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Forum Post: Direct Democracy..what is it?

Posted 9 years ago on Oct. 24, 2011, 12:52 a.m. EST by Mitch333 (93)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Direct democracy is NOT communism OR socialism. No isms.

From what I understand (as an OWS supporter) We are supposed to be working as a direct democracy, correct?

Anyone care to discuss what a direct democracy is?



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[-] 1 points by jacopo (5) 7 years ago

An Italian group of developer, all volunteer have produced an online decisional platform for e-democracy Direct Democracy I am the internationalization manager and would like to invite to test the platform. We have the platform in english and we need tester to check if is working fine please visit www.airesis.eu and www.airesis.it It does exactly what I read here below!!

[-] 1 points by BradB (2693) from Washington, DC 7 years ago

Direct democracy is NOT communism OR socialism. No isms.... agreed ;)

Direct democracy is quite miss-understood ... it is not an ultimate solution..

it is simply a way that "The People" can gain more power and more voice...

To Implement Direct democracy....

we simply need a place (a site) ... where issues are defined and reduced to a listing of it's specifics... ie

take a given piece of legislation .. or a Bill ... reduce it to each specific item ... and allow anyone & everyone to voice a yes or no of support....

this does many things...

  • it quickly familiarizes us to the subjects & specifics in the Bill ....
  • it provides room and place to argue improvements for each specific...
  • it provides us with a snapshot of current support at any time....
  • it allows us to improve material ... and/or change opinion...

This ever-lasting dynamically changing opinion poll.... Is accurate...

It is not a sampling ..it is real...

It becomes a resource for current representatives to base their decisions on...

We cannot change everything overnight .... It has to be a step at a time.... First we get the poll ... then... it will become the vote ....

[-] 1 points by Kavatz (464) from Edmonton, AB 7 years ago

I was wondering if you've considered the potential flaws that exist in a system where each individual has equal say in every decision.

For example, an auto mechanic or botanist may not know about economics. Why should that person get involved in that kind of policy development? Why allow an economist, who doesn't have a clue about nature, be influential in decisions of environmental protection?

I'm not saying people aren't multidimensional. Of course I can care about the economy and environment at the same time. And if I did, I should be able to fully participate.

Wouldn't the ideal system have a way of protecting policy-making from ignorant, subjective opinion, while guaranteeing the freedom of citizens to enjoy barrier-free, unlimited participation?

[-] 3 points by arkanoid (7) from New York, NY 7 years ago

This is indeed a major problem, known as the argumentum ad populum fallacy, i.e. the majority doesn't necessarily know best, and often does not. The only way I can imagine you could keep full democracy and still have semblance of pertinence is to make sure people are extremely well educated. Still, the logical fallacy would manifest itself to a certain extent.

With the bad education we have in America, and the love for conspiracy theories and assumptions, this could be very dangerous indeed. I can easily imagine a large part of society voting to reserve a large chunk of MIT's science budget for the study of UFOs or Bigfoot.

The Demoex experiment in Sweden uses a panel of advisers, experts that help people understand the issues being discussed and voted on. People can ask them questions and so on. So, there's a type of technocracy layer at the top, but the experts don't make decisions, they are just consultants.

There's another major problem with direct democracy, and that is the washing down of new and ground-breaking ideas which make it difficult to progress at a good pace. Decisions tend to be much more conservative. Most new ideas are misunderstood and only appreciated by a few. For example, the people who were first aware the earth was round and not flat had a real hard time! Similarly with people like Darwin! When such ideas are presented, most people are scared and will vote against them. You then need to compromise which washes down the idea. After a lot of compromising, the idea becomes so washed down that it is near unrecognizable. Direct democracies usually lead to very conservative societies that advance very slowly. That's why it's not used much in modern times. It works great for a small tribe, but for a nation it is difficult. Perhaps not impossible, but certainly difficult.

[-] 1 points by Kavatz (464) from Edmonton, AB 7 years ago

Glad you agree. I wonder how much overhead is involved with having consultants being expert, informed and available. Sounds costly, though probably nothing compared to the wastes of corruption. And probably good for the economy as it provides more public sector employment.

[-] 0 points by BradB (2693) from Washington, DC 7 years ago

in a Direct Democracy system... we will still find ourselves appointing experts to help educate us and help make decisions... (a representation) ...however with Direct Democracy ... the representation that has sold out and gone corrupt.. will immediately be removed....

[-] 2 points by arkanoid (7) from New York, NY 7 years ago

People helping us would be consultants, not representatives. You can't have representatives in direct democracy since they make decisions for you. It's called direct because you aren't represented! A person who makes suggestions is a consultant or adviser, one who officially explains to the media what happened in a GA is a spokesperson. Direct democracy and representatives are antithetical.

[-] 0 points by BradB (2693) from Washington, DC 7 years ago

You can't have representatives in direct democracy since they make decisions for you.


Representative's are to Represent the People's Voice Period... they were NEVER meant to vote for the People ...

