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The Folkmote System

Warren Weisman 10/16/2011

A proposal inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement to transitioning from a failed antiquated system of representative democracy to the Folkmote System, or village community system.

ORGANIC GOVERNMENT When the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 the population of Philadelphia was 40,000. More than Boston or New York, both with populations of 24,000. The Founding Fathers could never have imagined Philadelphias population would reach 1.5 Million, Boston 4.5 Million and New York become a megalopolis of 20 Million. The First United States Congress, which would ratify the US Constitution, consisted of 65 representatives and 26 senators to represent the 2.5 million original American Colonists. This was one representative for 38,000 citizens and one senator for every 96,000 citizens. Today the number of representatives is fixed at 435 to represent a population of 307 Million. Leaving one representative for every 700,000 citizens; and one senator for every 3 Million. It might be tempting to think simply increasing the number of federal representatives and senators would solve this problem, however, consider how grid-locked and dysfunctional the United States government is with 535 members of Congress, and imagine to reach the representative-to-citizen ratio enjoyed by the first Americans would require a Congress of 12,000 members. Representative democracy was devised to allow a ruling minority to maintain control over the masses. It is inherently vulnerable to corruption and inefficient and becomes more-so as the centralized bureaucracy needed to administer it becomes larger. The US population has long since outgrown representative democracy. The average American is virtually powerless, with little meaningful say in government or selecting candidates for office. The Founding Fathers are often considered the foremost thinkers on government and the representative democracy outlined in the United States Constitution treated with reverence once reserved for scripture. However, we now know through the sciences of evolutionary biology and comparative anthropology this is not the natural organizational system for humans. The US Constitution was written by a small number of wealthy landowners and lawyers to allow a miniscule fraction of the population to maintain total control over the decision-making process for millions. An infinitely more equitable and efficient system of government is available and is far older, used by our Paleolithic ancestors but perfectly suited for the densest modern urban environment. This is the village community system, called by many different names by different peoples around the world. It is called the djemmaa system in North Africa, the fereej system in Saudi Arabia, the thaddart system by the Kabyles in the South Pacific. Intelligence operatives call it the cell system, although in more urban environments it could just as easily be called the town hall system. The Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin referred to it as the folkmote system, which is what it was called in Medieval Europe. Government is in itself a pessimistic view of humanity that assumes people to be too brutish and untrustworthy to govern themselves unsupervised. This Hobbesian view of humanity in a perpetual state of war between the individual and those around them that can only be resolved through Darwinian survival of the fittest. Peter Kropotkins contribution was as revolutionary to Darwins theory of survival of the fittest as Darwin had been to the Biblical view of human origins. A crown prince who abdicated all claim to royalty and inheritance, Kropotkin traveled extensively and spent time among many native groups around the world. Only instead of survival of the fittest, Kroptokin observed that mutual aid, animals assisting one another, was an even more important factor in natural selection than

survival of the fittest. That those groups who cooperated together the best had a better chance of survival than even the fittest individual. That human nature was cooperative, not competitive. The folkmote system extends the natural trust found within biological tribal groups to territorial areas of voluntary clans of individuals who may or may not be related by blood. Those who are together for the best reason of all; because they choose to be together. The fundamental organizational unit of the folkmote system is the 20-30 person cof, the voluntary clan of family, friends and neighbors who an individual sees on a regular basis, likes and trusts. There is no set number of people in a cof, however, 30 seems to be the upper limit of people humans can get to know well. Possibly the vestigial remains of the Paleolithic band. A temporary cof formed for the purpose of work or among new arrivals was known as an artel the Russians. Each community of an cof or artel then chooses a chairperson, secretary and treasurer, although all decision-making is by consensus, unless everyone agrees to some other means by consensus. This chairperson functions as a link person to adjacent communities, relays any information and reports any shortages or announce any surpluses to share with others and then reports back. These federated communities are responsible for all public services, security, medical care, and respond to fires. They manage all aspects of village life, such as education, economic opportunities and administered justice, collected taxes and levied fines. All members of the folkmote were bound together by an unwritten, voluntary mutual aid agreement which stated in two parts: if you are in need, I will help you; if I am in need, I expect you to help me. And everyone was expected to meet their own needs to the best of their ability and not be an unnecessary burden. This unwritten mutual aid agreement is central to the folkmote system. Those not prepared to enter into it cannot be part of such a system.

The Mutual Aid Agreement

When you are in need, I will come to your aid; when I am in need, I trust you to help me. -andI agree to meet my own needs to the best of my ability.

THE FOLKMOTE SYSTEM IN PRACTICE An example of how the folkmote system could function in a modern urban environment would be to use a monthly schedule for meetings. For example, if all communities in a city agreed to meet the first week of the month. Representatives from these communities would then meet the second week of each month at a neighborhood meeting; neighborhood chairpersons would then meet the third week at a village level meeting; village chairpersons would meet the last week of the month at a township meeting.

