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The Consensus – A TechnoProgressive Political Party

Posted: Sat, April 06, 2013 | By: Staff



By Amon Kalkin and Dirk Bruere

Or, to give it it’s full name, The Consensus of Democratic Futurist Parties

 

The actual history of the Consensus goes back to 2002CE to a party of the same name created by myself (Dirk Bruere) which was backed by an explicitly Transhumanist philosophy. It was registered with the UK Electoral Commission until 2009CE when I allowed its registration to lapse.

Earth Sunrise

Discussions as to the possibility of it serving as the basis of a spinoff political arm of Zero State surfaced in 2011CE during the formation of the latter organization by Amon Kalkin. Subsequently the party manifesto was rewritten and updated by the two of us to mirror the Zero State Principles, and recently presented for comments to Zero State and party members. The result was an interim document – V1.01 which will be revised again at the next party meeting before being frozen as V1.1 and subsequently updated in accordance with the constitution of the CDFP.

It should be noted that ZS and the CDFP are separate organizations. The latter is a UK specific implementation of core ZS principles, but is not necessarily the only one possible. There may in future be other ZS inspired parties, and certainly in other nations.

Here we publicly present the document for the first time.

Right now, we are looking for intelligent, constructive feedback on this document. If you have views on how the content could be improved and you leave a comment below, we will consider your comment as part of the review process as we develop the new version. The deadline for feedback to be considered is Sunday April 14th. After that, revision of the manifesto will be an internal party matter, open only to registered party members. This is a unique opportunity for you to influence the course of an explicitly TechnoProgressive political party! 

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Consensus Manifesto V1.01 

 

 

Consensus Principles and Program:

1 Nobody Left Behind

Where possible, the Consensus shall implement policies based on the principle of “Nobody left behind”, encompassing both individual and social justice. All citizens shall have a right to food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare and access to information resources. Exercise of these rights by the individual shall be on a voluntary basis. 

An interest free banking system is to be established for the benefit of certain sections of the economy and also as part of a new Third World aid structure.  We propose to create a banking system to provide loans to key sectors of the future economy, especially advanced Techno-Progressive technologies, small hitech start-ups, new energy resources and ecologically sound industrial and farming enterprises. This can be viewed as a form of subsidy that actually brings a return to the investor, the taxpayer, while removing usurious influences from the keystones of the future economy. 

Trading debt within the banking system is to be illegal as will be the proliferation of increasingly complex financial “instruments” whose sole aim is to outcompete the competition within the banking world without regard to the effects on the wider economy.

The national minimum wage to be raised for service industry workers in non-exportable jobs. A job not worth paying for is not worth doing, nor should employers be subsidized (through top-up welfare payments for the underpaid) in such industries. The minimum wage should be raised to a level which obviates the need for government tax credits.

The state pension, and retirement age, are to be abolished. These are to be replaced with a Basic Income Guarantee system (“citizen’s wage”), paid for by abolition of the welfare bureaucracy and a tax on automation that replaces jobs for human workers. This is a policy to be introduced over a fifteen year timescale. It should be borne in mind that we expect to see a drastic increase in life expectancy over the next 30 years. Age discrimination, and compulsory retirement solely on grounds of age are to be illegal.

Progressive taxation on land, which belongs to the nation, will be used to fund removal of less equitable taxes and increase of the threshold at which income tax must be paid.

On foreign aid - No cash loans will be extended to governments. Aid is to be delivered directly to the lowest levels of the recipient society.

Free university education for the brightest students from aid recipient nations, and compulsory return home. 

Pursuit of a healthy balance between meritocracy and egalitarianism by limitation of the heritability of wealth, through application of inheritance tax in combination with a good State education system and removal of corporate influence from government.

Naturally occurring DNA sequences to be ruled as non-patentable and non-copyrightable.

Where the decision is made to invest massively in public services there must be no-strike agreements with the workers in these services. No nation should be held to ransom by a tiny minority of its workforce. Each public service industry industry is to have a single worker’s Union, and the Union shall have seats on the board of directors of all relevant UK-registered companies equivalent to 25% of the vote. Where companies registered elsewhere employ UK workers in public service roles, Union representation will get a 25% vote in all decisions affecting those workers.

A nationally agreed funding formula will allocate money to schools on a per student basis.

Only governors and parents committees will have the power to remove the head teacher, should the school be failing. The head teacher will have the power to negotiate pay on a per school basis.

No culturally divisive education is to be supported by the taxpayer. This includes schools charging fees as well as those selecting by class, race or religion.

