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The Tao of Democracy: Using co-intelligence to create a world that works for all Paperback – November 25, 2002
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About the Author
Tom Atlee has written and spoken extensively on collective intelligence, holism and citizen-based deliberative democracy. His non-profit Co-Intelligence Institute's websites -- co-intelligence.org and democracyinnovations.org -- get over five hundred visitors a day. He consults internationally, publishes popular email bulletins to hundreds of subscribers and has published dozens of articles on social issues and co-intelligent approaches to community health and social change.
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Central to the concept of co-intelligence is the role of open, respectful dialogue that explores rather than confronts different ideas and thinking. In this sort of dialogue no idea is rejected as wrong or lunatic as long as it is relevant to the topic at hand. It is Atlee's firm belief that in this sort of non-confrontational exploration of ideas that must produce in the wisest decision making process and the best solutions to any problem. A group of individuals exercising this approach to problem solving creates a synergy of shared intelligence that must be greater than that of any individual within the group. In support of this concept, Atlee offers some impressive examples of co-intelligence in action. The best example being the so-called Canadian Experiment in which a group of average Canadian citizens, randomly selected to represent the cultural and social diversity of Canada, spent a weekend in intense dialogue over such complex and emotion charged issues as Quebec separatism. Objective and neutral moderators (or facilitators) served to keep the dialogues on track and open to ideas. In the end the group came up with apparently brilliant proposals that could have indeed solved what many Canadians believe intractable problems.
So based on this very persuasive book it appears that the concept of co-intelligence as a function of group synergy is the way to create an informed and intelligent electorate. Yet attractive as this concept is, there are problems to its implementation. The most formidable of these is the indifference of the average U.S. voter to anything but personal interests along with an almost pathological unwillingness to think rationally or at all about issues that don't directly affect those interests. Then there is the fact that a host of special interests, entrenched politicians, and crooks would always be ready to subvert such citizen dialogue programs for there own ends should they coalesce into a politically strong force. Perhaps these problems could be overcome by co-intelligence as well. One hopes that this would be the case.
The book makes for interesting reading and if I should lose my copy I would probably buy it again.
I happen to like the idea of continuous communication of all members of a community or society for the analysis of fundamental political issues.
I just reviewed Empowering Public Wisdom, and much of what I said there applies here as well. Tom Atlee always draws from an astounding range of thought leaders who are painting the complex path to a peaceful, socially just, and ecologically sustainable world.