Recently Facebook, along with several other organisation were nominated for the Noble Prize for peace on the count of they role in the falling of corrupted regimes such as Libya and Egypt. As of now, These countries still haven’t their desired peace-and-prosperity, but peace and democracy were never easy to achieve. It’s worth mentioning that while most people presume that the french revolution sums to the conquering the Bastille, it actually took decades and many lives lost on all sides.
Let’s talk about revolutions a little and the famous of them: we had the agricultural revolution about twelve thousand years ago changing our lifestyle (and the environment) from nomadic gatherers-hunters to settled farmers try to terra-form the earth into an easier-to-understand-and-control mono-cultured land (we can have a huge debate whether this was a good revolution but let’s not stir off); secondly, we had the industrial revolution moving the majority of people from working on their small plot of land (and paying taxes to the sovereignty) to cities and work in big factories and industries externalising costs of pollutions and social welfare. Around that time, there was a second agricultural revolution with the invention of fertilisers that helped us amount to excess and giving us enough time to do stupid things like bungee jumps and world-wars. We had the sovereignty (french) revolution that defined that the ruler is not absolute in power, or at least should hide his absolutism in devious ways (Egypt was democratic, mind you before its uprising. A democracy led by a tyrants); And finally, we had the digital revolution, shifting our everyday lives to an online existence.
I wish to challenge that last statement, although carefully phrased, but I think it should be “The data revolution”, while the real “digital” revolution hasn’t happened yet. The data revolution caused data to be a major influence in our lives, like agriculture and industry have at their respective times. but have our lives really became digital? do we really make our big decisions on-line now? did it change our sovereignty?
Having this common-people-level technology we can for the first time since democratic ancient Greece (that denied voting right to anyone but rich-male-citizens, mind you) have a really true democratic system where all votes counts equally.
But that’s what happening today! we vote and our votes are equal
It’s true that you vote and by doing that you decide what in your opinion is the best choice – but you’re forgetting that the person who gave you the choices to choose from. He has a lot more sovereign power than you. Imagine I offer you to choose against who you should go to war with – Afghanistan, Iraq or Iran.
But I don’t wan’t to go to war at all! I want peace
yes, but I never gave you that choice, have I? meaning my “vote” is much more powerful than yours. And more than that – By asking you which country we should invade, I might have given you a sense of freedom (actually lacking from today’s political system. I doubt the american people would’ve chosen to invade Iraq were they given the truths about the weapons of mass destructions and the choice), but the truth is that I denied you from two other freedoms: Not only I chose which countries should be presented to you (why not Syria? or Canada?), I also decided we should invade a country to begin with!
The inline-remark about Iraq and the false intelligence is actually worth a second mentioning – the role of the media and the role of the sovereignty to convince the masses that the latter’s actions are justifiable. Had we known, there’s no WOMD in Iraq, what have still invaded? Sure, Saddam was a tyrant who brutalised his people but fact remains there are many tyrants we don’t mind having, just as long as they sell us our oil. Invading a country for it’s natural resources might be justifiable but I’m not sure how many americans saw it like that and can we say that truly live in a democratic society, as their decision was biased by the people in power?
OK, so what are you suggesting?
Let everyone not only vote, but also suggest the topics to vote upon (the equivalent of “how should we handle Iraq’s WOMD?”) and raise alternatives (“invade it!”, “nuke it!”, “there’s no WOMD in Iraq!”) – meaning, participating in all the three lays of decision-making. This will still not stop the media from giving us false report (for that you need an purely-independent-and-decentralised press), but it’s a good start.
Is that a wise thing to do? letting everyone vote? what about the stupid people?
It might not be the wisest, but it’s the right thing to do. denying people from their right to vote under the ground of their lack of information is outrageous – it is the sovereignty’s responsibility to provide this information – failing to do so means we have a bad sovereignty -either evil or incompetent. Underlying the reasoning that people don’t know what’s good for them is the assumption that the ruler knows better, which is absolute vanity. What kind of qualification doe he posses to support such claim? I’m not saying such qualification do not exists, I’m just saying that in our current-democracy, these qualifications don’t play a role in our election-process (anyone can run for office, right? not only those who were bred and trained for it). So yes, people might be stupid, but they are the first ruler of themselves and they should be allowed to make the bad decisions that will affect their lives.
Fine, OK, so everyone votes. But what about people, who are too busy to mess with politics all day long?
I have a solution that might even give you some ease regarding the incompetent-people-democracy: suppose you’re a busy person and don’t have the time for politics. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a very clear agenda of what you believe to be right and wrong and a good sense of how things should be. All you need to do is find someone who thinks just like and you can trust and delegate your voting-right to him. He will be your representative. A representative will be paid in accordance to the number of people he represents, so this is his job – to go over the thousands of topics raised by the concerned citizens and express his, and his “clients” endorsements (or lack of) and everything else required by the political infrastructure. Unlike a normal citizen, whose vote is secret and help private, the representative’s vote is not only made public, but he also must declare on his intentional voting in half-time (if the public voting period is two days, for example, the representative must declare his vote in a day), giving his client enough time to respond to this decision by accepting it, switching to a different representative or voting independently. Unlike today’s politicians that hold their voters hostage for (usually) four years, the representative must be either very attentive to his voters or ready to lose his popularity if he decides to stand ground on what he believes to be true, in spite of the voters leaving him. These two options makes the representative better than today’s politician by either acting upon his voters’ wishes or by keeping his integrity, while a politician buys his voters with sweet promises and afterwards does more-or-less as he pleases, just as long as he can justify it.
And how does a person can become a representative? what qualification will he need?
I believe that the most important factor for becoming a good representative is experience. After participating for some time in the political field – i.e. suggesting topics, endorsing, commenting, drafting bills and voting the person will be offered to become a representative. Accepting the role won’t change much yet but all his actions will become visible as he is now a public figure. Users may see these actions and choose to rely on him to promote their own political agendas.
Representatives are getting paid by the number of votes they hold so they can invest these money for more research and more involvement in the political arena.
What if I agree with a representative but only on certain issues?
Any action in the system is tagged by it discussed topics whether its environmental, economical or social. Each person may decide to have a single representative, or to make things a bit more complicated, he may choose that on certain topics, a different representative’s decision will overrule the decisions of his default representative. He then create his own special blend of decisions, made by people he deem as professional, each in his own field.
OK, I think I got this. One last question: what about the government and the president? what’s their role in your little game?
Whether there’s a government or a president, a king or a tyrant, it makes no difference, for the person in charge is the CEO of the society, and the parliament, or the elders’ council or whatever is the board whose job is to monitor and approve the CEO’s performance. So what we discussed until now refers only to the parliament’s functionality. In many place the presidents is dependant of the congress’ confidence in him. I believe this condition will stay the same, even if now the parliament will be based on a dynamic set of people representing the entire population. It’s probably important to promise the president a certain leverage by assigning him to a limited but minimal duration (unless he’s really bad at his work). Once he was assigned, his actions belongs to another discussion – Should the CEO be professional or ideological? should these two characteristics contradict? but let’s keep that for another time.