Iceland Is Crowdsourcing Its Constitution

<a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Abraham_Ortelius-Islandia-ca_1590.jpg">Abraham Ortelius</a>/Wikipedia

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Just after the United Nations declared internet access a human right, Iceland is crowdsourcing its constitution. No joke. In the wake of Iceland’s 2008 banking collapse, the 25-member consitution council is starting from scratch by posting drafts of laws to its website, and then incorporating suggestions posted by citizens on its Facebook wall. The process should take three to four months, the council estimates. Already, worldwide applause is flooding in though its Twitter and YouTube accounts. 

You might predict that wacky ideas are muddying up the document, but that’s not the case. So far, rather than pandering to a hodgepodge of interests on the fringe, the constitution has well-reasoned democratic rights. Some of them are even downright innovative. For instance, it protects human rights regardless of “genotype.” (Forgive the Google Translation quirks below.)

 

It also guarantees universal mental health care…

 

…and the protection of natural resources down to the “ocean bottom.”

 

 

Iceland’s project showcases social media’s creative potential. No longer just for toppling oppressive regimes, Twitter and Facebook can be tools for democratic reform. This recent UN report stresses the power of social media for political revolution and reconstruction. And most recently, as the New York Timereported Sunday, the Obama administration has been helping revolutionaries by creating “shadow” internet and cell phone systems for international dissidents that will bypass the reach of oppressive governments. “There is a historic opportunity to effect positive change, change America supports,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the Times.

But the Arab Spring has incited a slew of criticisms about the long-term consequences of social media revolutions. Online uprisings could leave countries leaderless, Nicholas Thompson recently argued in the New Yorker. Let’s hope Iceland gives us an example of how to crowdsource democracy—leadership included.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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