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Thread: Thinking about a more Direct Democracy.

  1. #26
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: I think I've been here
    It's noon in Miami!

  2. #27
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    Kolya - Many professions impact human lives. Commercial pilots and bus drivers hold more lives in their hands than any individual doctor. So what? Your comparison of doctors and politicians doesn't exclude anyone from becoming an elected official to high office, either by definition or in actuality. It's a non-argument.

    Political science is the study of politics after the fact, not training to be in politics. There is no overt educational requirement for elected office. Either that needs to be changed or we must accept that the methods and standards for filling public offices is inherently different from certifying professions.

    Politics is hard - that's a description, not an argument. I think that politics is hard in the wrong ways for the wrong reasons but politics will happen, regardless. How can we do it better?

    "Are you somehow averse to science and expert knowledge?"

    No. Are you somehow averse to new ideas before they have even been thought?

    Touche on Brexit and Greece. But on the other hand, Canadians have been demanding decriminalised pot for over half a century, three generations. It's always been a good idea for ethical and practical reasons. But individual politicians and unenlightened self interest (mostly the prison industrial complex in the USA) prevented it. Whether in groups or individually, humans are capable of genius and stupidity, courage and cowardice, compassion and avarice. Again, that's a description, it's not an argument for or against a better democracy or any particular method to achieve it.

    "To begin with, people tend not to care and not even go to votes they have no interest in."

    This is an important point. Is this indifference because people are naturally disinterested or because our present systems prevents and discourages meaningful participation? If you remove the barriers of money, connections and personal risk from the equation, if access is through a device we already have in our home, will people rise to the challenge or just find other excuses to shirk?

    That's kind of the object of this exercise - how might the problems you identify, and others, be overcome or at least mitigated? You said that "It's not like this stuff hasn't been tried." Actually some of the stuff already suggested has not been tried and since we are still gathering new ideas, fatalism is premature. Criticism is healthy. Preventing even the possibility of new thinking is not.

    "Trump wants to cut out the experts in politics ("dry the swamp") and so do you apparently."

    Where did anyone say that? Where is that required or even implied? No specific plan or method has been presented. There is an invitation for people to think creatively about a more inclusive government. That's all.

    "Creating something stupid isn't that hard."

    That's a premature value judgment you have yet to support convincingly, IMHO.

    "It sounds like you want to make general agreement with your idea the entry card to this thread."

    I neither have nor want to nor can enforce any such agenda here. I have, for the sake argument, presumed that there is a body of wisdom and knowledge, in the greater population, which is presently untapped, and asked how it might be accessed using current technologies.

    You are welcome to participate in any way you wish but I invite you to try on a different hat for a change.

  3. #28
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    It is clear that by using Direct Democracy (in caps) in the thread title, I have unintentionally coloured the discussion, even though I included the modifier "a more" before it. Direct Democracy has specific qualities which might limit discussion and that is not the object.

    So please consider the challenge to be improving democracy, in the internet age.

    As far as criticism goes, I reiterate the original challenge - let's try to avoid tearing down and focus on rethinking and new thinking. Generating obstacles to invention is easy.

    "King John is a dick. Let's at least make him play by the same rules as we have to!"
    "Naw. You think he's a dick now, just try that."

    "No fair that King George gets our money but we get no say in spending it."
    "Yeah but he's the King and inherently better than everybody else..."

    "Just because we don't own land doesn't mean we shouldn't have a vote!"
    "Shhhh! Don't let your landlord hear you say that!"

    "Women are people. They should have a vote too!"
    "Women are people? Buahahahahahahaha!"

    "The colour of your skin shouldn't exclude you from voting?"
    "Whutz? Lolzzzzz!!"

  4. #29
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: Netherlands
    I’m willing to believe that a larger degree of direct democracy can work. However, Kolya has a point: a stupid, shitty form of direct democracy is worse than none at all. I’ll illustrate by analyzing a form of direct democracy we’ve had here until recently.

    In the Netherlands, there has been the possibility of an “advisory referendum” in place since 2015. We’ve had one such referendum, and IMO it was a huge disaster.

    In the law that was passed in 2015, passed by mostly populist right-wing and socialist left-wing parties, you had to get 300,000 signatures to hold a referendum over a law that’s been passed that you want the government to consider revoking. The advisory status means that the passed law has to be reconsidered and a new decision has to be made, but the decision can still be the same.

    The referendum that we held was about the association treaty of the EU with the Ukraine. Signing the association treaty means a greater degree of collaboration between the EU and the Ukraine, albeit without official membership. It was considered important for the Ukraine to move in a more pro-European direction instead of pro-Russian. However, in the Netherlands a lot of people didn’t like our government back then. The socialists and environmentalists thought it was too right-wing, the populists wanted it to be more anti-immigrant, and many people wanted it to be more anti-EU. A lot of people hate the European Union and many want to leave (a “Nexit”), which I think is a disastrous idea.

    This presented the following problems with the referendum:

