The World Needs a New Political System, “Kathocracy”


The word “kathocracy” means “power of each”, from Greek “καθε” (each) + “κράτος” (power). In case you wondered, I invented the term just now.

Representative democracy is a joke

I would argue that you can divide the world’s political systems into two groups: absolute monarchies where the power is passed on to biological heirs, and electoral systems where the country’s leadership is elected.

Absolute monarchies are dictatorial by their nature. Electoral systems may or may not be dictatorial, but I would go as far as saying that any representative democracy is an unfair system that’s dictatorial at least to some degree. Of course, people feel happier and freer under democratic governments (and “feel” is the keyword here – “to feel” and “to be” are two different verbs), because they are made believe that their voice counts – which I am very skeptical about.

Democracy doesn’t scale

At some point in my career, I wrote a piece on “flat organizations”. Those are orgs with no managers or bosses where everyone is their own boss. In practice, so-called “flat organizations” don’t scale. You need some sort of hierarchy at a certain point, usually when a company grows beyond a few dozen employees.

When democracy first started in Ancient Greece (you may want to read “The Golden Age of Athens – My Idea of a Perfect Political System“), Athens was a relatively small city-state. It was technically a direct democracy.

Nowadays, when a country may have over 100,000,000 people, there is so little visibility into what the leaders are doing, so little accountability on their part, so little leverage for ordinary people to impact decisions, that I don’t know how such system can be called “power of the people”.

There is also a fair number of quasi-democratic states in the world that may look nice-and-shiny to those who “installed” democracy in them, but they really are a farce. I would give you some examples, but I don’t want to offend the citizens of those countries.

The “dêmos” are not professional politicians

There is another big problem with democracy. The people (the so-called “ordinary folk” or “dêmos” in Ancient Greek) are not qualified to be making political decisions. As much as we want to think of ourselves as “experts” on political matters, we are not. (Why isn’t anyone talking about it?)

To give you an analogy, imagine that you need to hire a Ruby-on-Rails programmer. But you are not a programmer yourself. How will you interview them? It would be stupid for you to even try that, wouldn’t it? Yet every electoral season, we have politicians and their campaign programs, and we are supposed to make our “hiring decisions” based on that.

We end up with a system where politicians have to substantially simplify their agenda, make nice-sounding promises and repeat trendy buzzwords to win over the electorate. And oftentimes, the biggest populist wins. Add to it the naive “woke” culture that is thriving in most democratic countries nowadays, and you have a joke of a political system.

A still from the movie “The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. (Zaphod Beeblebrox won President of the Galaxy because he intentionally tempered with his brain. According to him “only an idiot can become President.” Beeblebrox’s opponent, Humma Kavula, launched the “Don’t Vote for Stupid” counter-campaign, but in vain. Beeblebrox won regardless.)

You may argue that dictatorships are worse than that. That may be true, but I think at least they draw a clear line where your power starts and where it ends. There is no illusion of power. While in so-called democracies people live in a sweet illusion that they can affect important decision, while they can’t. Or, we can have paradoxical situations, like in the EU these days, where government officials are forced to make really bad decisions because they are facing pressure from their “dêmos”. Basically, the people are bossing their elected representatives around because they think they know what they are doing 🙂

direct democracy won’t work, either

I used to believe that direct democracy was the answer. Elon Musk believes it, as well. I heard him say that in an interview with Lex Fridman.

However, I no longer believe it today. I think that, say, the world becomes one country – imagine people from China or India deciding for all other countries because they have a majority vote. That would be nonsense, wouldn’t it?

The system I suggest instead, kathocracy, would not have those flaws.

What is “kathocracy”?

Like I said, “kathocracy” means “the power of the individual”. It’s system where each and every person needs to agree to a decision for the decision to be made. It has to be unanimous.

Yes, that will lead to a slow decision-making process. But it will also uncover and resolve a gazillion blindspots that ordinary people have. People will have to be educated about economics, the political system, science, and a lot of other things. They will have to be convinced.

Basically, kathocracy is just like direct democracy, only without the stupid majority vote rule. When the majority decides on things, things fall through the cracks and some members of the society feel like sh..t, because they interests have been ignored.

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