The CosmoPolitical Party is the first political party designed to support the transition to a trans-European democracy
Many self-proclaimed experts deny that democracy be possible beyond national boundaries – in the same way that conservatives of the 19th century denied it would be possible beyond that of a city-state.
We are convinced that they are wrong – and will prove them wrong. Just like national democracies of the 19th and 20th centuries relied on the printed press, on the telegraph and telephone, and on physical meetings of people travelling by rail or road, our trans-European democracy of 21st century relies on Internet-based information dissemination, discussion and decision-making. Whereas nation-states were built by adding a national communication language on top of local or regional dialects, we rely on international communication languages (be they or not designed for that purpose), on top of national or regional languages.
We are not a weak federation of national political parties, as many "Internationals" or "European political parties" are. In these "Internationals" or "European political parties", the ultimate source of legitimacy lies in the national parties, and the global position is the awkward compromise between decisions taken independently by these national parties. These processes mimic inter-governmental negotiations, and bear the same democratic deficiencies: powerlessness, lack of accountability and of direct popular control.
The CosmoPolitical Party is designed from inception to act at trans-European scale. We are one organisation, discussing collectively at the scale of the European Union. We design and adopt one political programme, valid for all (even if we allow of course for the adaptation to national, regional or local realities). There is only one level of legitimate decision-making, and one source of democratic legitimacy, that of the whole organisation. We will present candidates in elections. When the institutions are designed for a trans-national democracy, such as in the European Parliament, we will naturally build a common political group. When not, the fact of us being elected along the same political programme will enable an unprecedented level of international coordination and agreement – and a determinant advantage in inter-governmental negotiations, such as those taking place in the European Council of the Heads of State and of Government of the European Union, and in the policy-making Council of the European Union, gathering ministers eat technical level.
We are therefore the first political party that explicitly supports the transition towards a trans-European democracy, and that is geared and organised to do so.
We do not, however, claim to be the only possible party supporting trans-European democracy. We pursue specific, strong political objectives, described above, which many may not share. We are comfortable with this. Discussion between dissenting views is an essential component of democracy. Our concept of a trans-European democracy is also available for other political views.
We do not claim either that political parties operating at trans-national scale cannot exist in locations other than the European Union, and would welcome the creation of similar parties in other geographical regions of the world in the process of trans-national democratic integration. We would even be happy to witness the creation of other Cosmopolitical Parties, sharing the same political objectives as ours, in other regions: the ultimate, long-term prospect would then be to merge with these brother Cosmopolitical Parties, into a single, global organisation, so as to preserve the unity of decision and of political legitimacy which is at the root of a truly trans-national political party.
We start from scratch. We are ambitious – not for ourselves, but regarding the transformations that we intend to achieve, at the scale of the massive challenges that human civilisation will face in the 21st century. In our views, the only unrealistic option is to believe that "business as usual" politics and institutions will do the job.
Democracy is a value and a process
Democracy is more than "the worst political system, with the exception of all others", as W. Churchill is supposed to have said. It is not a default solution. It is a value in itself. It is the political system that embodies human dignity and equality in the decision-making institutions, that translates these essential human rights in the field of politics. It is because all humans are equal in their rights that they are equally legitimate to participate in taking collective decisions. Democracy is the only political system that institutionally places the dignity of the human being at the centre.
Democracy is not a virtue in itself. It is a political value embodied in processes. What determines whether a decision is democratic or not is not the outcome (which can be right or wrong – even disastrous, as canonically illustrated since the 4th century BC by the Athenians' catastrophic decision to invade Sicily during the Peloponnesian war), but the process itself. This process must ensure that the opinion and perspective of every citizen has been taken into account – and yet that a meaningful decision is taken and implemented at the end.
In our views, any claim by a political party for supporting democratic principles in society must be supported by an equivalent, or higher, level or internal democracy. This is a basic issue of coherence between words and deeds.
The CosmoPolitical Party is serious in its claim for democracy, and embodies it in its operating principles.
Democracy does not however mean unanimity. The CosmoPolitical Party acknowledges that disagreements in economic interests, social positions, cultures and values exist. We consider them as normal, and as an essential element of life in society – specifically when reasoning at supra-national or global scale. In our views, democracy is meant to provide the tools to overcome these disagreements peacefully, with just and fair rules and procedures.
