Ronnie Reprise: On Democracy & Technology

Blog Wisdom
Public? What Public?

Horse and Buggy Representation in the Space Age

The representation aspect of our democracy is structured the way it is, primarily due to practical considerations: the unwieldiness of pure democracy.

But since computer technology is changing that, the same philosophical arguments that were made for representative democracy can now legitimately be used for emergent democracy. The only arguments against it before pertained to practicality, not principle.

Now that the practical barriers are being removed, no legitimate philosophical argument can be made against taking advantage of new technology to better fulfill the intent of the principles that The Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution were founded upon.

What could once be dismissed as impractical can no longer be dismissed on those grounds. If it were a chess game, the king’s flank would now be exposed because the arguments of practicality have disappeared from the board. But neither the king nor his opponents (citizens demanding change) seem to have noticed this new development.

With all the talk of entitlements out there, perhaps the worst example of all is the sense of entitlement that elected officials have essentially elevated to a credo: to ignore the people they represent.

In fact, the reason democracy isn’t working is probably because the system of representation hasn’t kept up with the pace of society! We live in a space age society and we’re trying to get by with horse and buggy representation.

No one in their right mind would argue that doctors shouldn’t use MRIs because they weren’t available in the 18th century.  

People often speak of the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution as if they are the highest of all philosophical principles. No. The Founding Fathers incorporated high principles into both documents. But the principles they are founded upon are actually higher, because they exist even without the contract. Both documents aspire to the founding principles, however imperfectly.

In fact, since all human institutions are imperfect, no government can ever completely live up to those high principles; every government will fall short of the founding principles of our nation, which exist external to, above government. The point is to try as much as possible to live up to them. But they transcend any actual government.

Our current government has systematically curtailed authentic representation to the point where citizens are seen at best as an unavoidable nuisance. This runs contrary to the principles our nation was founded upon. Open Source Software and the amazing potential of social networks are now capable of facilitating and harnessing Collective Intelligence and Collective Wisdom in a way that is without precedent and restore authentic representation to American government.