Bitcoin and direct democracy; two sides of the same coin

Ethereum, Bitcoin are about the removal of centralized financial decision-making, where a few decide for the many.

Direct democracy is about decentralized monetary, political, social, economic, educational, etc., decision-making.

Switzerland has been practising decentralized decision-making, with its direct democracy, for almost two centuries. And it works for the people; that is why Switzerland is the best managed country in the World, the most democratic, the most stable, the one with the most intelligent foreign policy of neutrality (the Swiss will die only to defend their country from direct attack, not in crazy wars in far-away lands), the best universal health care and many other “bests”.

It is natural Switzerland be more friendly to Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. than the US, Canada, the UK, France, and other major representative democracies; the Swiss government, the banks, etc., are used to final decision-making, decentralized decision-making, by the people. In the other countries neither the government nor the banks are used to that, and they fear both, bitcoin and direct democracy.

Switzerland allowed the Word’s fist crypto Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), it is logical that it be so.

Representative democracies are based on centralized decision making in all areas; political, economic, social, educational. Voting is decentralized in representative democracies, power is centralized and Crypto is a threat to them.

Do not be fooled; politicians in representative democracies dislike bitcoin and the rest because it removes from them a lot of decision.making. That is why they dislike direct democracy either.

In representative democracies, politicians will, reluctantly, accept Bitcoin and the rest only if opinion polls show they will lose the next election if they do not accept it, nothing else concerns them.  Between elections, the people in representative democracies can not really control the politicians and the politicians like that very much.

Politicians in representative democracies talk a good game of “fighting for the people”, but are really interested in preserving their own power. In this way they can do what is best for the people, as the politicians see it.

For example, when Elizabeth Warren attacks crypto “because it is used for criminal activities”, is just fighting to keep the centralized decision-making power the US Congress has over the life of Americans; economic, financial and everything else. The politicians and top officials in the UK, France, Germany, etc., are much the same.

When Janet Yellen does what Warren does, it is for the same reason, protection of their power.

People like them believe, or pretend to, they are more capable than the people to make the big decisions for the country. The Swiss people prove, decade after decade, that when the people have the power to be the final decision-makers on any issue they want to decide, they make better decisions than the politicians in representative democracies; this is why Switzerland is ahead of the US and the rest in practically any area of daily life.

Warren and Yellen know the US Dollar, not Bitcoin is, by far, the preferred tool for criminal activity.

Warren and Yellen also know that after decentralized finance, Americans will demand decentralized political decision-making, exactly like in Switzerland.

Totalitarian regimes, where one party, one person, one religion rules they fear Bitcoin even more than the politicians in representative democracies, and the news tell us every day that it is so.

If citizens in representative democracies want to be really free, they must demand the right to decide themselves any issue. Acceptance of Bitcoin, Ethereum and the rest extend direct democracy.

But accepting Bitcoin, Ethereum and other decentralized finance is not the most important thing, the most important thing is direct democracy; the rest are consequences.

But to get direct democracy, we have to wake up and demand it, like the Swiss did in 1867, interestingly, also because of another pandemic.

Victor Lopez

 

 

There is no real freedom without power; representative democracy vs direct democracy

In totalitarian regimes the citizens have as many rights as serfs in the European Middle ages, but in representative democracy, citizens have the freedom to vote and the freedom to criticise the politicians. That is very important, but is not enough.

In representative democracies the people do not have the power to stop laws, regulations and policies they disagree with, therefore they do not have freedom of decision, they are not free.

But reality is even worse; not only the citizens can not stop actions by the executive and/or the legislative, they can not propose and approve new laws or changes to the constitution.

In representative democracies it is the politicians who propose and approve everything; laws, regulations, changes to the constitution, everything!. In some representative democracies, very few of them, changes to the constitution require approval by the people in a popular referendum.

But it is even worse, much worse than that; not only the people can not stop the politicians, they must obey and follow all the laws, regulations and policies the politicians decide will apply to the citizens.

Through laws, regulations and policies, they control the lives of citizens in all areas; as employers, employees, tenants, landlords, drivers, taxpayers, entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers, car mechanics, plumbers, homemakers, wives, husbands, neighbours, students, teachers… and on and on.

The executive and the legislative control our lives form birth to death, it is time to change that.

When power changes hands, from the “left” to the “right”, all that means is that the type of control will change somewhat, but the control will not be less.

It no longer makes sense that in a “democracy” the people have no say on the laws, regulations and policies they have to comply with. Democracy is “government by the people”, how can it be “government by the people” if the people have no say on the laws, regulations and policies they have to comply with? It makes no sense, it is illogical, unfair, and has to change.

Representative democracy is not democracy; it is far superior, far more humane, than totalitarian regimes, but it not real democracy.

Therefore, it is urgent to push politicians in representative democracies to bring direct democracy. Direct democracy means the people have more power than the elected politicians, as it is supposed to be in democracy.

