Above is a recording of me presenting a session on How the competition delusion is ruining everything. It’s the presentation of this essay “Trust and the Competition Delusion”.
Because it’s easily done these days, I’ve recorded the video on my phone and generated a transcript – which is better than the YouTube transcript only because it is arranged into paragraphs. In any event, the robot will no doubt make all kinds of mistakes, humourous and perhaps slanderous, for which apologies in advance. I didn’t think enough people would want to read it to have someone go through it, so you get the machine transcript, for what it’s worth over the fold.
I’ll be talking about 25 minutes and then I’ll be very interested to hear people’s reaction and get some discussion going. So here are two people they are fighting out the Australian. Open 2017 final and.
I want you to ask yourself questions might sound like a simple question which is are these people competing and I think you will find that they are competing but I also want to suggest you that that night they did quite a lot of cooperating and if I were to ask you in what ways did they cooperate?
I think the I think the easy answer is to is to divide the evening up by time and then you would be able to say that. They were cooperating when they came onto the court and they were heating up and after their competition they were cooperating you can see that arath and the dial probably less keen on the cooperation than Roger Federer, but they were cooperating once the once the game was over.
And so that’s that’s one way to think about competition and cooperation or competition and collaboration and that’s essentially thinking of competition collaboration as polls. So so in once you know at one end you’ve got cooperation at the other and you’ve got competition and the at the beginning and end you had lots of cooperation and in the middle you had fierce competition.
And it’s that sort of thinking that is behind a lot of economic thinking it’s obsessive in economic thinking because you it’s pretty hard to meet an economist for whom the most fundamental category in their mind is this distinction between competition and cooperation which also gets mapped onto the public and the private competition is always for private benefits.
That’s why we, The Roger Federer is trying to help brunch a Federer he’s not trying to help graph up when they’re playing the game. And so here are some public goods defense forces street lights urban water, they’re things that we cut their economic commodities that we can’t provide ourselves except in a cooperative arrangeable your cooperate and get our government to supply them here are a bunch of private goods and they tend to be supplied by private markets and there’s lots of competition if you don’t like one restaurant you go to another if you don’t like one toy you buy another and so on and then they’re all these things in.
The middle and debate goes on and on about whether they should be provided by the government in a cooperative way or by the market in a competitive way and over the eighties and nineties and naughties we moved these things we we moved our whole intuition from the idea of providing these things cooperatively towards providing them competitively.
And there’s lots there was lots that was quite good about that there were I think in many ways even more things that were bad about that but that’s not the competition delusion that’s the world of competition and cooperation as polls on a spectrum and that’s a perfectly reasonable way to think but it’s an incomplete way to think and here we have our friends Roger and rapper and this where they’re competing.
And I’ve put that green circle around the whole thing. Because what I wanted to say to you is that their cooperation was not that important at the beginning and at the end. There was nothing testing it if they wouldn’t cooperate very well well that wouldn’t matter too much. But there was a way they would cooperating when they played the game in which the more they go operated.
The better the competition was. And that cooperation was around the rules of the game. And we care so much about the rules of the game as a public good as a thing that will be provided in common whether you’re Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal that we provide an independent umpire.
Petition delusion. Is the idea that competition might be quite good in that umpire’s chair. And I and and as I will go on to explain that goes on all the time in all kinds of really subtle ways. And it’s playing a major role in wrecking our economy. And far more importantly our society our lives together.
Let me try and explain what I mean by contrasting the legal procedure in English-speaking countries with legal procedure in European countries might sound like a fairly rarified example, but I think it’ll help you get the hang of it. The the process of adversarial legal procedure in English-speaking countries is based on the competition delusion because you see what it’s doing is it’s saying that we can build a public good and that public good is justice.
That public good is the a shared solution to a partisan problem that both sides hopefully will accept but if they don’t they will be made to accept by another public good called police forces and our legal system and so on. And under the adversarial legal procedure, the role of the umpire is a very muted one, of course we need one because we got two particans but we basically let the partisans run the procedure.
