Direct democracy using technology - Page 3 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#13893306
Eran - In Athens assembled citizens elected generals for specific armies and gave orders ("don't shoot-on-sight"/"exterminate all the men, enslave the women/children") for specific operations. Without saying whether it needs to be this specific, it is apparently possible.
#13893308
It isn't practically possible in the context of the modern state, which is FAR more intrusive, complicated and involved than anything in classic times.

Even in the classic context, much decision-making was delegated by the assembly to individual generals and judges. Further, in that classic context, the assembly was comprised of a small minority of people under its jurisdiction, as slaves, women and non-citizens were excluded.

So the Athenian "democracy" was really an oligarchy.
#13893310
I think that's inaccurate insofar as we're talking about something like 10% of the city's population (20% of males). Of course it depends on the level of executive decision. But the point for me is a great deal that is decided unaccountably be the executive could be decided by the citizenry (for example, whether to bomb Libya, stay of Afghanistan, have a targetted assassination vs. own citizens, etc).
#13893416
Well when it comes to intelligence work, what alternative management would you propose?

Apart from some kind of secret citizen's jury independent of the executive branch of the state, I'm not sure what else can be done to improve it.
#13893497
Eran wrote:Everybody on this forum seems to agree that democracy, both representative and direct, is highly problematic. Yet we can all agree that it is better than alternative forms of government.

Nope. Not even close, if we are speaking of direct democracy as opposed to a constitutionally limited republican form of government where government representatives are chosen by democratic methods such as popular vote. There are numerous forms of government superior (morally and pragmatically) to direct democracy.

Why don't we draw the logical conclusion, namely that government is inevitably corrupt, and rather than try to reform it, look for alternatives?

Government doesn't have to become corrupt, but it will become so if its employers become too complacent and don't turf out the malefactors in government. Like all things of value to humans, a government worth having must be worked for, continuously.

The US was founded on the idea of "checks and balances". We now have ample historic evidence that such checks and balances don't work as long as power can be monopolized by a small group of people.

No, we have ample evidence that the ignorance and indifference of those charged with selecting the people to run the government leads to governmental "mission creep". This should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It wouldn't have surprised Thomas Jefferson, for one.

If we adopted free trade and peace as founding principles, and setting aside national defence, what other issues genuinely require a national, rather than local (not state or regional, truly local) government?

And again we see the insurmountable stumbling block of Anarchy as a viable form of politico-social organization - its inability to propose a credible system of dealing with foreign aggression. In the age of artillery, tanks, aircraft and battleships (let alone nuclear weaponry) it is no longer feasible to depend on concerned citizens plucking their squirrel rifles from the gunracks on the back windows of their pickup trucks and heading to the beaches to repel the invader.


Phred
#13893513
It sounds good at first but nobody can guarantee me that the voting would not be hacked in any way (at least in my country which is full of tricks and fiddles). At least we know who voted for and who voted against in the parliament.
#13893545
I may come back and respond to your other comments, but a quick one on this:

And again we see the insurmountable stumbling block of Anarchy as a viable form of politico-social organization - its inability to propose a credible system of dealing with foreign aggression.


No. I was proposing a "compromise" of localizing government as the least bad statist (i.e. non-anarchist) solution I could think of. My point was that IF people insist on keeping most current government functions, that can still be done by restricting government to the local level. This is a much more effective and meaningful reform than shifting to direct democracy.

Dealing with foreign aggression has not been credible dealt with by governments. Anarchists have proposed several mechanisms and reasons to expect that members of an anarchic society would be safer from foreign aggression than comparable members of a state-run society. In neither case, it should be clear, can total security be guaranteed.
#13893561
Eran wrote:Dealing with foreign aggression has not been credible dealt with by governments.

Tell that to post-1945 European countries whose inhabitants no longer have to worry about being forced to speak German. Or to the inhabitants of South Korea who thank the memory of the Allies every day they don't have to endure the conditions their neighbors to the north do.

