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From Metagovernment - Government of, by, and for all the people
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The mission of the Metagovernment project is to support the development and use of Internet tools which enable the members of any community to fully participate in the governance of that community. We are a global group of people working on various projects which further this goal.

We expect governance software to be firstly adopted in small communities and to spread outward with the potential to gradually replace many institutions of representative democracy with collaborative governance.

We conceive a world where every person, without exception, is able to substantively participate in any governance structure in which they have an interest. We envision governance which is not only more open, free, and democratic; but also which is more effective and less fallible than pre-Internet forms of governance.

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

Thomas Jefferson, 1816.

Participating projects

Numerous projects are involved in this project and others are welcome to join. See the list of active projects for members of the Metagovernment project. All other similar projects are welcome and encouraged to join by subscribing to the Startup list and introducing themselves. See Related projects for a list of projects which are generally within the scope of this community.

Through collaboration, we hope member projects can share ideas, learn from each other, and perhaps eventually work toward a modicum of standardization in governance software or in parts of it (such as allowing for portability of users and/or proposals).

Individuals also are welcome and encouraged to join us.

Basic principles

Discussion of the principles below should be conducted on the basic principles page.

Please go to Talk:Basic principles to discuss the content of this page. Please do not change this page without first discussing.

The basic principles of the Metagovernment project are as listed below.

This project upholds basic principles consistent with those developed in the free and open source software and direct democracy movements.

Common principles

The following two principles are generally held by every group and person participating in this community.

  • Government of, by, and for all the people – Anyone may contribute to any collaborative governance structure.
  • Openness in everything – All aspects of governance will be as open as possible, under the principle of radical transparency. All software and systems used to run administrations will be free, open source software and systems.

Suggested principles

The following two principles are held by some groups, and are suggested as mechanisms to make collaborative governance more sustainable in the long-term.

  • Without consensus, there is no law – Unless consensus can be reached on how a policy could address an issue, then there will be no policy on that issue.
  • Consensus through synthesis – When opposing views are presented, preference is always given to synthesis rather than either conflict or compromise.

Transition

We anticipate that open governance software will most effectively be used in communities organized around a common theme. From these small communities, we intend to get a better idea of how the process works in the real world and adapt our projects accordingly to enable software to scale to larger and more diverse communities.

Members of those communities may simply set up an instance of open source governance software and invite members of that community to begin using the software, they will eventually invite the entire community to switch its formal governance mechanism over to the new form. In this way, any community, from a small club to a large government can transition to open source governance.

We do not expect governments, particularly national governments, to cede their authority in the near future, but the expectation of Metagovernment and its associated communities is to gradually make a governance system so superior to the status quo — and so compellingly, unprecedentedly democratic — that the people will simply demand a change to this form of government. In states which claim to be built on democratic principles, the people should be able to peacefully transform their government through the mechanisms of that government or even more gradually through attrition. In less democratic states, the transition may take longer, but open source governments innately are protected from brutal force, as they do not have a single leader or a single physical presence.

Until an open source government has the power to collect taxes or otherwise raise funds, members may be invited to act under the principles of adhocracy.

How you can help

There are many ways you can help, as detailed on the participate page.

Contact

The email address of this project is contact(at)metagovernment(dot)org.