What do they do they put their case? They’re the ones who take the case wherever it goes, they’re the ones that control the evidence critically, they’re the ones who decide how much evidence to go and chase because of course in most cases there’s an infinite amount of evidence that you can go.
Chasing you can go chasing emails of everyone you could go chasing time logs, you can go chasing people’s medical records and so on it goes. They even bring onto the stage there are experts. There are complex laws of evidence and the result is that English-speaking adversarial legal procedure in bodying and embracing the competition delusion is much more expensive and much more unfair.
So here’s a representation of inquisitorial legal procedure, which is the case in indifferent forms in Europe, the Germany is a classic example the northern European countries. I think are pretty efficient legal systems, but generally Europe has an inquisitorial system and the big difference there is that there the judge is in charge and the judge is there and independent party to find out the truth.
And deliver their verdict. The parties have lawyers the parties can put the parties can hold the judge to the law, but the parties in that sense are assistance to the judge not the other way round. It’s the judge who controls the case, it’s the judge who decides how much evidence is the right amount of evidence because if it was a case for a hundred million dollars, you could afford to spend a lot more money on evidence than if it was a case between two neighbors for.
Five thousand dollars for a barbecue gone wrong or whatever. So they determine the extent of the evidence they choose court experts they put themselves on the line to work out who the best expert would be and the laws of evidence are very simple and straightforward. The difference is that this what you’re seeing there is the sort of thing that happens in a court in Germany or in Sweden and this is the kind of thing that is quite possible very easy to drift into in an English-speaking court as both sides tried to jockey for position.
To give you an idea of it’s impact on fairness this is a quote from sorry, sorry this is this is about legal expertise and here’s a quote from a US legal scholar about what happens when the the the expertise available to the court isn’t its own that isn’t expertise that it has chosen but rather the expertise of one part of that and the expertise chosen by another part of that and I think you can guess.
That that’s not going to work very well it’s as as he says there can you imagine a better way to lead to systematic distrust of experts than to have two partisan experts rather than to find an expert in which you have some confidence. And this generates lots of economic incentives for experts to slant one way or the other if you’re an expert and you want to get a lot of lots of good money representing plaintiffs or defendants in to what cases in liability cases well that that’s a way you do it.
It’s also extremely unfair because in that situation the side with more money and more power and more contacts is able to do a great deal better than the other side which will run out of money fairly quickly as was said to Andre game the inventor of graphing when he was at a conference and he was talking to a person from a multinational company about patenting it and they told him don’t bother patenting it because if you do try and paint it will be well put a will.
Put a bank of property intellectual property lawyers on to the case will pay everything around at hundreds of patents will tie you down in legal in a morass of legal activity until you bankrupted. Another way in which the competition delusion gets into our system is independence for higher, so if you’re the her majesty’s treasury in the United States or an agency in the US government or the Australian government, you’re books will be inspected if.
If if the person wants if the ordered a general wants to inspect your books, that’s the order that you get. In the private sector, you get to choose your own auditor now in order to do operate according to standards but what that but where the real money is is where the money is in a court of law in an adversarial system, which is in bending the rules away from the public interest towards the private interest of your client.
Another kind of independence behalf famously in our financial system is ratings so before the global financial crisis and still today if you had an exotic parcel of securities full of junk bonds, you could pay moody’s or standard and pause to rate them and of course, they they then play a double game.
I have to preserve some degree of. Repetition or known will be interested in their rankings, but they’re also interested in clients the result was that those ratings agencies rated a certain exotic new securities as triple A and they were worth nothing at all this happens in government with things like regulation review statements where departments putting through regulation are required to present a regulatory analysis to prove there’s not this isn’t over-regulation and of course, if an agency is trying to.
