In November of 2007, I wrote a proposal for the foundation of an Open Source Party. Political noise was being generated about the 2008 presidential election and it looked to be a dreary affair. Most of the essential policy changes that the US desperately needed then (more desperate now) would be ignored. More importantly, systemic questions about how much power US citizens actually have to effect and carry out the policies they would prefer would not be asked.
I saw open source — with its emphasis on the transparency of “the program” — as the best popular (at least among the technologically versed) metaphor for challenging top-down politics. We were (and are) clearly in a system in which representation is, at least, vaguely democratic (we want it more democratic), but policy and legislation is the exclusive domain of the political class and their revolving door of “expert” operatives who drift back and forth between big finance, corporate law and political “service.” These bureaucrats and consultants would continue to serve the moneyed interests and their lobbyists and the vast interlocking state/private complexes (military-industrial, big oil, prison-industrial ad infinitum). These various power centers (there are probably about a dozen of them) have so much power that the US political process was (is) in a state of abject paralysis (I refer here not to the paralysis in which the bought-and-sold politicians from the big parties fail to pass legislation, but the paralysis of the entire body politic crippled by ingrained, legacy, interlocking power centers.).
With a bit of educational assistance from Jon Lebkowsky (coeditor of the 2005 book Extreme Democracy), I also saw that open source politics need not be a mere metaphor but could be an implementable solution, with a plethora of usable tools already available and more being hacked together all the time. Continue reading The Origins of United States Open Source Party