Township chairpersons would then meet at a district meeting the first week of the month as well; district chairpersons would meet at a supreme council representing the entire city. Although, as much as possible is done as close to home as practical, authority diminishes at higher level meetings, becoming largely ceremonial above the city level, needed only for intercity trade and transportation negotiations with other cities. FOLKMOTE ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE Administrative Division City District Township Village Neighborhood Community Consists of 5 Districts 5 Townships 10 Villages 10 Neighborhoods 5 Communities 3-5 Households Approximate No. Members 250,000 50,000 10,000 1,000 120 20-30 Comparable Tribal Unit Nation-League Confederation Tribe Village Clan Band

Week 1. All members of the folkmote meet with their respective Community. They select a chairperson, treasurer and secretary. Make an assessment of needs and surpluses and send any agenda items for the neighborhood meeting along with their chairperson. Most people will only need to attend this one monthly meeting, however, they know someone who cares very much about their interests will be representing them at the next higher level. Week 2. All Community chairpersons meet together in their respective Neighborhood Committee meetings with representatives from neighboring communities. The Neighborhood Committee selects a chairperson, secretary and treasurer. Week 3. Neighborhood Committee chairpersons meet at a Village Committee. They select a chairperson, secretary and treasurer for the committee. Week 4. Village Committee chairpersons meet at a Township Committee meeting. Week 1. Township Committee chairpersons meet at a District Committee meeting. Week 2. All District Committee chairpersons meet at a city-wide supreme council meeting.

For most people, government will only involve one monthly meeting, however, people are free to be as involved or uninvolved in their own government as they choose to. With the folkmote system, no one is ever more than 30 people away from their government representative or 10 people away from world leadership. ADMINISTRATION The contemporary hierarchical government relies on a large, unwieldy central bureaucracy for administration. As the folkmote system decentralizes authority, it also decentralizes administration to the lowest possible level. Beginning at the neighborhood level, the folkmote system employs a parallel system of Standing Committees and Public Service Offices to meet public needs for security, medical, fire and public works and maintenance at the lowest level possible. This decentralized model has the additional advantage of behind highly resilient to catastrophe. At the neighborhood level ten Standing Committees and four Public Service Offices. The ten Standing Committees administer government, energy, defense, agriculture, economy and finance, justice, information and culture, education and youth, health and well-being and a sustainability committee.

CITY Prime Minister (District Committee Chairperson) Energy Minister (District Energy Committee Chairperson) Defense Minister (District Defense Committee Chairperson) Agriculture Minister (District Agricultural Committee Chairperson) Finance Minister (Finance Committee Chairperson) Justice Minister (District Justice Committee Chairperson) Information & Culture Minister (District Information & Culture Committee Chairperson) Education & Youth Minister (District Education & Youth Committee Chairperson) Health & Social Wellbeing Minister (District Health & Social Wellbeing Committee Chairperson) Sustainability Minister (District Sustainability Committee Chairperson) DISTRICT TOWNSHIP VILLAGE NEIGHBORHOOD Neighborhood Committee Neighborhood Energy Committee Neighborhood Defense Committee Neighborhood Agricultural Committee Neighborhood Finance Committee Neighborhood Justice Committee Neighborhood Information & Culture Committee Neighborhood Education & Youth Committee Neighborhood Health & Well-being Committee Neighborhood Sustainability Committee

District Committee District Energy Committee District Defense Committee District Agricultural Committee Finance Committee District Justice Committee District Information & Culture Committee

Township Committee Township Energy Committee Township Defense Committee Township Agricultural Committee Finance Committee Township Justice Committee Township Information & Culture Committee

Village Committee Village Energy Committee Village Defense Committee Village Agricultural Committee Finance Committee Village Justice Committee Village Information & Culture Committee

District Education & Youth Committee

Township Education & Youth Committee Township Health & Social Wellbeing Committee Township Sustainability Committee

Village Education & Youth Committee

District Health & Social Wellbeing Committee District Sustainability Committee

Village Health & Social Wellbeing Committee Village Sustainability Committee

Public Service Officers would be responsible for security, fire protection and prevention, emergency health care and building maintenance and would have executive authority between Standing Committee meetings.
PUBLIC SERVICE OFFICERS City Fire Chief Chief of Security Chief Medical Officer City Engineer District District Fire Chief District Security Chief District Doctor District Engineer Township Captain Captain Nurse Practitioner Township Engineer Village Lieutenant Lieutenant Paramedic Fireman Neighborhood Fireman Security Volunteer Medic Maintenance Technician