Democracy 2.0

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

horza
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:49 am UTC

Democracy 2.0

Postby horza » Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:28 am UTC

I'm actively trying to find a sollution to the current state of things. As far as I can reason, there has to be something better than a ruling system where, hypothetically, 51% of the subjects will dictate what the other 49% should like.

True, as that guy Churchill said - democracy is the worst type of govenrment, apart from the ones that have already been tried. But being the best now doesn't mean it should be like this forever.

Another thing i'm thinking of is - maybe we ask the wrong questions. Maybe we should start not with imagining a new political system but with asking :

What changes (tech/social/economic/philosophical/etc. but most likely tech) will enable us to switch to the next type of government and what will this new form of political organization look like?

Any kind of answers are welcomed as long as they have an idea behind them :)
As in "cold fusion is perfected" is wrong but " cold fusion will allow for free energy which in turn will de-stabilize some of the fuel-based powers which in turn ... etc." is right

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Zamfir » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:05 pm UTC

horza wrote: As far as I can reason, there has to be something better than a ruling system where, hypothetically, 51% of the subjects will dictate what the other 49% should like.

A good idea might be to define basic legal limits to what a 51% majority can decide. And to change those basic limits you then demand a very strong majority and a long-winded formal procedure, so that such changes only get made when they have ample support.

User avatar
Azrael
CATS. CATS ARE NICE.
Posts: 6491
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:16 am UTC
Location: Boston

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Azrael » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:18 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
horza wrote: As far as I can reason, there has to be something better than a ruling system where, hypothetically, 51% of the subjects will dictate what the other 49% should like.

A good idea might be to define basic legal limits to what a 51% majority can decide. And to change those basic limits you then demand a very strong majority and a long-winded formal procedure, so that such changes only get made when they have ample support.

Oh, like a ... constitutional democracy?

I think what the OP is really after is a broader definition of inherent rights and perhaps a shift away from needing a simple majority in legislative bodies.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Zamfir » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:45 pm UTC

Yeah, that was a bit of a snark. Still, it is useful to keep in mind that the current systems are a lot more complicated (both in theory and in practice) than a simple half+1 rule.

If someone wants to improve the system, they will have to give some indication what they perceive as flaws of the currently existing systems. Of course, there are more than enough flaws. But people have also been trying to improve democracy for a few centuries now. Some apparent flaws are already being treated, and other flaws will be very, very hard to solve.

The OP's main objection is, at least for now, the hypothetical outcome that a small majority will force its will on a large minority. But that is exactly the sort of obvious flaw against which many measures have already been taken. Constitutions. Human rights that are perceived as more fundamental than laws. Multiple chambers of decision. A strong and largely independent legal system. And these measures appear to work. Democracies do not in practice vote to oppress a sizable chunk of their population.

Of course, democracies do vote sometimes to oppress smaller minorities. But if a privileged 90% of a population genuinely wants to oppress an underprivileged 10%, the problem isn't democracy, and the solution is not another form of government

User avatar
Thesh
Made to Fuck Dinosaurs
Posts: 6580
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Thesh » Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:08 pm UTC

horza wrote:I'm actively trying to find a sollution to the current state of things. As far as I can reason, there has to be something better than a ruling system where, hypothetically, 51% of the subjects will dictate what the other 49% should like.


Well, a pure minarchy accomplishes this. In a pure minarchy, the governments only roles are to protect the citizens. It consists of a court system and police. The laws are very simple and open to interpretation. They essentially state that you can't make someone do something through coercion, you can't steal or damage the property of another, and you cannot physically harm another person. They are strictly "no victim, no crime." Now, this can be paid for through a tax, but some advocate that this would be voluntary.

Military would be entirely made up of private militias. Things like roads would be payed for voluntarily by communities (possibly by tolls as well). Everything else would be run by private organizations, in some cases non-profit and in others for-profit.

In this situation, you have 100% freedom to choose how you live your life, you have full control over how much (if any) of your money goes to charity, and what charities you wish for it to go to.

Pure minarchies, however, are not very realistic and the more you go into it, the more compromises you have to make. For example, unless all land is public land, then you need a government to store the records containing who owns what. If it is all public land, then anyone can just decide to build a shack in your front yard.

To give as much freedom to the people, you can start from there and then start figuring out what the necessary evils are.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

User avatar
dumbzebra
Posts: 275
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:59 pm UTC
Location: Somewhere on the moon.

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby dumbzebra » Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:13 pm UTC

I don't think there will ever be a form of organization where everybody's needs and demands will be met, because when you boil it down, where you stand politically is defined by your answer to "Do I care about other people?", a question, that can't be answered rationally. In a society (just like in any relationship) there will always be compromises.

