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systems almost all run on a party system; even pure PR systems like that of Israel rely on a party list.(I could take out Israeli citizenship and run for the Knesset, but I'd be running as "the Charlie Stross Party", not as myself: if I was a runaway success I'd need to find some extra representatives to tag along on my coat-tails.) Parties are bureaucratic institutions with the usual power dynamic of self-preservation, as per Michels's iron law of oligarchy: the purpose of the organization is to (a) continue to exist, and (b) to gain and hold power.Our efforts require understanding about how to integrate different priorities and, most importantly, how we can work collaboratively for a better world.

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Here's a hypothesis: Representative democracy is what's happening. There's a hidden failure mode, we've landed in it, and we probably won't be able to vote ourselves out of it.

So, here's my hypothesis: Overall, the nature of the problem seems to be that our representative democratic institutions have been captured by meta-institutions that implement the iron law of oligarchy by systematically reducing the risk of change.

They have done so by converging on a common set of policies that do not serve the public interest, but minimize the risk of the parties losing the corporate funding they require in order to achieve re-election.

The emergence of a class of political apparatchik in our democracies is almost inevitable.

I was particularly struck by this at the CREATe conference, which was launched by a cookie-cutter junior minister from Westminster: aged 33, worked in politics since leaving university, married to another MP, clearly focused on a political career path.

It started as an idea, but over a short period of time grew to be one of the largest citizens’ initiative for democratic innovation in Western Europe.

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