    • People voted for the wrong reasons. The referendum was about the association treaty, but a lot of people used it to “send a message” to the government and the EU, by torpedoing the association treaty. We had this party leader who plainly said: “We don’t care about the Ukraine, we just want to send a message to the EU”. So you just want to bitch about the EU at the expense of the Ukrainians, who just want a better future for themselves? Yeah, seems like a great idea.
    • There was a lot of misinformation. For example, the “animal party” (yes, that’s a thing here) said we’re going to get a lot of cheap meat here from the Ukraine that’s been produced in terrible conditions re: animal suffering. While in reality, when the Ukraine signs the association treaty, they’re obliging themselves to move towards animal welfare standards closer to EU regulations.
    • People stayed at home for strategic reasons. The result only has to be considered when 30% of the eligible voters has voted. So personally I stayed at home, because I don’t believe in this form of referendum and didn’t want to legitimize it with my vote. A lot of people did the same thing, hoping to keep the percentage below 30, thus rendering the result invalid - that’s been researched. The attendance percentage was just over 30% and 61% voted against signing the treaty, but that number is meaningless with many people who supported the treaty staying at home for strategic reasons.
    • That didn’t stop people from demanding that the government listens to the result and refuses to sign the treaty. That means a EU-wide treaty can be blocked by a couple of million citizens from one single country, many of which voted for the wrong reasons. I hope I don’t have to explain why this is a bad thing.
    • The government drafted some addendums to the treaty, and lobbied in the EU to get the adjusted treaty passed, and it did. However, it was not good enough for the people who voted against the treaty. The advisory status was meaningless to them - according to them, the government had to do exactly what they wanted.
    • That illustrates the main problem I have with this kind of thing: political reality is complicated and can’t be reduced to Yes/No, Before/Against binary decisions. A referendum like this, with people demanding that the result should be followed verbatim and compromises are not allowed, cannot do justice to the difficulties of political reality as they are.

    Our new government put an end to this form of referendum a few days ago. Good riddance if you ask me. There’s one more referendum already planned which is still happening. It’s about a “dragnet law” which allows our intelligence agencies to collect vast amounts of data to stop terrorism and such. Several parties are already saying: “vote FOR the advisory referendum by voting AGAINST the dragnet law”. As I said, people vote for the wrong reasons. QED on why this form of direct democracy is a bad idea, thus supporting Kolya’s point of why badly thought out forms of direct democracy are worse than none at all.

    A more robust system of referendums is in place in Switzerland. That seems to work fairly well, but I don’t know much about it.
    Last edited by Harvester; 24th Feb 2018 at 14:12.

  5. #30
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    Interesting stuff Harvester. Any thoughts on how to mitigate the influence of stupidity in such referendums or is just a fatal flaw in large groups of humans?

    And again, to everybody, let's not fixate on direct democracy but rather improving government and elections.

  6. #31
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Honestly "strategic voting" is such a minefield. I'd definitely prefer some form of ranked voting so you can vote for the candidate you want without losing your ability to vote on the more popular candidates.

  7. #32
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    I disagree with about everything Harvester said (I live in the same country).
    He's just repeating the points he has been taught by our authorities.
    I guess you can't expect independent thinking from a religious person. They are too much used to being told what to believe, what to say and what to do.

    What most people don't seem to understand is that the goal of democracy is not to "get the best decisions". Or the best results.
    It is highly subjective what "best" is.

    The goal of democracy is that decisions are made by the majority of the people.
    If the outcome is that no action is taken, or even worse, something dumb is done, that's no problem in itself. Live with it. I rather have a fair democratic society that runs inefficient, than a streamlined profitable fascist country. Lots of people rather pick the fascist option, as long at the fascist outcome is exactly what they want.
    Last edited by Gryzemuis; 24th Feb 2018 at 19:06.

  8. #33
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Yeah, sometimes the people will choose fascism, and that's a great example of why "The goal of democracy is that decisions are made by the majority of the people" is nonsense. In the U.S. we have things like the Bill of Rights to protect individuals and minority groups from the majority vote - and virtually every other democracy worthy of the name has some equivalent. Majority rule is a great and defining feature of democracy, but it's not its sole goal and never was.

  9. #34
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    What you want is a Rechtsstaat. (Cant link wiki atm. Sorry).
    Democracy is part of that.
    So is a good constitution. With human rights, equality for everyone, etc.
    You also need a free press. Openness. Free informartion. Accesssible and good education, etc.
    But for me the democracy part means: everyboy's voice counts equal.

    How else do you want to do it ?
    Some people's voices are more important than others ?
    Last week our new referendum law has been killed already.
    And why ? The only argument Ive heard was: "You can't let the plebs make decisions ! They are too dumb to understand anything".

  10. #35
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    Was this the link to Rechtsstaat you wanted, Grzemuis?

    "You can't let the plebs make decisions ! They are too dumb to understand anything".

    Remembering that the "plebs" have been everything from barons to slaves, over the generations, that is a very common argument (especially from people with a vested interest in the status quo). And it does seem to have some merit, given Brexit et al. But with the suspicion that Putin had a hand in skewing that referendum, and others in Europe, we have to worry if referendums can ever be secure and fair. I think that they can but a lot more vigilance and education would be needed.

    But again it seems the question, are people just dumb or are they not given the motivation to be better informed and more involved. As to the plebs being incompetent, we have to assume that humans have some innate capacity for good social behaviour and group decision making. The species made it this far. WE know that in many natural disasters, people organise rescue and relief efforts on a local level, long before the pros can get in to help. Then on the other hand, we know that criminal elements will prey on people in crisis.

    What's a human to do?

    This is why I favour a model where elected officials make the laws and citizens (as a whole or as a sample group) assent to them or send them back for improvement. This testing should be done in a structured environment and according to fairly strict rules of engagement. A citizens assembly can't contravene the constitution or fundamental principles of the country. They can't ignore basic laws protecting life and property, for instance.

    Another mechanism I would like to see is a moot court to test legislation. In Canada, if the government makes a bad law, some private citizen must risk their liberty and spend a huge amount of money challenging it in court. Even if their objection has merit and ultimately wins, they can be ruined in victory while the government just gets to spend taxes to defend their errors.

    A moot court could test legislation (especially constitutionality) without the risk and expense falling on private parties. Or we could just require the political party which made the legislation pay the court costs of any challenge...
    Last edited by Nicker; 24th Feb 2018 at 22:05.

  11. #36
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: uk
    Education is the key to getting sensible input, you can't expect anyone to reach a remotely sensible decision without any information to base that on.

  12. #37
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    Yes, that's the link.