[-] 2 points by arkanoid (7) from New York, NY 7 years ago

They were always meant to make decisions for people. There was never a time in US when representatives did not make decisions. In any case, when completely changing a system from a representative republic to direct democracy, it's good to make that precision with a different vocabulary. Luckily, anarchists already use the word spokesperson to differentiate from a representative. The problem is the former word acquired a meaning through usage, and that's that representatives all around the word today makes decisions you have no say about. Spokespersons don't.

I'm sure you would agree that a representative now, and one which you would implement in direct democracy wouldn't mean the same thing. One makes decisions, the other doesn't. Well, that's exactly why we use another word!

[-] 1 points by BradB (2693) from Washington, DC 7 years ago

arkanoid, what is your take on this ?


[-] 0 points by BradB (2693) from Washington, DC 7 years ago

good point ... I agree "Spokesperson" is a much better word ....

however I do disagree that being a "Spokesperson" was not what the Constitution intended with the word "Representative"...

Spokeperson it is ;)

[-] 1 points by arkanoid (7) from New York, NY 7 years ago

Perhaps I should explain in another way to make it absolutely clear.

You call the bank and want to speak with the owner, Mr. Brown. A young lady named Ms. Peacock answers - "Hi, Mr. Brown is unavailable. I'm his representative, Ms. Peacock." You state - "OK. Please tell him to modify clause #3 in our contract. Thank you."

Later, when you are ready to sign the contract, you notice clause #3 wasn't modified. You state - "Mr. Brown, I asked you to modify clause #3." Mr. Brown - "You did?" - You - "Well, I spoke to your representative." Mr. Brown - "Ah! She must have forgotten. Next time, try to speak with me directly."

As you walk home you reflect on the word directly. Ah! That's probably what they mean by direct democracy, no representatives! The people make decisions directly, without the intermediate politicians. You scream - "Eureka! I get it!"

[-] 0 points by BradB (2693) from Washington, DC 7 years ago

ok... let me explain imo... in another way ....

When the Constitution was written.... representative democracy was the "at the time" version of "Direct Democracy"... they did not have the internet ... phone...etc...

a messenger, spokesperson, representative... etc... must have been chosen by the people and sent to act as the people's voice ...

as defined: http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/representative

  • "With respect to Constitutional Law, a representative is an individual chosen by the electorate to serve as its spokesperson in a legislative body, such as the Senate or House of Representatives."

nothing has changed in the democratic intent here... except the technology ... now the internet can send the voice ... and the honest voice ...

[-] 2 points by Buttercup (1067) 7 years ago

You're wrong. We are a Representative Constitutional Republic using democratic principles. The Constitutional founders were explicitly against direct democracy. The concept of representative governance was not meant to be a 'version of' direct democracy. Direct democracy is a distinctly different concept from representative democracy. The founders specifically developed the representational form of governance because they were resolutely against the direct form of democracy. Because they knew the history of it from Ancient Athens.

There was never any 'intent' to create a direct form of democratic governance. The intent was specifically against direct democracy. Because they knew history.

“Democracy destroys itself because it abuses its right to freedom and equality. Because it teaches its citizens to consider audacity as a right, lawlessness as a freedom, abrasive speech as equality, and anarchy as progress.”― Isocrates

“Democracy... while it lasts is more bloody than either [aristocracy or monarchy]. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” John Adams

“It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.” -Alexander Hamilton

The internet or any other technology cannot overcome the inherent problems of direct democracy. And our Constitutional founders were absolutely against direct democracy.

[-] 2 points by arkanoid (7) from New York, NY 7 years ago

Technology has nothing to do with it. People have used direct democracy before. They simply met using general assemblies. There were no representatives. If you think the constitution of the US implies direct democracy, then, I'm very sorry, but you don't understand what direct democracy is.

I disagree with the usage of spokesperson in that definition. Representatives make decisions in the Senate and House of Representatives.

This is what direct democracy looks like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Landsgemeinde_Glarus_2006.jpg

The town of Landsgemeinde Glarus has been using it for a long time, before the Internet existed.

[-] 0 points by BradB (2693) from Washington, DC 7 years ago

but you don't understand what direct democracy is.

arkanoid, ;)

don't try to piss off your supporters .. hehehe

look... we almost all here understand DD... and support it...

the rest we are arguing in really just semantics ...

honestly .. it's been so long that I have read the Constitution that I really don't remember the exact phrases ... but.... the intent is... as Lincoln said;

  • "Government of the People, By the People, and For the People"

and in today's world that is Direct Democracy ....

[-] 1 points by arkanoid (7) from New York, NY 7 years ago

Those words had more to do with breaking away fromThe British Monarchy than with a real will to use direct democracy as a method of governance. Whatever he meant, direct democracy was never used in US, and this had nothing to do with the lack of the Internet. They created a House of Representatives, not general assemblies. Quotes are nice, they make good epitaphs, but they don't always correspond with practical reality. I'm sure Bush said many things that weren't true. It would be funny if people quoted him in a hundred years in an attempt to paint a factual past! Lol ;-)

[-] 0 points by BradB (2693) from Washington, DC 7 years ago

I don't really understand... do you really just want to argue?.... or do you want to jump in and help make DD a reality?.... I believe you prefer the later...