What changes (tech/social/economic/philosophical/etc. but most likely tech) will enable us to switch to the next type of government and what will this new form of political organization look like?


The first I would think of would be the spread of robots. There might be one day where humans will not do any physical labour, or no labour at all anymore, which, in a drastic interpretation, would allow anyone to have everything. The outcome could be hedonistic (not meant in a negative way), post capitalist and post monetary society, dedicated to joy,arts and philosophy, of course depending on the degree of "robotisation" we would have. Advanced computer technologies (maybe even artificial intelligence) could create a perfect functioning planned economy, that works perfectly without any interference of humans.
Important driving force for this would be an economy and global structure, so advanced in technology, that everyone's needs would be met (No more hunger, enough living space etc.). Something we are theoretically approaching right now.
But you see, this is all sci-fi-talk, I think in the near future, we should stick with what we have.
As the great philosopher Socrates once said: "No."

User avatar
lutzj
Posts: 898
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:20 am UTC
Location: Ontario

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby lutzj » Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:34 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:I think what the OP is really after is a broader definition of inherent rights and perhaps a shift away from needing a simple majority in legislative bodies.


Devolution of power to provinces/municipalities could also work here; the 49% that like yellow hats could live in Yellowton and the 51% that prefer red hats could live in Haton Rouge. The federal government would be restricted simply to regulating brim diameter and thickness.
addams wrote:I'm not a bot.
That is what a bot would type.

User avatar
Azrael
CATS. CATS ARE NICE.
Posts: 6491
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:16 am UTC
Location: Boston

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Azrael » Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:53 pm UTC

That assumes infinite worker transportability which is, quite obviously, mythical.

User avatar
thorgold
Posts: 278
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:36 am UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby thorgold » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:42 am UTC

The reason democracy is the most preferrable form of government is because it is the most logical. Humans, by nature, are different, especially when it comes to matters of opinion or even logic - put two people in a room and they will disagree on something. In any society, it is completely impossible to have a 100% consensus on any issue. However, the alternative to inefficient government is self-destructive anarchy, therefore a government must be administered.

Since perfect government is impossible, the lesser of all evils must be accepted. Democracy allows for the majority of a people group to overrule the voice of the minority - an injustice, but fair in comparison to other systems. In government systems other than democracy, you can see smaller and smaller groups of people overriding the opinions of other groups, even majority groups - dictatorships are the epitome of injustice, with the opinion of one becoming the law of all.

This scale, briefly, lists types of governments in relation to their "fairness" in the way things are decided:
Democracy (Most Fair) - Republic - Autocracy - Dictatorship (Least Fair) | Anarchy (Dictatorship by the strongest)

The problem with government is that, as the population grows, the scale above becomes a scale of efficiency. While democracy may be the most fair form of government, it is the least efficient - if everyone must submit their opinion, logistics becomes a major issue. Dictatorship may be the least fair, but it is the most efficient - one person declaring law is simple in comparison to millions debating and voting on an issue. Therefore, modern society must take a stand between fairness (pure democracy) and efficiency (dictatorship). As it stands, Republics are the majority form of government in stable countries, and autocracies are the majority governments in less stable countries. Only in small regions or highly destabilized ones do you see pure democracy or dictatorship, or even pure anarchy.
You can refuse to think, but you can't refuse the consequences of not thinking.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Zamfir » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:23 am UTC

Thorgold, I got two questions from your piece. In th first case, how are democracies inefficient? All around the world, the most efficient governments tend to be democracies, while more oppressive regimes go together with lots of corruption, nepotism, make-work bureaucracies and other forms of inefficiency. Empirically, democracies appear in the rule to be highly efficient, compared to other governments. So what do you mean by saying that democracies are inefficient? That those countries would have even more efficient governments if they turned more opressive?

Second question: why are republics in your list? Japan isn't a republic and North Korea is. It would be a tough claim that therefore North Korea is a stable and fair country and Japan isn't. The short of list of non-republics in the world ranges from Saudi-Arabia to Norway. Hardly much of a pattern of fairness and efficiency there.

User avatar
mister k
Posts: 643
Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2006 11:28 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby mister k » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:18 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:Thorgold, I got two questions from your piece. In th first case, how are democracies inefficient? All around the world, the most efficient governments tend to be democracies, while more oppressive regimes go together with lots of corruption, nepotism, make-work bureaucracies and other forms of inefficiency. Empirically, democracies appear in the rule to be highly efficient, compared to other governments. So what do you mean by saying that democracies are inefficient? That those countries would have even more efficient governments if they turned more opressive?