Direct democracy means politicians know they can only enact laws, regulations and policies that have, at least, the silent approval of the majority of the people. If they don’t,  1% of voters sign demand for a referendum on whatever law, regulation, policy or treaty politicians intend to develop. Such demand can not be turned down by government, even if the executive and the legislative unanimously wanted to.

At a minimum, we need Swiss-style direct democracy, the most democratic country on Earth, the only one, really. But the Swiss did not get rid of elected politicians, they just put in place the mechanisms to control them.

Swiss direct-representative democracy could move further, to become a full direct democracy. Full direct democracy means the people can do what they do in Switzerland, but it goes beyond, because in a full direct democracy, there are no professional politicians or political parties, they are unnecessary because the people decide issues based on the facts, not on ideologies. Political idealogies are like religions; each claims to have received The Truth; you can not get more absurd than that.

Swiss-style direct democracy is also more stable than representative democracy because the executive and the legislative have to be in tune with the people; the system of direct democracy forces them to. Therefore, Switzerland’s is by far the most stable country in the World and also the one with less political polarization.

The lower level of polarisation happens because there is no point in politicians polarizing the issues; the people decide, the people know they are the ones responsible for the fate of the country. When that happens there is no point in inflaming issues to get people excited and confused. In a direct democracy, the people do not want fireworks; they want information because they are going to decide issues, not just elect politicians.

If you want your country to be more stable, less polarized, more responsible for public money, if you want to stop those grandiose or shortsighted “glamorous” public projects, if you want better education, better universal health care, more efficient business and public services, etc., demand direct democracy.

It does not matter if you are progressive or conservative, if you want to stop the shenanigans of politicians, the waste of public money, etc., it is time you take the matter in your own hands; direct democracy is the answer.

Victor Lopez

 

 

If the Swiss voters are in direct control of the politicians they elect, why the people in your country can not control the politicians they elect?, because the Swiss have direct democracy, and you don’t

This is the list of decisions Swiss voters made in the past few years, decisions that the Swiss politicians, not only they can not overturn them, they have to comply with the decisions of the people.

To give you an idea of the power of Swiss voters, and with the hope to trigger in others the desire to follow, or even improve the Swiss system, here you have the decisions the Swiss people made that the politicians had to implement and that even the Swiss Supreme Court can not overturn.

In Switzerland, being a real democracy, they have the common sense to realise that no judicial authority can prevail over the people because their interpretation of the constitution tells the judges that the people are wrong.

To the Swiss, that the judges can prevail over the political will of the people is absurd. The Swiss people themselves make the Swiss Constitution as they act. There is a famous song in Spanish that says; “walker, there is no trail, you make the trail as you walk”.

The Swiss do the same with the Constitution; “we build and develop the constitution as we vote, and we decide on what to vote, and when”.

In Switzerland, the politicians can not call referendums, plebiscites or anything like that, only the people can.

In Switzerland, the people can challenge any law and throw away any law the politicians propose.

This what the Swiss people have started referendums and decide the results all by themselves in 2020 and 2021 alone.

On Feb. 9th 2020 they organised the vote, voted and decided on the following issues:

  • Affordable housing.
  • Decision to decide if legislation on sexual orientation would be maintained or thrown away.

May 17th, 2020 referendums (which were postponed because of the Chinese variant of Covid.

  • Moderation of immigration.
  • Law on hunting.
  • Amendment to the tax law regarding deduction of child care expenses.
  • Decision on whether the Swiss Air Force should have more fighter jets.
  • Decision on the paternity leave law.

November 29th, 2020 referendums

  • On the penalization in Switzerland if a Swiss company, or its foreign subsidiary, violates human rights laws and environmental laws.
  • Decision on proposal to ban financing of Swiss arms manufacturers.

March 7th, 2021 referendums

  • Decision to ban facial covering in public.
  • Decision on the Federal Law on electronic identification services.
  • Decision on a trade treaty with Indonesia; yes the Swiss people decide treaties.

June 13th, 202 referendums

  • Decision on the constitutionality of the law enacted to deal with COVID.
  • Decision on the validity of the law enacted to deal with police measures to prevent terrorism.
  • Decision on the validity of the law enacted to reduce greenhouse gases emissions.
  • Decision on the use of synthetic pesticides in Switzerland.
  • Decision on financial assistance to farmers whose activities are harming the environment.

In September the Swiss will vote on other issues to decide, not so that the politicians know what the people think, in Switzerland all referendums are binding for politicians.

The really important thing is not how the referendum results turn out, the important thing is that the people decide the key issues.

Remember, Switzerland is the best governed country in the World; not only it is a democracy, it is a direct democracy.

Perhaps one of the biggest strengths of popular referendums, if planned and delivered in a open, mature, calm manners, is that the decision reflects the thinking of the majority of the people. The system allows Switzerland to use the brains of all Swiss voters. It is only natural that together, they will arrive at better decisions than a few politicians.

If the people of your country participate in referendums, as well organised, debated and delivered as Switzerland, your country will be better governed.

