The Future of Democracy and the Democracy of the Future

At this moment in history, the freedoms, civil liberties, and pluralism that are hallmarks of democracy are becoming increasingly fragile through the constant assault of authoritarian forces. Autocratic leaders and oppressive policies are seeking to claim power and control by promoting fear of “others,” restricting rights, creating social strife, and advancing illusory visions of an antiquated past. Radicalized voices are sowing doubt among the masses over the legitimacy of free and fair elections. Landscapes meant to promote greater abundance are being monetized and commoditized through dying systems of scarcity and unfettered consumption. Truth is crumbling under the weight of conspiracy theories, and the idea of freedom for all continues to apply only to those whom society deems to be among the privileged.

Most concerning of all is that the concept of “freedom” as a cooperative and collective experience is being hijacked by a lust for personal and individual “rights.” In truth, unless everyone is experiencing broad-based prosperity, equality, and civic well-being, democracy will always be in danger of being extinguished. Our present assault on democracy only ends when our desire to create a collective experience of empathy, care, and love begins.

Democracy’s tenuous viability is in part due to our exponentially changing landscape of technological access, economic precarity, and environmental collapse. What might be called a “polycrisis” of multiple, simultaneous, and convergent “wicked problems” has flung open the door of widespread fear, doubt, and anger about a landscape where many have been left out of the future altogether. (As well as a present that is devoid of visions for a more hopeful future that starts right now.)

In order to assure that the democratic values of equality, liberty, pluralism, transparency, and tolerance continue to thrive, we must prioritize our investment in aspirational intuition, collaborative imagination, the elevation of consciousness, and promoting new stories of human potentiality. Above all, we must seek out pathways toward what environmental philosopher Glenn A. Albrecht calls sumbiocracy. (Sumbiocracy/Psychoterratica, GlenGlennn A. Albrecht)

“Sumbiocracy is an expression of governance where humans govern themselves with respect for all the reciprocal relationships of the Earth at all scales from local to global. Organic form (all biodiversity, including humans) and organic process (from microbiomes to Gaia) are present in this new form of government. Sumbiocracy is rule for the Earth by the Earth, so that all living beings might live together.”

Glenn A. Albrecht

Enter Futures Thinking — an innate biological, psychological, and sacred capacity of “mental time travel” that empowers us to intuit, imagine, perceive, and narrate alternative possibilities for the present and future. Governments and governance need to take Futures Thinking seriously if we hope to cast off the restraints of our dominant systems of oligarchic extraction, hyper-consumption, and elitism that are damaging democracy and stunting its evolution. To promote the transformation necessary for a world in flux, we can begin by asking probing questions such as:

  • What unique models and structures might emerge to promote greater pluralism and overcome extreme partisanship?
  • How might democracy evolve to best serve the evolution of new cultural ideas?
  • What technologies will be created and implemented to promote democratic ideals and greater citizen engagement?
  • What might future-empowered governments look like?
  • In what ways might greater youth involvement and activism contribute to the development of democratic institutions and policies?
  • How can democracy adapt to the growing needs around our environmental and planetary polycrisis?
  • What does governmental and social transformation for upward social mobility and broad-based prosperity look like?
  • What new stories, guiding metaphors, and “grand narratives” might emerge to that could promote a pluralistic society?
  • How might trends such as hyper-localism, universal basic services, collaborative consumption, digital identities, and other social shifts impact the future of democracy?
  • What alternative visions to democratic governance might emerge that could offer greater well-being, collective care, and overall liberty than the practices we see today?
2014 TFSX led research results on The Future of Democracy.

Integrating Foresight into governance holds the promise of strengthening the generational and intercultural care, empathy, and love that is so desperately needed to overcome the destructive impacts of deception, skepticism, and cynicism. Through a Futures Thinking approach, we can foster a co-create spirit that leads to the flourishing of transformational realities for all.

Frank Spencer

Creative Director

In 2009, Frank founded Kedge – a global foresight, innovation, and strategic design firm which pioneered TFSX. Throughout his career, Frank has worked  as a leadership coach and developer with entrepreneurs, social communities, networking initiatives, and SMEs, helping them in areas such as development, innovation, and networking.

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Yvette Montero Salvatico

Managing Director

Holding a bachelor’s degree in Finance and an MBA from the University of Florida, Yvette has over 15 years of corporate experience with large, multi-national firms such as Kimberly-Clark and The Walt Disney Company. Before co-founding TFSX, she led the effort to establish the Future Workforce Insights division at the Walt Disney Company, identifying future workforce trends and leveraging foresight models and techniques to assess potential threats and impacts, emerging ideas, and exciting opportunities for the organization.

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