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Challenges Facing the Present and Future of Democracy (Friday, May 19 2017)

Historical Post:

Audio Summary:

Designing Open Democracy Meetup No. 5 - What are the Present and Future Challenges for Democracy?

Link to previous meeting’s discussion document:


  • Nick Merange
  • Tom Sesselman - Software engineer
  • Francisco - psychology
  • David - Former police officer, guide people into constitutional law
  • Kevin Woods - Working with small projects, balancing intentions, service models
  • Brian - How technology works influences
  • Andrew Downing - Councillor in the pirate party,

What is democracy?

  • The ability to change groups
  • To achieve good outcomes, to get good input, and to have transparency of process (Think “Digital Democracy” for introducing these topics)

Francisco's understanding: * A system of Government * DE-mos - of the people Kratos - rule * Politics - Affairs of the city (e.g. Finding solutions for the affairs) * Creating better things * Democracy is best system we have at the moment

Part of a wider social change,

  • 17th Century
  • “Juridical persons”, biological persons”, “informational persons”
  • The power of capitalism subsumes democracy

Francisco: * Biggest issue is lack of engagement in politics * Journalism is an important part of this engagement. * Political exposed person - leads to people manipulating information

“Democracy in crisis”

  • Democracy vs. Populism
  • Populism - Single leader who can solve all problems

The common/social contract

  • Brian - Informed discussion vs. less

Problem with low level of Trust

  • Which information do you trust?

    • Journalism as a safeguard for democracy has collapsed
    • Media monoculture
    • Online Advertising has destroyed the normal regular business models for running newspapers
  • Comments by Andrew:

    • Information: Problem of scale - too much information for anyone
    • We have to provide balance between “labour” and “capital”
    • Big economic change in developed countries

Need for Discourse within different mindsets

  • Peterson - Progressives open, lacking in conscientiousness, conservatives the reverse.
  • Tom (Flux Party) - Discussion is not our responsibility as there are already experts in their field (Importance of seperation of concerns).
    • Governments should aim to increase prosperity

Issues are:

  • Corruption : Corporations have a lot of power/influence in government.
  • Conflict of interest via money donated to political parties

Francisco: * Crisis from the political parties * Disappearance of ideologies (more like parties, imo) * Disengagement from the political system - Why? Because of Corruption and influence

How do you get people who are both disengaged and more awake then ever?

We have all the ingredients to answer this question and address this positively.

  • Engage youth
  • Marketing, crowdfunding

Read Michel Foucault how social change occurs. People creating their own truth (youth choosing not to vote)

  • Legal System is critical in this

Key issue - Accountability very important - Government - Economics

Corporations should represent everyone, not just themselves

Summary of Challenges to Democracy

  • Tom: Power of corporations too high in politics relative to Government, increasing chances for Corruption to enter.
  • Francisco:
    • Political Disengagement in the public sphere.
    • Misleading information
    • Rise in Populism
    • Misalignment between goverment decision and the interest of the public
    • Must deal with the impacts of populist leaders’ decisions
    • More populism, more poor decisions
  • David:

    • Remove human slavery
    • Government doing things that are illegal/unconstitutional
  • Kevin:

    • Biggest challenge - lack of adhering to something’
    • Degree of disconnection people have with everything
    • Problem of limited accountability of corporations; they aren’t accountable to everyone.
  • Brian:
    • Issue of information overload
    • Need for better represention of population informed decision.
  • Andrew:
    • Trust (lack thereof)
    • Discourse between opposing sides
    • Too much information; scaliblity issues
  • Nick:
    • Cognitive biases and coordination
    • Is Blockchain a “trustless” or “distributed trust” system?

Further Readings