    The word "plebs" comes from Latin. In Rome it used to mean "the common people". It did not include barons. Or any aristocracy, rich people, the establishment, people in power. Plebs are the fuckers who are powerless, but don't know it. It is a derogatory term.

    Why are you bringing Brexit into this ? You seem to imply that Brexit was the wrong decision ? Yet again an anti-democratic attitude. Why was it wrong ? The majority voted for it. Are they too dumb to make decisions ? Is that what you are saying ? I happen to support Brexit. Mainly because I am strongly opposed to the EU slowly, and without any true democratic process, inflating itself. The EU always want more member-states, no matter how unfit those new countries are. They always want Europeans to pay more taxes that will go to the EU. They want one European army under control of the EU. They want control over more and more laws. They want to bring down laws to the lowest common denominator. They want a free market, more power to companies, less power to consumers or citizens. Fuck the EU. I'd vote for NL leaving the EU too, if they let me. (And I happen to work in another EU-country than I live. I'd happily change jobs to see the EU fall apart).

    But it's clear. I'm too stupid to have an influence on such decisions. Important stuff should be left for important people. Not plebs like me.

    Putin had a hand in skewing the Brexit vote ? WTF are you on about ? Do you think the British are too stupid to make their own decisions ? Even if the Russians bought a few Facebook-ads, had twitter-bots, and whatever other insignificant stuff, do you think that would have an impact ? The EU donating funds for the Scottish independence referendum was fine ? You think the BBC was impartial over Brexit ? There is a clear attempt over the last 4 years to paint "ze Russians" as black as possible. I don't eat that. The Russians are not my friends, but they are certainly not my enemies.

    Shall I tell you a story about false information trying to influence popular opinion ?
    Our Minister of Foreign Affairs has been telling a story over the last few years. How he was in Russia, and attended a talk given by Putin to bystanders. And Putin talked about "Great Russia", how the Baltics and Ukraine and other former USSR countries are part of that. And how he wanted to incorporate those countries back into Russia. So watch out: the Russians are here to get us !!". Stories like these have an impact on forming the general public's opinion on how the west should deal with Russia.

    It then turned out that our Minister of Foreign Affairs has never even attended such a meeting or event. His political party responded: "It was a friend of his who was there, who heard Putin tell that story. He changed it, to protect the name of the person who really heard it". Two days later the guy who was actually there, stood up, and explained that that was not what Putin had said. Putin did talk about Russia and the former USSR. But he never talked about getting the ex-USSR countries back into Russia. A few days later, our Minister of Foreign Affairs resigned.

    For me, this was a very telling example. Our governments have been trying to make us believe that Russia is the enemy. Out of nowhere. It started 4 years ago, after the "Ukrainian revolution". (Which was nothing but a violent overthow of a democratically elected government. With secret support from the US and the EU). Our media are following the lead of our government in this. The picture is very distorted. It's almost as if someone wants the cold war back.

    I'm disgressing.
    My point is, you make assumptions, which could very well be wrong, and you say that the people who disagree with you are too stupid to have any say in any decision making. My point is: it doesn't matter if they are stupid, it doesn't matter if they make the wrong decisions. It's still better than having "the smart people make the decisions for the dumb people".

    We had your model of democracy. Kinda. Government and parliament makes laws. Citizens can ask for referenda to block those laws. But not really. There were 2 huge factors: 1) our referenda were advisory only. so our lawmakers could say to our citizens: "fuck you, we're not following your advise". And that is what they did every time. And 2) you need 300k signatures. On paper. (Electronic voting was not allowed). 300k signatures out of a population of 17m is huge. Still, we did it a number of times. So what did our policitians do ? Last week they abolished our referenda. No more referenda for us. The plebs was causing too much trouble for the "people who know things better". Fuck that. I have zero faith in politicians anymore. And it's not because I'm dumb on uninformed. It's because of the politicians. Fuck em.

    I bet you think now that I sound like a typical member of the plebs. Someone that should not have any say in any political decision. While you are a reasonable, a smart, a well informed person. And everything would be so much better if only people like yourself would have voting rights. (I know you don't. I'm just exaggerating. But there are people who think that. Most politicians probably).

  13. #38
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    While I'm at it, let me reply to Harvester's points.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harvester View Post
    a stupid, shitty form of direct democracy is worse than none at all.
    Someone has got to make the decisions.
    If it is not "everyone together makes the decisions", then you need to have a two class system. The people-who-can-vote, and the plebs. Which group do you see yourself in ?

    In the Netherlands, there has been the possibility of an “advisory referendum” in place since 2015. We’ve had one such referendum, and IMO it was a huge disaster.
    The disaster was not because of the referendum itself. It was because of the way our politicians dealt with it. Basically they did *everything* they could to torpedo the referendum. And they succeeded. And now they threw out the referendum-law.

    In the law that was passed in 2015, passed by mostly populist right-wing and socialist left-wing parties,
    WTF are you implying here ? That only extremists support a referendum ? "Normal people" should all be voting for parties in the middle of the political spectrum ? Or else they are crazy and shouldn't be allowed to vote ? Wait, the middle in NL is the Christian Party (CDA), right ? Your party. The party of God, where all its voters are used to being told what to do, what to say and what to vote. Right ?

    you had to get 300,000 signatures to hold a referendum over a law that’s been passed that you want the government to consider revoking. The advisory status means that the passed law has to be reconsidered and a new decision has to be made, but the decision can still be the same.
    Two very bad properties of this law. It was almost impossible to get a referendum on anything. And the government could always say "fuck you plebs, we'll do what we want anyway". Which indeed happened after every referendum. I'm amazed the British politicians still follow the outcome of the Brexit referendum. I had expected them to say: "fuck it, we'll stay anyway". That could still happen.