Second question: why are republics in your list? Japan isn't a republic and North Korea is. It would be a tough claim that therefore North Korea is a stable and fair country and Japan isn't. The short of list of non-republics in the world ranges from Saudi-Arabia to Norway. Hardly much of a pattern of fairness and efficiency there.


Democracy is a bad way to effect rapid legislative change. The easiest way to pass a law quickly is to basically ignore the democratic process, which democracies do all the time- look at anti-terror legislation which gets rushed through. Of course rapid legislative change is usually a bad idea...

The issue of 51% of people deciding what 49% do isnt accurate. Lets look at a system with three parties, the perfectly reasonable party (PR), the obviously silly party (OS) and the raving looney party (RL). Lets suppose that PR has 40% of parliament, OS has 30% and RL has 20%. Now PR has power only to push through legislature with a parties aid. So PR might just join with RL to push through a bill that OS hates, but OS says that if the PR do that, they'll vote against the OTHER bills that PR wants to get through, which RL won't support. So that way the OS can't control all the legislature that gets passed, but can control against the worst law that will affect their constituents. And indeed, this is how parliamentary systems often work. Now this works better the more proportional a system is, because if you get down to a two party system then you have to depend on individuals to defend minorities rather than parties, which is harder. This is why I'm inclined towards more proportional versions of democracy, although not a full closed lists system, as that tends to swing the other way, with minor parties possessing more power than they should.
Elvish Pillager wrote:you're basically a daytime-miller: you always come up as guilty to scumdar.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Zamfir » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:40 am UTC

mister k wrote:Democracy is a bad way to effect rapid legislative change. The easiest way to pass a law quickly is to basically ignore the democratic process, which democracies do all the time- look at anti-terror legislation which gets rushed through. Of course rapid legislative change is usually a bad idea...

But isn't that exactly an example of how democracies are efficient? Democracy are pretty efficient in gathering multiple relevant view points on an issue, instead of blindly following the group-think of a small elite, or even an individual leader. They are not perfect in that respect, but a lot better than most systems. Making complicated decisions quickly is not a sign of efficiency, it is usually a sign of ignoring relevant input and of pushing through decisions before people can organize opposition.

Alan Chatham
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2009 1:26 am UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Alan Chatham » Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:55 pm UTC

thorgold wrote:This scale, briefly, lists types of governments in relation to their "fairness" in the way things are decided:
Democracy (Most Fair) - Republic - Autocracy - Dictatorship (Least Fair) | Anarchy (Dictatorship by the strongest)

Zamfir wrote:Thorgold, I got two questions from your piece. In th first case, how are democracies inefficient? All around the world, the most efficient governments tend to be democracies, while more oppressive regimes go together with lots of corruption, nepotism, make-work bureaucracies and other forms of inefficiency. Empirically, democracies appear in the rule to be highly efficient, compared to other governments. So what do you mean by saying that democracies are inefficient? That those countries would have even more efficient governments if they turned more opressive?

Second question: why are republics in your list? Japan isn't a republic and North Korea is. It would be a tough claim that therefore North Korea is a stable and fair country and Japan isn't. The short of list of non-republics in the world ranges from Saudi-Arabia to Norway. Hardly much of a pattern of fairness and efficiency there.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there might be a misunderstanding here - I'm reading thorgold's list as a list of governmental forms in the abstract (eg. Athenian style democracy -> Western Constitutional Democracies/Republics -> Autocracies/Oligarchies -> Dictatorships), and I'm thinking that Zamfir, you're maybe looking at things based on the vernacular/what governments self-identify as (e.g., we in the US call ourselves a democracy, when really we're technically a constitutional republic, and 'Socialist republics' are realistically autocracies or dictatorships). They are both, of course, reasonable interpretations of the terms, so I don't intend to criticize, just to promote mutual vocabulary.

Likewise, I think the efficiency thorgold is talking about is more about governmental overhead, rather than efficient outcomes. For instance, true democracy doesn't really scale, hence we move to representative democracies and republics so people can get things done instead of spending all day at the forum. Likewise, I bet North Koreans don't spend a whole lot of time voting, and if Kim Jong Il wants 100,000 people to pack a stadium and march in crazy formations, it gets done without a lot of haggling and negotiating. Of course this sort of efficiency isn't generally the same as economic efficiency; just because the Chinese government can put up a new highway in record time doesn't mean that that highway is in the best place, or that that it was built without massive waste, bribery, and corruption. Corruption and graft aren't efficient for countries, but dictatorships tend to be especially efficient at graft and corruption.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Zamfir » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:02 pm UTC

A bit of googling around suggests that the root problem here is James Madison, whose comparison of democracies and republics has clearly influenced the American use of those terms. To me, republic means little more than 'sovereign country that is not a monarchy'. I guess the use of democracy to refer to Athenian democracy is outdated even in the US, but apparently people know when to switch. Is that because Madison get mentioned in schools or something?

