[Ohmynews] Imagine a ‘Citizen’s Council’ that succeeds the candlelight revolution

Imagine a ‘Citizen’s Council’ that succeeds the candlelight revolution

2021. Oct. 08

Lee Won-young | Professor, University of Suwon

▲ A photo of the deputy mayor in charge of the environment explaining to the party when they visited Bielefeld, Germany in 2012. ⓒ Wonyoung Lee

In the winter of 2012, I visited Bielefeld, of 300,000 population, on the way to Hamburg via Berlin.
The deputy mayor of environmental affairs in Bielefeld municipal explained that the city will reduce dependence on nuclear power plants for supplying urban electricity from 50% to 0% in six years by 2018. The promise has not yet been completed but is still valid. The move is working for functional changes, such as installing solar panels on roofs from each house and generating cogeneration with huge wooden pallets obtained from nearby forests. And the most crucial point is that citizens thoroughly led it. In 2021, Germany has only one out of 17 nuclear power plants survived since such an initiative launched. Thus, the authentic aspect of Germany’s denuclearization policy with promoting life and ethics is based on the autonomous teamwork of local government.

The process of change is even more impressive. After the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in 2011, a 400-member civic committee was organized to pursue a common goal. Even though there is the parliament of the federal and local, people decided to operate a voluntary communication system. At the same time, citizens joined forces to make the Merkel regime declaring a “denuclearization.” Furthermore, a 17-member ethics committee covering all occupations was formed to have a Q&A session with the public in real-time through live public discussions every week for eight weeks and even held an open debate. As a result, the belief that the “denuclearization policy” is an ethically correct and inevitable way to save the global environment and economy has led to a consensus among the people.

The process is as significant as a result. The citizens voluntarily practiced democracy for solving the national problems, just as lawmakers used to do in the Capitol. The meaning of citizens referred here is that they are not those who only reside inside cities, escaping from premodern society. This includes the notion of consciousness that “I am the master of the country and society.” It is also an enormous momentum that could be a valuable asset to the global civilization.

‘Peer Assembly’

These two events are reminiscent of the “peer-assembly” emphasized by world-renowned civilization scholar Jeremy Rifkin. The peer assembly refers to a parliament of equal citizens with the same qualifications as participants. He said in his book 『The Green New Deal』 that voluntary decision-making bodies of the same type as the Citizens’ Committee will determine the success or failure of the Green New Deal and will be the spearhead in responding to the climate crisis.

“From our experience in the EU with establishing peer assemblies, the optimum is three hundred citizens within any given region participating ad hoc and providing input and feedback at every stage of engagement. Peer assemblies are not focus groups or stakeholder groups but rather a cross-section of the public who will be intimately involved in the ongoing deliberations and the preparation of the proposals and initiatives that will be incorporated into their jurisdiction’s Green New Deal roadmap.” – Jeremy Rifkin, 『The Green New Deal』, St. Martin’s Griffin(2020), p238

The key is whether citizens can voluntarily organize this virtual equality council. In order to quickly transform the established political regime into an attitude that can respond to the climate crisis, the awakening movement of citizens leading in that direction is essential.

“Engendering a nationwide dialogue on best practices and accompanying opportunities and challenges can spin off multiple collaborations across traditional political borders, creating a wholly new political dynamic beyond voting for representatives at election time. This is the very nature of peer assembly governance.” – Jeremy Rifkin, 『The Green New Deal』, St. Martin’s Griffin(2020), p241

Yes, humanity has arrived at the point where it has no choice but to create new political dynamics in the climate crisis era. Since the period of Athens, a square called direct democracy has become necessary. For Korean, we have a shared experience that can serve as a significant opportunity at this moment. It is none other than the candlelight revolution five years ago.

At that time, the candlelight revolution brought out in the south of the Korean Peninsula gave enormous hope to global citizens. It was different from the bloody French Revolution. The experience of millions of people focusing on the peaceful revolution every week to last for months deserves to be recorded as a significant scene in human history. It has become one of the essential democratic decision-making events in history. A more exciting opportunity for change is that direct democracy, the same as Athens, Greece, became possible in this era with technology development. It costs little and enables efficient management and interactive communication to every corner of the global village at the same time.

The energy of the candlelight people.

However, reform tasks have remained without making distinguished accomplishment in Korea over the past five years despite the candlelight revolution. There is no macro-strategy of state management that matches the rising potential. The responsibility for reform cannot be left to the government and the National Assembly alone. Even if a government, which will be newly launched next year, is motivated to reform, the National Assembly seems complicated to expect. The energy and wisdom of the people who achieved the candlelight revolution must be united, and we must go through it together. What we need now is a device that will contain that energy. A role like “Rudder,” which is putting strength by setting the direction of the ship’s movement, is needed.