    The referendum that we held was about the association treaty of the EU with the Ukraine. Signing the association treaty means a greater degree of collaboration between the EU and the Ukraine, albeit without official membership. It was considered important for the Ukraine to move in a more pro-European direction instead of pro-Russian.
    Why was it important for the Ukraine to move into a more pro-European direction ? Because you think so ? The Ukrainians had just elected their own government, which was pro-Russia. You know better than the Ukrainians themselves ?
    Also, the Ukrainians expected the collaboration to grow into full membership. Maybe that was never said officially. But on many occaisions this was said. It was certainly the expectation of the Ukraine. If you wish, I can burrow you with links on this.

    However, in the Netherlands a lot of people didn’t like our government back then. The socialists and environmentalists thought it was too right-wing, the populists wanted it to be more anti-immigrant, and many people wanted it to be more anti-EU. A lot of people hate the European Union and many want to leave (a “Nexit”), which I think is a disastrous idea.
    It doesn't matter what you think, or I think. It matters what the majority thinks. If you disagree, you are not democratic.
    You make it sound as if the referendum was a vote for or against the Dutch governement. It was not.
    Was it a vote against the EU ? Hell yeah.
    The reason is simple: our referendum law did not allow us to have referenda on any topic. We could only have referenda about new laws. The new treaty with the Ukraine was a new law, so it was the only way to vote about something to do with the EU. Officially the question was about the Ukraine only. Unofficially the referendum was also about the EU's unbridled greedy expansion. I'm fine with that.

    People voted for the wrong reasons. The referendum was about the association treaty, but a lot of people used it to “send a message” to the government and the EU, by torpedoing the association treaty. We had this party leader who plainly said: “We don’t care about the Ukraine, we just want to send a message to the EU”. So you just want to bitch about the EU at the expense of the Ukrainians, who just want a better future for themselves? Yeah, seems like a great idea.
    You think we let the Ukraine join the EU because we want to save them ?
    No. The only reasons are because of power and money.
    And yes, sending a message to the EU is perfectly fine.

    There was a lot of misinformation. For example, the “animal party” (yes, that’s a thing here) said we’re going to get a lot of cheap meat here from the Ukraine that’s been produced in terrible conditions re: animal suffering. While in reality, when the Ukraine signs the association treaty, they’re obliging themselves to move towards animal welfare standards closer to EU regulations.
    A lot of misinformation was coming from our own government and media too.
    If you recall, at first the media (tv, newspapers) were trying to ignore the referendum. Then they couldn't. So they advised people to stay home, so the referendum didn't reach 30%. Totally undemocratic methods.
    And the Animal Party does have a point. Ukraine is the most corrupt country in Europe. How hard would it be to get the right papers for the wrong products ?
    People stayed at home for strategic reasons.
    Those people are cunts.
    You want to torpedo the democratic process by playing unfair ? I have no sympathy for you.

    So personally I stayed at home, because I don’t believe in this form of referendum and didn’t want to legitimize it with my vote.
    I don't believe in representative parliament. I don't vote in regular elections, because I don't want to legitimize them. I think it is totally unfair Dutch politics is continuing anyway. Yeah, right.
    that number is meaningless with many people who supported the treaty staying at home for strategic reasons.
    So when you don't play, it's meaningless. But when I don't play, I should stfu and not have an opinion on politics ?

    That didn’t stop people from demanding that the government listens to the result and refuses to sign the treaty.
    No, that was not the case.
    The issue was: a few political parties had said in advance that they would honor the outcome. And then after the result was not what they had hoped for, they said: "oh btw, we're not gonna honor the outcome". Hypocrites. That was the problem.

    That means a EU-wide treaty can be blocked by a couple of million citizens from one single country, many of which voted for the wrong reasons. I hope I don’t have to explain why this is a bad thing.
    Please do.
    The real issue is that a huge political organization (like the EU) can't work properly, because it is too big. When you have 250 million people voting on something, nothing can be achieved. Because you'll end up with 48%-52% decisions. You'll have to make decisions that are good for some and bad for others. Democracy doesn't mean: let's make everything bigger, so in the end it becomes unmanagable. If you want democracy, you need to keep it small. That is the problem.


    The government drafted some addendums to the treaty, and lobbied in the EU to get the adjusted treaty passed, and it did. However, it was not good enough for the people who voted against the treaty. The advisory status was meaningless to them - according to them, the government had to do exactly what they wanted.
    No, the problem was hypocrisy. Some parties not doing what they promised to do (honor the result). And the VVD basically didn't want to speak out loud what they were doing ("fuck the plebs"). In stead they were weaseling their way through the process, lying and deceiving.

    That illustrates the main problem I have with this kind of thing: political reality is complicated and can’t be reduced to Yes/No, Before/Against binary decisions. A referendum like this, with people demanding that the result should be followed verbatim and compromises are not allowed, cannot do justice to the difficulties of political reality as they are.
    In that case, change the way the referenda are held. Change the questions they ask. Change the frequency. In any case, the solution is not: "fuck the plebs, we overlords know best, and we'll take the decisions. and we don't need to take responsibility to anyone".

    Referenda are a great indicator of what the general public wants. Even if the question was limited. Even if the result can't be implemented easily. The real problem is that our referenda exposed something significant: our politicians do not want to implement the will of the people. In stead, they want to play their own political games. I find that astonishing.

    Our new government put an end to this form of referendum a few days ago. Good riddance if you ask me.
    Maybe we should let God decide for us. Or else let the Protestant and Catholic churches decide. They know best, after all. And Jesus surely wants best for us. So what could go wrong ?

    There’s one more referendum already planned which is still happening. It’s about a “dragnet law” which allows our intelligence agencies to collect vast amounts of data to stop terrorism and such. Several parties are already saying: “vote FOR the advisory referendum by voting AGAINST the dragnet law”.
    You're making this up. Link please. Dutch link is fine.
    I think what some parties might be saying is: "come vote, so the numbers are high, showing other parties that the plebs cares for the referdum". If only 10% show up, our non-democratic parties can say: "look, nobody was interested in the referendum anyway. good riddance".

