Democracy is co-creation
The American philosopher John Dewey was one of the signers of Humanist Manifesto I back in 1933. Most people know a little something about Dewey because of his theories of education. Like the nowadays more famous Maria Montessori, Dewey was a constructivist. Constructivism is complex idea that boils down to a fairly simple formula. As Maria Montessori put it, “the mind remembers what the hand does.”
The central claim of constructivism is that we human beings construct our thoughts and ways of being by taking action in the world, along with other of our fellow human beings.
Dewey considered democracy a constructivist activity. He wrote,
A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. (Democracy and Education, 1916)
Think about that:
a mode of associated living
of conjoint communicated experience
Sure, constructivist philosophy can get complex. But what to do is not complex. We do democracy; and we do it by living in association with others and communicating our experiences with each other.
Which adds up to a co-created reality.
By living in association with each other, we jointly create our reality. And a jointly-created reality has a much better chance of being a mutually enjoyable reality.
What John Dewey teaches is that . . . we choose. Each of us chooses. Each of us chooses between fear and hope; hate and love; mutual co-creation as creative or as destructive.
What can we learn from each other? The question is better phrased: what can’t we learn from each other? Or: what don’t we learn from each other?
The reprehensibility of the current right-wing seizure of power here in the United States is its refusal to talk. Its refusal to co-create. Its refusal to embrace the values of a co-created democracy.
Those words from John Dewey again, as something to think about:
A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience.