Direct democracy using technology - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#13888829
Hi all,

I have just joined and have done so to discuss the following topic: how direct democracy can be achieved with technology.

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.
#13888962
newguy wrote:Democracy is defined by each person having equal rights to vote on subjects that affect them

Democracy is defined as rule of the people; entailing control of the general population to some degree of the political decision-making process. There is no reason this right should be granted equally for all, and almost nowhere has it ever truly been granted to all -- England has had an elected parliament since 1265, though only 2% of the population fulfilled franchise requirements. Even today, most governments have the good sense to not allow convicted felons franchise (sadly not including my own).

newguy wrote: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?

Because politicians aren't quite that stupid.
#13888966
Much of the population simply has no interest in the governance of their nation and those that do have interest are not intelligent/reasonable enough to make correct decisions on particular issues. Representative democracy is already a disaster but at least the average politician isn't stupid enough to actually do what their voting base asks them to do.

Do you really have so much faith in your fellow countrymen ?
#13889012
Direct democracy, except in very limited circumstances, is a horrible idea. All that allowing the populace a direct vote on governmental matters would do is ensure that the government is hijacked by whichever group can muster the most dedicated voters. Given that the people most dedicated to politics are also usually the most radical, this would be disasterous.
#13889049
Direct democracy can be very destructive. For example, here in California, the people pass things without knowing the full implications, such as other programs, taxes, etc. As a result, we have many duplicating or conflicting policies, and many that just aren't smart with our budget - this whole thing is why California is in such debt.

Also, firstly, the Internet is not a very secure way of voting, and secondly, not everyone has access to the Internet to vote.

In a whole, people aren't educated enough to make these kinds of decisions, especially both the large policy acts and with menial day to day operations votes. It is far more efficient to have specialized elected officials who know the full system handle things. It isn't the most representative form, but it is the best compromise between freedom and efficiency.
#13889089
direct democracy would only be able to work with such a large limit on governmental power that it would be a moot point.

i wouldn't trust direct democracy to people with the amount of power the government can currently wield, at least the politicians masters understand enough to just avoid actually blowing up the country.
#13889094
It depends on the structure of the democracy. Certainly I can see a way that a very direct democracy could be an enormous improvement over our current system. Of course if you are a cynic about human nature and don't have the imagination it takes to see something that hasn't been done yet you will disagree. I don't think technology is the key issue though. In order to change the current system that change would have to be in the incumbent's interest.
#13889118
Just as parents may teach their child how to brush their teeth, they may teach their child politics. I don't think one can argue that the people are not educated enough. If such a system were employed then people would likely begin to take an interest and would become educated as it would become more integrated into their lives. It would be necessary that views get discussed before a vote is held so that people may make a more educated judgement. Also, 'radicals' tend to protest hence your view of them being radical, but that is not to say non-radicals do not vote. One may apply the same point to the elections we have at present, such that non-radical people are willing to vote for a party.
#13889308
newguy wrote:Just as parents may teach their child how to brush their teeth, they may teach their child politics.

They often don't, and parents 'teaching' their kids politics is basically just the same as indoctrination. If the indoctrination is strong enough, then it would hinder rather than assist democracy.
#13889386
Fraqtive42 wrote:They often don't, and parents 'teaching' their kids politics is basically just the same as indoctrination. If the indoctrination is strong enough, then it would hinder rather than assist democracy.


Is this any different at present?
#13889581
As Zag points out (and California is a great example)...people don't know enough about the process. Lower taxes? Everyday! More social programs? Everyday! Balance the budget? Everday! But wait...how did that happen after the first two?

The system is not (remotely) perfect but in order for such a system to work people have to become public policy experts.
#13889815
Direct democracy is one of the most destructive ideologies around, and there is a reason the notion of its promotion was spat upon in colonial America and considered putrid and beneath the elitist identification of the nation's founders, who looked to classical Athens and the Roman Republic and saw anything less structured as a rabble worthy of severe contempt.

The natural irony is that direct democracy, like the ugly cousin, simply reveals the gross and inefficient inherent premise of the modern representative republic.
#13889861
As somebody who is keenly aware of the inherent faults of any form of democracy, the question of direct vs. representative democracy is a difficult one.

I'd say they are both as bad as each other, but have distinct faults.

Both forms of democracy reflect, overall, the strong and predominant sentiments of the public. That is their common fault. Beyond that, each has additional shortcomings.

For representative democracy, the obvious shortcoming is the agency problem - representatives act in their own interest rather than that of their constituents. Admittedly, one of the major interests of representatives is to get re-elected, and consistently voting against the wishes of most constituents on issues that are very important to those constituents reduces one's chances of getting re-elected. But there are other factors determining re-election such as fund-raising or the concentrated power of certain organizations to "turn out the vote". And most votes are over issues over which most constituents don't care. In the case of those votes, the interests of the constituents don't matter.

For direct democracy, the issue, as many people noted, is both uneven and low turnout (as most people, rationally, don't care about voting), and magnification of the ignorance and bias of the electorate. To be clear, that bias and ignorance show their ugly head even under representative democracy, but can potentially be somewhat mitigate through the agency of representatives.

Which is better? I think that's hard to tell. The best solution is obviously to reduce the size and scope of government so that neither avaricious and self-serving representatives NOR ignorant and indifferent voters get to tell others what to do.
#13889871
Far-Right Sage wrote:Direct democracy is one of the most destructive ideologies around, and there is a reason the notion of its promotion was spat upon in colonial America and considered putrid and beneath the elitist identification of the nation's founders, who looked to classical Athens and the Roman Republic and saw anything less structured as a rabble worthy of severe contempt.

The natural irony is that direct democracy, like the ugly cousin, simply reveals the gross and inefficient inherent premise of the modern representative republic.



FRS, how exactly do you reconcile this with your oft stated sympathy for Jamahiriya ?
#13890063
I would just like to add that direct democracy, unlike representative democracy, would prevent hidden agendas.

Also, if the problem is with the education of the people of the country then that highlights a problem with the education system, not direct democracy. It wouldn't be unfeasible to teach this at school.
#13890111
FRS, how exactly do you reconcile this with your oft stated sympathy for Jamahiriya ?


I do have a strong sympathy for many elements of the Jamahiriya system, but in referring to ideological proliferation, I will quote Mussolini -- "Fascism is not an article for export". The state of the masses - popular control over issues on a local level to inspire participation in building a coherent national life and loyalty among the common folk to their community and the sovereign (in the case of Green Libya - Qaddafi) which empowers them. Such a system has worked beautifully in Libya and I believe has potential in Afghanistan as well, which has never known a sense of unity around a strict central authority in its contemporary history, when it was a monarchy, a Communist state, an Islamic theocracy, or a weak Islamic republic. Domestic issues have often been deferred to regional and local administration, and it was this betrayal of the latitude of tribal elders which in large part inspired the patriotic and spiritual insurrection against the Khalq and the Afghan intelligentsia.

Beyond having a safeguard measure of an ostensibly authoritarian guardian (the Qaddafi family and powerful tribes of Ghadaf and Warfalla) to protect and prevent unruly citizens from altering such a system significantly on a national level, I remember a healthy Libyan national-fighting spirit in the 70's and 80's, when it seemed the whole of the country was participating in Tripoli's foreign policy around the world.

Such a system is oriented around common national goals and brings all segments and classes into some form of participation in a national existence and drive toward advancement while simultaneously educating them in proper national goals and ensuring against outside financial and media interference and corruption of the populace.
#13890174
the only way direct democracy would work is if the only people who were allowed to vote could prove they knew the basic information and weren't just voting for the policy because it sounded nice. then someone would begin to take control of those standards and warp them to keep people with dissenting opinions from voting, that someone would then be essentially a dictator and direct democracy would die. or you could keep that proviso out and the country would collapse.

there is such a thing as stupid people, you cant educate everyone and most people don't even have an adequate understanding of how the system works, much less the possible implications of every policy that ever comes up.
#13890638
I would just like to add that direct democracy, unlike representative democracy, would prevent hidden agendas.

Far from it.

It is very commonplace to justify policies with a compelling excuse, even while the promoters of the policy have a hidden agenda. In fact, the term Bootleggers and Baptists was created precisely to describe this phenomenon.
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