The authors argue that even the most mature democratic countries appear incapable of solving many modern, complex problems such as recurring global financial crises, rising inequality, climate change and resource depletion. Newer democracies have often fared even worse as they failed to build 'functional, inclusive, accountable decision-making systems' that are adaptable to local needs.
In response, the authors call for a 'major upgrade' to our democratic systems, one that includes the economic arena in addition to the political one. Noting the enormous complexity of the world and drawing on a systems-engineering approach, they propose learning from the common elements found in complex biological systems. These elements include decentralised power, inclusion and diversity.
They state that we are already seeing small-scale experiments in new political and economic decision-making solutions such as participatory budgeting, local currency systems, crowd funding and socially responsible business models. The authors note these innovations are on the periphery of our current systems, but have the potential to be more central.
As a start, Boik and Fioramonti have developed a framework, and matching computer simulation module, for a next-generation economic system called the Local Economic Direction Democracy Association (LEDDA). They hope to encourage further innovation and experimentation, with an aim to building flexible and networked systems that can be adapted to local and changing needs.
Thumbnail image: Adam Thomas/Flickr.