Get regulation through of course, they can manage a regulatory impact statement and buy us in their favor same with environmental regulation and so on and so forth. There’s another thing that needs to be thought about which is the role of information in competition here you have two standards this is in selling food on the right hand side in selling fuel consuming goods on the left hand side and what’s happened there is that a standard has been developed in which very simple information can be imparted and that information is consistent across soft drinks and cheese and any food and it’s, Consistent no matter who is selling it to you, whether it’s Coca-Cola corporation, or the local the local supermarket co-op.
And that is critical to allowing competition to work its magic because when it works well competition does work magic but now we have that familiar pattern that I’m talking to you about which is that we have firms competing for private benefit. And that standard is a public good and it is built by cooperating for shared benefit doesn’t have to be provided by the government the the one I showed you was ultimately mandated by the government with a lot of cooperation and involvement by private industry, but there are standards for instance those standards that run the internet that are not run by governments, they’re run by all kinds of interested parties co-operating.
So there is a completely different logic to what happens at the firm level where competition is appropriate and what happens at the level of trying to ensure that the information architecture reflects cooperation for shared benefits. And the competition delusion arises from firms or competitors manipulating the rules, as you play the game that the firms are manipulating the rules of the game that they are playing.
And you can see why that is going to be a dodgy prospect. I suspect let me try to give you some idea of what that means that this happens in finance it happens in medicine it happens in law. Each of these professions and and a number of others. Are in a position to generate the demands that they then go to satisfy.
The result is that this is the American financial market the Australian financial market is fairly similar. I have the British financial market at least given what a large exporter Britain is it might actually be worse than that this shows you the share of GDP dedicated to finance from 1920 to 1940, you can see the kind of financial structure that produced the Great Depression in the 20s how it was squashed flat by World War 2 where so much financial.
Was done by commandeering things by the government that’s not ideal during during peace time and it recovers in a much more sophisticated market by the seventies back to about four percent that was probably pretty healthy it’s now double that but all of that expansion hasn’t been in value adding it’s effectively being in predation on other sectors which are effectively drawn into this process of having to ensure and having to participate in financial markets.
As asset prices go up people have to borrow more etc, etc. Collecting the rent with law you can see on the right hand side the countries which have an adversarial system and they are about four to that there is bad as four times as expensive as good systems running an inquisitorial system and here are the here is the American healthcare system the system at the only system in which private interests dominate the architecture of the sector with the exception of Medicare.
Medicaid which are mostly for poor and older people and you can see the dramatic impact that that’s how twice as bad in fact more than twice as bad as finance simply to fund the US medical center system, even as life expectancy is actually and remarkably falling. And those kinds of things are an important part of the story according to which more and more of every dollar that is that changes hands and the economy goes to the the holders of capital that is to profit as opposed to to employees and as you can see remarkably the even though profits fall in big recessions.
The total share of wage earner income falls by more as a share of GDP and. That’s just the economy. So now I want to now you know, why I’m I really minute when I said how it’s running everything because the competition delusion whether we acknowledge it or not is running a riot in our public life.
And that is to understand that. Democracy and public life is governant governance by conversation, of course, there’s lots of the there’s other things that go on but it depends upon the sense people can make out of a conversation and the thing about a conversation is that a conversation has private goods and shared goods the private goods.
I might want to compete with you on what might want to prove to you that clever I am or how stupid you are who knows but that’s a private that that’s me following certain private drives and if we can’t both together. Treat the conversation as a kind of cooperation like Roger and Rafa does the competition within a cooperative framework that we don’t actually have a conversation we have a kind of neurotic exchange which feels like a feels quite like a conversation but is in fact not a conversation, it’s two people trying to take advantage of each other and know genuine meaning to is exchanged so here that this diagram that I showed you earlier will get rid of the the sport of, The we will say that debate is a kind of competition but it takes place within the larger the the larger frame of discussion compromising and framing the terms of discussion itself.
