Monday, July 19, 2004

Vote for Blog!!

I'm going to try and make this point as concisely as I can. It's a point I think needs to be made and it's a point that might seem obvious once it's been made.

My point is this: we no longer need a single political leader to run our country. In fact, we no longer need politicians. We can govern ourselves. How?

We will be (self-)run by Bloggers. The collection of thoughts and writings of people around the world will help shape the society in which we live.

Blogs will be organized into specialized communities. Each community will comprise individuals who specialize in a particular field. They will decide and vote on laws. The debate and the final vote will rest on each seperate individual, not on individuals who represent the interests of others.

What I'm trying to say is this: it's become easier for us to go online and be involved in a debate that we will finally vote on than have someone do it for us. This gives us a far greater incentive to get involved in the debate than to just sit on the sidelines and let others decide for us. Apathy is not an option.

Doctors, teachers, police will all be organized by experts in their field. Changes to the way they are run can be debated and decided upon by an all-inclusive discussion and final vote.


There needn't be a reluctant choice for President, Prime Minister or Mayor. They are someone who we don't entirely trust.

We are capable of running our own society, determining our own future. This is something that most people are willing to work towards.

Change is now really possible.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wesley Fogel said...

(re-posted after accidentally being deleted by the administrator!)

Wow, you sure became enamoured of the Blog quickly :)

This is an interesting concept, though pretty naive. I have been guilty of proferring many interesting-but-naive concepts to others, intended for serious consideration - so I recognise the hallmarks.

Centralisation (government as we know it) is bad because it serves everyone in a mediocre fashion, but centralisation is necessary for simple reasons of safety and ignorance - as self-centred and ignorant as the average person is (ignorant especially of the lives and concerns of other people), the only safe system is one which operates on, for the most part, an "equal-footing" basis. That is to say, people only accept rules if they feel that everyone has to conform to the same rules. And rules (laws) are, sadly, necessary. It has taken many centuries of careful, hard work by some exceptionally wise people, to produce forms of government that yield a reasonably safe and stable society. Chuck a few thousand people onto a deserted island with no hope of escape and you won't see such a pleasant state of affairs emerge spontaneously. Our systems work because of the chicken-and-egg principle that the current systems are slight modifications of a similar, prior, slightly worse system. As such, they have finally managed to yield a reasonable (though not to say acceptably good) quality of life, despite - and, in fact, deliberately on the back of - the mostly uninhibited myopic behaviour of the individual (capitalism and election-based government both clearly rely on myopic behaviour to yield stable results), since we have not yet found a way to reliably prevent such myopic behaviour. Perhaps education, genetic engineering and/or improved human-computer-communication technology will allow us to do so in the future. That is not to say that the complexities of a large society are entirely down to locally myopic behaviour - even if everyone was very well-informed, intelligent and reasonable, the complexity of the system would result in unpredictable chaotic and emergent (evolutionary) phenomena. Plus, there is also the point that a centralised system is the only system efficient enough to be affordable/pratical with current levels of technology and wealth.

So... if you accept that centralisation is still necessary, you should then see that this causes problems for your suggestion. Your suggestion is basically a 'system' - so, to put your suggestion into practice, you would have to first define the system clearly and then get everyone to accept and conform to the system. This implies centralisation - clearly, there must be a uniform set of rules in order to (a) make the system work as desired and (b) prevent unwanted bickering, change to or rebellion against the system. This centralisation must be present in order to found your system, but it seems clear to me that such centralisation clashes so profoundly with the principles of your system that making the transition from this centralised initiation to the decentralised functioning of your system would be an impossible task. Not to mention that monitoring and improving the system would also seem to be a necessarily centralised process.

However, the formation of the american constitution was a centralised process and it successfully led to the current decentralised voting process, and the system has been succesfully amended over time. So perhaps such a thing is possible - though similar conditions to those surrounding the formation of the US constitution are unlikely ever to recur(!), so we are definitely stuck with incremental changes in the nature of government.

Further problems that I see with your suggestion (and yes, you should read all of the following as criticisms) are...
(a) you assume that experts are more likely to reach a consensus than are lay people,
(b) you assume that lay people will agree with/accept the 'rulings' of experts,
(c) you assume that it is easy to define 'expert' and hence the people who are eligible to vote on a particular matter,
(d) you assume that 'issues' will be easily categorisable, with a corresponding set of experts for each category,
(e) you assume that the experts for a particular category are the people with the greatest stake in the rulings related to that category (whereas, in reality, ballistics experts (a rare breed, to be sure) may make rulings relevant to absolutely everybody and hence their votes could easily (and possibly rightfully) be drowned out by those of the masses - similarly, mathematicians may be able to *provide* content for an educational syllabus, but they should probably not be able to *decide* upon the content of the syllabus), and you should read about the "science court" idea proposed by K. Eric Drexler for a resolution of this problem (basically, experts provide evidence for or against rulings, which is validated in something similar to a court case, before being (transparently) made available to elected representatives who will vote on the final ruling),
(f) you assume that people are far more reasonable/intelligent/educated than they actually are! (would they really get involved, and if so would they really try their utmost to learn what they need to *before* casting their vote, etc?) 50% of the votes cast in the last US election were for Bush, remember! So as far as I'm concerned, we're stuck with our current, crappy system until wealth and education improve the average person's realisable potential enough that we can again move forward.

But... it is definitely an interesting idea. I do think that devolution/decentralisation of government is a good thing, which will hopefully happen in some manner in the future - though integrating it with (and evolving it from) the inevitable centralised aspects will be a difficult task. Perhaps a baby step we shall take within the next century is to involve people in local government in a similar (though inevitably less radical) manner to your suggestion, and perhaps we will find a way to reliably listen to relevant (and bonafide) experts as we do so.