The Public Intelligence Project is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit initiative that seeks to promote more proactive ways to manage diversity, mainly by advocating for better methods of addressing public differences and empowering silenced voices. We believe that by creating a “culture of democracy”—a social and political environment that is marked by strong civic and community engagement and public participation in the decision-making processes—governance can be significantly improved, and conflicts can be addressed more effectively. We also believe that the foundations of such a culture are built on dialogue, critical thinking, diversity of thought, perspective, and opinion, and freedom of expression and dissent. The Project seeks to develop these capabilities through research, education, and advocacy.
Doesn’t a “culture of democracy” already exist in democratic societies though? Not necessarily; let’s take India as an example.
With well over 1.25 billion individuals to govern, and more religious, linguistic, caste, and sub nationalities than Europe, India is the world’s largest democracy. This means that there are 1.25 billion voices to be heard; 1.25 billion men and women of all ages and religions from different geographic locations, speaking different languages, and holding multiple perspectives, values, and opinions that are called to coexist. Naturally, this coexistence is much easier in theory than in practice, where certain points-of-view often dominate over others, and money, power, caste, class, gender and influence determine which voices are being heard loudest and most frequently.
So then, how do we work together? How do we make collaborative problem-solving the norm instead of the exception? How do we look past differences? And how then do we govern ourselves? By creating a culture of democratic thinking and behaviors through a citizen-driven movement; by speaking your truth; by holding government; religious, and political figures accountable; by listening to other opinions; by thinking critically about what you read in a newspaper or hear from a family member; by becoming engaged in the civic process and in your communities; and by not staying silent when you witness injustice or have a different point-of-view. For democracy to succeed, all of these actions are necessary.
Although we do not necessarily believe that democracy is a panacea for a nation or society’s governance problems, we do believe that a democracy is the best form of governance to manage the diversity of perspectives and thought that exist in today’s world as well as the complexities of life in the 21st century. Democracy without Dialogue regresses into a psephocracy- a government solely by the ballot box, without intelligent citizen participation in decision making. Dialogue aids in the management of diversity, especially for addressing competing values and opinions. Dialogue cannot occur without the right of individuals to openly say things that might offend others without fear of reprimand or reprisal. Dialogue itself is impossible to create without empathy, openness, and critical thinking.
Thus, for us at Meta-Culture, advocating for the protection of freedom of expression and the better management of diversity through more participatory methods is urgent and critical if we are to arrive at any kind of local or global consensus to stave off ecological, social and political catastrophes. We do this by developing original curricula for schools; supporting those working on similar causes; advocating for participatory democracy; empowering and raising hitherto silenced voices; and by being a platform for the silenced everywhere.