The CosmoPolitical Party privileges one means to overcome political disagreements. We seek agreement on public policies (regulation, taxation, public spending), on actions to be undertaken by public authorities, rather than on the underlying motivations. We accept very well that people converge on the same political programme, on the same list of public policies, for very different reasons, and based on very different political or philosophical assumptions (just like the Communists and the Catholics agreed of Western Europe in the early 20th century on securing Sundays as a weekly day for rest – even if they disagreed on the existence of God).
The CosmoPolitical Party operates through earnest, thorough and balanced discussion and deliberation between all citizens concerned.
In our views, deliberation and discussion have three virtues:
from a technical point of view, deliberation and discussion between people having different sources of information and competencies (e.g. from their professional or academic background) help ensuring – within the limits of human knowledge – that the action will have the intended effects, that its main unintended effects have being registered and included in the reflection (specifically when handling complex issues), and that its benefits and costs, and their distribution among stakeholders, have been calculated;
from a political point of view, deliberation and discussion between people having or representing different values and interests ensure that these values and interests are taken into account;
from an ethical point of view, deliberation and discussion embody our belief that humans, and their political positions, are not fixed for ever by social, economic or cultural determinisms, and that they can be alive, change and evolve.
The technical and political arguments above explain why we refuse to rely on (often self-proclaimed) "experts" to design our public policy proposals. No "expert", whatever his/her background, can include the wealth of diversified experience, knowledge and competence of a group. More important still, no single "expert" can decide in the place of others how important their respective values and interests may be, and how to conclude satisfactory compromises.
Expanding our ethical argument, we believe that every human has the capacity to convince, and to be convinced, following a mutually respectful exchange of arguments, based on explicit reasoning, verifiable facts and open sources of information. We expect all our members to be open to this possibility, and to honestly engage in the debate.
This is why our internal rules and procedures include a space for deliberation, discussion and exchange of arguments. Thereby, every member can shape (and potentially change) his/her opinion and that of others, by listening to all arguments, and by providing his/her own. Our rules and procedures ultimately include votes based on the principle "one person, one vote", but they provide beforehand the deliberative space to overcome what without would be the mere quantitative assessment of power relationships between entrenched positions.
The rise in education levels justifies the broad participation in policy-making of people with all professional or academic backgrounds
The CosmoPolitical Party acknowledges the fantastic surge in education levels experienced world-wide since the 1960s. Whereas tertiary education was accessible to a few percent of an age cohort in the early 1960s, even in Western Europe1, this share has risen to 42% (OECD average) in 2015, and continues to rise2. This means that the number of people that have the cognitive resources necessary to engage in debates regarding public policies, to make proposals and to evaluate them, has also exploded. Whereas representative democracy could be grounded on the fact that only a small educated minority received a permanent delegation to decide from those who knew less, this justification does not hold any more. We believe that contemporary calls for participatory democracy are, in a large extent, rooted in this feeling among citizens that they are professionally and cognitively at least as competent as, and even more competent than, many political decision-makers. We believe also that every citizen has, in his/her professional life, in his/her studies or in his/her volunteer activities, accumulated a large capital of experience and observations, and also of theoretical insights. In these fields of experience, the citizen is a specialist, able to provide a valuable contribution to the content of public policy debates. S/he is thereby in the intermediate and highly valuable position of a "professional", between those of the ignorant "man / woman in the street" and of the (often self-appointed and self-serving) "expert".
Writing is an efficient, honest and egalitarian means of communication.
Writing is efficient. First, for the sake of speed. The number of words that can be read per unit of time lies in the 250 to 400 words/minute, whereas the figure for speaking lies at 120 to 150 words/minute. A two- to three-fold improvement. Second, for the sake of reliability. A written word can be checked over and again by the sender, before being finalised. It can also be read over and again by the reader, upon reception. These repeated checks and verifications are not possible in oral communication. Writing is thus faster and more reliable.
Writing is honest when deliberating. Deliberating and debating are a matter of exchanging arguments, in order for the protagonists, and for the spectators, to convince, and to be convinced. When arguments are conveyed on a technical means where the emitter has control over the speed of reception, in oral communication such as the telephone, audio or video streaming, s/he increases his/her capacity to manipulate his/her audience. "The show must go on", and the pace of discourse cannot be easily slowed, stopped or repeated. Fallacies and tweaked logical statements are difficult to detect in clever oral discourses. On the opposite, a written argument can be read at the speed that the receiver controls. The reader can also come back critically to obscure segments of the argument, and detect fallacies or misleading logical reasoning. Writing supports a higher level of honesty in deliberation.