User avatar
thorgold
Posts: 278
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:36 am UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby thorgold » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:50 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Thorgold, I got two questions from your piece. In th first case, how are democracies inefficient? All around the world, the most efficient governments tend to be democracies, while more oppressive regimes go together with lots of corruption, nepotism, make-work bureaucracies and other forms of inefficiency. Empirically, democracies appear in the rule to be highly efficient, compared to other governments. So what do you mean by saying that democracies are inefficient? That those countries would have even more efficient governments if they turned more opressive?

What's more efficient: A thousand people debating and voting on an issue, or one person giving an order? Dictatorships are seen as corrupt because, in our modern society, they only are present in less-stable regions, where corruption and inefficiency is a result of the environment itself. As well, most of the countries of the world today are republics - countries where elected officials represent the people in order to solve issues, in contrast to pure democracies, in which 100% of the population has a say in EVERY issue. Even America is a Democratic-Republic; most issues are solved via representative government, though some major issues (more so on the more local levels) are solved by pure democratic vote.

Zmfir wrote:Second question: why are republics in your list? Japan isn't a republic and North Korea is. It would be a tough claim that therefore North Korea is a stable and fair country and Japan isn't. The short of list of non-republics in the world ranges from Saudi-Arabia to Norway. Hardly much of a pattern of fairness and efficiency there.

I wasn't aiming to list every government system on earth, but rather give a vague outline of the political spectrum in term of involvement by the people. Pure democracy has everyone voicing their say, republics have elected representatives, autocracies are unelected, small groups, and dictatorships are single people. Is it incredibly vague? Yes. But, if you're not nitpicking the semantics, it serves its intended purpose.

Alan is correct in identifying that I am using the traditional, abstract terms for government systems - their literal meanings, not the definitions hoisted on them by modern goverments. Pure democracy (a term I used often) is synonymous with Athenian democracy - modern usage of the term usually refers to a constitutional republic, more often than not. Using the classical definition of government is intended to avoid confusion - hell, I'd be confused if I thought that North Korea was literally a "People's Republic" when it is, quite blatantly, a dictatorship.
You can refuse to think, but you can't refuse the consequences of not thinking.

User avatar
Roĝer
Posts: 445
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:36 pm UTC
Location: Many worlds, but mostly Copenhagen.
Contact:

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Roĝer » Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:32 am UTC

thorgold wrote:What's more efficient: A thousand people debating and voting on an issue, or one person giving an order? Dictatorships are seen as corrupt because, in our modern society, they only are present in less-stable regions, where corruption and inefficiency is a result of the environment itself. As well, most of the countries of the world today are republics - countries where elected officials represent the people in order to solve issues, in contrast to pure democracies, in which 100% of the population has a say in EVERY issue. Even America is a Democratic-Republic; most issues are solved via representative government, though some major issues (more so on the more local levels) are solved by pure democratic vote.


I disagree here on the corruption. To me it seems quite obvious that a system in which few individuals hold much power and can overrule the judicial system is far, far more sensitive to corruption than a system in which positions change every few years and elected leaders are accountable to popular opinion.
Ik ben niet koppig, ik heb gewoon gelijk.

User avatar
mister k
Posts: 643
Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2006 11:28 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby mister k » Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:47 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:
mister k wrote:Democracy is a bad way to effect rapid legislative change. The easiest way to pass a law quickly is to basically ignore the democratic process, which democracies do all the time- look at anti-terror legislation which gets rushed through. Of course rapid legislative change is usually a bad idea...

But isn't that exactly an example of how democracies are efficient? Democracy are pretty efficient in gathering multiple relevant view points on an issue, instead of blindly following the group-think of a small elite, or even an individual leader. They are not perfect in that respect, but a lot better than most systems. Making complicated decisions quickly is not a sign of efficiency, it is usually a sign of ignoring relevant input and of pushing through decisions before people can organize opposition.



Yes, I agree. I think we are working with different definitions of efficiency.

If by efficiency we mean rapid legislature to enact a plan of change then a dictatorship should (theoretically at least) provide this more than a democracy. If instead we mean well considered and scrutinised legislature, then we can argue that a democracy provides this, as there is more scrutiny built into every democratic system. Arguably one could set up a dictatorship with scrutiny (so basically the English parliamentary system back when the King had a lot more power), but then one loses legilative rapidity.
Elvish Pillager wrote:you're basically a daytime-miller: you always come up as guilty to scumdar.