And what we have and our culture and I won’t go through this line. I don’t have time but I will assert to you that we live now in a culture that has been optimized by competition. And I’ve just I’ve just highlighted there at the bottom of the screen those things that have been intensified by social media.
In other words, what I want to say to you is that this isn’t just I this is not just a matter of are now we’ve got social media and can’t we go back to before social media before there was social media the foundation for having a democracy was well and truly answered way to being shorn from beneath our feet if you.
Do can’t get the president of the United States on US network news for more than nine seconds of sound bite you don’t you it’s not going to be long before you end up with Donald Trump’s and various empty-headed people who are optimized for sound bites and all the rest of them if we look quickly at information and competition think about PR and think about journalism.
I don’t want to tell you the journalism is all good there’s lots of things wrong with journalism, but the difference between PR and journalism is that PR is quite specifically trading in information for private benefits and journalism the purveyors of journalism journalists are if they really are journalists paid by publishers and broadcasters seeking and audience and to that extent they represent the interests of the audience not the interests of the provided.
The information and if you look at those graphics which may be a bit small for you in 2004 a reporter made 71 cents for every dollar that a PR flack made into by 2013 that number was 65 cents and the number of PR flax went from 3.2 PR flax per journalist to 4.6 PR flax.
So winning elections now fast foodifies democracy to simply become a politician you have to beat the competition once a politician your party eternally competes with others you compete for media attention and as meteor outlets compete for and you do that as they compete for the public’s attention everyone is relentlessly optimizing their offering and you can see what kind of an offering it becomes.
And so the question is I’m thinking quite a few people in the audience will be thinking at this stage well yeah but that’s democracy democracies about elections well. I don’t want to stop elections but in fact there was a democracy which wasn’t about elections we’re almost no elections held in ancient Athens what there were were what is what remains in our legal system another part of our legal system.
I will I would hasten to add which is small groups of people chosen by lot for. Wooden res citizens and that has and that’s now increasingly turning up in citizen juries deliberating over political questions. Are they do they compete with each other? Well, if they want to if there are people who disagree they will have that out in the jury, but the logic of the jury is a unitary logic the logic of a jury is to come to a conclusion.
And whatever they buy it by whatever means and so the road rage in our current electoral democracy if you if our involved with these things at all it’s extraordinary to see that that dissipate it’s extraordinary to see how intelligent people can be together it’s working over, you know, playing to each other’s strengths and deliberating on issues.
So, I’ll I’ll conclude by saying that so far. Citizen juries of almost exclusively being run for the benefit of politicians because they’re the ones with the budgets and they’re the ones that everyone goes to because people think that. Democracy is about going and asking politicians to back various things and I’ve been in this game for a long time, don’t bother.
What I’m trying to do is to try to build a pathway in which we can have such institutions in some ways compete with the existing electoral institutions. For instance if we could raise the money to simply run our standing citizens assembly. Chosen by life from ordinary people it would get a lot of press and it would put a lot of pressure on existing legislators and existing executives existing prime ministers and presidents imagine what a citizens assembly would be saying right now about the way Donald Trump or Boris Johnson for that matter has handled covered.
There are plenty. That’s another long story. So that’s the sort of thing that I’m arguing which can do and should do and the destination to crystallize this for you is that in the 19th century out of all the struggle from the French and American Revolutions in the late 18th century through the 19th century to the early 20th century, we moved we established these this bicameral system a lower house representing the people with elections and upper house representing some.
Kind of aristocracy which was which was often by elections and I like I like the idea of having an upper house it could be a third house or it could replace existing up the houses and it would be chosen by lot as we did in Athens and the lower house would continue to be appointed would be continued to be elected as we do today.
So that’s my my proposal and very happy to see if the see what people make of it. And. Get the discussion going. Thank you.
