Direct Democracy. A better alternative?

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by Bugsy, Oct 21, 2006.

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  1. It's pretty evident that the democracy exercised in Western countries isn't a democracy at all, since it's invariably a "gobment by some people for some people".

    The original parliament was initially conceived as a counterweight to the power of royalty, since the landowners, merchants and such disliked seeing queens and kings confiscating their hard-earned dough for wars and royal yachts etc. Royalty responded with its own chamber in an attempt to redress the balance of power. That's why today there's an "Upper House" and "Lower House", or House of Lords and House of Commons. That doesn't describe their geographical postitions, it's what they represent. And, essentially, nothing's changed in that remit to this day.

    In the meantime, things have moved on and vast swathes of any given population are as well-educated (if not better) than the so-called leaders. These leaders do a decidedly crappy job for the majority of the populace.

    It's obvious that things are going from bad to worse and don't look like improving any time soon - at least not under the present totally corrupt system.

    So maybe it's time to seriously contemplate some alternatives:

  2. It isn't ideal, but it's all we got. What are the alternatives you want to start contemplating?
  3. Brian, try looking at the link I provided dealing with Direct Democracy.

    There was a very interesting feature on Direct Democracy in "The Economist" sometime in the middle-90s. If anybody at all can find a link to that, I'd be most grateful.

  4.'re having a larrf
  5. It's been a long time since my studies in philosophy and politics so my recollection of the topic of direct democracy is a little hazy.

    The arguments for and against direct democracy have been going on for centuries. The political model of ancient Athens can be considered to be the earliest form of direct democracy. Every 'citizen' was expected to play a role in the democratic process through direct participation in the polity. Ultimately, however, this model excluded foreigners, slaves and women. With such widespread disenfranchisement it can be argued that the model was not democratic at all, since engagement in the process was limited to a few men -- the political elite. So much for rule of the people by the people and for the people.

    Today's representative model of democracy is indirect in nature. Citizens elect representatives to make decisions on their behalf. Obviously, this can lead to decisions being made that go against the needs and wishes of the majority. The only fall back the electorate has is the option to vote political representatives out of office at the next election. But this in itself, particularly in the 21st century, may appear intrinsically undemocratic.

    Francis Fukuyama wrote about the End of History. He considered that with the fall of the Berlin Wall came the death of the battle of ideologies in politics. During the Cold War two distinct ideologies were being espoused, that is, capitalism and communism. Fukuyama saw the death of communism as leading to the final stage in the political evolution of mankind. With the death of communist ideology, the liberal democratic model became the only choice for the electorate. This has led to little distinction between political parties since they all purport to be liberal democrats and, by definition, capitalist in nature. Ultimately, as I have stated, the electorate is able to vote politicians in and out of office. However, with there being little ideological difference between political parties, voters are destined to vote in 'more of the same' -- the same politicians just in a different guise. It can be argued, therefore, that with so Little realistic choice the system is not democratic at all. Compounded with the fact that unelected civil servants advise politicians on, and implement, policy the representative model doesn't look democratic at all.

    Theoretically, direct democracy may seem like an obvious choice of democratic model. In practice, however, there are potential problems. Advocates of the representative model have argued that direct democracy is impossible because of the difficulty in ensuring every-ones participation in the system. How, they ask, could you possibly incorporate millions of people directly into the political process? This argument still holds some weight, although less so than it once did.

    Proponents of the direct model can now argue that direct participation is possible due to the widespread availability of electronic communication technologies, such as the Internet. Critics of this point of that technology is not infallible and it would be impossible to police such a system. Furthermore, tthey point out that the population as a whole is incapable of making political decisions due to a general lack of esoteric knowledge. Advocates of the direct model may counter this by stating that the lack of political knowledge is due to the poor education put in place for the masses by the elite. That is, only the ruling elite have access to decent education, thus ensuring the status-quo remains intact.