Discipline will be restored in classrooms and disruption and violence will not be tolerated. In the worst cases CCTV may be installed to provide objective evidence. Those pupils who engage in such will be removed to special schools, which, at the discretion of the local education authority, may be boarding schools. Such an option will be compulsory if the parents cannot or will not rectify the situation.

Physical education will be given a high priority, bearing in mind the deteriorating health of modern children.

Education, especially at university level, is to be targeted towards socially useful subjects such as the sciences, medicine, engineering etc and away from the ‘softer’ options such as media studies, management, sociology etc. This will be done by providing full grants to students undertaking the former, and removing subsidies from the latter subjects. Those receiving full grants will be liable to repay them if they emigrate within a ten-year period after graduation.

The old ‘council housing schemes’ to be revived especially for inner city areas in order to provide cheap, safe and superior accommodation for local people. The emphasis will be on high density, but instead of the ‘concrete jungle’ estates or tower blocks of the past one should think more of the Georgian architecture of Regents Park in London, or of the better parts of Paris. Disruptive and anti-social elements will be quickly removed. One explicit aim of the new council housing will be to reverse any ghettoization trends in our cities and integrate ethnic minorities fully into the mainstream of housing.

Social engineering experiments will be supported by the state in areas of housing, communal living (eg kibbutzim), co-operative housing communities targeted at needy minorities, ‘coming of age’ ceremonies encompassing legal social contracts (modeled on, but extending beyond, the Jugendfeier of the German Humanist Association). Such initiatives have the potential to support economic growth and reduce youth crime.

2 Separation of State and Controlling Interests

The Consensus in government shall separate itself from control by religion, the military, and economic interests. 

Government must be separated from the influences of wealth, both personal and corporate. In this it reflects a continuation of the historical trend of seperating government and religion, and government and the military. The members of the government must take a “vow of poverty”, never to possess significantly more wealth than the majority of the population of the nation. Their income is to be set relative to the national median income for life.  Those possessing significantly more wealth than the average citizen will be barred from high elected office unless they permanently relinquish that wealth. During their political career they will also be barred from undertaking any work other than that for which they were elected. Upon their retirement from high office they will be granted a pension guaranteeing an income in excess of the national average for life. In exchange they will not be allowed to undertake any paid work for a period of a number of years. There will be no more examples of senior politicians having multiple second jobs and then moving into the business sector of the very people they were regulating as members of government. 

Those who are elected by the community to represent its interests must not belong to exclusive or secretive organizations.

Political parties are to be funded solely by the state and/or individual membership fees. The latter are to be capped. This is necessary in order to remove the undue influence that monied organizations and business interests have in determining governments and their policies. The provision of party, or individual, funds by pressure groups for the purposes of advertising or canvassing gives these people great influence over the formulation of policy. The argument that disproportionately wealthy people should be allowed to give money to politicians to help elect those of their choice is inimical to the spirit of democracy. The only freedom the above scheme limits is the freedom of the rich and powerful to buy the government of their choice. The exact mechanism for providing state finance is largely irrelevant. Whether it is proportional to support in the last major election, or depends on a periodic opinion poll does not matter. Only the principle matters. 

While global free trade is deemed desirable, multinational companies are to be considered entities on a par with foreign states, and not afforded the same rights as citizens. This means that the products of specific multinationals may be selectively taxed if that company fails to meet various legal, environmental or Human Rights criteria.

We believe in the government running a balanced budget. Government may not spend more than it raises in taxes over a 4 year period.

We believe that companies should not enjoy the benefits of private sector status and expect to be saved from failure by the state. The Consensus opposes financial support by the state for private companies, and where a company must be nationalized to avoid collapse then it must henceforth be run in the interests of the state, rather than those of private stakeholders. 

No MP may take any other paid work while during their term in Parliament.

Upon leaving Parliament an MP will continue to receive their salary for five more years, during which they will be barred from taking paid employment.

Upon leaving Parliament an MP will be barred from any work with companies that involves them in government contracts, legislation, or lobbying either directly or indirectly.

The above also applies to senior government ministers, but the period is for fifteen years.

3 Democracy and National Self-Determination

The minimal democratic requirement of a member of the CDFP is that the party shall create, support or enforce the principle that any ruling party may, in its entirety, be removed from power by a vote of the citizenry at periodic elections. Such elections shall be open to any individual or opposition party to stand against the incumbents. 

National law, where it pertains to purely internal matters, will not be subject to any external jurisdiction.

Proportional representation is to be instituted.

Wherever possible all decisions will be made by one named individual, supported (if necessary) by an advisory committee, who will bear sole responsibility for such decisions. As far as possible the anonymity of ‘collective responsibility’ is to be abolished. Every decision will have a name attached.