Anarchists have proposed several mechanisms and reasons to expect that members of an anarchic society would be safer from foreign aggression than comparable members of a state-run society.

You missed my key qualifier - "credible".

In neither case, it should be clear, can total security be guaranteed.

No, of course not. Nothing in life is guaranteed. I merely point out that the proposal of Anarchists to deal with foreign aggression without any kind of modern weaponry to speak of will come nowhere within hailing distance of "total security".

I agree that this thread is not the venue in which to pursue this tangent further, I just couldn't let the inevitable "let's ignore the question of national defence for the moment" Anarchist throat-clearing pass without note.



Phred
#13894031
Ombrageux wrote:Have any of you read about ancient Athens? It was the most powerful state in the Greek world and held a vast overseas empire. This was compatible with direct democratic rule (obviously within the constraints of the time, citizens in Athens, no immigrants, women, etc). The mechanisms were of direct democracy however, big decisions of war and law being made by majority vote, politicians and generals being elected every year. Granted, Athens had its fair share of military and political disasters, but the same is true of any state regardless of regime.

Why not repeat the experiment somewhere now that the combination of technology, leisure and education (at least in developed countries) have eliminated all practical obstacles to direct democracy? The ruling class is always tends to become privileged, lawless, and abusive of its power. Why not try a practical mechanism to keep them in check?


Well, one thing to bear in mind is that Athens was a single city with a population of less than a million, and even then it was not every last person in the city, very few residents were truly citizens with voting rights. When you take the entire picture, Athens is more an oligarchy than a democracy.

And I don't see a huge problem in oligarchy -- the biggest problems in democracy are caused by people voting for their own interest, and essentially voting for what sounds best. Having oligarchs who act as social CEOs solve both of those problems. They aren't likely to let the country go down about their ears the way that the mob would. If you put the employees in charge of the store, they vote themselves pay raises whether or not the store is able to support it, or if the money would be better spent trying to grow the business. I'd give that store 6 months before they close. It doesn't work well to let people who feed off of the society decide how much they get, and it doesn't work well to have people who don't understand business deciding how to run a business.
#13894061
septimine - The problem with oligarchy - which I guess all governments are a form us - is that they conduct public policy for their private interest. This tendency is partly controlled through democratic pressures (free speech, protests, elections). When these fail, ruling class's decadence can quite literally lead to the ruin and collapse of the nation.
#13894067
septimine wrote:If you put the employees in charge of the store, they vote themselves pay raises whether or not the store is able to support it, or if the money would be better spent trying to grow the business. I'd give that store 6 months before they close. It doesn't work well to let people who feed off of the society decide how much they get, and it doesn't work well to have people who don't understand business deciding how to run a business.


Except that businesses where the workers own the business themselves work out pretty well. Pretty much every family business is owned by the workers in the starting phase, and these businesses aren`t exactly rare :lol: Larger worker collectives are obviously also possible as the likes of Mondragon, Kantega and Indian Coffee House have shown. I know about 3 factories with 20-85 workers each in my hometown (which has a population of 50K) that are more or less owned by the workers themselves, and they`ve all lasted more than six months :)
#13894342
given what happened in the arab spring via social media I have been excited to see how else the internet will transform democracy across the world

I doubt direct democracy as you have described it will increase in the way we have experienced it in the past. But i do think the internet will enhance other democratic activities, such as organizing and informing the public, discussion and debate of policies/ideas.

I personally have hope that social media will finally allow the working class, or labor, to organize on a par equal to that of capital, ownership, the elite, the rich. In other words, the 1% of rich and powerful at the top of all the industries, well they have an easier time organizing around political goals: like military spending and tax cuts for business, than the bottom 67% have a time of organizing around any one potlical goal or set of goals. SO...my hope is that the internet can facilitate more organization of the traditionally disenfranchised...which will be good for democracy and thus good for society and humanity.

So for instance, I think whatever we can get 67% of the US populace to agree to, I think we can figure that out using the internet. And if 67% of us think that we should slowly raise the age requirements on SS and medicare, while moderately increasing user fees and tax rates on the very rich, and reducing benefits for the very rich, and closing tax loopholes, and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on the top bracket...in other words we all know that the middle two thirds of the country is willing to make a balanced sacrfice on this fiscal issue...WHY THE FUCK DON'T THE POLITICIANS JUST DO IT! I'll tell you why: because the democrats are too chicken shit to vote for cuts to social welfare spending, and the republicans are too chicken shit to vote for closing tax loopholes, which would amount to making big corporations like Exxon and GE actually PAY TAXES! (which is something they have pretty much never done before). So yea...both parties are letting the far wings of they're constituencies hold the 67% of us in the middle HOSTAGE from doing what we all know is the most sane way to fix the problem

So yea I'm hopeful that we can use the internet to break free from the deadlock that special interests have tied up our nation in.
#13895115
Direct democracy is usually only ideal for small communities where a public forum can be held, and ideas discussed extensively before voting. If you tried to do that with 100 million people, it would be a disaster. People would just vote without considering alternative ramifications of the outcome. Like wanting public health care without paying taxes for it. It wouldn't work.
#13895294
if you recognize that it can work at a small scale then from there you just need to consider how to extend it and after the point at which it has been extended to its limit you draw a line and dont expect real democracy beyond. The way we do it we apply it in theory - top down - and say this is democracy, but it isnt. Theres no chain of reasoning and input connecting our decisions to what politicians do. I believe it can be extended to the national and global levels but it would have to begin at the bottom and be constructed culturally and structurally, patiently probably over the course of several generations. It's really not unfeasible or unwise, but as I've already pointed out the actual problem is that the incumbent system (as all systems) is always conservative when it comes to preserving its authorities and privileges.
#13896057
RC - The public should at least decide what is in the purview of legitimate "secret operations" (e.g., assassination of citizens/foreigners, for example).
#13896583
Phred wrote:Tell that to post-1945 European countries whose inhabitants no longer have to worry about being forced to speak German. Or to the inhabitants of South Korea who thank the memory of the Allies every day they don't have to endure the conditions their neighbors to the north do.

I don't talk to countries - I talk to people. Unfortunately, there are about 70,000,000 fewer of them following the attempts of their own governments to protect them during WWII.

Plus, you are obviously unable to argue the counter-factual. That governments sometimes and at some cost manage to make their citizens feel safer is without dispute. That they are doing a good job in any absolute or relative sense is a completely different proposition.

Phred wrote:You missed my key qualifier - "credible".

Credibility is subjective. I found them credible. In any event, very few people seriously suggest a sudden transition to ancap society. We have a long road ahead, with national defence likely to be one of the last functions making the transition.

While as a matter of principle, and even as a matter of practice (from my subjective judgement), there is no doubt that a free society will always do better than one run by a government, the speed and modality of transition will clearly depend on specific circumstances, including the perceived nature of external threat. Other things being equal, Belgium will probably make the move before Israel.

I merely point out that the proposal of Anarchists to deal with foreign aggression without any kind of modern weaponry to speak of will come nowhere within hailing distance of "total security".

Who said anything about not having "any kind of modern weaponry"? The vast majority of the countries in the world have little or no access to weapons that couldn't easily be purchased and/or developed by large corporations.

I have started a separate thread where we can continue the conversation.


Happyhippo wrote:Except that businesses where the workers own the business themselves work out pretty well.

They are quite rare as soon as you go beyond the family size. They could work, but there is probably a reason why the vast majority of medium to large scale businesses are not organized that way.

tCan wrote:People would just vote without considering alternative ramifications of the outcome. Like wanting public health care without paying taxes for it. It wouldn't work.

How is that different in a representative democracy? Aren't we seeing the result of exactly that kind of behaviour all over the world?
#13896634
Eran wrote: They are quite rare as soon as you go beyond the family size. They could work, but there is probably a reason why the vast majority of medium to large scale businesses are not organized that way.


Your response highlights an extremely horrible characteristics of the people following your ideology. You guys are supposed to be radicals (as in look for root cases, not symptoms) and quite fond of Bastiat`s little "That which is seen and that which is not seen" essay, and yet you go ahead and defend what we see today by using the current political environment as proof and extrapolate these results to your imaginary free market, while at the same time being fully aware that the society we live in is not a free market at all.

There are plenty of barriers to entry for worker collectives in today`s society, but I`m sure every an-cap knows that deep inside.
#13896669
I accept your criticism.

With it in mind, let me clarify my position.

As a libertarian, I have no moral objection whatsoever to worker collectives. There is nothing inherently unethical, from a libertarian perspective, in either those or more traditional corporations (setting aside subtleties associated with limited liability).

As an observer of the economy, I am speculating that in a free market (which I agree should not be confused with our current system), the dominant form of firm would still be a corporation.

I am not aware of (though I am open to being shown) those barriers to entry for worker collectives. In fact, it seems to me that the current political environment would favour such forms of organization.

However, again as a libertarian, I wouldn't advocate any policy that would in any way discriminate against or discourage such forms of organization.

I am neutral, just as I am neutral with respect to many other questions that currently engage political debates. Let the market decide!
#13896777
newguy wrote: Democracy is defined by each person having equal rights to vote on subjects that affect them; and much of the world's countries follow democracy, although perhaps most (if not all) do not apply it in its direct form. A typical system is that political parties are voted based on their views and then the members of the party may decide on the outcome of subjects raised in parliament. This seems appropriate since it is not feasible to have the entire population of a country in one place to discuss these subjects and vote. However, what results is that many disagree with the choices made by the party which they elected for (perhaps through corruption), but although they have the right to vote on these subjects they are not given the opportunity to do so.

With the presence of the internet, why have countries not employed the idea of enabling the people to on all subjects brought up in parliament and take this power out of the small number of politicians? A website could be developed to enable the public to discuss issues concerning the country, vote on these issues, view the country's budget and spending, make decisions on how it should be spent, etc.

Please discuss.


My thoughts:

I think that in order to make the internet count as a channel of democratic power, the online-spots used for this purpose, must be public, meaning that some sort of ban on anonymity is in place.

If you read the Green book by colonel Gadaffi, he claims that true democracy can NOT be anonymous, not even when voting. The popular assemblies - even on the lowest level, were they are made up from people who are not professional politicians - must therefore vote the people they want as their representatives on the higher levels by being present at the location where the voting take place, and they must cast their vote in public. - No secrecy involved.

To do something like that online, one needs some sort of internet passport which makes you you on the cyber-spot in question. If a political party has a forum that is given direct influence over policy-making in that party (All the time or some of the time), then membership to that forum can come together with the membership-card to the party. The same image you use on the card can be scanned into the site, where it will become your avatar, and the forum-admins sends you the code to your nick, which will be the same as your real name.

But watchfull forum-admins and an inner-party-police must off course expel trolls and idiots as they pop up - both from the party and the forum. One cant have a political party ran by trolls :eh:

Since trolls dislike sunlight, they will stay away from physical gatherings in the real world, a good argument for not making internet the dominant channel of influence within a democratic experiment.
#13897025
"Democracy" could work so much better if the general public weren't just the voters of the representative government- in fact, since the population (as a whole) is so easily manipulated by corporations, public relations, propaganda and so much more, any democracy is pretty much guaranteed to turn into oligarchy.

However, the democratic way we CAN help government and society is by letting the people be the ADVISERS for the government. This is where the internet could come in. If it facilitates communication between those in charge and those people who are intelligent, have good ideas, and good intentions, then it could be a huge asset. The right to vote isn't nearly as important as the right to speak freely and criticize government if it keeps making mistakes. In effect, we could all become lobbyists if the means of communication between people and government were made easier.

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