Hi Nicholas, that’s great, thank you very much for that and. It’s amazing how actually this sort of encapsulates maybe you know, the fundamental problems in our society in a way and that the influence of economic thinking has had on the very core of of how we live. I mean you start from I love the way you started from the sort of tennis game and then you know, and and and the small sort of items and then went, you know, like the whole showed how really the whole of our society has been corrupted as such is that yeah, I would guess it is it is I mean strong, Words and I I often sort of back off strong words because I spend a lot of my time tramp persuade powerful people.
I don’t like strong words but corrupted in the same way that inner subtle sort of way it doesn’t mean anyone is on the take it doesn’t mean it’s all been it’s all been packaged up with a system and and and it’s been distorted by just small decisions made by people part of theirs who you know, just lean on somebody to do the right thing help them out of a jam.
And and and essentially the very important obstacles the very important structural the the very important structures that prevent conflicts of interest from gradually polluting the environment, they’re all quite muted now much more so than the they have been others a scholar of financial of the financial markets and personable Caroline’s associate.
With Soko in California who writes about the financial century financial markets in which the law of agency was incredibly pivotal and the law of agency said if you act on one person’s behalf, you can’t act on somebody else’s behalf if there’s a conflict of interest. Well, that’s what our banks do all the time the the Goldman Sachs in the run-up to the global financial crisis was marketing securities in what with one arm and advising clients to sell them in the other.
So you have a corrupt sector and and we haven’t fixed the the very little that’s been done to fix anybody can you just stop sharing your screen and then that will just say that but no on I’m in great difficulty because I can’t once I press not sharing my screen it here we get maybe this note.
I’ve no idea how not to do that. I’m sorry Charles at the bottom if you press the same button you yeah nothing I can see. I know I don’t shortly I get nothing on my screen. So I can’t do it. I’m great I can try and go back in if you want me to I can try and go back into the okay into the sun.
Hang on this found a way to do it not yes, okay now I mean and what would you like me to do yes, I’ll stop sharing this screen and then we’re then it yes bigger brilliant, okay great now we’ve got two questions, but Andy Chapman how to communicate let’s let’s bring Andy on to the stage we’ll try try that and he can you put your yeah there we go and he thanks for joining us thank.
Touring hello necklace now there’s a really interesting talk thank you, thank you so much for. Sort of encapsulating so many interrelated and quite complicated things so beautifully and I guess my question is really about. I mean, I entirely support what what you’re sort of saying here and my question is about how do we?
How do we kind of engage the wider public with this story because I work with either the kind of common good where we’re an organization founded on the principles of grassroots democratic participation. And when you when you start to look at I mean in my experience when you start talking to people about how you know politics is is corrupted and and the adversarial model is is the problem and we need not people sort of say yeah, but you know, it’s never going to change is it and and it’s actually quite hard to get them to engage with what could be done, it’s places different because they have no experience of it and I was wondering if we could come up with a snappy thing like, The present government and dominate coming to genius at doing like get Brexit done or at once or leveling up it’s like we we need to find some kind of really powerful pithy puncture way of communicating the central idea here and I just wonder if you have any.
Thoughts about whether that’s possible or desirable. Yes, I have a thought which is that I’ve been involved in this now for quite a while and I and I hope you’ll take this in the Socratic sense in which it’s meant but I think what you said is very much part of the problem not part of the solution so what you’re saying is Germany Cummings without competing me and or after I hang you’re trying to hack democracy like he’s trying to hack democracy and everyone’s trying to have democracy.
So this is a hard problem but I think if you think about it from the ground up there are huge opportunities that just different opportunities to the way that we’ve become habituated to do politics which is hardly surprising because we are habituated to assist them which has its own logic.
Know. I’ve been trauming to think I’m not a stranger politics. I’m not a political animal particularly but on certainly, you know, working politicians officers I’ve and I’ve been on this bandwagon so much with bandwagon yet is a but I’ve been on this message for five years also fairly seriously.
