Introduction: Using the Device (& Table of Segments)

The Democracy Device:

Kit & Concepts for Field Operatives

Fig. 1: The Democracy Device with Segment

The Democracy Device is an imaginary object found near a desert hamlet in eastern Namibia. It was spotted in the sand by a young girl after a storm and decades later given to a doctor in the city. A palm-sized metallic sphere of considerable age and pitted finish, it is slightly larger than a tennis ball and surprisingly heavy. Though not immediately apparent, the Device is made up of nine finely milled detachable segments (Fig. 1).

Each Segment, (technically, ‘spherical wedges’) examines an aspect of democratic practice. The Device was designed to evoke dynamic, noisy and effective forms of democracy and to help democratic groups flourish in conditions of economic, political and social degeneration.

A cross between an Army Field Manual, an Organisational Handbook and perhaps the I Ching Book of Changes, the Device presents visual, conceptual and psychological aids for democratic operatives in the field. While fitting neatly in the hand, it was, at some point in the past, dropped, thus accounting for the sometimes-damaged insights evident in the Device today. 

The Device draws on Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz for its mathematics, Niccolo Machiavelli for its ferocious populism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s psychological method and Milton Erikson for the hypnotic inductions. The aim throughout is to act on the power politics of how we, as individuals, think and to better utilise the effects of institutional structures on how we, as collectives, make meaning. To this end, the Device combines psychology and politics to help make organisations more democratic.

Not untypical of Emergency Tool Boxes and Prepper Survival Packs of its day, the Democracy Device is notable for its celebration of democracy as a means of collective information management and perhaps also for its vociferous concern with the psychological effects of holding power over others. Throughout, the Device’s nine segments question the competence of elites, stressing their restless desire for power and their willingness to destroy everything to defend it.

Democracy, as the philosopher Hilary Putnam observed, ‘is the precondition for the full application of human intelligence to addressing social problems.’ This damaged and archaic Device sought to provide practitioners with a battery of useful designs, craft knowledge, cognitive tweaks and organisational tools to shape the democratic hand that holds them.

Dr  D R  Blaug ICC
London UK, 2015

The Democracy Device: Kit & Concepts for Field Operatives


1.   In ParallelSegments

2.   The Assembly & its Council

3.   Representation to a Council

The Device Was Designed to Wait (Inter-word)

4.   Talking & Deciding

5.   Corruption & Rotation

Falling (Digression)

6.   Democratic LeadershipSegmented Globe

7.   Incoming from Society

8.   Outward from the Mind

Routine in the Trench (Lulling)

9.   Tyranny as Teacher



Enter the Device here or by following the links in the Table of Segments above.


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