    As I said, people vote for the wrong reasons.
    Who decides what reasons are wrong ? You ? Jesus ?

    QED on why this form of direct democracy is a bad idea, thus supporting Kolya’s point of why badly thought out forms of direct democracy are worse than none at all.
    Yes, bad is always worse than good.
    But you are arguing that sometimes no democracy is the best solution ? WTF ?

  14. #39
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Urgh.
    On the one hand you're arguing that the EU is bad because they end up making "48-52%" decisions with only a very slight majority, which are what half the people want and half the people don't, while at the same defending Brexit which was passed by a mere 2% of 72% of the voters.

    The main point out of that is that all really important changes should need a 66% majority to pass.


    Also, referendums like that share a flaw with the current candidate-based systems - the inability of voters to change their mind once something goes through.
    The Brexit referendum was a mess, because no one actually knew what they were voting for going into it. Since then, the British government has been trying to find out what exactly it means, and have shown how much it will cost their country. A lot of the people who voted for it would probably vote against it now that they've realised what exactly it will do to their country.
    The country is already falling apart because of things like the NHS becoming critically under-staffed due to all the doctors and nurses from other countries leaving en-masse.


    The EU is slow and monolithic, but it's the best thing we've got. All of the actually good laws, protecting privacy, the environment, people from large corporations - they all come from the EU. Do they take ages? Yes. Do they not go far enough? Yes. But at least they're doing something.

    Trying to break out of the EU is just jingoism, which is one of the worst kinds of evil in the world. Pretending that your people are more important and looking down on everyone else. Not sorting people into a class of "voters and plebs" like you are referring to, but instead of "people from my country" and "everyone else".

  15. #40
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    I'm sorry my post was so long.
    But I disagreed with every word Harvester wrote.
    Someone on the Internet was wrong, so I had to respond.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nameless Voice View Post
    Urgh.
    On the one hand you're arguing that the EU is bad because they end up making "48-52%" decisions with only a very slight majority, which are what half the people want and half the people don't, while at the same defending Brexit which was passed by a mere 2% of 72% of the voters.
    My point is that the bigger something gets, the more uncontrollable it becomes. The people already have very little control, so with a bigger EU, we will lose all control that was left. I like small scale things.

    The main point out of that is that all really important changes should need a 66% majority to pass.
    Yep. And that is the case in our country. Important stuff is in the constitution. And to change the constitution, you need 66.6%. I have no problems with that.

    The Brexit referendum was a mess, because no one actually knew what they were voting for going into it.
    And that is not true when I am voting in general elections ?
    I get to vote for a party. (In my country members of parliament mostly vote according to party-policy. So voting on individual candidates doesn't matter much. Party policy will dictate what will happen). That party can change it's plan whenever it wants to. The only way to punish that party is 4 years later. Also, I have an opinion on dozens of things. How can I express that when I can vote for one party once every 4 years ? There are never parties that fully agree with my opinion.

    Voting in a referendum is crystal-clear, compared to regular voting for a representative.

    A lot of the people who voted for it would probably vote against it now that they've realised what exactly it will do to their country.
    Says who ?
    And if the UK didn't leave the EU, who is to say that in a few years time, the vote would not have been 60% brexit, 40% stay ? It's all speculation. The only thing that matters is the vote. And the british people did vote. And they voted to leave. Everything else is speculation. You really wanna know what the voters think about a subject ? Hold a referendum.

    The EU is slow and monolithic, but it's the best thing we've got.
    A meaningless statement.
    Over the decades we had different forms of cooperation between EU countries. I don't mind getting rid of (most) import-taxes. I don't mind making it easier to work in another country. (Fewer, not less. Thanks Stannis). I live in NL, but I work in BE. But guess what, in the mid-sixties, my dad also worked in Belgium. You don't need a fully fledged United States of Europe to have nice things. I don't want a monetary union. Certainly not with Mediterranean countries. Certainly not with the Ukraine. Look at Greece, their country got destroyed because of the monetary union.

    All of the actually good laws, protecting privacy, the environment, people from large corporations - they all come from the EU.
    Maybe in the UK. Not in my country. We can figure things out for ourselves, without help from Brussels, thank you very much. In fact, the lowest common denominator in laws is making it harder for my country to progress.


    Trying to break out of the EU is just jingoism, which is one of the worst kinds of evil in the world. Pretending that your people are more important and looking down on everyone else. Not sorting people into a class of "voters and plebs" like you are referring to, but instead of "people from my country" and "everyone else".
    I'm not a jingoist. I'm not a nationalist. I'm not a conservative. I'm not a racist. I wish we (EU and US) didn't fuck over so many countries (Vietnam, the Middle East, Latin America in the 70s, etc etc). But the circle of people I feel responsible for is not infinite. In my country we try to help each other out. With social security, affordable health-care, good education for kids, etc, etc. That is doable with 17 million people. If you want us to share that with 7 billion people in the world, something will go terribly wrong. The EU imho is a very right-wing organization. It tries to undermine the influence of the common people. Its main purpose seems to be to make international trade easier. Making it easier to transfer funds, avoid taxes, move work to other countries. Bringing wages down to the absolute minimum.

    You don't need to be a nationalist to not like the EU.
    Last edited by Gryzemuis; 25th Feb 2018 at 12:59.

  16. #41
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    Please don't take things I say here personally. I don't intend them to be. While I am trying to be careful I am often thinking as I type. That means I may not construct points properly and may say things that seem personally confrontational, that is incidental and not deliberate. I am consciously trying to avoid doing so, even when provoked myself.

    Let's try to avoid diverting to the internal details of specific side issues (Brexit et al), even as we may need to use them as examples of what works and what doesn't. To me, Brexit is about scales of political control, which is another topic but may be integral to issues of public input. Is there a scale at which referenda become ineffective or not?

