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Political Cluetrain

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Eleven years ago the Cluetrain Manifesto was published and quickly captured the imagination of many thousands of geeks all over the world. The original, much quoted and heavily criticized original, focuses on the way networks have the potential to change commercial markets and workplaces. The version below has been re-edited so it speaks more directly to people interested in politics, while trying to preserve the tone of voice and passion of the original.

Just like any other page on TWTWFY this page can be edited by you. Improve the Political Cluetrain; encourage more politicans and activists to get a cluetrain.


A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, voters are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most politians and political parties.Edit

Politics Online... ...People of Earth
Networked democracies are beginning to self-organize faster than the political parties that have traditionally served them. Thanks to the web, voters are becoming better informed, smarter, and more demanding of qualities missing from most political organizations. The sky is open to the stars. Clouds roll over us night and day. Oceans rise and fall. Whatever you may have heard, this is our world, our place to be. Whatever you've been told, our flags fly free. Our heart goes on forever. People of Earth, remember.


95 thesesEdit

1. Democracy is founded on conversations.

2. Politics concerns human beings, not demographic sectors.

3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.

4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.

5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.

6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.

7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

8. Both voters and politicians are using networks to speak to each other in a powerful new ways

9. These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.

10. As a result, the people are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked democracy changes people fundamentally.

11. People in networked democracies have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from their elected representatives or civil servants. So much for policital rhetoric about making the world a better place.

12. There are no secrets. Networked voters know more than political elites do about their own policies. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.

13. What's happening to voters is also happening among politicians. A metaphysical construct called "The Party" is the only thing standing between the two.

14. Political parties do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, parties sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.

15. In just a few more years, the current homogenized "voice" of politics—the sound of party political broadcasts and election leaflets — will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.

16. Already, parties that speak in the language of the fifteen second soundbite and the loud-speaker van, are no longer speaking to anyone.

17. Parties that assume that networked voters are the same voters that used to watch their party political broadcasts on television are kidding themselves.

18. Politicians that don't realize their voters are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deeply joined in conversation; are missing their best opportunity.

19. Politicians can now communicate with their electorate directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance.

20. Politicians need to realize that voters are often laughing. At them.

21. Politicians need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humour.

22. Getting a sense of humour does not mean putting some jokes on their party sanctioned blog. Rather, it requires blogging with big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.

23. Politicians and parties attempting to "position" themselves need to take a position. Optimally, it should relate to something their voters actually care about.

24. Bombastic boasts—"Education, Education, Education"— do not constitute a position.

25. Parties need to come down from their Ivory Towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships.

26. Public Relations does not relate to the public. Politicans are deeply afraid of their electorate.

27. By speaking in language that is distant, uninviting, arrogant, they build walls to keep people at bay.

28. Most party manifestos are based on the fear that the voters might want to see what's really going on inside government.

29. Elvis said it best: "We can't go on together with suspicious minds."

30. Political loyalty is the democratic version of going steady, but the breakup is inevitable—and coming fast. Because they are networked, voters are able to renegotiate relationships with blinding speed.

31. Networked voters can change their support overnight. Networked activitsts can change party allegiance over lunch. Your own grasping self-interest taught us to ask the question: "Loyalty? What's that?"

32. Smart voters will find politicians who speak their own language.

33. Learning to speak with a human voice is not a parlor trick. It can't be "picked up" with a session or two of media training.

34. To speak with a human voice, politicans must share the concerns of their communities.

35. But first, they must belong to a community.

36. Politians must ask themselves where their party whip ends.

37. If their party whip ends before their community begins, they will have no voters.

38. Human communities are based on discourse—on human speech about human concerns.

39. The community of discourse is politics.

40. Parties that do not belong to a community of discourse will die.

41. Parties make a religion of hierarchy, but this is largely a red herring. Most are protecting less against infiltration by radical special interest groups than against their own supporters and activists.

42. As with networked markets, activists are also talking to each other directly inside the party—and not just about legislation, whitepapers, directives and manifesto commitments.

43. Such conversations are taking place today on the party intranet. But only when the conditions are right.

44. Parties typically install intranets top-down to distribute manifesto promises and other party information that workers are doing their best to ignore.

45. Intranets naturally tend to route around boredom. The best are built bottom-up by engaged individuals cooperating to construct something far more valuable: an intranetworked corporate conversation.

46. A healthy intranet organizes activists in many meanings of the word. Its effect is more radical than the agenda of any "think tank".

47. While this scares political parties witless, they also increasingly depend heavily on open intranets to generate and share critical knowledge. They need to resist the urge to "improve" or control these networked conversations.

48. When party intranets are not constrained by fear and rules, the type of conversation they encourage sounds remarkably like the conversation of the networked marketplace.

49. Strict hierarchies worked in the old days where plans could only be fully understood from atop steep management pyramids and detailed work orders could be handed down from on high.

50. Today, "the movement" is hyperlinked, not hierarchical. Respect for hands-on knowledge wins over respect for abstract authority.