User avatar
Iulus Cofield
WINNING
Posts: 2917
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:31 am UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:27 pm UTC

Modified Brave New World (without the intentionally horrific aspects).

The government's sole purpose is provide happiness by organizing the people to produce all necessities and luxuries they need to be happy and by enforcing a social organization which fulfills emotional and social needs.

The family and long-term monogamy are abolished to eliminate jealousy and the ever present problems of supply and demand of sexual and romantic partners.
Primary education includes cultivating interests and hobbies in things that are available as leisure, outdoor activities, painting, movies, etc.
The economy is totally regulated, although decentralized, through careful management in response to real needs and demands.
Tedious labor is done by machines. The people are kept active through their various interests and hobbies, cultivating gardens if need be.
A real education is ostensibly outlawed, but access is made available by a government run black market for those who really want it.
The ruling class is a super-meritocracy composed of the most talented who are also dedicated to providing the most happiness to the rest of the population.
Malcontents are sent to islands where they may live as they wish, with like-minded people.
Unproductive areas of the planet are abandoned and handed over to those who which to remain outside of the Brave New World's political and social control, greatly reducing the cost of subsidies.

The motto can be, "We, the people, engineer our own paradise."

User avatar
thorgold
Posts: 278
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:36 am UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby thorgold » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:54 pm UTC

Roĝer wrote:
thorgold wrote:What's more efficient: A thousand people debating and voting on an issue, or one person giving an order? Dictatorships are seen as corrupt because, in our modern society, they only are present in less-stable regions, where corruption and inefficiency is a result of the environment itself. As well, most of the countries of the world today are republics - countries where elected officials represent the people in order to solve issues, in contrast to pure democracies, in which 100% of the population has a say in EVERY issue. Even America is a Democratic-Republic; most issues are solved via representative government, though some major issues (more so on the more local levels) are solved by pure democratic vote.


I disagree here on the corruption. To me it seems quite obvious that a system in which few individuals hold much power and can overrule the judicial system is far, far more sensitive to corruption than a system in which positions change every few years and elected leaders are accountable to popular opinion.

Yes, the leaders are sensitive to corruption, but that doesn't change the used definition of efficiency. One person giving orders is still faster and more streamlined than three hundred million people voting, even if the one person has been bribed by every crimelord on his continent.
You can refuse to think, but you can't refuse the consequences of not thinking.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Zamfir » Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:21 pm UTC

thorgold wrote:Yes, the leaders are sensitive to corruption, but that doesn't change the used definition of efficiency. One person giving orders is still faster and more streamlined than three hundred million people voting, even if the one person has been bribed by every crimelord on his continent.

But dictatorships aren't perfectly streamlined hierarchies. If anything, they tend to be the opposite. There are different factions and interest groups and fiefdoms all with their own power base, and they watch each other carefully. In the military, in the security forces, in important industries, in ministries, regions, ethnic groups, etc

Dictators have to balance all the time, to keep the factions divided and to have enough powerful supporters to stay in power. Often the dictator is just the public face of a complicated mess of powerful interests, and not even necessarily the most powerful person. So decisions take lots of political maneoevring and negotiations, just as in every system. Of course, sometimes such countries can act fast, if there is a sense of crisis, or if enough people in power immediately agree on the course of action. But that goes the same in democracies.

zmatt
Posts: 554
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:48 pm UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby zmatt » Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:41 pm UTC

Kinda late getting in on this, but to address the OP's point.....One of the central tenants of modern western political thought is the supremacy of the individual. In other words no majority tyrannies against minorities or individuals. there are laws against such things. Now by current state of affairs you mean abuse of power, those in power serving only themselves, people not being represented etc. Well I take it as the effects of entropy. Things start to decay with time, especially the seeming morality and effectiveness of gov institutions. The ruling generation right now (baby boomers) are frankly running things badly. I can't think of many good things they have done for us during their time on earth. When they were kids they whined, when they were young adults they lived in excess ,and now that they are older and running things they have destroyed our economy. According to the Stauss-Howe generational theory we are approaching another "crisis" turning led by the boomers.
clockworkmonk wrote:Except for Warren G. Harding. Fuck that guy.

Spambot5546
Posts: 1466
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:34 pm UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Spambot5546 » Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:23 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:That assumes infinite worker transportability which is, quite obviously, mythical.

When I first read Locke's "ship" metaphor for being forced into the social contract my first thought was that in an ideal society one of the fundamental guaranteed rights should be the ability to leave.

That is to say, in my perfect democracy if you were in a city/province/country that you considered contrary to your ideals the state has an obligation to help you leave.

