Global Democratic Reform and Political Theory: Online Learning Community


"The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before" - Rousseau


Thank you for visiting this site. I hope that you find it interesting enough to stay awhile!

This site is intended to serve as a learning resource for students and people who wish to learn more about the relationship between the pro-democracy activist movements happening around the world and applied political theory. It takes a collaborative approach to learning and study. It provides knowledge, skills and analysis that hopefully will help promote a better understanding of the theoretical models and practical techniques used by political reform movements around the world. The structure is somewhat academic in style: I am trying to provide the equivalent of a "Masters Degree" in international political reform. I provide this service entirely for free. There is a lot of material here, and many opportunities to engage in productive discussion, so please treat it as an opportunity to engage yourself and other people interested in this topic in an ongoing multi-way dialogue, and enjoy!

Please note that although the courses and lessons are laid out in 'sequences', you can of course read any of the material in any order you like.

Please, please, please participate in at least one discussion! Sharing is the foundation of progress.

Concerning Internet Security: Given the somewhat chaotic nature of the internet, as well as the inherently polarized and fractious nature of the topic, many of you will be concerned with your own digital security, including the ability to remain anonymous. First, please, Do Not Use This Site to discuss illegal or violent activities. This site is simply not secure enough to protect you. By doing so, you will be placing yourself and others at risk. If you do so anyway, we reserve the right to remove you from the site. Second, I am committed to providing a safe environment in which to learn, and this includes protecting the participants anonymity and confidentiality.

Third- Before you join this site, please read the following information: Read About Keeping Yourself Secure Here

Course Prerequisites:

A) In all discussions, please use good “Netiquette” including:

  • All conversations in the discussion forums are to remain On-Topic (except where noted). This will be enforced.
  • Focus on one topic per message and use pertinent subject titles
  • Capitalize a word only when grammatically correct, capitalizing otherwise is generally regarded as SHOUTING!
  • Be professional and careful with your online interaction
  • This is a research-based course and discussion: please cite all quotes, references, and sources
  • When posting a long message, it is generally considered courteous to warn readers at the beginning of the message that it is a lengthy post
  • It is considered extremely rude to forward someone’s messages without their permission
  • Humor is encouraged, but please use it carefully. The absence of face-to-face cues can humor to be misinterpreted as criticism or “flaming” (anger or confrontational positing). Feel free to use emoticons such as ;) or :0 as appropriate. “Off color” humor, or references to gender, race, ethnicity or other demographic characteristics in a critical or hostile manner is strictly prohibited

B) Principles of Wise Enquiry: Please click this link to access a series of web-based resources that were selected to help participants at this site engage in "learnful" discussion and debate (it isn't mandatory, but is highly recommended).

C) The Learning Manual: Please click the link for a short document that is intended to help you extract the maximum value from this community of learning.

Introduce Yourself

The Course Sequences

Introductory Sequence: A short review of the main issues
What are the basic principles and practices of the Nonviolent Democratic Protest Movement?
Using Democratic Principles to Resolve National and Regional Internecine Conflict
Using Democratic Principles to Oppose Corruption
Using Democratic Principles to Oppose Market Globalization

Sequence One- Democracy Theory: Historical Roots, Current Status, and Future Directions

Theme: The Past, the Present, and the Future of Democracy
Course 11: Historical Overview: David Held and Democratic Theories
Course 12: Western Historical Foundations (or: "Dead White Men- The Good Guys")
Course 13: Western Historical Opposition (or: "Dead White Men- Team Evil")

Theme: Democracy and Marginalized Populations
Course 14: Women and Democracy
Course 15: Ethnic, Religious, and Cultural Differences
Course 16: Anti-Globalism, Development, and The Poor
Course 17: Environmental Sustainability

Theme: The Dilemma of Democracy- Reconciling The Common Good with Minority Rights
Course 18: Deliberative Democracy: James Fishkin and the "Trilemma"
Course 19: Consensus Democracy: Arend Lijphart
Discussion 1.1: Why Deliberative Democracy? Why not anarchy, socialism or libertarianism?

Sequence Wrap Up: What is a "Radical Democracy?" It's any program whose core outcome is to provide a governing process focused on using a network of deliberative bodies to promote greater understanding, participation, and equality of treatment for all affected and interested community stakeholders.

Sequence Two- Practical Approaches of Non-Violent Protest Movements
Course 21: Goal Setting and Strategic Planning- Gene Sharp
Course 22: Truth Telling- Journalism, Documentaries, and Media
Course 23: Recruiting: On-Line and Face-2-Face
Course 24: Self-Governance: Methods of Group Decision Making
Course 25: Non-Violent Street Tactics
Course 26: Funding the Revolution- Raising Money
Course 28: Going Beyond- After the Revolution
Course 29: Humanitarian Aid and other non-protest approaches
Discussion 2.1: Why protest? Why not work within the system?

Sequence Wrap Up: Nonviolent protest movements have track record of overthrowing authoritarian regimes that is at least as good if not better than any other approach that utilizes violence. A specific set of approaches and techniques have been adopted and tested which rely on open, decentralized organization, planning and action. The greatest shortcoming of these approaches is a lack of focus on how to govern a country once it has been freed from the previous regime.

Sequence Three- Case Studies
Type One: The Color Revolts
Type Two: The Occupy Movement
Type Three: The Arab Spring
Type Four: Corruption in the US

Sequence Four- Current Events
Africa- Sub-Saharan
Central Asia
Central/South America
East Asia
Middle East
North America

Sequence Five- Democracy and Transformation
Individual Transformation
Transformative Thinking: What kind of thinking and believing best fits a Radical Democracy?
Transformative Acting: How should one live in a Radical Democracy?

Group and Community Transformation
Free and Open Discussion in a Radically Democratic Community
Accepting and Governing Members: How to deal with people in a Radical Democracy
"Self-Governance" as a System

Social Transformation
Discussion One: What kind of cultural change would be necessary in a radical democracy?
Discussion Two: What kind of educational curriculum would be best for a rad demos?
Discussion Three: What does a radically democratic workplace look like?
Discussion Four: How should the economy be organized? How can Rad Dem promote growth and equality?

Propose New Lessons and Courses
Have an idea that might help make this a more useful site? Please share it! Then build it!

The Wiki Part of the Wiki
This is where you can contribute original material of your own, including links to sites and essays on relevant topics.

The Online Learning Discussion
Please take this opportunity to share and discuss your learning experience after participating on this site. Thank you.

Provide Feedback for This Site
Feedback Forum

Off-Topic Conversations
A place to relax and socialize

Connectionism: Sustainable Thinking for Social Progress

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