Monday, December 18,  2017

Politics

Democracy in the Age of American Idol

By Ganzeer

If we were to figure out a way to efficiently collect a ginormous amount of data today, I highly doubt our communication engineers - even the least skilled ones - would declare: Ballot Boxes!


The first photo on the “Democracy” article on Wikipedia shows the hand of a woman slipping an envelope into a ballot box. Most unfortunately, this photo really does represent what democracy means to the majority of people in the world today.


We are in the year 2012 and this ballot box system is said to have been first adopted in 1856 by the Australian state of Victoria. Now the reason this system was adopted in 1856 was because it seemed like the ideal way to collect data from the largest portion of society at the time. If we were to figure out a way to efficiently collect a ginormous amount of data today, I highly doubt our communication engineers - even the least skilled ones - would declare: Ballot Boxes!


One of humanity’s most democratic feats occurred when American Idol was first aired in 2002. Actually, no, that’s not entirely true. It first happened when Pop Idol was first aired on British television in 2001. I just use American Idol for this analogy since the AmericansDemocracy is, in essence, People Power: the power of every single person. Not one person would be rendered powerless. Not one person would fall under the authority of someone else’s power, because all people would be powerful. managed to popularize their show far more successfully (of course) than their original British counterparts. The basis of the show was to discover who the best new “pop” singer was, depending entirely on direct viewer voting and participation. Did the show’s producers ask viewers to go to their nearest ballot boxes to cast their votes? No, they asked them to use their mobile phones. Aha! Instant participation! Like, literally instant! Looking up the History of Voting Machines produces “Direct Recording Electronic” as the most recent configuration in the evolution of voting systems, which is basically a machine that stores your vote instead of a piece of paper. It’s like an electronic ballot box. Obviously, direct “user” participation on the political front is quite behind.


Now the brilliance of voting via mobile phones is not only in its instantness, but also in the type of data you can collect with it. You can get precise demographics and locations of voters. You can even easily pinpoint fraud by detecting if more than one number is registered to the same user. You will probably get higher participation due to the ease at which participation would occur. Anybody will prefer hitting a button on a phone to paying a trip to the ballot box any day.


On another note, there’s the issue of what we are voting for. Populations usually make their way to ballot boxes across the country to vote for who would make decisions instead of them. This is essentially true, be it a Representative Democracy (election of government officials), a Democratic Republic (electing head of state), a Parliamentary Democracy (large number of people elect a small number of people to overlook the decisions of an even smaller group of people), or Liberal Democracy (decision making power of elected representatives is subject to the laws of a constitution), which all constitute the most popular forms of democracy used by people worldwide today.


It seems to me, though, that true democracy shouldn’t force populations to delegate other people to make decisions for them. It’s apparent that popular democracy today isn’t democratic at all. This opinion is shared by the first image that comes up to me when I search for the word “democracy” on Google Images. I’d say democracy should empower people to directly control their lives on an everyday basis. This isn’t something I’ve invented. It’s the basis of a few other forms of democracy, such as:

 

1. Direct Democracy: Contrary to relying on intermediates or representatives, citizens partake in decision-making by changing constitutional laws, putting forth initiatives and referendums, and giving orders to elective officials (Switzerland, California).

 

2. Inclusive Democracy: All decisions are taken by the citizen body collectively and without representation. The citizen body of a particular geographical area consists of all residents beyond a certain age of maturity and irrespective of gender, race, ethnic or cultural identity. The age of maturity is to be defined by the citizen body itself.

 

3. Participatory Democracy: People should have decision-making power in proportion to how much they are affected by the decision.

 

4. Socialist Democracy: A form of participatory democracy and workplace democracy combined with representative democracy.

 

5. Anarchist Democracy: A political philosophy that promotes a stateless society.

 

6. Sortition: Choosing decision-makers via a random process. The intention is that those chosen will be representative of the opinions and interests of the people at large. This technique was in widespread use in Athenian Democracy and is still used in modern American jury selection.

 

7. Consensus Democracy: It typically attempts to protect minority rights from domination by majority rule by depending on varying degrees of consensus rather than mere democratic majority.

 

8. Supranational Democracy: Committee votes are allocated in part according to the size of represented population, heavily weighed in favor of smaller populations. This form of democracy is implemented by the European Union.

 

9. Cosmopolitan Democracy: Also known as Global Democracy or World Federalism, it’s a political system in which democracy is implemented on a global scale, either directly or through representatives. An important justification for this kind of system is that the decisions made in national or regional democracies can often affect people outside the constituency who, by definition, cannot vote. By contrast, in a Cosmopolitan Democracy, the people who are affected by these decisions also have a say in them.


Looking at these nine methods of unpopularized democracies, a clue is presented as to theWith each new human innovation comes a step towards empowerment, and a step away from things like delegation, representation, authoritarianism, capitalism, copyright, and nationalism. Essentially, what human beings are inventing everyday are the tools by which absolute People Power will be made possible.  falsity of what popular democracy has become: a ballot box. Conversely, however, it also proves that none of those nine “alternative democracies” are really democracies either, simply because the word “democracy” is preceded by a limiting adjective in each case. Linguistically, this eliminates the remaining qualities of what a democracy really is.


To clarify, I’ll have to use a retarded analogy here: If I were to say “fluffy dessert,” then I would be eliminating all desserts that are not fluffy. I’d only be referring to a very specific segment of dessert and not all of dessert.

Now how can we as human beings make this possible? More importantly, how on Earth will I ever figure that out in this here essay?


I’m not entirely sure. But I am certain that it can’t be a mere coincidence that these ideas are increasingly manifesting in an age when open-source culture is becoming evermore popular. Nor can it be a coincidence in the age of Creative Commons, Wikipedia, Wikileaks, Social Media, Fab Labs and web-powered revolutions.


With each new human innovation comes a step towards empowerment, and a step away from things like delegation, representation, authoritarianism, capitalism, copyright, and nationalism. Essentially, what human beings are inventing everyday are the tools by which absolute People Power will be made possible. There will be a worldwide structure where every single person on the planet will be able to shape their own daily lives and the way the world operates. And maybe, just maybe, their mobile phones will help them do that. There’s no stopping it. Even though the select few on this planet who reap the benefits of the current world order will fight to keep People Power from happening, it’ll happen anyway, simply because they too are an unintentional participant in creating People Power.