I say "perfect democracy" because this hits some serious feasibility issues too. Helping someone leave can not only mean buying them a plane ticket, but helping with finding lodging, helping with the movement of personal belongings, helping with finding new employment, or in some extreme cases even help with learning a new language and culture.

However in the case of moving from Yellowton to Haton Rouge it could work.
"It is bitter – bitter", he answered,
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Zamfir » Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:39 pm UTC

@ spambot, I don't think the issue is emigration, but simply daily commutes, or even shopping. Suppose you divide a country into little communes for every group of people with the same political opinions. Then there would be no reason to assume that your best-fitting job is close to the part of the country that fits your exact political preferences. So either people stick to the choices offered by the small local economy, or they compromise and go live in an area with people they disagree with. But then the problem of different opinions comes up again.

You can take the EU as real life example: it is tricky to combine an integrated economy with a high level of sovereignity for parts of it. And there is a clear desire to have an integrated economy on the scale of hundreds of millions of people. Now imagine that every city had a country-like sovereignity to make its own political choices.

horza
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:49 am UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby horza » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:10 am UTC

Thanks for the nice discussion - it really cleared some points for me.

As far as I can think until now - the solution is extremely complex, given the current state of things. The ability to group even the smallest minorities in self-governing areas according to their common interests would seem to be the perfect outcome. It wouldnt be possible today, of course, but going half way to that - allowing for some kind of self-governance, based on "some" common interests - wouldn't that allow for less compromise in our way of life, than the current system ?

Given, we will probably reach a point where we'll find out that some thing are mutually exclusive - not producing/working does not permit eating and/or medical treatment, etc.- but those things will get solved within theirselves and people will finally group on the most viable interest sets. Point being that, as opposed to how it is now, if you're not satisified with the current place you are in - you can always go form/join a more likeable "tribe" :)

did i mention i love this forum ? :)

Vo2max
Posts: 73
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 4:22 pm UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Vo2max » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:25 am UTC

We're about to have a referendum here in Wales on 'giving' full law-making powers to our National Assembly (Senedd). I'm a natural yes voter on this, but it raises a few issues for me that hopefully are relevant here:
a. The proposal is for law-making in a unicameral parliament where the executive is a subset of the legislature, which sounds like about as close as you can get to an elected dictatorship (we have also always had coalitions, so arguably no manifesto has ever been elected and acted on.) Obviously this type of setup works well in the Nordic countries which are very stable democracies and nice places to live so it can't necessarily be a bad thing. On the one hand I guess it tells your representatives, you've got 4 years, you're supposed to be the experts, get on with it. (My impression is that other than Nordic countries and the UK constituent nations, unicameral legislatures are common but tend to be separate from the executive.)
b. Direct democracy, plebiscites, can't ever really give appropriate decision-making anymore. Things are simply too complicated these days, which is why we elect professionals to represent us. Could a referendum have been used to decide what to do about the financial crisis? Even a simple question like we're being asked is too complicated to properly address the nuances on a mass scale. You are forced to either massively polarise the question, or add in a load of complexity with problems of separability or of having to have several referenda in quick succession. (Can technology come to the rescue?)

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Zamfir » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:47 am UTC

@Vo2Max, unicameral systems are very common for non-sovereign governments. I doubt your municipality has multiple chambers, for example. The added layer of conservatism of a second chamber is already more than taken by having to fit within the limits set by the higher government.

@ Horza, I suppose that very good telepresence of some kind would change our concepts of government radically, by making geography less important. Let's say a quality of telepresence that is so good that hanging out with your friends or going to the office never implies that you will physically meet other people. In such a world, geographically organized governments would be less obvious than they are today. I have no idea how such a world would look like.

Perhaps we would indeed get small communities (geographically or virtual) each with their own laws, so you could easily choose under which law you want to live today. With virtual business communities that only have commercial laws, so that contracts you make (including jobs and just buying stuff) are not necessarily governed by the laws of the community you live in. You can already see some aspects of that today with international business deals.

Such a world would not necessarily be better, just different. it might be hard for example to keep order. Let's imagine the virtual equivalent of a mugging: someone manages to disrupt the link between you and your work, and demands money before you can go back to work. In a world of many little states, who would police against such actions?

Hummer
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:06 pm UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Hummer » Sat Feb 19, 2011 10:20 pm UTC

Proportional representation is a system of government which effectively translates representation into the precise vote. In these systems, there are clear balances to the types of problems the original poster mentioned. That is if 34% of America votes for a particular organisation, they get 34% of the representatives in a particular parliament.