    I am trying to unpack all of this as we go so I beg your patience and indulgence.

    - - - - - - - - -

    I was making a bit of a joke about "plebs". While the term plebeians meant commoners in Roman times, to those in power, anyone not of their class who want's to share power is a "pleb". Hence the barons who took it from King John were too common to share his god given right to rule, in John's opinion.

    Anyway...

    As to Brexit, I brought it up because Kolya mentioned it as an example of direct democracy arriving at a bad choice, which I agree with in this case. But obviously others think it was a good decision. I certainly didn't intend it as a personal affront. It's an example of the complexity of the issue, both Brexit and democracy. As to Putin, who knows what that fucker is up to and when. If invoking him is muddying the waters, then I shouldn't have.

    But it does raise a question about informed participation, especially given your example of lying ministers. Whether the lies are whispered in the ear of the king or shouted to the crowd, if they go unchallenged, they will poison debate.

    The other trouble is, the Brexit majority was very slim, even with a huge turnout. Was a simple majority really expressing the public will or was it too close to be legitimate? Older voters seem to have carried the day, making a decision they won't have to live with for long. Was that fair to younger people?

    Then on the other side, there was the Quebec Referendum to separate from Canada 1995. The vote to stay was 50.58%. For those of us who wanted Canada to remain whole, that was majority enough. If it had been the other way around, I would have asked for a do over.

    So I am personally grappling with your question... "If it is not "everyone together makes the decisions", then you need to have a two class system. The people-who-can-vote, and the plebs. Which group do you see yourself in ?"

    Am I really enthusiastic for a more direct democracy or am I a crypto-aristo when the plebs disagree with me? I guess I'll find out if this discussion continues.


    Whether decisions are made by the few or the many, the results can be either glorious or disastrous. I'm not aware of any statistical analysis showing which category makes the best decisions. If the resulting decisions are basically random in their success, are they an argument for or against either option?

    I would have to say, no. Which I think leaves us with an ethical decision, trust the aristocrats or trust the crowd. And as a member of the crowd, I have to go with the latter.

    Holding my breath and hitting "reply".
    Last edited by Nicker; 25th Feb 2018 at 11:32.

  17. #42
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: Netherlands
    Alright, I'll respond. Watch me do this without calling people cunts and making strawmen about what other people believe. Not going to bother replying to your insults of religion and caricatures of what I believe, even though I didn't even mention my beliefs once in my post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gryzemuis View Post
    Last week our new referendum law has been killed already.
    And why ? The only argument Ive heard was: "You can't let the plebs make decisions ! They are too dumb to understand anything".
    You're contradicting yourself. I just gave you multiple arguments against this system of referendums. You just accused me of only repeating what the government says. So this can't be the only argument that's making the rounds, if I'm just parroting what the government says. I suspect you might not be a regular reader of any national newspaper. I don't mean that as an insult. But in every Dutch national newspaper both sides of this referendum system have been argued extensively, using multiple arguments for both sides. In the newspaper I read, there have been opinion articles arguing both sides, using a multitude of different arguments.

    As a side note, I think "you agree with the government, so you must be wrong" isn't much of an argument.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gryzemuis View Post
    While I'm at it, let me reply to Harvester's points.

    Someone has got to make the decisions.
    If it is not "everyone together makes the decisions", then you need to have a two class system. The people-who-can-vote, and the plebs. Which group do you see yourself in ?
    That whole plebs thing of yours is a strawman. I don't want a two class system and I don't think I'm better than you or anyone else. One person, one vote, be it a janitor or a CEO, that's what I strongly believe in. I even said I'm not necessarily against more direct democracy, just not a shitty system like this. I've mentioned the Swiss referendums, and as you might've noticed I wasn't dismissive about it. I said I don't know enough about it (to make a judgment). Theoretically there can be a well-thought out system of referendums that I can support. This system, I cannot, for the reasons I've stated.

    The disaster was not because of the referendum itself. It was because of the way our politicians dealt with it. Basically they did *everything* they could to torpedo the referendum. And they succeeded. And now they threw out the referendum-law.
    Because it wasn't working well, for reasons I mentioned and other reasons. As you might've heard, D66 still supports (legally binding) referendums and would vote for a well thought-out system in a second, they just think this particular system isn't working. As for torpedoing this particular referendum, the government supported the association treaty, so you can expect them to argue for it. The opposition, for a large part, argued against it, and they were given every room to do so. Groups were given subsidies to make "propaganda" material for or against the treaty, even if they did ridiculous thing like make printed toilet paper. I don't see anything majorly wrong with how it was handled.

    WTF are you implying here ? That only extremists support a referendum ? "Normal people" should all be voting for parties in the middle of the political spectrum ? Or else they are crazy and shouldn't be allowed to vote ? Wait, the middle in NL is the Christian Party (CDA), right ? Your party. The party of God, where all its voters are used to being told what to do, what to say and what to vote. Right ?
    It's just a statement of fact. And I'd hardly call a GroenLinks (Green Party) or SP (Socialist Party) or Animal Party voter an extremist, don't put words in my mouth. I don't even call every PVV or FvD voter an extremist, although a larger percentage of extremists is found among them.
    Ignoring your CDA jab (which I don't vote for).
    D66 is also a centrist party and that party supports referendums very enthusiastically, they just want a better system. They want a solid system of binding referendums which works well, they just think (and I agree) that the current system wasn't working.

    Two very bad properties of this law. It was almost impossible to get a referendum on anything.
    Holding a referendum is very expensive. I disagree that requiring 300,000 signatures is too much. If you can't even get 300,000 signatures for your topic (signing is almost no effort at all and raising signatures over the internet is easy) it's not important enough to spend that much money on. If you can't get 300,000 people to care enough to sign your petition, people in general obviously don't care that much about the topic, so IMO it's not worth the money it costs. The less people care, the less they're going to read about the topic anyway, so the votes are going to be uninformed and the turnout percentage will be very low.