Writing is more egalitarian when using a foreign language. The CosmoPolitical Party will use only two international communication languages (see below). These languages will be foreign languages for the vast majority of our members – and this is normal. When using a foreign language, writing gives the time necessary to look for the adequate expression in a dictionary, even to translate from one's mother tongue, using all the linguistic resources available on-line. There is no penalty in the communication performance for being slow in writing, nor does one's accent play a role – whereas speaking too slowly or with too heavy a foreign accent challenges the patience of even the most caring listener. Reciprocally, reading a foreign language can be performed by taking all the time necessary, including to consult a dictionary or a grammar, with no penalty for reading slowly – whereas understanding speech slowly leads to missing most of the message. Writing compensates, at least partially, the differences in mastery of foreign languages, which is inevitable in a party transcending linguistic barriers.
Writing is more egalitarian regarding the time availability of people. Writing is an asynchronous communication means. The reading of a text does not need to follow immediately its writing. Thereby, each person can choose the time best suited to his/her life and work constraints to reply in a discussion. Writing relieves the inequalities that arise because some people have more time available than others, and because different categories of people can have free time at different moments of the day, or of the week, or live in different time zones. Written communication respects better every person's life style.
Finally, writing is more egalitarian regarding digital bandwidth. The same amount of information is transmitted in one page of written text (3,300 characters, i.e. 3.3 kbytes) as in 4 minutes of speech (which, compressed as an audio file by a GSM mobile phone, uses ca. 2 kbytes/s, i.e. a total of 480 kbytes for 4 minutes; compressed as an MPEG4 video file, it uses ca. 25 kbytes/s, i.e. 6,000 kbytes for 4 minutes). The transmission of the same message needs 150 times more bandwidth when sent as an audio message (and 2,000 more when sent as a video message), as when sent in written form. This means that written communication uses far less network capacity than audio or video. It is much more compatible with the limited network resource that some users may encounter in their country or region. Written communication takes better care of regional / national inequalities regarding network quality and bandwidth.
For all these reasons, the CosmoPolitical Party privileges written communication over audio or video.
Science, figures and statistics often appear as being dry and boring. But they can be considered completely differently. They build a universal language: a language of concepts, symbols and figures in which the aspects of reality that matter for the discussion are described concisely, efficiently and transparently, and where causal relations are made apparent. Every human can have access to them, with no advantage given to any cultural or national background. The administration of proof can be performed along transparent and rational procedures. There is no such thing as the authority argument. Thereby, these means of exposing and explaining phenomena have a universal, egalitarian and emancipatory potential, across all language, cultural and economic boundaries. Using these tools contributes further to reducing the inequalities related to the differences in mastering the international communication languages used by the CosmoPolitical Party.
This does not mean that the scientific, rational, quantitative mode of understanding reality exhausts the debate. Sensitivity, values, beliefs and human feelings are fully legitimate participants in a political debate. In addition, a critical eye must be maintained on the nature of the indicators, on the methods to collect and to process data. Too many indicators whose relevance was taken for granted have been revealed to incorporate determinant implicit political and moral assumptions: the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of well-being is the most prominent recent example. The discussion on the nature and the usage of quantitative indicators and instruments is a fully legitimate political debate in itself.
More generally, the CosmoPolitical Party is conscious that the boundaries between "technical" and "political" discussions are blurred. Any decision, even in the most technical environment, entails political values and societal choices. Any political intention needs to be translated into technical implementation to be effective, and to have a transformational capacity.
A common language is the pre-requisite for political deliberation and decision-making to take place across linguistic boundaries.
As of 2017, the English language is one candidate to this status of an international communication language. The CosmoPolitical Party uses English as one of its official languages.
We are aware of the weaknesses of this option:
grammar knows few rules, but a large number of specific cases, making the learning of the language a matter of lengthy practice rather than of efficient understanding
the grammatical function of words depends on the semantic context – but not on their form or their position in the sentence
the correspondence between the written word and its pronunciation is loose, making spelling and written communication difficult
words are short and the tonic accent is placed in variable locations, making confusions frequent in oral communication
almost all vowels are diphthongs, a feature shared with very few other languages.
Learning English as a foreign language demands lengthy practice, and is thus socially and geographically unfair. Native speakers of Germanic and Nordic languages, people whose parents are rich enough to have them spend weeks to practice in total immersion as teen-agers in the highly lucrative business of English courses for foreigners, or to pay them studies in (predominantly private) Anglo-Saxon universities, have an advantage that others just cannot compete with.