[-] 1 points by BradB (2693) from Washington, DC 7 years ago

Wouldn't the ideal system have a way of protecting policy-making from ignorant, subjective opinion,

Exactly ... Our elected leaders ARE the ignorant, subjective and immoral....

There is no possible way that "The People" are more immoral than those that are running our Country today....

[-] 2 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 7 years ago

The people wont elect normal people. We end up with " ignorant, subjective and immoral" reps because when someone whose a normal person finally decides to say to hell with it, and run, the machine propagandizes them to the max and the population goes off what the tv says.

Someone told me the other day we need to elect a team of enforcers, like in hockey. Their only job is to go into the game and crack heads. Our elected enforcers only job would be to go into DC and expose them.

I found that funny yet interesting.

[-] 1 points by BradB (2693) from Washington, DC 7 years ago

OTP :) imo... The people wont elect normal people.... because normal people can not afford to get on the ballots or get the exposure ... that is a primary movement that Occupy can make ....

[-] 1 points by HCabret (-327) 7 years ago

Direct government is even better than direct democracy.

[-] 1 points by BradB (2693) from Washington, DC 7 years ago

interesting ... how so ... how is Direct government different than Direct Democracy ?

[-] 0 points by HCabret (-327) 7 years ago

DG is consensus based and includes individual sovereignty, while DD is majority rules and includes collective sovereignty.

[-] 1 points by SvenTheBarbarian (84) from Phrao, Chiang Mai 9 years ago

A couple of more forums here discussing direct democracy:

1) http://occupywallst.org/forum/the-solution-developing-a-true-direct-democracy/

2) http://occupywallst.org/forum/direct-democracy-via-the-internet/

3) http://occupywallst.org/forum/direct-democracy/

Or for a literal meaning:


It is pretty simple, the population votes on policy, instead of voting in representatives who then vote on policy. The implementation is more complex, but humans are smart, if we want it we can do it.

There are lots of dangers, the above forums address many, in my view all the dangers can be mitigated to a level that makes a direct democracy the most effective form of government.

[-] 1 points by Argentina (178) from Puerto Madryn, Chubut 9 years ago

Switzerland is the only country on earth that has direct democracy.

""In 1891, the constitution was revised with unusually strong elements of direct democracy, which remain unique even today.""

""Through referendums, citizens may challenge any law passed by parliament and through initiatives, introduce amendments to the federal constitution, thus making Switzerland a direct democracy.""


[-] 1 points by Bellaciao29 (99) 9 years ago

Direct Democrazy, that's to say a "no representative one", means that people talk about their needs and then legiferate about them with a referendum. The Parliament and the politicians are a nonsense. It's a business of informed, active citoyens linked each other by the WEB. In Switzerland there's an almost perfect Direct Democrazy

[-] 1 points by Wildcat682 (178) 9 years ago

Direct Democracy = Majority rules.

Direct Democracy

Nine people take a vote on giving food to a lazy, starving bum 4 say yes; 5 say no Majority rules: No one gives the bum food. Bum dies.

Better system

Lazy, starving bum asks Nine people for food. Nobody votes 4 people give lazy, starving bum food. Bum lives. 4 people feel good about themselves for giving food to starving man. starving man is happy because he is fed 5 people are happy because they did not have to give any of their food to a lazy bum.

[-] 1 points by Mitch333 (93) 9 years ago

Why not let lazy, starving bum die? jus sayin.. lol

[-] 1 points by Assbagger (11) 9 years ago

I think we get to bang each others girlfriends and wives? Correct me if I'm wrong.

[-] 1 points by Mitch333 (93) 9 years ago

This might help: http://youtu.be/Vu8J_UKKa-c

[-] 1 points by alfi (469) 9 years ago

yes, wikipedia has an article

[-] 1 points by DocWatson (109) 9 years ago

Direct Democracy is when truth seekers, troubadours and trolls alike get their say. Each gets an equal say and vote.

[-] 0 points by arkanoid (7) from New York, NY 7 years ago

You confuse politics with economics. Direct democracy is a political system, socialism and communism are economic systems.

Direct democracy means the people have full power to make decisions. It's direct in the sense that representatives aren't between the people and decisions. In a representative system, you vote for a person who you believe represents your interests. That person then has the power to make decisions. With direct democracy, everyone in the population has a say when a political decision is made. There are a few times when direct democracy is used within a representative system like the US republic. An example is a referendum.

If you use direct democracy for every political decision, then the political system is called anarchy. It's no longer hierarchical because everyone has equal say, there are no representatives.

Capitalism, socialism, and communism can all be used in tandem with anarchy. Indeed, you need some kind of economic system with a political system! Anarcho-capitalism is anarchy with capitalism, then you have anarcho-socialism, and anarcho-communism.

Occupy is anarcho-communism, i.e. promoting anarchy as the political system (using direct democracy), and communism as the economic system.