Power will be devolved to the lowest practical level in all instances. Consensus members who are local councilors will have the freedom to campaign on local issues as they see fit - with no doctrinaire interference.

In principle we believe a certain level of unification is both desirable and necessary if Europe is to have a voice in the world. Our vision is of a Europe composed of closely cooperating sovereign states. However there are elements of the current EU structure and policies that need massive revision, at least from the point of view of Britain. In particular:

The European Parliament, and the directly elected MEPs, should be the primary legislative body of the European Union.

The Council of Ministers’ status should be reduced to that of a ‘second chamber’ with power of veto.

The European Commission should be de-politicized and become a purely executive civil service.

The Court of Justice would preside over disputes involving members states, EU institutions and businesses - but not individuals.

The EU constitution should be a statement of the limitations of EU power with respect to its member nations and citizens.

Our internal legal system should not be directly subject to any external Human Rights Act including that of the United Nations. What laws our citizens choose to live under are not the business of any body external to our society. Where we have ceded certain powers to the EU, we reserve the right to recall them.

We intend to withdraw or renegotiate all treaties that limit the internal law making ability of Parliament, and block all attempts to permanently remove such powers from Parliament to any external body.

We recognize that many critical issues facing the world today require the implementation of coordinated Simultaneous Policy (SimPol) at an international level. The SimPol model of international cooperation would allow us to tackle issues which nation-states cannot solve on their own. For example, the adoption of any policy which may drive away business cannot be implemented successfully in one nation alone, but a coordinated international approach could be effective. Because of this advantage and the SimPol emphasis on decentralized international governance rather than centralized global government, the Consensus endorses this model and would seek to implement and support SimPol initiatives in government, where the proposed initiatives are in accordance with our principles.

Just as Simultaneous Policy acts as a vehicle for democracy at an international level, the Consensus also proposes a Permanent Citizens Assembly (PCA) at the national level. The PCA would exist to express direct democratic opinions on all matters, and the Consensus in government would pledge to acknowledge and adopt the resolutions of the Assembly where they are in accordance with our principles. The Assembly would support direct rather than representative democracy, with political parties and long-term representatives not allowed to participate. The Assembly would be modeled on the ancient Northern European parliament known as an Althing, in which small groups express their opinions through temporary representatives to groups further up the chain, until you have a national group of temporary representatives assembled to express opinions and decide upon a single issue.

4 Fully Supported National & EU Defence Force

The military will be solely limited to defense of the nation. Under no circumstances will the military be used to attack any nation or group that has not directly attacked us or an immediate and significant ally to whom we are obliged by treaty.

Withdrawal from NATO and the establishment of an EU force whose only remit is within its own borders, or on the periphery, if it wishes to act autonomously. Otherwise it is the force that will be made available for UN peacekeeping missions in place of national forces.

Standardization and integration of military equipment and national forces across the EU.

An immediate halt to the selling of arms to nations that are not democracies, or are debtor nations in the international community.

No government credit to be extended to defense industries, nor will risk be underwritten by the taxpayer.

Retention of both tactical and strategic nuclear weapons and forces, with next generation development integrated with the French if an appropriate defense treaty can be agreed.

Britain’s military forces to be geared primarily toward defense of these Islands, and secondarily defense of EU states.

The global role of our military to be scaled back. Military forces are to be maintained at a level appropriate to their new role; neither under-resourced, nor extended to support moralistic adventurism overseas.

There will be no ‘realpolitik’ – we will deal fairly and openly with other nations, and not support those who are opposed to our principles.

5 Abolition of Victimless Crime

The Consensus shall advocate a libertarian social policy whereby all acts between mentally competent consenting adult citizens are legal. Furthermore, any mentally competent adult citizen may do to themselves and/or their body as they will. All policies shall be as far as possible factually based on evidence rather than on assumptions, biases and dogmas.

Anti-discrimination laws to cover all characteristics that are not the result of choice. Note that this does not include the prevention of discrimination on grounds of religion or politics. However, such discrimination in public employment will not be legal unless relevant to the job in question.

Existing legislation (including anti-terrorist) will be rolled back to ensure: 

- Presumption of innocence in all cases 

- Full Right to silence

- No double jeopardy

- No appeal by the prosecution after sentencing 

- Trial by jury will remain a Right of every citizen

- Freedom of movement and assembly

- No detention for more than 24 hours without charge

- No denial of access to legal counsel

- No indefinite detention without trial will be permitted

Abolition of “special treatment crime” e.g. “hate crimes” and the introduction of mandatory “zero tolerance policing”. The focus of policing is to be narrowed to serious crimes with identifiable victims, while enforcement of the relevant laws is to be pursued more effectively. Quota systems which interfere with these goals are to be abolished.