And your problem is that the politicians will like the ideas but don’t want any discomfort from the current situation and the public hear their stuff and it’s like you’re offering that your site they they think oh God, I’m being an invited to do a PhD here. I’m busy, you know, and so the question is so they’re not the public had never been very good at it at.
Absorbing fairly abstract messages and if they and and and and I’m all I’m a believer in finding some wisdom in that because if they were to fall for some abstract messages guess who would get hold of the abstract message so an alternative is the alternative that I gave you which is I mean, you know Margaret made and both Margaret need and Vladimir Linen had the same approach to social change, which is that it’s highly.
Motivated relatively powerful not necessarily intellectually powerful well-connected people, they can be a small group of people and they need to pursue a kind of a logic so before covert struck. I was involved in trying to organize a crowd funded and community funded and let’s be Frank Plutocraft funded citizens assembly in the two recalcitrant countries Australia in the United States to be held around about now hasn’t happened.
As you can imagine to discuss greenhouse and to send a people’s delegation to Glasgow for the conference of the parties to 2020 number 26, and I think that would have electrified the media it’s really just a bit of a stunt but people would have seen it and they would have I like to quote that scene from when Harry met Sally when the in the restaurant where the woman says I’ll have what she’s having and I think people would have.
Would have look that would have been a lot of people looking at that saying actually that I can I I can see the logic of that but if you go out there and try and get grassroots support for an abstract idea, you’re you’re playing on dominate. Cummings turns and and you won’t get there.
Thanks Andy do you want to do it. Yeah should we now we’ve got next question other examples of countries governments that are heading in the right direction and conservatives and example of the effectiveness of a changing yeah yeah, so so there are a few examples since 2011 the Oregon the state of Oregon in the US has built this into their constitution so they have the embarrassing problem a lot of people like the idea of citizens initiated referendums.
I don’t particularly but what they found was that they were being. Hijacked by the wealthy in the powerful surprise surprise and they moved a situation they brought about a situation where a citizens initiated referendum cannot be held without a citizens of review which involves a four-day conference of 24 people from Oregon citizens of Oregon chosen a random to deliberate on the referendum and you can see quite large swings both in the citizen jury over the period of deliberation and in the population.
When they find out what the citizen jury thought more promisingly still in a in the German speaking province of Belgium, there is now a standing citizens chamber playing a role not entirely unlike us.
Which is to to to influence the notice paper of the legislature and as a standing chamber which is also able to appoint other citizen juries, this is quite a small province of Belgium but that’s very promising and will start to get some experience from that. Madrid also has a standing citizen’s chamber but it is shared as I understand by a politician from the from the the other elected chambers, so there are some things how.
Happening you’ve also got the big the big sort of boot player with in France and in Britain with citizen assemblies on climate change and they could be quite useful but their relationship to power is quite unclear and they’re effectively advisory and and once they’re advisory and they’re set up by politicians, you’ll be able to see politicians and powers hands all over the ways in which they operate so I think it’s important to try to find ways.
For selection by lot to become its own form of activism so we’ve got a bit of a way to go but I think it can done right? I think it can explode into public consciousness quite quickly if we can get some some really worthwhile investments from people and from people with money to start running this thing without anyone’s permission and show the kind of thing that it’s capable.
I bother I might say Nicholas, you know, maybe you could do an international version of this on a platform like this. Well you can but remember I did use an expression during the presentation which is road rage and the internet has to be handled with considerable care because people’s out on liberty their distance from each other can feel road rage, we you don’t need me to tell you that just go to Twitter or Facebook any old time or Twitter more than Facebook or you have to be identified you have to have a you know, you could be selected into these are actually this is a private space so you have to register to get in you have to put your name is you have to.
Be there so it’s all it does is try it it means practically you can involve, you know people from all over the world know. I it’s it’s certainly shouldn’t be real that this is this is a very useful adjunct to it, but there’s quite a lot of good evidence that actually being in the room with someone spending some time with them actually changing the behavior.
