It is sometimes said that we are in the second stage of democracy. The first stage was Athenian democracy, which featured a more direct democracy. The political organization was around the city-state, and where large segments of the population where engaged in face-to-face conversation about the issues affecting the public interest. This phase fell apart due to issue of scaling to a larger population and also because the majority at times was fickle and abused individuals or holders of minority views.
The second stage of democracy was the representative democracy that came into full force in the 18th century. This second stage of democracy was facilitated by the development of a new communications device, the printing press. It featured representation of constituencies to enable greater scaling, and it also featured the recognition of inalienable rights of citizens, which protected against the abuses by the majority that were found in Athenian democracy. This form of democracy became organized around the nation state.
I argue that we are now entering the third stage of democracy. The second stage is crumbling because globalization and cultural advancement have become so complex that they are overwhelming the current systems of handling them. We are moving from nation states to a global society, but many tensions exist. There are few frontiers and resources are no longer relatively unlimited. Our degree of interconnection has increased dramatically. Communications and transport technology have created a huge intermixing of culture and widespread availability of information.
While current institutions are straining and becoming increasingly obsolete, new technologies also provide the hope for a new form of democracy. In this third stage of democracy, we can move from the one-way broadcast technologies of print, TV, and radio to collaborative and interactive technologies that provide greater access by also citizens to public decision making. Through new interactive technologies and social media, we have the opportunity to create a more informed populace and a more direct, involved democracy.
This blog seeks to facilitate the conversation by focusing on the issues affecting global democracy in a fair and balanced way. I seek to provide both sides of the issues with an analysis based on as objective rationality as possible. That has been my life passion and something I hardly can prevent myself from doing – analyzing the issues.
That said, a few rules apply.
1. Honest Inquiry Rule. I welcome reasoned and rational comments that address the point, particularly if they advance honest inquiry. That means you can correct me or disagree with me. However, irrational, abusive, offensive, and off topic comments will be deleted.
2. Performative Contradiction Rule. Do not attempt to argue based on faith or “I just know” or “logic isn’t everything.” That would be at attempt to have me believe you based on your reasoning, which would be negate your point. Think about this carefully: “You just have to take it on faith” is an attempt to make a rational argument about why you don’t need to use reason.
3. Casual Logic Rule. Many of the issues we face are so complex that they are difficult to sort out definitively. So I have a few “casual logic” rules, or what might be called heuristics, that apply to many things. That means they aren’t conclusive, but they are rules of thumb to apply in cases where things are uncertain.
4. Judge Judy Rule. As Judge Judy likes to say, “If it doesn’t make sense, it probably isn’t true.”
5. Systems Thinking Rule. To understand an issue, it is useful to understand how the web of relationships among people are affected.
- What are the downstream impacts?
- Who benefits?
- Who loses?
- Who is included in decision making?
- Who is not included in decision making?
- Who is affected?
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