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Via [1] :

According to Pierre Rosanvallon, three things are missing in the present system:

- 1) future generations are not represented, hence it pays no attention to sustainability

- 2) it is inserted in a non-democratic system of nations, and hence pays no attention to international equity

- 3) there is little internal solidarity between the rich and the poor

Representative democracy is based on four interlocking principles:

- 1) the governing are elected through regular elections

- 2) they have a certain independence from those who elected them

- 3) the governed have free speech

- 4) political decisions are subject to discussion

It also combines the following 3 governance principles:

- 1) egalitarian democracy , through the vote

- 2) aristocratic selection of the best

- 3) monarchic rule of a unified sovereign power

It went through three historical phases:

- 1) censitory elections by the notables

- 2) universal suffrage and parties

- 3) opinion democracy through media and polling

Key Quotes

"Cleisthenis’ Demos was imagined as the State itself; as an active community of citizens in which the political sphere, the economy, the State and civil society all co-existed within the Assembly: Democracy was about the Demos getting (physically) together and engaging in a contest of opinions about what ought to be done. The point of the exercise was not to stage a process whereby the rulers consult the people but one in which the people rule."

- Yanis Varoufakis [2]

"Yet, if there is an overarching theme, a pressing cry, a revolutionary dream, it is the call for new forms of political deliberation, representation and decision-making… Because if citizens do not have the ways and means of their self-government, the best designed policies, the most sophisticated strategies, the more well-wishing programs may be ineffective or perverted in their implementation. The instrument determines the function… And so, from the depth of despair, everywhere, a dream and a project have surged: to reinvent democracy, to find ways for humans to manage collectively their lives… reconstructing trust as a foundation for human interaction."

— Manuel Castells, Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age [3]

"The problem for western civic societies is not so much defending against hostile and abusive use of technology. Instead, it’s failing to use technology to rediscover what democracy should be for the modern nation state: citizens participating personally in public debate and having meaningful say in policy decisions that affect them—without the distorting and corruptible role of legislative proxies or elitist agency officials. If we’re going to defend—and keep alive—democracy today, we need a revolution: go back to what the ancient Athenians invented in the 5th century BCE, where every citizen regularly participated in discussion and voting for the laws that would steer their livelihoods and survival ... New technology and communication tools can now provide the means to scale up for millions of people what ancient Athenians did with perhaps (at most) 50,000 citizens."

- Roslyn Fuller [4], paraphrased

A 'Girardian' view of democracy

"A king is simply a postponed scapegoat. Regime change in pagan systems is tied to the ritual slaughter of the king. This is the pagan trap the likes of Putin and Jinping find themselves in - prolong the reign or die. For the populace, it's kill the king or suffer the consequences of a bad reign. If anything, democracy is not so much about the will of the majority, as about making it possible for a king to step down without sacrificial violence. Western democracy is rooted in the Christian aversion for pagan sacrifice."

- Thomas Hamelryck [April 2022]

Key Resources

Key Articles

Key Books

  • Paul Cartledge. Democracy: A Life. 2016 (recommended by Jack Visnjic in Cliodynamics for its chronological breadth)

  • Democratizing Democracy: Beyond the Liberal Democratic Canon (Reinventing Social Emancipation) Paperback. by Boaventura De Sousa. Verso, 2007.

* Will of the People: Original Democracy in Non-Western Societies. by Raul S. Manglapus. Praeger, 1987

This book is strongly recommended by Emmanuel Todd, who says it shows how democracy is the original form of governance.

  • The Military Revolution and Political Change. Origins of Democracy and Autocracy in Early Modern Europe. By Brian M. Downing. Princeton University Press, 1993 [6]

"Brian Downing focuses on the importance of medieval political configurations and of military modernization in the early modern period. He maintains that in late medieval times an array of constitutional arrangements distinguished Western Europe from other parts of the world and predisposed it toward liberal democracy. He then looks at how medieval constitutionalism was affected by the "military revolution" of the early modern era--the shift from small, decentralized feudal levies to large standing armies. "

Key Conferences

  • 2014 conferences and events covering the intersection of technology and civic engagement, public participation, dialogue and deliberation, conflict resolution, open government and related areas. [7]

Key Organizations

New democracy Organizations and initiatives [8]

  • The Jefferson Center St. Paul, MN, has conducted Citizen Juries since 1974 and is one of the oldest such organizations. [9]
  • newDemocracy Foundation Royal Exchange, Australia, is a non-profit with the aim of promoting deliberative and participatory democracy, especially through the use of sortition [10]
  • The Co-Intelligence Institute Eugene, OR, brainchild of Tom Atlee an advocate of deliberative, participatory democracy through the use of citizen panels and sortition. [11]
  • Sortition 2013 An e-petition started by Adam Scarborough in Scotland, with the aim of instituting a (semi)direct democracy through sortition. [12]
  • G1000 An experiment tried in 2011-2012 in Belgium with a Ctitizens’ Summit and Citizens’ Panels all using sortition to “do better than politicians” [13]
  • Plan C Is Etienne Chouard’s platform of sortition, constitutional reform, and referenda to create “real democracy” in France [14]
  • Ordinary People Is a UK political party organized with the aim of instituting a Citizens Parliament [15]

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