    And the government could always say "fuck you plebs, we'll do what we want anyway". Which indeed happened after every referendum.
    There has only been one referendum thus far. We'll see what they do with the outcome of the "dragnet law" referendum. At least on that topic I have less of a problem with the binary nature of the referendum. "Should the government have more data mining and analyzing abilities, at the expense of our privacy, for arguably better security? Yes/No" It's a national topic with mostly national consequences that works better for a referendum than the association treaty.

    Why was it important for the Ukraine to move into a more pro-European direction ? Because you think so ? The Ukrainians had just elected their own government, which was pro-Russia. You know better than the Ukrainians themselves ?
    No, I said it was considered important, meaning people found it important, whether that's justified or not. My personal opinion of Ukrainian politics is irrelevant.

    Also, the Ukrainians expected the collaboration to grow into full membership. Maybe that was never said officially. But on many occaisions this was said. It was certainly the expectation of the Ukraine. If you wish, I can burrow you with links on this.
    Expectations are one thing. To become a member, all current members states would have to agree, and they'd have to conform to the same standards as any other aspiring member state.

    It doesn't matter what you think, or I think. It matters what the majority thinks. If you disagree, you are not democratic.
    You make it sound as if the referendum was a vote for or against the Dutch governement. It was not.
    Was it a vote against the EU ? Hell yeah.
    The reason is simple: our referendum law did not allow us to have referenda on any topic. We could only have referenda about new laws. The new treaty with the Ukraine was a new law, so it was the only way to vote about something to do with the EU. Officially the question was about the Ukraine only. Unofficially the referendum was also about the EU's unbridled greedy expansion. I'm fine with that.
    And I'm not fine with that. The citizens of a country should not be used as a tool to voice another country's citizens' dissatisfaction about the EU. It's their future that's at stake, they shouldn't be used as pawns.

    You think we let the Ukraine join the EU because we want to save them ?
    No. The only reasons are because of power and money.
    And yes, sending a message to the EU is perfectly fine.
    Maybe we don't have enough ways to send messages to the EU. On that part I can agree. But using another country's citizens as pawns is not the way to do it.

    And the Animal Party does have a point. Ukraine is the most corrupt country in Europe. How hard would it be to get the right papers for the wrong products ?
    Then that's what they should've said. "They will be bound to EU regulations, but we believe they'll ignore that". Other people could've responded to that. Now they're just lying by omission.

    Those people are cunts.
    You want to torpedo the democratic process by playing unfair ? I have no sympathy for you.
    They don't want to legitimize a flawed system by voting in a referendum. You don't vote in the general election because you don't support the system. Same thing if you ask me. Or would you rather everyone would be required to vote in a referendum? Then why wouldn't they require you to vote in the general election? To vote or not should be everyone's own decision.

    And I don't need your sympathy. I got what I wanted, the association treaty was passed and this flawed system of referendums is gone. Maybe one day it's replaced by a trustworthy system that works. Then I'll vote.

    I don't believe in representative parliament. I don't vote in regular elections, because I don't want to legitimize them. I think it is totally unfair Dutch politics is continuing anyway. Yeah, right.
    I have no problem with you not voting.

    So when you don't play, it's meaningless. But when I don't play, I should stfu and not have an opinion on politics ?
    I never said you should stfu. However, the general election result does have more meaning than this referendum result, because close to 80% of eligible voters vote. So it's a better representation that the meager 31% that showed up in the referendum.

    No, that was not the case.
    The issue was: a few political parties had said in advance that they would honor the outcome. And then after the result was not what they had hoped for, they said: "oh btw, we're not gonna honor the outcome". Hypocrites. That was the problem.
    Yeah I get your point here. They shouldn't have made these promises IMO. If you ask me, they should've said: "we're going to seriously consider the results, but we're not making promises as to the outcome. EU politics are complicated, we may not be able to transfer your binary decision directly".

    Please do.
    I could explain why it's a bad thing that a couple of million voters from one country are able to torpedo resolutions that all national governments have agreed to, because then the EU will never be able to get anything done. If you want to go that way, you should poll citizens in all countries, at least then it's a more accurate representation of what all EU citizens want.
    I could elaborate, but I suspect you're just going to say "who cares, I hate the EU, so good riddance if they fail".

    In that case, change the way the referenda are held. Change the questions they ask. Change the frequency. In any case, the solution is not: "fuck the plebs, we overlords know best, and we'll take the decisions. and we don't need to take responsibility to anyone".

    Referenda are a great indicator of what the general public wants. Even if the question was limited. Even if the result can't be implemented easily. The real problem is that our referenda exposed something significant: our politicians do not want to implement the will of the people. In stead, they want to play their own political games. I find that astonishing.
    So replace it with a better system that's guaranteed to produce an accurate representation of what people really want. I don't know how such a system should be designed, but I'm open to the possibility. In that case, the centrist party D66 would be right on your side and a majority for such a system might be possible. As I said, people in Switzerland seem fairly happy with their system.

    You're making this up. Link please. Dutch link is fine.
    Link

    In my haste, I said it was multiple people who said this. Turns out that was wrong, it was just Lilian Marijnissen of the SP.

    Yes, bad is always worse than good.
    But you are arguing that sometimes no democracy is the best solution ? WTF ?
    No, as I said: design a good system, think it through thoroughly, employ some experts to analyze the effectivity, etc. If the system works, I might just support it.

  18. #43
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    EU does not just take any country. There are strict criteria that every country has to pass in order to join. And even then some countries get rejected outright. In fact, it's the other way around -- lots of countries want to join the EU, a lot more than the EU is willing to take.

