Democracy International is one example of an influential organization that trusts the people…, up to a point.
I quote from Democracy International:
“Democracy International advocates the implementation of binding direct democracy all over the world. Initiatives and referendums should be bound to international law as well as constitutional principles,”
Notice Democracy International states: “Initiatives and referendums should be bound to international law as well as constitutional principles.” No!, direct democracy is “the people decide”; no law is above them because the people make the laws or have the final say on all national and international laws that affect them, including the constitution.
I do not doubt Democracy International’s intentions are noble, but they show a fear of the people which undermines the credibility of Democracy International as a pro-direct democracy organisation.
In stable democratic societies, including all stable representative democracies, the people show good judgment, year after year, sometimes even century after century. Such people should no have to bow to any law or constitution written by elites, elected or not.
We also see how many international laws are developed by international bodies in which all sorts of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes have representatives.
It makes no sense to force such laws on any people, but specially in the people of democracies. In the case of direct democracies, such ideas are direct violations of direct democracy and can not be accepted. If international laws or the constitution are above the people, that is not direct democracy.
Because the only country today with a long history of direct democracy is Switzerland, lets us reflect on that and on what Democracy International states.
The Swiss have demonstrated they have better socio-political and economic judgment than any other people I can think of.
I can not believe Democracy International is telling us the Swiss can not decide in a referendum to reject an international law. They may decide to accept such law, even if they don’t like it, but they are the ones to decide.
Same goes for the comment about submitting to the constitution. “The results of initiatives and referendums must no contradict the constitution”. Democracy International should add: “As long as the people have the power to change the constitution by means of initiatives and referendums.
Direct democracy is, even more than representative democracy, “of the people, by the people, for the people”. This means that no international law or provision of the constitution can be above the will of the people, none.
I believe in direct democracy because in it the people have the last word, not their representatives.
In direct democracy the people can certainly make mistakes, but history shows that the only direct democracies the World has ever known; the Ancient Greek city-states and modern Switzerland, made fewer mistakes in respect for human life, justice, freedom, economic, cultural and social development.
History also shows representative democracies are guilty of far bigger mistakes than direct democracies. No need to say a word about non-democracies…
I believe direct democracy is only possible when people have achieved the level of social development it requires. Why some societies end up more able to practice direct democracy? I have no idea. Maybe it is luck, climate, a “cultural mutation”…
So, let us all support direct democracy. Let us trust the people. Let us accept that most people have common sense.
Even in totalitarian and authoritarian societies, most ordinary people show in their personal lives every day that they have tons common sense. All they need is to learn and practice more respect for the ideas and beliefs of others. Once they do that, representative democracy and direct democracy will work for them too.
To finish, I will give you a great example of transition to direct democracy. It is the nation of Taiwan. In Taiwan, the original Taiwanese and the Chinese people of Taiwan show how it can be done.
A few decades ago Taiwan was a dictatorship, today is a representative democracy in transition to direct democracy. Only Switzerland is more democratic. The Taiwan experiment is new, only time will tell if Taiwan will become as stable as Switzerland, but the facts are encouraging.
So, dear friends of Democracy International: you are doing a great job for democracy, just fine tune your words a bit.