I don’t know whether it’s happened to you it’s happening to me a couple of times in my life where I myself was suffering a bit of road rage someone at cutting in front of me or I thought they’d cut in front of. Me I might have stood on the horn and really given them my a piece of my mind and then it gradually occurred to me that this person that I’ve just done this to is my next door neighbor and we’re both driving home what what have I done this is man.
I’m mad, you know, why did I do that why didn’t I why wasn’t I presumptively generous to the victim towards this person as I would have been if I was in the same room, so there are no lots of quite subtle things, but but definitely we should be using these these kinds of tools.
But I would I think it’s actually quite important to build up from actual personal interaction as much as possible but again, these are the things that we have to work these are the things we have to work with as we as we go and see where it takes it see what evidence what you know is see what works and what doesn’t work, okay?
I’ve invited Adam up because he asked questions and he which I think on yeah has actually been missed out. I don’t know or you’re a follow up. Question from what I think yeah because Nicholas mentioned like someone with money could like funds and independent standings assembly but isn’t that already a problem because those who have that kind of money tend to be the people who are already in power.
Well yeah the the short answer is yes, the longer answer is maybe no most importantly you have a governing body that is auditable and a set of rules and principles and and and and I think the the main downside of that is really that the part that people who want to oppose this thing will say, oh well, it’s big money, but if you think about it, it’s pretty easy way to insulate the, The.
To to insulate the deliberations from the money that is funding that’s essentially that was one of the main appeals of selection by like in Athens Athens is the only democracy that I know of that thought of itself as forever in a wall with oligarchy which occasionally would the place would flip into oligarchy did a few times of the health of the Spartans and the idea of selection by lot that everyone did this.
The but no one could be influenced because if you try and influence someone they’re off the assembly after year, anyway, they can’t do any big favors, so there are all kinds of ways in which this mechanism provides you with very strong guarantees, but unfortunately and and and in the long run, of course, you don’t want a wealthy people funding a thing like this but but it activists have to find common cause with whomever they can find comic books with.
So long as they’re not compromising themselves to a degree that they find is counterproductive to their to the emission. And then my second question was US saying it was better to have independence such as assemblies rather than state to run issue based. So a state round ones but if you look at issue basis and assemblies the state run runs, for example, the Irish citizens assemblies on same-sex margin of portion and also potentially the French one climate seems to have had a lot more impacts than say the university college London runs citizens assembly on Brexit, which had practically no impact on the debates on Brexit they suggested basically a customs union brexit but which partners projected and no one did.
So what do you think about that is their value in having state based rather than independent state run rather than independent citizens assembly. I’m not I’m able to be theological about it you take what you can get when you’re trying to change it when you’re trying to change things so I would welcome all of those initiatives.
I happen to know quite a bit about the London based one out of you out of university college and I mean, I wrote a piece in the Guardian about it it was a bit outrageous really because what happened was the organizer. ‘s that you might remember it was 2017 from memory and you might remember that there’s a huge amount of propaganda at the time but now we’ve done brexit and anyone who want who was seeking to litigate relitigate Brexit was massively attacked by the tabloids and all the rest of it, so the people putting on the citizens assembly spent all their time in PR and in writing up the citizens assembly.
Crushing up with that wearing that they kept saying well, it’s not about whether we go ahead with Brexit or not that decision has been made this is just about the kind of Brexit that was a pure spin-based but that was a piece of spin from them that was a piece of issues management if I can use a moral welling intern speak the fact was that if you looked at the numbers and you had to kind of poke them and, Persevere quite a bit to get these numbers, if you look at the numbers you ended up with the 50 people involved in the citizens assembly going from their that they were selected to split 52 to 48 percent in favor of Brexit so that they were representative and by the end of the process about eight had changed their minds every one of them away from Brexit and nobody had changed their minds in the other direction which produces a, Huge swing towards and my my contention on that basis was that Brexit in I think was June 2016 was the opinion of the people and the considered opinion of the people were strongly remain and that was harshed up but it’s there in the numbers and the fact that the swing was all one way also improves your the confidence with which you can say that wasn’t just because the sample size was small but, Chances that that’s luck is the same chances of tossing a coin and it comes.
Coming up the same and it coming up on the same side eight times in a row not very high so we have very good evidence, but it was all hushed up. Now yeah the the question is anyway, so so, you know the organizers up a bit because we’re just about coming to an end okay, but thanks Adam thanks so negligence you’ve got any final remarks before we close but I think you’ve covered things absolutely brilliant, you know, it’s been a fascinating discussion it’s been great having people on the stage also to to get involved and if you just switch your camera.
And a microphone off that’s brilliant so any last any last statement of. Encouragement to people here are trying to develop ideas and. Yeah, I guess I’d get back to my original suggestion to the first person who spoke to me who’s now on afraid of me that’s because they’re both starting today you’re trying to confuse me and and what I’d say is I’m not this is an appeal to this is not an appeal to be terribly intellectual about anything but remember I’m talking about a different logic a logic that we have lost and it and and if we believe in the ideas that I, Put.
Don’t just do the normal activism around those ideas because it won’t work. Think of an icon activism that is suited to this idea that and in fact I’ll leave you with a word that is not in our language but it was in either either because it’s an ancient Greek word, but the the concept is not in our lexicon.
It’s not in in the way we speak about democracy. The Greeks had a number of principles around which they, Were very into their democracy. One was called parathasia which is translated as freedom of speech. It means something rather different means the duty this big power that the truth to power really but they had another concept which we just don’t have any kind of notion of in our society and yet once it’s mentioned people go oh yes that we are missing that.
The word was is segrea. And it means a quality of speech and if you don’t have a university degree, our democracy has no top place for you as a decision maker. You can be a parole you can vote but you’re not going to represent anyone in parliament. So in a population like the UK, we’re slightly under 50% of people having university doing education overnight and five percent of their parliamentarians have the university education and there is.
No equality of speech so it isn’t surprising that that’s tearing the world apart and that those people who don’t have as much education in their makeup end up voting in a rage for Donald Trump and for Brexit and for marine or pen they’re right to be angry they’re wrong and and what happens is they’re anger is toxified by our system by having to be commoditized by having to be turned into.
Some formula that can be explained in eight seconds and that’ll be nationalism or retribution against people who won’t total line, it doesn’t that won’t work that won’t end well but I’ve got lots of faith in people in ordinary people. Machiavelli, sorry. I’m going on a bit old finishing roughly in a kidnally had this idea that the grande the powerful the wealthy the oligarchs, they’re insatiable.
They’ll always want. More Jeff Bezos, I don’t mean him any personal harm but if he gets a hundred billion dollars that’s not enough he wants more and that isn’t true ordinary people ordinary people want to lead their life and be live and let live and we can build a democracy around that sensibility and we we’re so far from it.
It’s not possible. It’s not funny but the ways to do it are I think fairly clear if you have a good think and I prepared to try something. Brilliant. Well, thank you very much Nicholas. It’s been absolutely pleasure having you on and keep in touch and see how we go.
Thank you and best of luck with Brexit and we got an international audience. So thanks very much everyone. So be here, we are lucky this afternoon to. Welcome Rupert Reed who is the UK exile spokesperson one of them and to talk about a system change from climate change and so on and so that should be great this evening or later on this evening.
Also, we start half an hour early this afternoon with a welcome sort of to help you navigate the system. At half past four and then at five o’clock we repeat the the same session for the briefing as this morning followed by a workshop so if you were enjoyed it as much or wanted to come back and be part of the workshop do and but it may be the middle of the night and so we will see you hopefully on Thursday morning at 7:30 for an intro and a sort of but you’ll hopefully you’ve done that and eight o’clock to actually start the session.