    Also, the stability and the economic prosperity that the EU has brought after WW2 is undeniable. I'm baffled that people want to go back to the "good old days" when it was everyone for themselves and Europe tore itself into pieces over and over and over again.

  19. #44
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: I think I've been here
    One might almost feel grateful to Gryzemuis for choosing a thread about (more) direct democracy to prove that old quote attributed to Winston Churchill about a 5-minute conversation with the average voter.

    Seriously though, no voting app and positive attitude will get you past the fact that politics is a lot of work to do as good as possible. And common people simply don't have the time to sit through the necessary base education of the values that shall guide us, listen to all the sides, engage in endless discussions trying to moderate the interest goups and then think of the consequences and the common welfare.
    That's why we delegate that shit to people who must spend their whole day with it: It's more efficient AND leads to better results than a million people making some emotionally charged snap decision.

    But it's not like voting was the only way to be politically active. Join a party or a union or your local tabletennis club, take on some minor honorary post and you will soon understand that not every person who comes in from the street could do it just as well.

    I'm all for everyone participating in politics. But you can't leave out the learning process. Which is what direct democracy necessarily ends up to be about.

  20. #45
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: I think I've been here
    I have a feeling that humans acting as "self organizing networks" might be a part of Nickers idea, so I'll leave this hugely interesting article here: https://www.theguardian.com/environm...-tansley-smuts

    It is the idea of the "self-organising network". It says that human beings can organise themselves into systems where they are linked, but where there is no hierarchy, no leaders and no control. It is not the old form of collective action that the left once believed in, where people subsumed themselves into the greater force of the movement. Instead all the individuals in the self-organising network can do whatever they want as creative, autonomous, self-expressive entities, yet somehow, through feedback between all the individuals in the system, a kind of order emerges.
    At its heart it says that you can organise human beings without the exercise of power by leaders.

  21. #46
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    Quote Originally Posted by Kolya View Post
    One might almost feel grateful to Gryzemuis for choosing a thread about (more) direct democracy to prove that old quote attributed to Winston Churchill about a 5-minute conversation with the average voter.
    Yeah, of course Churchill has disdain for the average voter. He's a hero. Average voters are nothing.

    Do you know Churchill killed a million people ? Maybe more ? On purpose ?
    Do British history books teach that to British kids ?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereport...ved_india.html
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal_famine_of_1943

    The fucker didn't like Indians. And he thought it was better to send food from India to Greece. Probably because "geo-political reasons". Reasons simpletons like myself would never understand. So 3 million Indians died because of starvation. Which could have been 1-2 million less, if Churchill hadn't sent Indian food to Europe.

    This is one reason why I don't like authorities. They get to make dumb decisions. Evil decisions even. And they will never have to show responsibility. The bigger the country, the bigger the authority. And the bigger the crimes. But the winner writes the history books. So the winners are always heroes. And "the average voter" is nothing.

    I wonder how many of you belong to "the one percent".
    I wonder how many of you have any power.
    But please keep repeating the propaganda of the ruling class. They know best. They were appointed by god to do great things. We're to dumb to understand. We should be happy to get their breadcrumbs. Too bad all of you weren't born a few centuries ago. Back then it was much clearer who belonged to what class. Where everyone's place was.

  22. #47
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    I agree that learning is critical but again, Kolya, there's no guarantee that our elected officials, even at the highest levels, are qualified or they will keep the promises they make to get elected or that they will make decisions in the public good as opposed to self interest. In fact the dog eat dog process people have to go through to get to the top, may select for or create the personality profiles of people unsuited to public service.

    There is no direct correlation between the quality of a decision and whether it was made by lots of people or just a few. Until you can establish such a link, there is no argument there, just opinion.

    Churchill was a great war time Prime Minister but he was ill suited in peace time. Britain got lucky. They could have stuck with Neville Chamberlain.

    As far as quotes about democracy, I prefer Robert Heinlein's love / hate affair with it...

    "Democracy is a poor system of government at best; the only thing that can honestly be said in its favor is that it is eight times as good as any other method the human race has ever tried."

    "Democracy's worst fault is that its leaders are likely to reflect the faults and virtues of their constituents."

    "Democracy can't work. Mathematicians, peasants, and animals, that's all there is - so democracy, a theory based on the assumption that mathematicians and peasants are equal, can never work. Wisdom is not additive; its maximum is that of the wisest man in a given group."

    "What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it... which for the majority translates as 'Bread and Circuses'."

    Trouble for Heinlein is that last one can apply equally to professional politicians too.

  23. #48
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    Quote Originally Posted by Kolya View Post
    I have a feeling that humans acting as "self organizing networks" might be a part of Nickers idea, so I'll leave this hugely interesting article here: https://www.theguardian.com/environm...-tansley-smuts
    My idea is to discuss the possibility of improving democracy. Not sure what that article has to do with it. If anything, the natural political state for humans is simple hierarchy - probably an artifact of our social primate ancestry. Feudalism seems to be a cross cultural and stable system. It is arguable that we still have it, with a thin veneer of democracy.

    The Russians fought a bloody war to get rid of the Tzars. One Hundred years later, look who's back. Maybe kings and peasants is the best we can hope for.

    Any particular methods I have suggested don't resemble "self-organising networks". In fact they would require considerable organisation and maintenance.

  24. #49
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    Let's try and keep it civil, folks. We are just discussing ideas.

  25. #50
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: I think I've been here
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    "What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it... which for the majority translates as 'Bread and Circuses'."

    Trouble for Heinlein is that last one can apply equally to professional politicians too.
    It can apply, if politicians are so power hungry that they forgo common welfare, but we have invented rules to prevent that. In a direct democracy though it is the only result.
    I'm not trying to prove here that few people make better decisions than many. I'm arguing for expertise, which is only practically achievable for few.
    Last edited by Kolya; 25th Feb 2018 at 19:06.

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