I encountered someone who erroneously thinks there is a dilemma between Direct Democracy and Participatory Polity (parpolity). I found this person to reflexively get defensive to any critique, not matter how constructive or diplomatically presented, and predictably and somewhat intentionally unfamiliar with Parpolity (I constantly asked the person to take the time to consider the arguments but got rapid and dismissive responses – since I occassionally catch myself doing the same thing I thought to myself: go figure!).
Direct Democracy vs Participatory Polity; A False Dichotomy
True, they are not the same, but the latter does draw the benefits from the former while including methods to counter the costs.
Here are some highlights of our encounter.
"You must have missed Obama’s pre-election suggestion forum where people’s suggestions were voted on and the most popular rose to the top. People were able to choose from thousands of proposals instead of whichever a few people favored. Your argument ignores the fact that we deliberated from vastly more choices and we got to make our own proposals."
[For the sake of the topic I never bothered to ask (rhetorically) whether those proposals voted on in a meaningless forum have any bearing on policies being implemented post-election!]
That’s not the same thing as 300 million Americans deliberating and legislating everything that affects them. Having every American deliberate, formulate and legislate on healthcare or living wages is not practical. How can you become acquainted with and considerate of 300 million other peoples views on an issue?
"Granted [ParPolity] may be more representative than what we have now if only because there are more representatives."
The benefit doesn’t come from having more representatives/delegates, but from how and where the process comes from, which you are glossing over.
And comparing representatives in a Representative Democracy to delegates in a Particiaptory Planning is like comparing apples to oranges simply because they share the title of being a "fruit."
"In the ideal form of democracy, anyone can make the laws, not representative councils. They do so by proposing laws and having them voted up or down. The best proposals rise to the top and become law. It is completely decentralized and we socialize online, which makes it easier to deliberate on an ongoing basis."
Direct Democracy is decentralized and people can propose things and vote up or down, but that doesn’t really build social bonds without an adequate way to do two things: 1) provide an outlet for deliberation on 2) that which affects those involved in deliberation.
If federated councils bother you then technically everyone can be a party to innumerous councils depending on the scope of who is affected, but the problem with that is one of practicality. It would be nice if there were enough time in the day to accommodate this but since there is only so much time and some people value leisure, there needs to be a trade off. Participatory Polity is designed to do just that. Power ultimately comes from the lowest councils since anyone in a higher council must be a member of a lower council who has been chosen to represent that council in higher councils; and councils are broken up into two categories: 1) size to accommodate face-to-face deliberation and 2) areas to separate who is affected by decisions and who is not.
A county council would be made of community council delegates who were chosen to represent them in city councils as well as being chosen by city councils to represent them in county councils. This allows de facto say by those in the county without millions having to deliberate by excluding counties who are not affected. If something only affects Tarrant County then Johnson or Dallas or Denton County shouldn’t have a say, and neither should those counties residents have to sort out what they do and don’t want to have a say on. When something affects more than those in that county the issue may be taken up in a regional or state or national or international arena between those affected and accountable to the lower councils by more than just voting, but by popularity due to effective participation and understanding of the views of their councils.
Let me put it this way. You are not a politician. You are a member of your community council and you deliberate with others in your community to legislate what affects you. Unless you have an effective understanding of your council’s views they would not have chosen you to represent them in higher councils. This is dramatically different from representatives in Representative Democracy where a US Representative who allegedly represents 600,000 people knows virtually nothing about his electoral constituents and who can operate without their explicit approval so long as he gets enough campaign funds to stage an elaborate and extensive campaign to dupe them into voting for him/her. It’s also an improvement upon Direct Democracy since it gives wider room for deliberation, popular participation, grassroots control and respect for personal leisure time.