What is Deep Democracy

The idea of Deep Democracy was developed by  Arnold Mindell Ph.D. at the end of 80’s of the 20th century. It gains more and more popularity thanks to approach which assumes that in the present-day all standpoints and opinions have to be represented. Especially it concerns opinions of downplayed groups and individuals, minorities, disadvantaged and more or less consciously socially excluded. The attitude based on deep democracy, indicates also a necessity of including many aspects of a social discourse so far being pushed down into a margin. For example our emotions born as a result of impossible to avoid and eliminate social and cultural obstacles, ranks and privilege differences, are frequently and not very efficiently masked by politics of the political correctness. Yet we can not avoid emotional expression which is a very important message and communication channel. Disowned emotions that had already passed on and communicated non-verbally become incoherent, “double” message, which interferes with communication.

Deep Democracy operates on many levels, such as internal level which means that “majority” exists as a matter of fact in a psyche of every person. As a result everyone of us reveals a tendency towards marginalizing and disliking some “unwanted” or/and resenting parts and aspects of our personalities – those parts doesn’t fit into image of “us” – or so called mainstream of  our personality. With time we can occasionally develop even an internalized violence and abuse tendencies !

Over thirty years of practice with several conflicts in groups of people of 20 to 600 of all continents, proves that excluding or even insufficient hearing of minorities’ opinions for that reason not only weakens merits running of a social variety but also causes frustration of these groups that have less access to power and deciding, which in consequence leads to returning of problems and appearing more or less conscious sabotage or even acts of terrorism.

In a paradigm of Deep Democracy EVERY drew out decisions MUST be preceded with a question directed to minorities, for instant in such a content: “What do you need in order that we could live altogether and jointly together introduce made decisions into action?”

It is not a matter of a question itself. A crucial aspect is a coherent response and afterwards  – drawing up an consent which assures the minority that all their needs and postulates shall be in fact heard and possibly fulfilled and brought in (not all at once – of course)..

Usually, each of minorities’ postulates contains a huge creativity and enormous dose of so far hidden knowledge which is needed to whole organization or community.

Unlike “classical” democracy, which focuses on majority rule, Deep Democracy suggests that all voices, states of awareness, and frameworks of reality are important. Deep Democracy also suggests that the information carried within these voices, awareness, and frameworks are all needed to understand the complete process of the system. Deep Democracy is an attitude that focuses on the awareness of voices that are both central and marginal. (Wikipedia, 2006)

Deep Democracy is one of key aspects of Worldwork (Worldwork is a small and large group Process Work method that uses Deep Democracy  to address the issues of groups and organizations of all kinds. To resolve reality problems and enrich community experience, Worldwork methods focus on finding and employing the power of an organization’s or city’s dreamlike background (e.g. projections, gossip, roles, and creative fantasy). Worldwork facilitators listen to the land, do innerwork, practise outer communication skills involving role consciousness, signal and rank awareness to enrich organizational life.  Worldwork has been successfully applied to the analysis of, and work with multicultural and multileveled groups, Aboriginal communities, universities, small and large international organizations, city hot spots, in corporations and world conflict zones. (adapted from www.aamindell.net).

Deep Democracy attitude may be used into the inner world of individual – a single individual as well as to groups and large communities. Deep Democracy takes into consideration all parts of entirety: individuals, groups and communities. Such an approach bases on the belief that all experiences, feelings, convictions, dreams, opinions, tendencies as well as states of consciousness are important, valuable, needed and necessary due to the fact that they constitute part or a basis of reality. Because of this, they should have a chance to express oneself and collaborate with majority voices.

A traditional, classic democracy bases on reigns (or rules) of majority. If they are performed without adequate and sufficient awareness of acquired power and strength – frequently transforms traditional Democracy into majority’s tyranny. In frameworks of Deep Democracy we are creating space where every voice, view, attitude or values can come into being. Only such atmosphere may reveal aspects usually taken no notice, marginalized and existing in under- and background. Facilitators try to emphasize these aspects helping to express themselves, supporting them and finally gaining important information from those disowned parts of the wholeness.

An exceptional aspect of deep democracy is a permission to come into being parts and reality’s component elements that we commonly consider to be unwanted, disowned, “negative”, worth correction, eliminating or repressing. When we give them voting rights – the opportunity of statement and expression, when we are able to identify with them, we may successfully integrate these elements and creatively transform what was previously destructive into constructive. If not, we shall recur (circle) without end a model of  “a policeman and criminal” or we will endlessly create “war with war”.