Among lots of useless "noise" this maillist actually contains a number of valuable
contributions with suggestions or ideas on how to increase citizen participation in
decision making, how to slowly edge
to a more just society. E.g., have a look at the list of all the attachments.
The whole maillist (with all the noise) then illustrates the huge obstacles that have to be
overcome in order to get real democracy, and the need to factor the human nature into
any attempts to improve the society:
My participation in this "experiment" was to see whether a group of self-professed
Direct Democracy (DD) advocates will finally manage to listen to
each other, to make compromises and to find a way how to arrive to some conclusions
(e.g. how to come up with a way or structure to more effectively promote DD as a group).
It has not happened again. Instead this mailing list (WDDM) repeatedly deteriorated
into the "battle of egos" when most contributions just promote the ideas of the
authors without any or little attempt to try to harmonize them with the whole
community. (Many claim it is due to the nature of the Internet. I think it may also
have something to do with the human nature.)
Confusion of terms: What is Direct Democracy?
Theoretically, the only real democracy is direct democracy. The term "direct democracy"
was coined because of the misuse of the term "democracy." Unfortunately, as is the case with the
term of "democracy", different people have again rather widely different ideas of
what direct democracy actually is or should be. Perhaps a tiny achievement of this
maillist discussion is some clarification of this confusion:
DD can be only a society/community in which each
member has an equal opportunity and weight to participate in all the decision making.
It was suggested that of all the existing systems (past or present), only the Israeli
kibbutzim in their first few decades of existence approached closely enough this
definition (although nobody brought in these discussion the fact that in 1936-1939
large parts of Spain - Catalonia, Aragon, Andalusia - were apparently also living
under genuine grass
roots functional libertarian democracy and economic equality
Any other system should not be called a DD. In particular, Switzerland is not a DD, but
at most a semi-direct democracy, a system with widespread use of Referenda and Citizen
Initiatives, far from being ideal: citizen
initiatives are almost exclusively of the veto type, campaign financing has insufficient rules
How to better formulate the goals
As the example with the attempt to formulate what is DD shows,
it is difficult to come to an agreement on the exhaustive list of features that an
just or ideal society should have.
Instead, a better approach might be to try to agree on what
we definitely do not want, perhaps one issue at a time, and then
work all together to eliminate gradually the unwanted features from our society.
"Chicken or egg?"
A number of contributions discussed the following dilemma:
DD cannot be introduced before the people change (their way of thinking, behaviour),
but people cannot change before DD is introduced. This seems to remain unresolved.
Miroslav (Mirek) Kolář
Anybody else would like to come up with their own evaluation/summary of this maillist period?