I write it because direct democracy and cooperative management significantly improve democracy and management.
Direct democracy is the logical next step to fix the problem that too many do not feel represented.
Today I write only about direct democracy. I will write also about cooperative management.
Your comments and contributions are always welcome.
In “pure” direct democracy, the citizens themselves make the laws and the decisions. They serve in government at various levels for a limited time. Citizens directly control the political process. There are no elected politicians.
In direct democracy political parties and professional politicians are unnecessary. This is because the issue is what it important, not what political philosophy to apply to solve it.
People debate each issue as such, with no “left” or “right” positions. People form opinions around the issue on its merits, not based on their political beliefs. Because of this political parties, with their particular philosophies, serve no purpose.
Ordinary citizens debate the issues, and also listen to experts, to make better decisions.
All citizens must serve for a period of time in the institutions. This means, among other benefits, constant renewal and no entrenchment.
There are also citizen’s assemblies at regular intervals to vote on various issues.
Like any form of democratic government direct democracy needs independent institutions.
Another benefit of direct democracy is that lobbies and rich people have less influence in government.
Swiss direct democracy is not “pure” direct democracy because it has political parties. But the major parties govern in coalition. Perhaps this is so because the parties realize they can only do things that have the backing of citizens.
Politicians in representative democracies have much more power than in direct democracy. Because of that many do not seem to believe in direct democracy.
Direct democracy is a sound idea, but the practice of direct democracy is not sound if the people are not ready.
Representative democracy needs sound citizens. Direct democracy needs an even higher level of sophistication.
The preparation of citizens is the key. That is one of the factors that helped the Ancient Greeks develop the first democracy. Amazingly, they developed direct democracy right from the start.
Education for all boys started at age seven in Athens. They learned to read and write. Most girls were not taught to read and write, but many learned. We know they did because there are more than 20 Greek women whose writing reached us. To have so many that reached us there must have been many more women writers.
Direct democracy needs citizens with well developed common sense. Common sense is the most important manifestation of human intelligence.
Direct democracy is difficult but Representative democracy is not easy either.
How many solid representative democracies we have in the World?
The solid representative democracies are: “Northern Europeans”, France, the “Anglo-Saxon” countries and Japan.
But they are not the same; Anglo-Saxon democracies have been far more stable than most of the others.
There are other countries that are democracies but do not have as good a record of stability.
You might have noticed I have not mentioned Switzerland. I have done it because Switzerland is the only consolidated direct democracy. It still has elements of representative democracy.
Switzerland is a referent I like because it is with us, here and now. Other democracies are starting to move in Switzerland’s direction.
Switzerland is living demonstration that direct democracy works. Swiss democracy is not direct like in Athens, but the people have direct control.
Let me say a few things about Attica and Athens. It is important because they are our roots.
Athens was part of Attica. People refer to Athenian Democracy. In fact it was Attican Democracy.
In Ancient Greece there were other democracies. The cities of Corcyra, Syracuse, Argos, Corinth, Megara, also had direct democracy, but not as well developed as in Attica-Athens.
How big was Attica? Attica occupied 2 500 sq. km or 1000 sq. miles. Picture a rectangle of 25 km by 100 km, or 15 miles by 60 miles. It had a population of 250 000 to 350 000 inhabitants. Some 150 000 of them lived in the city of Athens. The city of Athens itself had a land size of a few kilometers in diameter, about one or two miles.
The size of Attica’s population was like the Swiss cantons of Luzern, Fribourg or Ticino.
In area, Attica was roughly 50% larger than the Canton of Luzern or Fribourg, and a bit smaller that the Canton of Ticino.
Because of the direct power of citizens, the Swiss parliament and the government have far less power than in any other democracy.
Most Swiss parliamentarians are not professional politicians. The National Council meets four times a year, each time for three weeks. This means parliamentarians can stay active in their professions. Many of them say: “we like it like that way because it keeps us with a foot in the real world”.
I chose those three cantons also because they represent three cultures; Swiss-German culture, Swiss-French culture and Swiss-Italian culture. This means that direct democracy can work in cultures that are different.
The Swiss practice direct democracy at the canton level, at the federal level and at the local level.
Switzerland is also politically neutral. This may make it easier for others to take a look at Swiss democracy.
I encourage you to learn about Swiss direct democracy. Feel free to comment about it in DirectsDemocrats.com.
I will be writing a new blog every two days but the news may force me to change the schedule.