What is the magical power of the <Squid Game> that makes people in the world captured? Because it is “my story and our game.” There is also a line that says, “It’s more fun to do than to watch.” Wisdom comes out, and collective intelligence gathers in real situations where people directly experience anxiety and tension like the protagonist, rather than watching as an observer. The ability to set the agenda is the biggest function of the civic council. It is to stand on a leap forward where the event unfolds. It is the first step in the decision-making process. The media, which has the power to set the agenda, the greatest power, is not a directly elected power.
We need to fix this problem for real democracy.
It is Athens in the 21st century, which can lead the agenda-setting. The same is true of the global climate crisis. Each country’s administration’s parliamentary system alone cannot break through the climate crisis. There is a need for a national mechanism that provides directions through equal decision-making, such as a ‘peer assembly.’ It is an online parliament based on IT communication technology.
It is necessary to present a sincere reform policy by covering and converging the policies claimed by the organizations that have functioned as the ‘salt of society’. It is a civic council that will lead the fundamental government and the National Assembly.

About the election and operation.

Here, essential policies are accomplished in a bottom-up manner through exchanging and governing policies that have been advocated so far. Communication will be conducted through zoom video conferencing and SNS. It proceeds with a collective decision-making structure of participating organizations. The benefit of technological development is that it does not cost much to operate. We, who have to expand worldwide, need a lot of talent pool, so we include “foreign compatriots.” The citizen council we can conceive of is an unpaid honorary position. All those who wish to participate are elected close to the proportion of the population, 500 people. The number of candidates who can run for will be closed on a first-come, first-served basis within ten times of the capacity. Anyone can participate in the electoral college under their real name. The goal is 1 million, and however, in the beginning, the number is not important. The advantage of this era is that tasks such as joining, voting, and counting a million electors are easily managed with ICT technology. Two ways come to mind.

1) To elect on conditions such as age, etc.

The number of elected people is divided into teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s by the decade’s age. Gender shall be based on the same number of men and women, but the ratio of either of the final candidates shall not exceed the range of 6:4. Regional deviations are also taken into account.
It will be divided into eight groups as Seoul, Gyeonggi plus Incheon, Daejeon plus Chungcheong, Busan plus Ulsan plus Gyeongju, Daegu plus Gyeongbuk, Gwangju plus Jeolla, Gangwon plus Jeju, Overseas Koreans.

2) Operate the elected pool of citizens divided into standing committees.

The classification by age is the same as proposal 1), but the subsequent variety creates a talent pool for each standing committee by subject. The types of standing committees are determined by the standing committees of the National Assembly.

▲ A scene from the candlelight vigil for the prosecution media reform, which has been held continuously since last September.
It is a picture of a large number of citizens holding an online rally using YouTube and ZOOM. ⓒ Wonyoung Lee

Voters are free to register. The term of office of a city council member is a total of four years. The number of lawmakers with voting rights in that year is 100. One hundred people are elected each year by lottery.
The term of office is 1 year, non-renewable and may be reappointed.
In the first year, 100 out of 500 people will be elected by lottery. For the next three years, 100 out of 400 people will be selected by lottery. Lucky people can do it twice.
So, there can be some members who haven’t acted as a member for 4 years.
In other words, they are honorary positions. In this way, a member in charge of voting will be selected for that year, but all 500 members can propose law. All 500 people belong to the standing committee and can speak. Only one year lawmakers can resolve. Take responsibility for the resolution with honor.
Preempt and discuss the agenda to be dealt with in the National Assembly. If it is a topic of interest and if a consensus on the direction is formed, the National Assembly cannot help but deal with it. It is recorded. Anyone can easily see and participate.

The immediate agenda for the Citizens’ Council is very diverse. Prosecutors and media reforms/real estate and housing/basic income/education reform/climate-energy conversion/peace in the Korean Peninsula and diplomatic/nuclear issues, and so forth. They seek the direction of society to be upgraded together, derive orders, and present them to the government and the National Assembly. Today, a service called ZOOM offers a beautiful meeting place almost for free. The socio-technological environments of 2021 help to make the Citizens’ council possible.

The two-headed carriage.

The real crisis in the global village now lies in the retreat of democracy. It is time for the ‘Candlelihgt’ to correct this. It is necessary to have a vision of the times for how to contain the people’s will and form, not for a formal parliament.

The council we will create is a model for the ‘Earth Citizens’ Council.’ a new organization that will lead the United Nations. Today’s world is broken. The UN has no parliamentary function and remains a puppet for the incredible power of the United States. International organizations such as the IAEA, which promotes nuclear power, are not even under the control of the UN. This is why the crisis of humanity cannot be resolved. Even if we overcome the climate crisis, we cannot be free from the fear of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl, Fukushima. There must be an international organization that functions as a “parliament” in which the will of the global people works. The work is not difficult during the current revolution in ICT communication technology. Fandom cultures such as BTS’ ARMY are already firmly built with the support of these technologies. It should be made into a structure that collects 8 billion global citizenship. It is no longer possible to leave the only planet to vested interests such as nuclear weapons and nuclear energy hinterland, financial capital, and state power that seems to have degenerated into its sewers. It turned out that they were ignorant of how and what to do now.
\If the ‘Earth Citizens’ Council’ is created, it could be a crucial place where passionate voices of the people who will fix the crisis of mankind unfold. It will be a key agenda for human evolution galvanized by this pandemic.

Original Article >>> http://www.ohmynews.com/NWS_Web/View/at_pg.aspx?CNTN_CD=A0002778506

Translated by JUNG Hojai / CHOI NakHoon



Categories: Media Reports

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: