Tom Atlee: Non-Violent Reformulation of Political Power

P2P / Panarchy, Politics
Tom Atlee

We need to reformulate political power now!

by Tom Atlee

We need to reformulate political power.  We need to do it now and we need to focus on it as central to our work on every issue, every vision, every outrage and hope.

Our goal in reformulating political power must be to move from governance that primarily serves the short term profit of the few to governance that primarily serves quality of life for all – including future generations.

In order to achieve this, we need to reformulate political power in at least five ways.  All five reformulations need to synergize and support each other if we are to meet our goal.  If we fail to reformulate any one of these forms of power, we risk undermining the others and falling far short of our goal.

Here is a quick outline – a draft summary, really – of a possible integrated vision of power reformulation:

1.  We need to move from POWER-OVER to POWER-WITH, from domination and control to inclusive collaboration.  Our tools for that include collaborative technologies, productive dialogue, networks, social capital, gifting and sharing, empathic practices, story sharing, and more.

2.  We need to move from ELITE POWER to CITIZEN POWER, from the authority of “the best people” to authority of “we the people”.  Our tools for that include random selection, direct democracy, grassroots organization, strategic nonviolence, civil liberties, and more.

3.  We need to move from CONCENTRATED POWER to DISTRIBUTED, PARTICIPATORY POWER, from the current dynamics of centralization/fragmentation to the self-organized competence of many minds, hearts and hands.  Our tools for that include networking, crowdsourcing, subsidiarity, direct democracy, local economics, electoral reform, and more.

4.  We need to move from MANIPULATED/GROUPTHINK POWER to COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE POWER and ultimately to PUBLIC WISDOM POWER, from the “manufacture of consent” and distracted partisan co-stupidity to collective discernment of sensible paths for our whole community and society.  Our tools for that include informed deliberation, choice-creating, systems thinking, freedom of information, iterative public process, civic journalism, multiple intelligences, and more.

5.  We need to move from CORRUPT POWER to TRUSTWORTHY POWER, from empowering narrow special interests with modern economic and political systems to empowering the whole society with leadership that serves the general welfare.  Our tools for that include random selection, term limits, transparency, citizen oversight, systems of legal accountability, and more.

There are literally hundreds – probably thousands – of organizations, technologies, practices, theories, visions and proposals that already exist that could serve this transition.  I suggest that all of them are weakened by failure to team up around a strategic vision such as this, and that all of them – and all of us – would be empowered beyond our wildest dreams if we engaged and succeeded in such a collaboration.

What do we need to do to enable this to happen?


Here are a few initial references that expand on some of the above.  This is just a taste, the tip of the iceberg. There is A LOT going on and A LOT that is possible… (click the cc icon for translation captions)

See Also:,

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