left: A 16th-century depiction of Edward’s parliament. right: House of Commons of the United Kingdom

Through history, several methods and systems have been used for decision making and the organization of our societies. Monarchy, aristocracy, dictatorship, totalitarianism, and theocracy are a few to name. These decision-making systems usually exclude the public in the decision-making process and do not embody a diverse society. Democratic representative systems in comparison, have proven to provide a more encompassing system where the opinions of the many are not entirely removed, and reaching consensus is more fair and diverse.

However, being practised for long and subject to the multiplicity of interests and influence of financial power factors, our representative systems have largely been undermined by corruption, lobbyism, populism, and propaganda. Recent financial crashes, failures in making sensible decisions at a large scale, such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, and starting unnecessary wars such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, provide the proof that the representative systems are unable to organize us fully and efficiently as they are meant to be.

Moreover, we have not been able to fully include the voice and the rights of the minorities into our decision-making systems. The methods we use to form questions and find answers for those questions largely ignore important details. The questions are often too general and rather vague. In the case of Rotterdam city, one can think of the social housing referendum in 2016. The representatives fail to include the minorities into their large, general and confusing questions. And in many cases, the representatives compromise the needs of the minorities for the sake of the political priority of other issues. This has brought a political passivity to certain members of the society as they cannot affect how their ways of living are being handled. With less input from the passive minorities, this political passivity only echoes more neglect over large parts of society. Besides, the lack of engagement by the minorities will result in a less diverse representation of the minorities within the governing body, which will then again contribute to this cycle of exclusion.

Thanks to our contemporary capacities, we already have all the tools to rethink the overly encompassing and top-down decision-making methods we use. The time has arrived for creating an all-inclusive, decentralized, and bottom-up decision-making logic. The project Open Source Governance is focusing on this matter using open-sourced legislation for communities.