Home occupiers will be allowed to defend themselves and their property using ‘necessary force’ rather than “minimal force”. The Rights of the criminal will be subordinate to the Rights of the victim in all cases. 

Elimination of all existing drug laws, and the supply of any recreational drug by state monopoly through local pharmacies to any adult who can supply identification and proof of age. Unless the drug in question is taxed (e.g. tobacco) medical treatment for short or long-term effects will not be state supported. Supply to minors will result in mandatory and lengthy incarceration. 

Prison to be abolished in its present form, and replaced by two major alternatives. 

The first is secure long-term accommodation for violent offenders, with full medical and psychiatric treatments. The second is the establishment of a scheme whereby non-violent offenders can be removed to isolated communities to serve out their sentence. Full education and vocational training would be provided in such places, as well as extended family visits. 

The state will not legislate personal morality, and the ongoing assault on privacy and civil liberties to be rolled back where citizens have not committed crimes with identifiable victims.

Marriage and cohabitation contracts to be introduced, severing this institution from historical religious and government domination.

We demand full freedom of speech, with the exception of speech that constitutes a direct incitement to violence, is libelous (libel laws to be revised to limit damages to equal prominence right of reply, corporations may only use libel laws against other corporate entities - not individuals), or Is the product of a crime designed to acquire or create the information – i.e. trading in it will make one an accessory (eg some pornography, state secrets etc).

Laws to be introduced severing “free speech” from monetary gain in specific cases eg limitations on advertising, with consequent fines, taxes or confiscations. 

A wide ranging Freedom of Information Act is to replace the current legislation, and the public to be given far greater access to all aspects of government decision making and information.

6 Bright Green Environmentalism

The ideal of the abolition of involuntary suffering shall be held central to all policy decisions. The Consensus shall use all means to work toward the abolition of involuntary and unnecessary suffering throughout nature, as well as in economic enterprises such as farming. As such the party is deemed to be Bright Green in as much as it advocates the use of technology to minimize the adverse impact of humanity on the life of Earth. 

No aid to nations that have nuclear weapons programs.

Targeted year on year reduction in the use of pesticides and herbicides, support for organic farming techniques and exploring high-tech alternatives.

Development of ultra high intensity hydroponic and aeroponic farming, with the aim of producing vegetables at better than 250 tonnes per hectare per year.

Routine use of antibiotics in animal feed will be banned, and fatal experiments on all animals with a nervous system more complex than a mouse to be made illegal.

Support for small farmers.

All genetic modifications of creatures more complex than a mouse to be banned, unless such modifications do not result in any diminution of the animal’s ability to survive in its natural habitat, nor do they result in increased suffering.

Factory farming of animals to be made illegal, and research into tissue culture as a replacement source for meat to be prioritized and implemented as soon as practicable.

Farm animals to be genetically modified to reduce and limit their pain, stress and suffering, where less intrusive action is deemed insufficient to avoid involuntary and unnecessary suffering.

Environmental taxes to be placed on products from nations and multinational corporations that are destroying the environment in order to create such products

Revenue raised through environmental taxes are to used in ways that benefit the UK environment, and payment of taxes cannot be used to justify environmental damage – no more trading of pollution credits.

7 Pro-Science & Technology

The Consensus shall be pro- science and technology, striving to create and implement technologies including but not limited to anti-aging, rejuvenation medical technology, artificial intelligence and a policy of making people “Better Than Well” if they so want.

Small and medium sized high technology companies to be given major tax breaks, as well as being exempted from much of the existing bureaucracy.

Continued emphasis on replacing fossil fuels with wind, wave, solar and nuclear energy. Research into load leveling and energy storage/conversion systems on a national and continental scale along with continental scale smart grids. Increased research into alternative nuclear fusion power technologies with emphasis on small scale generation at the 100MW level.

Software patents to be abolished as they are a brake on progress.

Copyright timescales to be limited to 50 years from creation of the copyrighted material.

A project to be implemented to make laws and statutes machine parsible in order to use automated methods to resolve internal conflicts within the legal system.

Reducing NHS reliance on imported medical labour, especially from the Third World, will be a major aim of the education system. Far more attention will be paid to preventive medicine. Life extension and anti-aging treatments to be introduced as they become available and practical.

 



Comments:

“No aid to nations that have nuclear weapons programs.”

While I certainly understand the reasoning behind this position, I don’t believe the above statement is a proper solution. It’s essentially the same thing the UN conducts today: economic sanctions.

