By Michael McGehee at Feb 25, 2009
[this was originally written as an introductory explanation to the purpose of a proposed project for a participatory society in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex...]
This infamous maxim is Latin for "To whose benefit?" and it gets to the heart of what this project can and should be about.
If you look around at our society this should be the initial question you ask when looking at how social relations are structured: To whose benefit?
The next important question is: Why?
If we want to look at property relations we would ask who benefits by having property rights defined the way they are. Once we see who benefits we might ask, "Why should it be so?" If no justifiable answer can be given then it is up to us to redefine it.
The same goes for sexual, gender, familal, racial, community and other forms of social relations. Where there is a social relation - at home, school, work, government - we should look for areas of dominance or authority, inquire into who is gaining by it and verify its legitimacy.
If we live in a society where people have meaningful say over their lives and the answer to "Cui bono?" is the benefit is equitably spread out amongst those who are affected, and if we answer the "why" question with, "Becauseit is fair and just" then there is a reasonable basis to conclude that is legitimate.
Thus, a Participatory Society is not only about broadening democracy beyond the political sphere (and certainly beyond Representative Democracy), but providing an adequate and meaningful foundation for people to have a say in managing their lives so that they can fulfill their desires in accordance with others.