Thinking about political parties, we think of behemoths, huge amalgamates of people and philosophies, preying on contemporary political events and social sentiments on their way to power. Power treated as an aim in and of itself, as the main reason and sense of the party’s existence. Political programmes of such huge organisations are usually gargantuan texts containing gigantic amounts of information on the official party line concerning seemingly every possible issue.
This causes problems. First of all, the machiavellian approach, want of complete, total power – as only by wielding it it is possible to push through with such complex system of ideas.
Secondly, this in practice bars the voters from making informed, rational decisions in the voting booth: how can they navigate in such a vast labyrinth of party programmes? And even if they could, they usually end up finding out they agree with social agenda of Party A, but only Party B has a sane economical one. Go and try to vote!
This, then, ends with a choice made on completely insubstantial grounds, either by subscribing to some populist agenda or hooking up on one of the many substitute topics (like gay marriage, that should by the way have been legalized a long time a go, under any of the proposed names; or abortion debate in which the level of informed, merit-based discussion is next to naught). That, or voting on a particular candidate that turned up in some form of a survey, “matching” candidate’s answers against voter’s views.
Is it finally time for Political Parties 2.0, then?
I believe so. It’s high time for single task parties, created with the aim of introducing a small set of well-defined, particular changes to reality (e.g. “reforming the copyright law to allow free of charge, legal, non-commercial sharing and remixing of culture”). Parties viewed from beginning till the very end as mere tools, not as aims in and of themselves; parties that seek and use many different methods of achieving their goals – as it’s possible to introduce change without entering the Parliament.
And, what’s as important – parties that are managed differently. Enough already with the parties of charismatic leaders that make almost all important decisions and push their own agendas using party members’ energy and time. Time for direct democracy, for example in the form of Liquid Democracy. We need parties that make decisions in maximally inclusive ways; ones that every member of has valid say, whom will vote according to party policy within the party “task” not because he has to, but because his true aim is, in fact, introducing this particular change in reality.
Such small, task-oriented parties also seem an interesting offer to those that feel that societies get too antagonised by the large, traditional political forces. They will more eagerly work together on issues that are not part of their particular “task”; possible they would also vote for what other task-oriented parties propose, as long as it’s not conflicting with their particular task.
To be able to avoid a task-oriented party becoming a traditional behemoth, such parties should also sport a clause in their statutes that would automagically dissolve them upon achieving their goals.