This site, along with the FES and Compass, has long championed the notion of a good society. It is a desirable world that is much more equal, democratic and sustainable. But the problem was the desirable never felt feasible. We might have wanted to get there – but no one really knew how.
That is all starting to change. Over the last 30 years the world has been transformed by a technology revolution that is now hard wired, or more accurately free wired, into our culture. We can know everything/everywhere and can act, share and collaborate in ways unimaginable to social democrats even at the tail end of the last century. Through a smart phone the world is literally in our hands.
Technology is flattening old vertical corporations in the market and in politics. Today command and control are rendered nigh on impossible by a world that resembles Facebook and not the factory. People don’t take orders and instead are well versed in finding their own voice.
The golden age of social democracy was however built in a very different way, on hierarchical institutions because the 20th century was the era of centralism, bureaucracy and Fordism. But while the ends of that Cold War were meant to be egalitarian and democratic the means were essentially paternalistic and elitists. The neo-liberal counter-revolution became inevitable. Now technology is favouring social democracy but only if it can transform itself. On flattened planes you have to listen to everyone’s voice, anyone can get organised in a future that will be co-produced. So means and ends can be unified – democracy and equality is what we fight with and for.
This is the world Uffe Elbaek, a member of the Danish Parliament, and I describe in a new Compass publication entitled: Bridge: how the politics of the future will link the vertical and the horizontal.I concur. The playing field is leveling quickly in the digital age through increased communication and availability of knowledge. Hierarchy is giving way to flatocracy, but only if it actually results flat organization and not just flatus.
Social Europe Journal
A Bridge To A Good Society