It’s more like economic strangulation, given its purpose in being to strangle the country into submission, or for its people to become desperate enough to overthrow the country’s govt. and form one more keen to the UN’s interests. Sanctions hardly harms its govt, but rather more so the country’s people.

Take North Korea for example. Yes, they’re a nuclear nation. And yes, they’re not exactly among standards of the international community. But then the economic sanctions placed against them - due to their acquiring nuclear weapons - has done little in either changing their minds, or in displacing them from their own rule. Whereas North Korean people today continue facing malnutrition due to lack of aid (food and medical supplies).

That isn’t a solution. That’s condemning a country’s people due to their govt’s actions. That isn’t acceptable, and it shouldn’t be acceptable for Transhumanists either.

The question of a nuclear weapons state needs to be handled through peace talks and willingness to do the same. Between North Korea and the U.S. (both nuclear armed countries - more so the latter), peace talks have been called for. The North have agreed in dismantling their own so long the U.S. does the same. Despite the popular theory, it’s the U.S. who continues refusing to dismantle their own supply of nuclear weapons - not to mention refuses in ending their nuclear supplies to Israel. So it becomes an issue of govt. foreign policy.

I don’t have that good of a solution, but I know the current one being laid out doesn’t appear to be that good of a solution either.

By B.J. Murphy on Apr 06, 2013 at 9:59am

It is a large document and my reply and critique is also large.  Too large to fit here.
I congratulation the authors on the considerable thought and effort and initiative that went into creating this. 

However, there is much that I believe is wrong and/or unclear and problematic here.
For details of my review and critique see.

http://soft-transcend.org/wordpress/?p=101

By Samantha Atkins on Apr 06, 2013 at 6:42pm

Reason I call the public ‘dumb’ is they believe what they are told on TV and hate radio. What good are programmes for the collective if the collective public are such sheeple? But the below paragraph is a good one; our law enforcement, court and penal systems are a bad joke on us, they belie our claims to be civilised:

“The first is secure long-term accommodation for violent offenders, with full medical and psychiatric treatments. The second is the establishment of a scheme whereby non-violent offenders can be removed to isolated communities to serve out their sentence. Full education and vocational training would be provided in such places, as well as extended family visits.”

The system is to squeeze people out- everybody- it is nothing short of a racket.

By Alan Brooks on Apr 07, 2013 at 9:15pm

Hi Samantha - Your comments on the Consensus Principles are very interesting. I have a lot of sympathy for the points you make. The fact that there is so much divergence at a detailed level suggests to me that we ought to find a different level to hold this discussion.

For myself, I think a key decision is whether we need to guard against market failures. When you say things like,
“There is no reason to allow government to decide what is ‘socially useful’ in academia. Such meddling is one of the reason public funding of education is evil. Let the market, that is reality, sort out what is and is not worth learning…”
- it implies you don’t think market failures occur.

However, it seems to me there are plenty of reasons to believe that market failures do occur - as summarised, for example, in books by John Cassidy (see http://dw2blog.com/2009/12/24/how-markets-fail-part-two/) and Ha Joon Chang (see http://www.amazon.co.uk/Things-They-Dont-About-Capitalism/dp/1846143284/).

It’s true that governments and states fail too. But that’s not a reason for thinking that markets will always produce the best outcome.

If transhumanists credibly believe that we can do better than biological evolution, we can also credibly believe that we can do better than free markets.

By David Wood on Apr 08, 2013 at 9:58am

First the worst: prisons and jails are usually (90% at least) sadistic and recidivist. The courts to be as negative as the penal system would have to try hard to do worse. Yet we are supposed to pay lip service to the police: “they do dangerous jobs…”
In other words because police enforce bad laws we don’t actually trust the police but we’ll throw them a sop in saying they do a dangerous job—as if they’re HazMat employees.

By Alan Brooks on Apr 08, 2013 at 4:37pm

Get rid of the proviso on freedom of speech that what has to be spoken must be “true” Who decides truth? What is truth? Science is concerned with truth but with accurate models and predictions.

By Reeve Armstrong on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:49am

For a random example: when a certain politician said “read my lips, no new taxes”, the truth factor came into into play, Reeve.

By Alan Brooks on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:08pm

My recommendation: aim to have fewer, clearer, statements of principle. Find out what *really* distinguishes and unifies Consensus. The present draft has far too much that is debatable.

Principle #7 - Pro-Science & Technology - is probably the one that deserves elevation above all the others.

Principle #4 - Fully Supported National & EU Defence Force - is contentious. Better to omit this, to focus energy on points where clearer agreement is possible and desirable.

By David Wood on Apr 12, 2013 at 5:53pm


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