• Nelson Guedes

Towards a Collaborative Regional District

Greater Victoria Municipal Elections a Major Victory for Collaborative Politics

An earth-shattering event happened last Saturday, in the Capital Regional District. On November 15, in what seems to be one of the most amazing chain of events I have ever witnessed, Lisa Helps was elected Mayor of Victoria, Richard Atwell Mayor of Saanich, Barb Desjardins Mayor of Esquimalt and Carol Hamilton Mayor of Colwood. What do they have in common? They share a new 21st century model of politics, what I call a Collaborative Logical Model.

Collaborative Logical Model vs Competitive Ideological Model

Collaborative Logical Politics is very different than the mainstream political model we have today. I would like to take a moment to go through this in detail and compare the two models, because this event is an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate the power of collaborative and logical-based decision-making for the entire planet.

Let’s start with our current political model. Our current model, which we may call the Competitive Ideological Model, is based on a few divided parties with different ideologies who compete for support from the population. There are countless intricacies to this model, which we could go on in great length, in the areas of social choice theory, network theory, game theory and so on. However, there are two major implications from this model — constant conflict between competing ideologies and opinion-based decision-making centered around specific immutable ideologies. This results in a system that is constantly filled with conflict, logical fallacies and inefficiencies, where facts are twisted and shaped to support ideology. Of those, logical fallacies present some of the greatest, most visible, threats to effective decision-making. Some of the major fallacies include argumentum ad hominem, appeal to authority and argumentum ad populum.

Argumenta ad Hominem A lot of politics today revolves around a competition against people running for positions within the political system. As such, issues end up taking a backseat to political attacks. There are two consequences of those ad hominem attacks. One is that we end up choosing the candidate that appears to be the least worse rather than the one that we agree the most with. The second consequence is that we waste our time focusing on people rather than issues, thus issues are left neglected and solutions are not found. That also means that we often see smear campaigns, which increase in frequency and intensity as the election days draw near.

Appeals to Authority Another problem with the current competitive model is the fact that a lot of the arguments in favor of candidates revolve around their expertise and experience. While the probability of a candidate to be effective at solving problems is higher if they are considered experts, that does not imply that they will arrive to the best answers to problems. For instance, a lot of experts don’t change their views overtime, despite changes in circumstances. As society changes, increasingly, at faster rates, the negative consequences of this fallacy become more prominent. The key to this fallacy is that the expertise of participants is not, in itself, an argument for or against the solutions put forth by the participants.

Argumenta ad Populum Finally, the current democratic system relies on the opinions of the population towards representatives rather than the logical solution to the collective problems we face. This is the essence of the fallacy of population. Just because a group of people believe that a certain person, or even a certain solution, is ideal, doesn’t make it so. Of course, we want to be able to have a democracy where everyone is included in the decision-making process. However, if people don’t think critically and don’t rely on evidence when making their decisions, what then is the value of their decisions? Therefore, the quality of the decisions of the population as a whole is relative to the level of critical thinking, problem-solving and evidence-based decision-making of the population.

These fallacies, of course, suggest that, while mainstream politics sometimes appear to focus on issues and solutions, mainstream Politics always focus on representatives and opinions, rather than on issues, facts and solutions.

The New Model of Collaboration and Intelligence

While the current system is very illogical, unscientific and inefficient, the new Collaborative Politics Model that our new Mayors bring to the table is exactly the opposite. This new model is all about considering how issues affect everyone and how solutions can be reached that benefit all stakeholders. In addition, the new model is very intelligent and logical, relying in unbiased research and evidence rather than biased opinions and ideology. The combination of collaboration, focusing on solving problems rather than judging people, and science rather than ideology, makes the new model far more reliable, effective, accountable and fiscally responsible.

The Perfect Model for Amalgamation

“We can start changing the world by transforming the Capital Regional District into the Collaborative Regional District.”

One of the longest and most challenging issues facing the region has been the idea of amalgamation. Amalgamating all the municipalities is a difficult issue because different municipalities have different bylaws and different systems, that must all come together, under a new single integrated system, if amalgamation is to be done correctly and effectively. That requires a very high level of collaboration amongst all stakeholders, and a high level of critical thinking and evidence-based decision making. All those factors together require an emphasis in the new Collaborative Logical Model.

I would invite you to check out the candidates “Open Letter to Voters in the Capital Region”, which was signed by a few councillors and all the Mayors mentioned earlier.

“We have agreed on four foundations of effective collaboration that we are pledged to follow and to be held to account:

1. Meaningful public participation before decisions are made.

2. Transparency and open access to complete information.

3. “Facts over fear” in communication.

4. Respect for all the players, rather than personal attacks and entrenchment on positions.

Collaborative approaches based on these foundations are the only ways to build consensus and take effective action to address regional issues and make the most of our opportunities.”

I invite you to imagine what we could accomplish on Earth if all Politics were collaborative and logical, rather than competitive and ideological. With our new Capital Regional District, we can show the world what can be done with collaboration and critical thinking. We can start changing the world by transforming the Capital Regional District into the Collaborative Regional District.

Welcome to the new era of collaboration.

Nelson Guedes is an Interaction Analyst, Interaction Designer and Philosopher from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He has a very diverse background that includes a wide range of subjects from Philosophy to Economics and his ultimate goal is to reconcile Human Systems with Natural Systems. He is currently working on his book, The Code: A Simple Theory of Everything and The Open Earth Project, a system to facilitate and co-ordinate global collaboration.

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