The difficulties described are specific to English, make its learning particularly costly, and thus socially unfair – but any other natural language has its own difficulties (conjugation and mute vowels in French, declensions in Finnish or Polish, irregularities and exceptions in al…), and learning remains a challenge for anyone whose native language belongs to another linguistic family. Choosing another natural language than English as an official language of the CosmoPolitical Party would thus not make things easier. Neither would the option of functioning with several national languages in parallel: this would fragment the CosmoPolitical Party into parallel linguistic entities, and would remain unfair to the native speakers of the languages of lesser-populated communities.
The language level required for political debating, and to be able to convince others, is probably the highest one among the potential usages of a foreign language – on a par with commercial or legal negotiations. It is much more demanding than a discussion in a well-specified technical or scientific field, an everyday conversation on material issues, or tourism. This is why the CosmoPolitical Party considers the issue of linguistic fairness as an important work to be undertaken, also internally.
This is also why the CosmoPolitical Party considers the planned language Esperanto3 as its second official language. Esperanto was designed from inception as an international communication language, and is thus ca. 10 times faster to learn than any natural language. Forty (40) hours spent at learning Esperanto (i.e. a one-week intensive course, or 30 weekly sessions of 1.5 hours in a leisure environment) are the equivalent of 400 hours learning a natural language, enough to reach the B1 level (independent user) of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages4. Esperanto has a completely regular grammar (thereby placing learners in the natural situation of generalising what they know, rather than of being sanctioned for not knowing exceptions) and allows the creation of a large quantity of words by freely combining lexical roots and about forty affixes (thereby using memory with maximal efficiency: remembering one root is the equivalent of remembering ca. 10 words in a natural language). Free, on-line, multi-lingual courses exist for Esperanto5. As a matter of comparison, English could be considered as the expensive, less efficient equivalent of proprietary software, whereas Esperanto could be the low-cost, efficient, Free, Libre and Open Source alternative.
Automated translation tools between English and Esperanto exist6, and will be used extensively. Thereby, people unfamiliar with English will have the possibility to join the Cosmopolitical Party fast and easily, and to contribute to the debate, by a fast learning of Esperanto.
The CosmoPolitical Party is built around the only existing deliberative online democracy software, available under a Free, Libre and Open-Source licence
The CosmoPolitical Party takes its decisions fully on-line. The design of the options between which to decide, or between which to allocate priority, and the decisions on the options or on the allocation of priority are made on-line and asynchronously only, in order to overcome inequalities in geographic location and in time availability.
The CosmoPolitical Party starts its operations with the on-line democracy software called KuneAgi8. This software embodies all the democratic principles exposed above, and ensures that all members participate in decision-making, at the three key stages of (1) initiative, (2) amendment and (3) ranking in priority order or choice between options. It is the only available on-line democracy software that includes deliberative procedures between its members.
The KuneAgi software is a Free, Libre and Open Source (FLOS) software, available under the very demanding Affero GPL v.3 licence7. Thereby, the functions being actually performed by the software infrastructure can be checked by all, by investigating the source code. Not only the software, but also its specification is publicly available on the web site. Any person dissatisfied with the operation of the CosmoPolitical Party can freely download the software9, and start operating his/her political party, using the same technical tools.
Financial institutions, multi-national corporations, the rich and the immensely rich concentrate economic power. They transform this concentrated economic power into concentrated, and thereby un-democratic, political power, by making political institutions financially dependent. They bind public States and regional / local authorities with debt, they place the press in the straightjacket of advertising-based business models. They place prodigal political parties under the dependency of contributions in kind or in cash.
The CosmoPolitical Party chooses financial frugality as a key means to preserve its financial, and thereby its political, independence. Concretely, this means that:
the CosmoPolitical Party's only financial resources come from the contributions of its members, from the official support to political parties (where it exists), and from the sale of goods and services (specifically: its on-line press) produced by the CosmoPolitical Party itself
the economic model of the digital infrastructure supporting the CosmoPolitical Party is a low-priced subscription (in the order of 0.1% of a median income), so that its operations have the most broadly distributed financial base (and depend neither on sponsors, nor on advertisers)
the CosmoPolitical Party neither owns nor rents offices (or real estate in general) for contracts longer than one week (the maximum duration of a physical gathering of members)
the CosmoPolitical Party employs no permanent staff. The only exception to this rule are the members elected in responsibility positions of the CosmoPolitical Party that commit the CosmoPolitical Party financially or politically (the management team). Administrative (e.g. management of membership) and conceptual tasks (e.g. design of the political programme) are distributed among members and performed remotely with automated assistance using a digital on-line infrastructure. The CosmoPolitical Party may out-source some tasks (e.g. maintenance and upgrade of the digital infrastructure, financial audit) to external contractors.