The problem with this entire premise, is arguing for Democracy 2.0 is based on the template current practice, largely an evolution of government in medieval Europe. This is problematic, as we may well see in the Middle East, where we claim a system of governance based on a template in the West is a fundamental human right. Sure, in my opinion there are fundamental human rights. However, what we actually have the right to vote on in most of the developed world is, in practice, very limited. Economic policy, regardless of what opposition parties say, will never change the base of an economy, and can only tinker at parts of its superstructure.

My argument, then, is that the entire notion of Democracy 2.0 is based on, in my view, the flimsy premise, advocated across the world (see Winston churchill), that our systems of governance is optimal. The question should therefore be presented as how can we solve [a specific problem] through practical political reform, and how can technology make it economical.

Game_boy
Posts: 1314
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 7:33 pm UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Game_boy » Sun Feb 20, 2011 5:48 pm UTC

I think a better democracy can be achieved with our current framework plus stark transparency.

Assuming that most of the problems in the political system are caused by:
- Mass general ignorance of how money is actually spent
- Politicians with vested interests being lobbied to do things that doesn't benefit the majority (example: IP law, anti-terrorism spending)
- Corruption (illegal use of funds and power)
- Those who have the ideas to fix the country can never get into a position of political power as it requires moral and legislative compromise (example: Obama's agenda)

Then monitoring every tiny activity of every politician and every dollar spent should help this, especially applying this to government contractors so they can't keep transactions and decisions private just because they are a commercial entity, should help. Make it so FoI requests can't be denied easily; reduce the scope of national security. Then at the very least news organisations can sift through the data and point out when things aren't right (as Wikileaks and Private Eye do today).
The Reaper wrote:Evolution is a really really really long run-on sentence.

Iv
Posts: 1207
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:08 pm UTC
Location: Lyon, France

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Iv » Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:40 pm UTC

Vo2max wrote:b. Direct democracy, plebiscites, can't ever really give appropriate decision-making anymore. Things are simply too complicated these days, which is why we elect professionals to represent us. Could a referendum have been used to decide what to do about the financial crisis? Even a simple question like we're being asked is too complicated to properly address the nuances on a mass scale. You are forced to either massively polarise the question, or add in a load of complexity with problems of separability or of having to have several referenda in quick succession. (Can technology come to the rescue?)


I think that even on complicated questions, direct voting offers an equally good (or equally bad) decision-making process. The representatives usually are no more specialist than you are so they listen up to specialists and lobbyists. A crowd of electors would do exactly the same. The only difference being that direct corruption will be harder.

User avatar
Whimsical Eloquence
Posts: 348
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 2:29 am UTC
Location: Ireland

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:12 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:A bit of googling around suggests that the root problem here is James Madison, whose comparison of democracies and republics has clearly influenced the American use of those terms. To me, republic means little more than 'sovereign country that is not a monarchy'. I guess the use of democracy to refer to Athenian democracy is outdated even in the US, but apparently people know when to switch. Is that because Madison get mentioned in schools or something?


Well, as a non-American and as someone with a general distaste for American word usage, I would contend against that. Democracy merely implies a rule by all people in which via some form of universal suffrage the majority rules. This is generally derived from Athenian Democracy (given an historical appreciation for "universal suffrage"). However, as in the case of Athens and other democracies, the majority may act as a tyranny against the minority or behave in an irrational and contrary fashion (Ochlocracy - mobocracy). Both of which is accounted for in the idea of "Democracy".

The idea of a Republic had originally, in the time of the Greeks and then Cicero, been the fusion of the three classical governmental types (democracy, aristocracy, monarchy) to temper out each of their deficiencies while keeping their merits. This was embodied both in the Roman Republic (theoretically at least) and in the Serene Republic of Venice. In both of these Republics there was a unique idea of citizenship, the rights it held, and a non-monarchical conception of the head-of-state (though with monarchical like elements). The idea of a Republic evolved through the Enlightenment to one of a tempered democracy in which the majority was constrained, rights were guaranteed and there was some alienation from the raw democratic will in favour of superior governance, of a Constitutional Democracy broadly speaking. That's certainly the context I would use it in.
“People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard

Game_boy
Posts: 1314
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 7:33 pm UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Game_boy » Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:21 pm UTC

Iv wrote:I think that even on complicated questions, direct voting offers an equally good (or equally bad) decision-making process. The representatives usually are no more specialist than you are so they listen up to specialists and lobbyists. A crowd of electors would do exactly the same. The only difference being that direct corruption will be harder.


The main objection I have is the California situation: people will automatically vote against new taxes and vote for new spending proposals in their area or that affect them. Leading to a large delta between revenue and expenditure if this is not tempered in some way.

