On the importance of critical thinking, objective information and proper education for the success of Direct Democracy

Introduction of formal DD procedures (initiatives, referenda, recalls) alone will not be sufficient to establish a successful and well functioning democracy. If all citizens are supplied only with one-sided, or outright false, information, they may not be able to make a good decision, however perfect decision-making procedures are at their disposal (as shows the experience of some jurisdiction that already have referenda, but biased media). Setting up DD parties will probably not correct this problem, but proper education could.
A necessary condition for true democracy is objective information on all sides of a problem, or one could call it "dialectic information".

The importance of this is (in some places perhaps in an unnecessarily complicated language), pointed out and discussed by Antonio Rossin on his Flexible Learning site, especially in the following articles:

He also makes a plea for paying more attention to the proper education of children in the families to prepare them for democratic decision making in their adulthood. Children must not be presented only a single authoritarian truth, but given a "dialectic" spectrum of choices. At least two views on each issue: each "truth" followed up by its critical review - a "thesis" (A+) followed by its "antithesis" (B-) in the terminology of the following article:

This "critical review" is called "negative language" in The word "negative" may be misleading on the first reading, but if you try to read this article carefully, it will eventually make sense.

The question is: Will the parents/educators who themselves were product of the authoritarian education, be able to educate their children in a more democratic way? Perhaps if we try to concentrate our minds on it, we might gradually, maybe over several generations, change things!


(Adapted from the above articles)

The function of "negative language" has been aptly summarized by Jan Slakow, as follows: The way parents use language with their children has a definite impact on how the children will develop. In particular, if we wish for our children to develop their capacity for Critical Thinking, Self-reliance and Flexibility, we should learn to use what is called "negative language".

The concept of "negative language" must be considered in opposition to the "No-contradiction Principle" (or "positive language"). According to the "No-contradiction Principle", if one parent tells a child something, the other parent (or significant other) should concur. In this way, children become used to the idea of following authority figures, rather than questioning received wisdom and thinking for themselves. This might well be acceptable in an unchanging world. But the world we live in is constantly changing and people need to develop FLEXIBILITY in order to adapt to the changes.

Conversely, if a parent makes a statement (a "positive truth") which is followed by a contradictory opinion from the same, or still better the other parent (a "Negative truth", or "negative language"), the child faces a dilemma. In order to go beyond this dilemma situation, if both statements were well-balanced, the child is obliged to use (and develop) its ability for Critical Thinking, Self-reliance and Autonomy, in a word: Flexibility.

What else is one's creativeness than one's systematical application of "negative" thought and language to one's own brain? So, similar to what Arab mathematicians did some two thousand years ago by inventing the "negative" numbers, and thus opening a crucial door to the advance of culture and science, now the time has come to extend the same "negative" concepts also to those other symbols of reality we call "words": i.e., to consciously introduce and use "negative language".

Importance for Consensus Building

Hopefully the implementation of the above principles would make people more inclined to try achieve practical Consensus.