51. Command-and-control management styles both derive from and reinforce bureaucracy, power tripping and an overall culture of paranoia.

52. Paranoia kills conversation. That's its point. But lack of open conversation kills politics.

53. There are two conversations going on. One inside the party. One with the electorate.

54. In most cases, neither conversation is going very well. Almost invariably, the cause of failure can be traced to obsolete notions of command and control.

55. As policy, these notions are poisonous. As tools, they are broken. Command and control are met with hostility by intranetworked party workers and generate distrust in internetworked democracies.

56. These two conversations want to talk to each other. They are speaking the same language. They recognize each other's voices.

57. Smart parties will get out of the way and help the inevitable to happen sooner.

58. If willingness to get out of the way is taken as a measure of IQ, then very few professional politicians have yet wised up.

59. However subliminally at the moment, millions of people now online perceive political parties as little more than quaint legal fictions that are actively preventing these conversations from intersecting.

60. This is suicidal. Voters want to talk to politians.

61. Sadly, the part of the party a networked voter wants to talk to is usually hidden behind a smokescreen of hucksterism, of language that rings false—and often is.

62. Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the party firewall.

63. De-cloaking, getting personal: We are those voters. We want to talk to you.

64. We want access to your information, to your plans and strategies, your best thinking, your genuine knowledge. We will not settle for the 4-color leaflet, for web sites chock-a-block with fancy logos but lacking any substance.

65. We're also the activists who make your parties work. We want to talk to voters directly in our own voices, not in platitudes written into a script.

66. As voters, as activists, both of us are sick to death of getting our information by remote control. Why do we need faceless reports and third-hand focus group research studies to introduce us to each other?

67. As voters, as activists, we wonder why you're not listening. You seem to be speaking a different language.

68. The inflated self-important jargon you sling around—in the press, at your party conferences—what's that got to do with us?

69. Maybe you're impressing your donors and sponsors. Maybe you're impressing the media. You're not impressing us.

70. If you don't impress us, your donors are going to take a bath. Don't they understand this? If they did, they wouldn't let you talk that way.

71. Your tired notions of "democracy" make our eyes glaze over. We don't recognize ourselves in your vision for the future—perhaps because we know we're already elsewhere.

72. We like this new kind of democracy much better. In fact, we are creating it.

73. You're invited, but it's our world. Take your shoes off at the door. If you want to haggle with us, get down off that camel!

74. We are immune to advertising and spin. Just forget it.

75. If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.

76. We've got some ideas for you too: some new tools we need, some better service. Stuff we'd be willing to work for. Got a minute?

77. You're too busy "doing politics" to answer our email? Oh gosh, sorry, gee, we'll come back later. Maybe.

78. You want us to pay to fund your party? We want you to pay attention.

79. We want you to drop your trip, come out of your neurotic self-involvement, join the conversation.

80. Don't worry, you can still have power. That is, as long as it's not the only thing on your mind.

81. Have you noticed that, in itself, power is kind of one-dimensional and boring? What else can we talk about?

82. Your manifesto promises are broken. Why? We'd like to ask the guy who wrote them. Your taxation strategy makes no sense. We'd like to have a chat with your experts. What do you mean she's not in?

83. We want you to take 50 million of us as seriously as you take one reporter from The Daily Mail.

84. We know some people from your party. They're pretty cool online. Do you have any more like that you're hiding? Can they come out and play?

85. When we have questions we turn to each other for answers. If you didn't have such a tight rein on "your people" maybe they'd be among the people we'd turn to.

86. When we're not busy being your "target demographic," many of us are your people. We'd rather be talking to friends online than stuffing envelopes. That would get your name around better than your hugely expensive web site. But you tell us speaking to the voters is PR's job.

87. We'd like it if you got what's going on here. That'd be real nice. But it would be a big mistake to think we're holding our breath.

88. We have better things to do than worry about whether you'll change in time to get our votes. Politics is only a part of our lives. It seems to be all of yours. Think about it: who needs whom?

89. We have real power and we know it. If you don't quite see the light, some other outfit will come along that's more attentive, more interesting, more fun to play with.

90. Even at its worst, our newfound conversation is more interesting than most party conferences, more entertaining than any sunday morning political chat show, and certainly more true-to-life than the party political web sites we've been seeing.

91. Our allegiance is to ourselves—our friends, our new allies and acquaintances, even our sparring partners. Political parties that have no part in this world, also have no future.

92. Parties are spending tens of thousands of pounds on focus groups and market research. Why can't they hear this social revolution? The stakes are even higher.

93. We're both inside parties and outside them. The boundaries that separate our conversations look like the Berlin Wall today, but they're really just an annoyance. We know they're coming down. We're going to work from both sides to take them down.

94. To traditional politicans, networked conversations may appear confused, may sound confusing. But we are organizing faster than they are. We have better tools, more new ideas, no rules to slow us down.

95. We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.

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