It's the opposite of the problem of having representatives vote universally unpopular measures through because they are so removed from the average person's motivations.
The Reaper wrote:Evolution is a really really really long run-on sentence.

Iv
Posts: 1207
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:08 pm UTC
Location: Lyon, France

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Iv » Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:47 pm UTC

Game_boy wrote:The main objection I have is the California situation: people will automatically vote against new taxes and vote for new spending proposals in their area or that affect them. Leading to a large delta between revenue and expenditure if this is not tempered in some way.

It's the opposite of the problem of having representatives vote universally unpopular measures through because they are so removed from the average person's motivations.

Is that ?
Instead of voting for tax cuts, they vote for people that promise tax cuts. And the national debt is a reminder that matching spending proposals and taxes income is not taken as a very important constraint by the "professionals" either. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that voting for less taxes and more debt is a good thing, but that you don't prevent idiocies from being made by forbidding people to vote directly. You just force them to use a proxy (an elected representative) to do their biddings. Direct democracy does not make voters smarter, it just solves one problem : corruption of the elected representatives but creates no new problem.

I mean, it works in Switzerland. They don't vote for constant tax cuts (though their taxes are low) and don't have an astronomical debt.

charonme
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun May 18, 2008 11:18 am UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby charonme » Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:59 pm UTC

I completely disagree with Churchill on this on multiple levels. I personally like what Hans-Hermann Hoppe has to say about this. He even considers some forms of monarchy to be better than what is currently practiced under the name "democracy", but prefers what he calls a natural order (or what some might call anarchy among various other terms).

User avatar
drkslvr
Posts: 205
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:59 pm UTC

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby drkslvr » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:35 pm UTC

@Horza
I have to agree with Hummer on the proportional representation bit. Admittedly, there are some added difficulties. But I think the benefit far outweighs the cost. And, the real selling point is, this isn't a pie-in-the-sky. It's something we could implement now.

  • Prevents Gerrymandering
  • Overcomes the limitations of the two-party system
  • Allows minority voices to be heard
  • Moderates the extreme swings in government make-up that can be caused by a tiny shift in the make-up of the electorate with the current system
  • More representative of the will of the people
Help a paralyzed kitten get surgery! Fundly.com/Help-Link-Walk-Again
Image
Like Link's page for photos and updates on his status: Facebook.com/HelpLinkWalkAgain

User avatar
Indon
Posts: 4433
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:21 pm UTC
Location: Alabama :(
Contact:

Re: Democracy 2.0

Postby Indon » Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:54 am UTC

I would posit that the current most 'developed' government type is not simple democracy, but democracy in which multiple, conflicting powers are able to continually check each other, each of them ultimately democratically influenced.

I would submit then that a government in which everyone, individually and collectively, effectively answers to someone, a universally accountable democratic government, is the next clear development from simple democracy - and is a concept that, while it exists, still needs work just about everywhere it is encountered.

As an example I think could use some work (at least in America), between the government, the people at large, and the specific subset of people who are socially powerful:

The government could check the powerful with regulation that keeps them from abusing their power to harm others.
The powerful could check the potential for government inefficiency through republican (not the party) measures.

The government could check the potential for uninformed, oblivious democracy from the people through public education measures.
The people could check the potential for government corruption through democratic (not the party) measures.

The powerful could check the people by, well, being powerful and exercising that power onto people to influence them and such.
The people could check the powerful... by rioting when powerful people are being too abusive with their power. This part of the triangle in particular needs work.

I think the problem of unmerited single-group domination of government, regardless of the group, can be fixed by giving everyone more tools with which they can stop other people from doing bad things - a government with a strong mix of democratic and republican measures, and with a strong mix of government interacting at multiple levels, those levels working with or against each other, I feel would make a more stable and less corruptible government. I further feel that many different representative governments around the world have worked elements of this into their governments, but that no government has gotten it comprehensively yet.

Technologically, I think anything that increases communication capability or information freedom is condusive to that objective.

Practically, in America, I would make a specific proposal to kick things off:

-Americans should be empowered to use direct democracy to disband any chartered organization by referendum. Vital organizations, like government, can be reassembled as necessary, and other businesses can fill the void left by any business so unpopular that it prompted popular disbanding. It's not likely to be abused due to the comparative difficulty of using referendums, and it provides a direct tool for communities and societies to deal with corrupt organizations within it.

I also support proportional representation, abolition of the electoral college in favor of direct popular election of the President, and an amendment to give Congress the power to order military withdrawals ('cause that's a big flaw in our checks-and-balances system, if you ask me).
So, I like talking. So if you want to talk about something with me, feel free to send me a PM.

My blog, now rarely updated.

Image


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests