has been a major surprise, the old parties have suffered a historic defeat and the winners have been mainly independent candidacies among which women stand out. And all this, after having suffered the army in the streets and seeing how the official candidates of the traditional parties were showered with money, trying to silence in the media the small revolution that was brewing in the streets. But not even that. The new constitution will be drafted by 64% independents. Among them are judges critical of the system, writers, social and environmental activists, journalists...in short, ordinary people who had won the affection of the people for their honesty and courage in the previous months. The shock in the traditional parties has been tremendous, nobody expected this result.

Chile is going through a historic process that could be a tremendous success if it succeeds in advancing measures of social justice. But it can also be a great disappointment, as happened just half a century ago. Not because of the process, but because the losing economic power, fearful of change, will probably do anything to regain its hegemony. We will have to keep an eye on what happens in the Andean country, which was the beginning of neoliberalism, before the victories of Thatcher and Reagan. Let's hope it is their grave. Otherwise it could be ours. Following the rhythms of the invisible hand and the logic of the markets has no other destiny than environmental and economic collapse.

The times they are a changing. (The times they are a changing, a nod to Dylan's song).

About the Author

Juan Bordera

Journalist and content creator.

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