Anyone interested in trying Liquid Democracy?
I guess it would probably make sense to look at some kind of voting software at some stage, and at first glance this looks decent.
james g wrote:
If you were to gather together all the people 18 or over at the local mall on your next visit, and get them to discuss proposed laws and run the country... I think an importance difference though, is that most of the people at the mall are probably never going to have such a discussion.
An afternoon listening to talkback should be enough to show you this is wrong. A quick visit to any of the 99% movement occupations. Even with the often crap weather, the uncomfortable surroundings, the legal uncertainties about their right to be there, and the constant corporate media smears about them being full of smelly, pot-smoking, homeless, jobless, baby-eating barbarians, there were still thousands of people who came down to the occupations to debate us.
Yes, I don't doubt that there are thousands of people in New Zealand who have serious meaningful political discussions. But there are millions of people in New Zealand.
People are super-keen to debate politics, philosophy, economics, ethics etc, despite the fact there is little systemic motivation for them to bother, and no serious consequences if they don't put in the effort to get things right - they can just blame politicians. I think a system of democracy that allowed direct participation would encourage collective intelligence, not mob rule (wasn't this the boogyman used by feudal aristocrats and politburo-crats to attack democracy?)
Crowd-sourcing political debates would be great. Crowd-sourcing uninformed opinions, not so much.
Remember, people used the same arguments against direct democracy to tell us that every other form of crowdsourcing would never work. Wikipedia, Open Street Maps, and numerous other examples do not support these arguments. Neither does the mass online collaboration that generated the new Icelandic constitution.
Yeah, depends on how it's done. I'm not opposed to crowd-sourcing per se.
james g wrote:
The abolition of slavery, the suffragette movement, and the sheer size of countries nowadays makes this form of government no longer practical.
Wrong. It makes real democracy of any kind impractical if all decisions are taken at a national or global level. If, on the other hand, decisions take place at the appropriate scale, most decision could be made at a personal, household or neighbourhood scale, by a variety of direct democratic methods.
I was talking about the form of democracy used in ancient Greece, and by impractical I mean you couldn't get all the voters in New Zealand together in a room, because they wouldn't fit.
Decisions at municipal, bioregional, continental or global scales could be taken using a system of recallable delegates, rather than elected representatives or parties, who can (and regularly do) promise one thing during an election campaign and do another. The example of the linguistics professor in the article on LiquidFeedback is one example of this delegation principle in practice.
The National Party promised to improve educational outcomes for primary school children by implementing national assessment at the primary school level. After they researched this, it turns out that implementing national assessment at the primary school level doesn't improve educational outcomes for primary school children, it does exactly the opposite. But since they'd promised to implement national assessment at the primary school level, they decided to do it anyway. Although actually they promised not just to implement national assessment at the primary school level, but to improve educational outcomes by doing so, which means they still broke their promise. IMHO it would be better if decision-making were less focused on making promises based on preconceived ideas, and more focussed on research and debate and the conclusions that follow from them.
james g wrote:
Representative government allows keeping the requirement that the people who make decisions must sit through the discussion before voting but not keeping the requirement that all people can cast a vote on the decision.
Wrong again. Have you ever been to parliament? I have. I didn't just sit in for question time, the most exciting part of the proceedings, I sat in for a few hours afterwards. After question time was over, most of the MPs left, leaving about 3 in their seats, at least one of whom was usually napping. Other MPs would come in, wait quietly until the current speaker was finished, then give their speech to a practically empty room.
Well okay, fair enough, to an extent. Although I understand Parliament is generally fuller during the discussions before voting takes place.
james g wrote:
If it's a choice between one or the other, I'd prefer to keep the requirement that all people who vote must sit through the discussion first. (Although I'd like to have both, and I wonder if it might look something like this <http://debategraph.org/home>).
This be achieved by a number of methods. One is having the vote at the end of a face-to-face discussion. Perhaps voting papers could be issued at the beginning of the discussion, but it's pretty obvious if someone sneaks into the room at voting time. Delegation could be used here too, as in the LiquidFeedback example. For decision-making on scales that make face-to-face meetings impractical, a combination of video-conferencing and more delegation could be used.
My thought here is that ideally perhaps people could vote on all the parts of the debate... Is this a valid argument? Is this a sound premise? rather than voting simply on an outcome, and the outcome could be calculated by logical deduction. This way everyone who voted would have to look at the arguments, because they would be voting on the arguments. Delegation's okay, as long as you're delegating to someone who's going to take part in the discussion.
The crucial point that should be made here though, is that democracy and majority voting are not the same thing. Nor are they always even compatible. Voting has become so fetishized in representative democracies that its proponents forget that the Soviet Bloc countries all had majoritarian elections for offices within the Party, and that Hitler was elected by majority vote.
Wikipedia is not written by block voting on pre-framed options, but by collaborative editing. Similarly, direct democracy is more about participation in the framing and wording of a decision than it is about replacing voting for representatives with online voting or binding referenda or whatever.
That being the case, I don't have anything against direct democracy. My impression from the use of the term has been that it generally refers to crowd sourcing ignorance, and this is what I'm not in favour of.
I'm quite intrigued by a system called 'demarchy', which chooses a different 'parliament of our peers' (similar to jury selection) to lead a public collaboration for each new law change proposed. This 'public select committee' would be similar to the exiting select committees of MPs, but because it is chosen randomly from the population at large, it's not so easily influenced in advance by powerful interests. This model is not incompatible with a house of representatives, which could function as an upper house, checking the draft law handed back by the select committees against things like human rights considerations.
This does sound interesting.
james g wrote:
Parliament (very sensibly IMHO) considered adding an exception to the law if the age difference was less than two years, and there was a massive public outcry because it spread around churches that the age of consent was to be abolished. That is to say there was a massive public outcry from people who were totally ignorant of what they were objecting to.
Public opinion prevailed, and we effectively got direct democracy in all its glory.
This is the outcome of representative government and majaority-rules. It has nothing to do with direct democracy, and arguably nothing to do with meaningful democracy of any kind. In this example, as mentioned above, the parliamentary monopoly on participation in real decision-making is a disincentive for people to bother getting their facts straight, or participate in open debate outside their own social networks. However, as your example illustrates nicely, it doesn't even provide effective consistent checks and balances against the ignorance that monopoly creates.
Your argument here reminds me of the way opponents of drug law reform often blame the existence of drugs for problems evidently caused by their prohibition.
I don't think representative democracy creates the ignorance here, I think we'd still have it if these sorts of decisions were made by referenda, rather I think we'd need a system that created an incentive for participation in debate, not merely one that doesn't create a disincentive.
I believe that there should be a degree of direct democracy, and I will start to outline the system I've been thinking about below, as well as in other replies in this thread.
The most likely vector for achieving this might be for the pirate parties to adopt the system more widely, and demonstrate that it works well (assuming it does).