    Obviously, prior to a direct model being put in place the education system would require an overhaul. This would take time, at least a generation and, as such, it appears unfeasible that a direct model could be implemented anytime soon. Another problem, according to advocates of the representative model, is that most people do not want to play a direct role in the political system. Would the law require them to participate, and what if they chose not to? Living in a pluralistic society, like the UK's, may create insurmountable difficulties as well. Would anything ever get done if disparate members of a seemingly fragmented society (Christians, atheists, Muslims, Sikh's, Jews, Hindu's, etc) all played a direct role?

    It is not an easy topic but one that is needs to be addressed. We must not allow the difficulties faced in creating such a system instill a paralysing defeatist attitude from the beginning. Maybe it could be done, maybe not. The fact remains, however, that we do not live in a democracy, only the ever weakening illusion of one. The ultimate question is, therefore, how democratic can society be?

  6. Here's a link to the article - by Brian Beedham. I found it on the Canadians for Direct Democracy website... :)
  7. And this explains things a little better:

    I'd love somebody to explain to me why this is inherently worse than the corrupt system in place in the UK (and other countries) today!

  8. snip -------->
    I\\\'d love somebody to explain to me why this is inherently worse than the corrupt system in place in the UK (and other countries) today!
    end snip -------->

    One scenario might be:

    After a slow news weekend, the Sun (mis)reports an insulting remark made by a minor French civil servant.

    Internet based referendum set up on Monday to close the Channel Tunnel with a military force stationed at the French end.

    By Wednesday when the referendum closes, the French have preempted the emerging positive outcome by mining their end of the tunnel.

    But the referendum passes and the UK government have no choice but to act, and dispatch a military force.

    ..... I could go on to the referendum 2 days later to \\\"Pull our boys out ...\\\"
  9. I think you'll find, Civ_Pop, that the UK population is a lot more sensible than that. Anyway, you're really just re-hashing the old argument that people in general have no idea and need to be led by their "betters". It doesn't fly, and it never has.

  10. Bugsy7 replied:

    I think you\'ll find, Civ_Pop, that the UK population is a lot more sensible than that. Anyway, you\'re really just re-hashing the old argument that people in general have no idea and need to be led by their \"betters\". It doesn\'t fly, and it never has.

    OK - I will admit to presenting an old point in an exaggerated scenario, to explore an argument. If I failed to engage you with it, then my only other rebuttal is of your point about people \'knowing better\' would be:

    3 terms of Tony Blair

  11. I think in the technology age DD is possible and in my opinion desireable.

    I go back to the point made about financial decisions made by millions of people over the internet on a daily basis.

    Is it safe?

    Not entirely no. No security framework including the voting system we use already is; but here is my point.

    We live in a global economy and all of the technology being developed to make financial transactions as secure as they can be can also be put into use when making direct democratic decisions. As well a secure bank account (for instance) you would also be the owner of a secure digital political account with a secure transaction site that would be very easily policed. You would have a username and your own password or PIN.

    You can of course vote from home but you can also vote in dedicated polling stations and legislation would require all work places to have a computer with an internet connection with time allocated to each employee to use it in an upcoming vote.

    You would login to the vote of the day and spend some time reading the background and the arguments for and against. Even join in on a forum. You can do this at any time in the lead up to the vote without making your decision before logging off. This would give you time to think about it. When you are ready, before the deadline of course, you would make your decision and vote. Your vote would be logged and you get on with life. If you don't vote in time then thats your tough luck.

    I think DD would work in all except highly sensitive excecutive decision making for which I think a seperate study should be considered that fits as closely as possible with the DD process but in truth there are some decisions that have to be made on the spot very quickly and that could be the sticking point.
  12. Very good points well made, Tazzers!

  13. Dont even get me started on this one (see avetar, not the group the meaning), no politcal parties, all equal, etc, money, just a bit of paper or worthless metal that we slave for, why, because we know no better. Voting for a vacus person to further her/himself, no thanks.
  14. No worries Bugs a friend of mine and myself have been putting a bit of thought into this recently.

    Do you mind if I mirror this thread on a couple of other forums? Lets face it something has to give and there's ought like spreading the word.