The Case for “Forking” Traditional Government
Politicians will only level up the system if citizens organize themselves into "lightocracies" that show them how to solve public problems on a shoestring budget
Is our democracy in the US really a democracy? Or are we experiencing “democracy theatre?”
Are we being controlled by a secret government that operates behind closed doors, manipulating the levers of power to serve its own twisted ends?
These are questions on the minds of many everyday Americans who have grown disillusioned with our dysfunctional traditional government.
But what if the problem isn't some nefarious cabal, but rather a system that's simply broken and outdated? What if we could create a new kind of government, one that's more responsive, efficient, and effective?
That's where "lightocracies" come in.
By organizing themselves into these innovative new structures, citizens can solve problems affecting their communities that traditional corporations aren't well suited to solve, show politicians how to get things done with limited resources, and get traditional government to level up.
In this post, we'll explore the concept of a lightocracy, and how it may hold the key to a brighter, more flourishing future for all of us.
So get ready to discover how we can take back control of our ability to shape our collective future.
A lightocracy is a self-organized "government" that operates independently of traditional government (”TradGov”) to solve specific problems that citizens care about.
A lightocracy can put significant pressure on TradGov to step up and do its part, as well as collaborates with it when it makes sense.
Lightocracies can provide a more effective and responsive approach to governance, addressing issues that TradGov is not solving effectively.
Think of lightocracies as something like the opposite of a “secret government.”
A secret government, colloquially called a "deep state", is a theoretical network of powerful individuals or organizations, including government officials, military leaders, and intelligence operatives, who are believed to operate beyond the reach of democratic institutions and control the levers of power in society.
The idea of a deep state is often promoted by controversial figures like Alex Jones, who claims that this secret government is involved in all sorts of nefarious activities, including controlling the media, rigging elections, and plotting to establish a "New World Order" global government.
I believe there is some truth to this. But spending too much time speculating about the "deep state" can distract us from seeing opportunities to organize and coordinate major improvements to the system-improvements that can be catalyzed by lightocracies.
Lightocracies can do a lot of good regardless of the depth of the “deep state” is.
Here are the five guiding principles that define lightocracies:
Goal-oriented: A lightocracy does not operate just to operate. It operates to accomplish specific goals. And when these goals are accomplished, the governors of the lightocracy either set new goals or sunset the organization.
Transparency: A lightocracy operates in a transparent manner, with all rules and decision-making processes open and accessible to the public to ensure accountability. Its goals are also transparently published.
Decentralization: A lightocracy progressively decentralizes power so that no individual or group holds undue influence over rule-making over the long run.
Member empowerment: A lightocracy operates in a way that reflects a belief that every member of it can be a "Main Character" who makes meaningful contributions to its success. Lightocracies are a form of “Massively Multiplayer Movement Building Game.”
Technological innovation: A lightocracy leverages (and sometimes even builds its own) new foundational tech that enables it to more quickly and cost effectively achieve its goals.
A perfect “platform” to host lightocracies is web3.
Web3 has already been used to create thousands of organizations—called “DAOs” or decentralized autonomous organizations—which leverage the power of blockchain to enable greater transparency, decentralization, and member participation.
DAOs can be used as instruments through which lightocracies can organize, manage resources, and make decisions in a decentralized and transparent manner.
For example, a lightocracy DAO can set up rules and guidelines for decision-making, voting, and resource allocation. Members of the lightocracy can participate in the decision-making process by voting on proposals and ideas, and the results of the voting can be automatically executed by the smart contracts.
Effective lightocracies can set a standard for how government should operate. They can put necessary pressure on TradGov to get its shit together.
But lightocracies should not want to create an adversarial kind of pressure that fuels resentment cycles and belief that TradGov is hopelessly incompetent.
Lightocracies should want to work with good faith actors in TradGov, helping TradGov level up and securing data and insight from TradGov leaders on what problems they need help from lightocracies solving.
The end game should include TradGov forever being transformed by the influence and partnership of lightocracies—all for the benefit of everyday citizens.
Taiwan’s g0v as powerful lightocracy case study
g0v (pronounced "gov zero") is one of the best examples of a lightocracy at work.
It is a community-driven civic technology movement that emerged in Taiwan in 2012, in response to a lack of transparency and accountability in government decision-making processes.
Originally driven by a bimonthly hackathon, the g0v community has expanded to include different professional and non-information technology background members.
Symbolizing the community's efforts to "rethink the role of government from zero," and borrowing the parlance of binary from the digital world of 1s and 0s, the O in "gov" is replaced with a 0 to make "g0v"; for many government agencies in Taiwan which have URLs ending .gov.tw, replacing .gov with .g0v redirects the user to a "forked" version of that agency with contributions by civic hackers.
Continuing this inspiration from the software development world, the forked content can then be "merged" back into the government agency's website.
Here are just a few examples of what g0v has done over the past decade:
Open data: g0v is committed to opening up government data to the public, in order to promote transparency and accountability. The movement has developed a range of open-source tools and platforms, such as OpenData.tw, that make it easier for citizens to access and use government data.
Digital public policy consultation: g0v has developed the V-Taiwan platform, a digital public policy consultation platform that allows citizens to participate in the policy-making process. The platform has been used to gather public input on a range of issues, such as ride-sharing regulations and the regulation of online alcohol sales.
Disaster relief: g0v has developed the Relief-Map platform, a crowdsourced map that helps coordinate disaster relief efforts. The platform allows citizens to report and track the status of relief efforts, and provides real-time information on the location of shelters and other resources.
If a citizen-organized “government” operating extremely transparently and democratically can…
do more about disaster relief than a TradGov,
do more to represent and respond to the will of the public,
do more to combat the threat of existentially threatening technology,
… what pressure does that put on that TradGov to level up (aka get its shit together)?
Overall, g0v has played a significant role in shaping Taiwan's government and promoting a more transparent, inclusive, and innovative approach to governance. By inspiring the government to become more responsive to the needs and concerns of its citizens, g0v has helped to create a more resilient and responsive government that is better able to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
How you might create a local lightocracy
Lightocracies don’t just have to function in service of something as broad as a country (like Taiwan).
Lightocracies can be created to serve specific local areas, such as a municipality, and can be a powerful tool for promoting transparency, accountability, and citizen-led problem solving at the local level.
Locally-focused lightocracies could even be started in partnership, and even with financial sponsorship from, local TradGov.
Some bleeding-edge tools that could be part of a locally-focused lightocracy tech stack include:
Holonym: A zero-knowledge proof-powered tool for enabling citizens to verify that they are indeed residents of a municipality without revealing other personal information. This is valuable for lightocracies that want to ensure that members are indeed residents of the area but don’t want to compromise member privacy.
Gitcoin Grants Stack: A platform for empowering members of a community to democratically decide where grants funding goes. This is powerful for lightocracies that want their members to have as much say as possible over what the lightocracy invests its shared treasury into.
Guild: A platform that automates the process of awarding roles (along with rewards) to contributors of a community. A platform like Guild is essential to a lightocracy’s ability to scale to thousands of members without a manual onboarding process for everyone.
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