Physical gatherings of members have no decision-making powers. Their sole purpose is to stimulate discussion and to enhance cohesiveness. The costs of these physical gatherings are borne by the participants themselves (and not by the CosmoPolitical Party), with solidarity compensation mechanisms organised by the CosmoPolitical Party. Decisions are taken exclusively over telecommunication networks. Thereby, geographic equality among members is respected, and the costs of physical gatherings are minimised for the CosmoPolitical Party.
The CosmoPolitical Party gathers free and independent citizens, whose opinions and actions should not be influenced by their financial dependency upon anyone – including upon the party itself or its management team. Therefore, no member of the CosmoPolitical Party (including the members of the management team) is allowed to earn more than 50% of his/her income from his/her activity in the CosmoPolitical Party. The only exceptions to this rule are the members that were elected in public positions, and who are therefore remunerated for this from public sources.
The CosmoPolitical Party submits its accounts to yearly external audit, and publishes its accounts on-line as soon as they are established, and then when they are certified by the external auditors.
Media shape political life. Their format shapes that of political deliberation. Like any private firm, they place the interests of their paying customers and shareholders above those of the general public.
The dominating media are audio-visual (television or on-line videos) and privilege short written formats (Facebook, Twitter). Their business model is based on advertising, where the paying customers are the corporations purchasing advertising space, and the users are nothing more than the good being sold to these corporations.
Video content is prone to manipulation: image conveys much more emotions and judgement than what is made explicit; the streaming nature of video makes stopping the flow, coming back and reflection difficult. Fixed images only bear the first negative feature. Audio content only the second. These media formats are thus intrinsically contrary to deliberation.
In addition, these media are inefficient in conveying information, as mentioned above, making access to audio or video content over limited networks in poor or remote areas de facto impossible.
Short written formats aim at capturing short-term attention with strong emotions and striking formulas. They encourage the exchange of insults, support the expression of prejudice, and prevent any developed argument.
These features are opposite to the transparent, egalitarian and deliberative mode of democracy embodied in the CosmoPolitical Party.
The CosmoPolitical Party takes the following measures to limit its dependency towards the current, deliberation-suppressing, media:
video recordings are forbidden in physical gatherings and in electoral meetings of the CosmoPolitical Party. The CosmoPolitical Party will engage in legal action against any breaches of this rule, under the right to preserve one's image (where this right exists).
all members of the CosmoPolitical Party refuse video interviews. Written interviews are preferred to audio interviews
the broadcasting of the content of physical gatherings and of electoral meetings of the CosmoPolitical Party is performed either by a combination of fixed photographs and of audio recordings, or by written reports
all members of the CosmoPolitical Party privilege interactions with media whose business model entails broadly distributed sources of income: minimising the fraction of advertising revenue, maximising the revenue based on a subscription or on a pay per use model
the CosmoPolitical Party will endeavour to create its own advertising-free, on-line medium. It will be based on a subscription or on a pay per use business model. It will give access to open, primary, reliable sources of information (official statistics and reports, scientific articles from peer-reviewed journals, reports from sources with identifiable sources of financing), and contain content provided by members, in parallel with content written by professional journalists under open-ended contracts.
We will design and implement social justice and environmental sustainability, in our policies and our behaviour. We are determined to demonstrate that trans-national democracy works, in our internal operations and in the institutions of the European Union, and that it is the right answer for humankind and for human civilisation, in the 21st century and beyond.
YOU can contribute,
with your experience, your values, your aspirations,
to changing the European Union and the world for the better.
to the CosmoPolitical Party
13.3% of Italians, 6.6% of French, 11.2% of Finns born in 1927 – 1936 have completed a tertiary education: OECD (2017), Population with tertiary education (indicator). doi: 10.1787/0b8f90e9-en (Accessed at https://data.oecd.org/eduatt/population-with-tertiary-education.htm on 16 May 2017)
225.5% of Italians, 44.7% of French, 40.5% of Finns, and 69% of Koreans born in 1981 – 1990 have completed a tertiary education: OECD (2017), Population with tertiary education (indicator). doi: 10.1787/0b8f90e9-en (Accessed at https://data.oecd.org/eduatt/population-with-tertiary-education.htm on 16 May 2017)
4Accessible at: http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/Source/Framework_en.pdf