But don’t wait for most politicians to switch towards direct democracy; they will never do it because, to put bluntly, direct democracy means the people have more power than the elected representatives.

So, don’t wait for others to deliver direct democracy to your country; you will have to demand it.

If you think the people of your should have the last say on any issue, the people want to decide upon, then you want direct democracy. If you do not want direct democracy, it means you need to inform yourself better and learn the details explaining its superiority.

If the people let the elected politicians make all key decisions, in free countries it makes no sense for the people to blame and complain about the politicians; the people, with their passive, non-assertive behaviour, are responsible for the situation.

Victor Lopez

 

 

People are not really tired of politicians, they are tired of representative democracy; “it is the system, stupid !”; direct democracy is the answer

In many representative democracies, even the more stable ones, such as the UK, Canada, Germany, France, the US and many others, many citizens do not have a high opinion of the politicians they elect.

But politicians in representative democracies are ordinary people who can not resist to use, and often abuse, their power because the system gives them too much power. The root problem is the system, not the politicians.

For example, in the UK, a survey performed during the 2010 general election found that 58% of those questioned thought the honesty and integrity of elected politicians in Britain was low or very low. This is the link https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-16760660.

Ninety percent of the French people have a poor opinion of politicians. Here is the link https://www.francetvinfo.fr/politique/neuf-francais-sur-10-ont-une-mauvaise-opinion-des-partis_951025.html

One third of Germans are not happy with the political process in the country. https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-democracy-problem-history/

Forty-five percent of registered voters in the US say agree with the statement, “It makes no real difference which party controls Congress, things go on just as they did before.” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-americans-think-of-congress-and-the-president/

It does not matter in what representative democracy you live, very high numbers of people distrust politicians. They distrust them because they do not do what they say they will do.

In a direct democracy, it does not matter what people think of politicians. How is that?, because the people have the final decision-maker power, not the politicians. In a direct democracy, politicians can not do as much harm as in a representative democracy because they do not have the power.

However, in the only direct democracy we have; Switzerland, the politicians have more prestige than in any other country. This happens because in a direct democracy, the politicians do what the people want them to do; In this way, the Swiss trust their politicians much more than in the countries I mentioned.

The reason in most representative democracies the people do not trust politicians is because the politicians can pass any law or policy they want, not the law or policy the people want them to pass. In a direct democracy, the people can do that.

The Swiss have a high opinion of politicians because of direct democracy. In a representative democracy, the politicians can not have the trust of the people because of what I just said.

So, if you want to improve the opinion you and your countrymen have of politicians, push for direct democracy. The politicians will only bring direct democracy if you demand it at every turn.

Switzerland was representative democracy until in 1867 the Swiss people got fed up with representative democracy and, loud and clear, demanded direct democracy; Swiss politicians yielded, and the rest is history; overall, the best country in the World in most critical areas.

If the US, Canada, etc., had direct democracy, the people will have a much better opinion of their politicians. How do we know?, because in Switzerland they, and it is the result of direct democracy.

Victor Lopez

 

Representative democracy treats citizens as children; in a direct democracy citizens decide as adults

On June 15, Yahoo Finance reported that Maya MacGuineas, President of the non-Partisan “Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget” said that US politicians refuse to make hard budgetary decisions: “No one wants pay for things”.

Well Ms. MacGuineas, I will tell you why US politicians refuse to make hard budgetary decisions; it is because representative democracy is a foolish set up.

Therefore, it is foolish, Us politicians, and politicians in all representative democracies, hold all the power. To get elected they tell people they have all the power and the answers to their problems and concerns.

It does not matter if the politician is right wing or left-wing, to get elected, the politician can not deliver any hard news because if he or she does, they will not get elected.

Mr. Trump promised to “Make America Great Again”, it is just another version of the times old false message; “follow me because I will take you to the Promised Land”.

Mr. Biden uses different words but the overall message is the same; “vote for me and I will deliver you to the Promised Land”. It may be a land different from Mr. Trump’s, but is the “Promised Land”, anyway.

The whole thing is absurd, but voters fall for such messages (more or less) because they have no choice.

In representative democracies, after the election, voters have zero, zilch, nada, power; there are no mechanisms for the voters to stop the politicians. Voters know they are helpless; once the election is over the system reduces them to the condition of children, the politicians being the parents.

But the politicians can not behave as responsible parents because their condition as parents can be taken away by the “children”.

It is a Catch 22 for the politicians, and for the voters too; the politician can not tell the truth to the voters because if he or she does, he or she will lose election to a politician who promises and promises and promises… The people can not bear hearing the truth because that will mean life will be bad with such politicians. Why vote for them if they tell us life will be hard, but the other fellows insist they will improve our life?

Because of its political dynamics; representative democracies suffer “promise inflation”. In some countries, like Germany, their historic memory tells them that irresponsible economic promises will deliver them to the “unpromised hell”. But even Germany seems to have forgotten; it has succumbed to the flaws of representative democracy, as we can see by the money printing practices of the European Central Bank, who has replaced the Deutsche Bundesbank.

Voters in representative democracies hope politicians will deliver honest, responsible government. But the politicians can’t deliver because voters like to hear beautiful promises at election time, promises that can not become real because they have undermined the country, weakened, even rotten it by previous promises.

This is the reality; representative democracy turns voters into powerless people. As it often happens to powerless people, many voters become irresponsible. Since they can do nothing, they do not feel responsible for the consequences of their vote. No matter who gets elected, the politicians will continue to behave irresponsible; Mrs. MacGuineas expression and the efforts of “Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget” are futile.

But there is hope; we know humans behave responsible if the system makes them responsible for the effect of their decisions. Most people behave responsibly when the rules of the game make them responsible for the effects of their decisions.

Therefore people with mortgages and loans pay them on time, and do so year after year, until they paid the debt off.

To make voters responsible, voters must have the final say of decision on any issues they consider important for the country.

When this happens, a new dynamic enters the mind of the voter; “I dislike the government to overspend”, “I disagree with the huge deficit”, “I know I will have to pay for it”, “I want a referendum for the voters to decide”. “I want to decide if there should be a minimum wage and how much it should be”, “if healthcare should be universal regardless of ability to pay”, “how much university fees should be”, “how big an army we should have”, “if we should go to war with this or that country”, “if we should ban synthetic pesticides”…, etc.”

This means that voters will now have the power to control de behaviours of politicians. That is important, but even more important is that when you can control the behaviours of the politicians but you do not act, you know you are responsible for the irresponsible behaviours of politicians because you did not act, but you had the power to stop them.

This is the magic of direct democracy; it brings responsible government because the people govern; that is what real democracy is; “the people pay, the people have the final say on anything when they want to”.

What Ms. MacGuineas said is interesting, but if she wants responsible government, she should promote direct democracy. I do not know how long she would last as President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget though…

The budget deficit is one problem the US has. In many other areas the US behaves irresponsibly and inefficiently too.

A comparison with Switzerland, where the voters have the power and the responsibility to stop politicians, is illustrative.

It is amazing that a tiny country with no natural resources is ahead of the US in almost any important parameter.

The Swiss live 5 years longer.

The Swiss are 50% less likely to be obese.

They are 27% less likely to be unemployed.

They are 50% less likely to be poor.

Swiss babies are 74% less likely to die at birth.

Swiss children are 35% less likely to die in infancy.

Political stability: Switzerland 92 (over 100), US 73

Civil rights: Switzerland 99, US 83

Health system: Switzerland 93, US 74

Medical doctors and hospital beds per 1000 people: Switzerland: 60% higher.

Average income: Switzerland 86 000 USD, US 66 000

Corruption, the US is 27% more corrupt.

Value of exports per inhabitant, Switzerland’s is 8 times higher.

In crime statistics, street safety, etc., Switzerland makes the US look like Mexico looks to Americans.

Switzerland if the country of reference for almost any positive practical indicator.

Switzerland is, overall, the best country in the World. No doubt this is because the Swiss people have been made the most responsible people of the World by direct democracy.

The US can modify its democracy and turn to direct democracy, like the Swiss did in 1867. If it does, the lives of Americans will radically improve.

To have responsible government in the US, or anywhere else, you, the citizens have to have more power, with it will come more self-responsibility and all positive indicators will go up.

But if you want the change to direct democracy, push for it. The politicians love representative democracy because, when in power, it gives them the formal legitimacy to what they want, and you can not stop them.

Victor Lopez

 

So, Biden entered Switzerland but, will Switzerland’s direct democracy enter Biden’s mind?

Today, June 15, President Biden arrived in Switzerland to meet tomorrow with President Putin. Mr Biden will also meet with some Swiss officials, including Guy Parmelin, who holds Switzerland’s rotating presidency this year.

I do not expect Mr. Putin to learn much from Switzerland as the political mindset of Swiss politicians and the Swiss people is completely alien to the Russian people and Russian government officials.

Bu there are important common factors between Switzerland and the United States. If Mr. Biden is open-minded he will see the time has come for America to learn from the Swiss, just like the Swiss learned from the Americans earlier.

The Swiss had been practising important elements of direct democracy since the 12th century; but they relied on the American Constitution and also on important elements of the French Revolution, to modernise their democracy in the 1800s.

In that process, the Swiss pole-vaulted over the Americans and the French; they left both (and every other nation) far behind when, in 1867, after another pandemic, the Swiss people expanded direct democracy to all levels of government. The rest are still far behind, even newly created democracies such as Israel, Spain, all of Eastern Europe, etc., have been completely incapable of coming up to the Swiss who still are truly in a category of their own. By the way, ignore the wrong rankings of democracy published by The Economist; it places Switzerland as the 12th most democratic country when, in fact is number one, far and away.

The changes meant the Swiss people by themselves, without the permission or support of the elected politicians, earned the right to call for popular referendums on any law, regulation or decision the elected politicians made or wanted to make.

This meant that for the first time in human history, since Ancient Greece, the people themselves could make political decisions, not just elect politicians and let them make all the decisions.

But the Swiss went even further; the people also earned the right to propose and approve laws, including changes to the Swiss Constitution. Again, since the Ancient Greeks, no people on Earth has comparable power.

But they not just earn the right on paper; the system makes it easy for anyone to organise referendums; that is why they have so many. Any individual, minority or small party able to gather 50 000 or 200 000 signatures (depending on the issue) will be able to hold a national referendum on whatever they propose.

Switzerland is more democratic because everybody has the opportunity to put their ideas before the people, for the people to decide; the Swiss are heard, the Swiss decide the key issues that concern them, not the elected politicians.

Compared to Swiss democracy, democracy in the US, Canada, France, the UK and in all other representative “democracies”. are not really democracies, they are almost a joke. Of course, non-democracies are human tragedies played every day.

The Swiss did not do away with politicians, they still elect them. This is the one area in which they have not caught up to the Greeks yet; the Greek people also run the government; the Greeks had no professional politicians or political parties; ordinary people run the government, relying on various public employees to carry out decisions.

I hear some Swiss also explore that; that the people really govern. That is what democracy is really about, “government by the people”. When the people really call the shots, no beautifully sounding sentences such as “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” are necessary; if the people really govern, it is enough.

There is no such thing as “representative democracy”; it is either democracy, or it is not. If it is representative, it is not democracy.

The Swiss practice direct decision-making by the people many times each year; they decide at the national level, the canton (state) level and the local city, town and village level.

For example, just 2 days ago, on Sunday the 13th, the Swiss people made several very important decisions, decisions that the people of the most powerful country in the World, the country that in important ways set the pace in the 18 century, in 2021 still can not make.

This is what the Swiss people decided, not the Swiss politicians, on June 13th:

There was a referendum on a Popular Initiative to tighten the rules farmers must comply with to use pesticides. The goal of the initiative was to ensure better environmental protection and better drinking water protection.

Switzerland already has tight environmental standards, the third most strict in the World; the US ranks 24th. The Swiss people are very much for tight environmental standards, as the ranking of the country shows, but they are not foolish, they do not follow political demagogues who promise everything, as it happens in the US and many other representative democracies.

The Swiss decided the new tougher measures proposed were not reasonable and rejected them; 60.69% of the voters rejected the initiative; the Swiss people feel the current law is tough enough.

The Swiss, also on Sunday 13th, decided not to ban synthetic pesticides; 60.58% of the voters rejected the proposal. The Swiss people feel the current laws on the use of synthetic pesticides are reasonable.

Another referendum, on the same day, dealt with the emergency power law, the Swiss Parliament passed, giving the government emergency powers to deal with the current virus pandemic.

Many Swiss felt Parliament passed the law without proper consideration of all relevant factors. They also felt the law also has other negative elements, such as providing financial assistance to mass media. These people set up a committee who collected the number of necessary signatures to force a referendum on the matter.

The people voted; 60.21% of Swiss voters felt the law was appropriate.

No mob rule here either, just debate, information and decision by the people.

The Swiss government ha also proposed a law to tighten laws regarding CO2 emissions. Many Swiss felt the law was too strict, that it would cause irreparable damage to many people; they organised a referendum and recommended the people vote NO, and reject the law. 51.59% of the voters rejected the law, effectively killing it. They mostly rejected it because they would have to pay higher taxes. It makes sense; the people pay, the people should decide the level ot taxation.

Americans did not put up with the increate in taxes by the English King, and changed history; incomprehensibly, they now put up with much higher, often wasteful, levels of taxes set by their “representative” politicians; when will they again have enough?

The Swiss Government also proposed a law to deal with terrorism. Again, many Swiss felt the law was too drastic and damaged certain rights. They organised a referendum. The people voted; 56.58% of the voters felt the law was reasonable and thus will become law.

Joe Biden could do worse than look at how the Swiss run their country. Perhaps you can tell to download the app Voteinfo, available for Android and Apple, there he could start to understand how Swiss direct democracy work at the national level, and how it could work at the national level in the US too.

No mob rule in Switzerland, no “dictatorship of the majority” either, just debate, information and reasonable, really democratic, decisions by the people.

In Switzerland, the people are the final decision-makers; they don’t decide everything but they decide whatever they feel it is important enough for them want to decide. The Swiss Executive, the legislature, even the Swiss Supreme Court can not prevail over the will of the people.

The system has delivered; Switzerland, with no natural resources, except water, is a superior society to the US on anything you care to consider; standard of living, health care, social harmony, politics centered on cooperation, political stability, quality of education, quality of democracy, and on and on.

Joe Biden could push, for example, to adapt the Swiss model of universal health care, the best in the World; they have done it with a synergy of government action and private initiative. Thus overcoming the decades-old shenanigans of Republicans and Democrats on the issue. US reprerentative democracy has only succeeded at spending the most in health care while providing almost Third World health care to millions of Americans. Is it not time the American people directly propose and decide the health care system they want?

What stands in the way of Swiss-level universal health care for Americans is not the medical lobby, the insurance lobby, the drug companies lobby, it is the American politicians who are in the clutches of the lobbies at election and re-election time.

Mr. Biden could also bring direct democracy to America. He could but he won’t

I am sure Mr. Biden does not want the American people to have the power the Swiss people have. The rest of American politicians, progressives or conservatives, are not interested in direct democracy either, they are interested in preserving a system that gives them and those “close” to them, all the decision-making power.

I know Mr Biden, as well as most US politicians in Washington, do not want direct democracy because in 1867 the Swiss politicians did not want the people to have the power to decide issues either, they just wanted the people to vote them in, but the Swiss pushed and pushed until they got the right to hold binding popular referendums and initiatives.

Professional politicians love representative  democracy because it gives them all the decision-making power, while claiming the country is a democracy, but it is not; representative democracy is a system of elected aristocrats who govern for the non-elected minority of aristocrats running big business, big professional organisations, big unions and assorted very well organised pressure groups whose interests are not the interests of the majority, and they exist precisely because of that. The en result is  hijacking of democracy, of the will of the people, just like it used to happen in Switzerland.

Like the Swiss people, Americans, Canadians, French, Germans, Israelis, Japanese, British. Irish, Swedish, etc., will have to demand direct democracy, and not give up, until their politicians relent and accept that the people must have veto power over whatever law, regulation or policy they want to adopt. The politicians will also have to accept that the people can propose and approve laws, regulations and policies, including changes to the constitution.

Direct democracy is no mob rule, mob rule happens when representative democracy breaks down, as we see it happening in the US and other countries. Direct democracy brings orderly, rational debate among the people, not the demagogical debates we see in the US Congress and the parliaments of other representative democracies.

It is the politicians and the lobbies who want you to believe direct democracy is mob rule, or “dictatorship by the majority” because they much prefer lobby rule. Direct democracy is the only real democracy, do not be fooled one more day.

Are the Swiss smarter than Canadians, Americans, Swedish, Israelis, Germans, Japanese, British, French, Irish, Australians, etc.? So far, they are, but remember that almost 2 centuries ago, they were not; they made themselves smarter when they demanded direct democracy.

“We pay we must decide, elections are not enough”. Direct democracy is what the US and the rest of us need… NOW!

Victor Lopez

 

Direct democracy is better; why is it that “the norm” is representative democracy, not direct democracy?

First a reminder; this blog is not about bringing direct democracy to countries that are not even representative democracies; the countries totalitarian with regimes, where one person, one clique, one party, one religion holds political power will have to overthrow their regimes, or wait until such regimes collapse.

The blog deals with representative democracies because in most of them there is enough freedom for the people to demand, and get, direct democracy

But, why don’t the people of stable representative democracies demand direct democracy if direct democracy is a better system? Why direct democracy has not already replaced representative democracy?

There are many reasons; many voters in representative democracies do not know direct democracy exists, or they believe it is “mob rule”,  or that “representative democracy is real democracy”, that “direct democracy will not work in our country because it is too big”, “it does not fit with our culture”, “most voters are too ignorant to decide complex issues”, “so much voting will become too expensive”, “we can not be voting all the time”, “we pay politicians to decide”, etc.

I believe the major reason is that most people do not know about direct democracy, or have wrong information.

You might think; how come is it possible that with internet, with global media, not enough people do not have good information about direct democracy?

We could say it is lack of “advertising”. As with any product, ideas need promotion so that people know about them. You will agree that if the advertising budget for orange juices was comparable to the budget of Coke or Pepsi, millions would ditch Coke and Pepsi and drink orange juice, but they don’t.

I am not saying Coke or Pepsi are “bad” products because they are not “healthy”. I believe they are ok products, but effective, massive advertising keeps them in people’s minds and when they are thirsty, Coke or Pepsi pop into their heads, instead of “natural fruit juice”, or “water” and “they put their money where their mind is.”

Something similar happens with direct democracy; most of what we read see and hear about democracy tell us representative democracy is the “real thing”, but it is not.

Why does it happen?

Because most media are owned by people who feel comfortable with representative democracy, they know it is far better than non-democratic regimes. Representative democracy permits gradual change and adaptation to reality, to social and economic changes. By doing that it helps prevent violent uprisings who would threaten them.

The Achilles’ Heel of representative democracy is that the people who own the media and other elites have too much influence over the elected politicians.

This causes gradual, and very dangerous distancing, of the politicians, the laws, the regulations, the policies, from the concerns of most citizens. In representative democracy the people do not have the instruments of direct democracy, they can not do much about the distancing, except becoming angry or alienated, or both.

This goes on until things get bad enough and the unthinkable happens, as it did in Germany’s Weimar representative democracy when it ceased to be representative. The Trump phenomenon is not the problem, it is the Symptom US democracy is out of touch with about half of America. Getting rid of Trump without fixing the root problem,  will make it worse.

The people who own the media are content with representative democracy. To them direct democracy represents a threat because they will lose political influence; it is a lot easier to nudge a few politicians to vote this or that way than the voters.

While most media are free in representative democracies from political interference, it does not mean they are neutral.

We also have “publicly owned” media.

Private and public media in representative democracies will not make much effort to inform people about direct democracy; both feel comfortable dealing only with politicians. On the other hand, politicians depend on private and public media to win elections and reelections.

This situation ensures most of the public will hear, read or see little about direct democracy.

Most of academia also feels comfortable with representative democracy; it is a lot easier to deal just with politicians to get research money, with no challenges from organisers of a referendum. But even if most of academia published a lot about direct democracy, most people do not read academic papers. Without the support of mass media such papers never reach most citizens.

If most people have factual information about direct democracy, they will want direct democracy, no question about it.

How do I know? Because in the only country with a long track record of direct democracy, Switzerland, the vast majority of the Swiss support direct democracy decade after decade. They could do away with it if they wanted to; all they have to do is organise a referendum and the people would decide.

We also know direct democracy is better because the Swiss had representative democracy; they got rid of it almost 2 centuries ago and never looked back.

The US, and other countries would not be involved in so many crazy wars, where their vital interests were not really at stake, if the people doing the fighting and the dying, the voters, not the politicians, decided to go to war.

There are many reasons to push representative democracies to become direct democracies, but only you can do the pushing.

Victor Lopez

 

 

Direct democracy generates rational debate and cooperation, representative democracy generates irrational antagonism

No human organisation is 100% rational, all have elements of irrationality.

Many people consider rational and emotional opposites, they are not; the opposite of rational is irrational, the opposite of emotional is unemotional. There are emotions that generate rational thoughts and behaviours and emotions that generate irrational thoughts and behaviours.

The problem with politics in representative democracies today is that the political debate has too much emotion that generates irrational thoughts and behaviours. I do not speak of the situation in non-democracies because they are all dominated by irrational, even crazy, ideas and emotions.

In representative democracies, irrational emotions play a growing role in politics.

I believe this is intrinsically related to the nature of representative democracy.

This is how it happens; representative democracy gives too much power to the elected politicians. The politicians decide everything; what laws, what contents, what penalties, the level of taxes, what kind of health care system we have, how children and young adults will be educated, how much we have to pay for school or university, how many roads we have, how large is the army, when we go to war and against whom, etc., etc.

Business, rich people, unions and lobbies quickly realized that to advance their interests it is essential to have influence over the politicians on the issues, so that they decide in their favour.

The way they gain influence is by:

Donating to campaigns to such a degree that politicians depend on donors to have the money they need to run their campaigns,

Mobilizing members of unions and professional organisations,

Making sure politicians know that if they are friendly to business, they will have nice jobs once they retire, or if they lose an election,

They will also be invited to give extremely well paid speeches in business forums and other gatherings, etc.

Because politicians, in the executive and the legislative, in representative democracies enjoy such power, elections grow more vicious as time passes

Politicians in representative democracies are pushed to attack and disqualify rivals; they hope the public will also develop a hostile attitude to their rivals. Of course, they all do the same. The end result is highly polarized political debates, vicious attacks to rivals, etc.

They do that because they all believe that it is in their interests to polarize the messages, paint rivals as mad, corrupt devils, etc.

The vicious debate used to be restricted to debates among politicians themselves, but things are different now; the politicians have polarised voters too.

We have now a situation where the people on the right believe the people in the left are devils, they no longer look at them as reasonable people with different ideas.

The charged message has turned political parties into almost radically different religions, each with its own faith, “holy” leaders, etc. The parties look at each other as the devil too.

The system of representative democracy is not interested in debating issues on the facts surrounding the issues, they prefer to have faith-like position on the issues. They expect their followers will vote for them because they “share” a faith.

The United States is perhaps the most polarized representative democracy now. You can see that for yourself if you follow the situation in the US, but other countries are also polarized; Sweden, Canada, the UK, Germany, are more polarized than ever.

No longer the people in the Left consider the people in the Right have rational views; each side believes the other

The way to eliminate such polarization is to turn to direct democracy.

Direct democracy empowers people to vote, like in representative democracies, but the people can also decide issues; they can not do that in representative democracies

When the people decide issues, not just vote, they are interested in the practical aspect of the issue; what benefits will ordinary people will have if the politicians pass a new law or regulation, etc?

As the debate focuses more on the facts, emotions, grandiose plans, lose importance because they are less important.

How do we know direct democracy pushes the country to a more rational debate? Because we have Switzerland. Swiss political campaigns are far less polarized.

It is not by chance that so many international political meetings happen in Switzerland; it is because the World knows Switzerland is the more stable, less polarized country in the World.

If you want to have a better democracy in your country, turn to direct democracy…, but you have to push.

Victor Lopez

Democracy is like pregnancy; you can not be half pregnant…

Just like you can not be half-pregnant, there is only one way to have democracy; democracy means “government by the people”. Representative democracy is “government by the representatives of the people”, that is not “government by the people”. It is obvious, buy most people believe representative democracy is democracy, it is not.

Representative democracy made sense as an advance regarding systems where the people do not elect those who govern. Representative democracy is an extraordinary advance over political systems where a dictator rules, a dictatorial party rules or a dictatorial religion rules, but representative democracy is not democracy.

Election of those who govern means they govern, the people do not govern, the people just vote.

It is a system that no longer makes sense; how can it make sense that we elect those who force upon us many behaviours with the laws, regulation and policies they make, but the people who elect them, to whom the politicians “serve”, can not stop or reverse any of the laws, regulations and policies the politicians force upon them?

It is ridiculous!; the people pay the salaries of the politicians, pay for all the public services, pay for everything, but all they can do is wait till the next election and vote for another group of politicians who will continue to do exactly, the same, force and control our behaviours, only in different political direction.

One group of politicians may decide to reduce taxes and reduce public services, another one may do the opposite, but in each case the people have no way to stop, reverse or come up with other alternatives; perhaps most voters want to reduce some taxes and increase other taxes, perhaps they want to reduce some public services but increase others.

Representative democracy is not democracy because the people do not govern at all, all they can do is vote to elect politicians. Government by the people means the people must be able to vote also on government actions; laws, regulations, policies, taxation, health care, etc.

But it gets worse, representative democracy is not even government by the elected officials; the reason?; in representative democracies the politicians have so much power that private organisations, like big business and business lobbies, big unions, big professional organisations and people with money soon figure out ways to influence, a lot, the politicians so that they will do what they want the politicians to do.

One obvious way is by donating lots of money to the politicians’ campaigns. This money causes “campaign budget inflation”; electoral campaigns become so expensive that no politician can refuse donations from this or that group. He or she can not because without a lot of money the campaign will not reach people to compete with other politicians.

Another way is by the big donor offering “friendly” politicians, who retire or lose elections, nice, important, prestigious and very well-paid jobs in private foundations, private universities (who also depend on rich donors), as lobbyist, etc.

This means that representative democracy is government by those elected and by those with enough money and resources that make politicians dependent on them. Sure, the politician has the formal power to pass laws, decide policies, etc., but the same politician also knows that it is important for him or her to cooperate with the powerful interests if he or she want to have other opportunities when he or she retires or loses an election.

This means that in representative democracy, the people vote but do not govern; it is false to say such a system is a democracy.

It is time the people decide representative democracy is obsolete because it is not democracy; this is why representative democracy does not work well. In reality, representative democracy is working so poorly in very important democracies, that some people are openly talking about authoritarian regimes as an alternative; sus is the discredit of representative democracy.

To ensure democracy’s survival, prosperity, civil peace, etc., we need direct democracy, now.

We know direct democracy works because the Swiss people govern themselves by direct democracy practices, and have been doing it for almost 200 years!.

While Switzerland is not a full direct democracy, it has the essential criteria of direct democracy because the people have the power, and they use it, several times each year, to stop laws, regulations and policies the politicians want to apply. They also overturn what the politicians have done, and propose and pass alternatives, even if the politicians oppose them.

Some people say: “But Switzerland is a small country, direct democracy may work in Switzerland but it can not work in a large country like Canada, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, or even Russia, China, etc”.  This argument makes as much sense as saying: “representative democracy may work in Wester countries because of the Ancient Greeks, the mother culture of Europe, but in other cultures”; how about Japan, India, South Korea, etc.?

Representative democracy is present in large and small countries all over the World, so are authoritarian regimes. Direct democracy is the next step for representative democracy. But do not fool yourself, you will have to press for it because neither the politicians you elect, nor the various groups with direct influence over the politicians want direct democracy. The reason is clear, both will lose power or money, or both.

The Swiss had to press for the switch from representative democracy to direct democracy, the rest of have to do it too. Tired of the politicians? Do something to bring direct democracy. “You pay, your decide, not just vote”.

Remember; saying: “we have representative democracy” is like saying: “I am half pregnant”-

Victor Lopez

Give me a break!; silly criticisms of Ancient GreeK (direct) democracy

You might have heard the criticism: “Greek democracy was not so hot because women and slaves could not vote,”

This is a ridiculous argument, this is why:

Greek democracy started 2700 years ago, when all other nations, close and far, from Ancient Greece where in the dark ages; from Israel to India, from Egypt to China, from Northern Europe to the tip of Africa from North to South America, all had no clue about democracy, even representative democracy, let alone direct democracy.

In none of those places could the people, men and women, slaves or not, vote. Also, all of them practised slavery.

The list or barbarian practices of other peoples, right up to the Renaissance which was when the Europeans started to, (we are not fully awake yet), wake up to Ancient Greece from the Christian slumber, is long.

In Ancient Greece there was freedom of thought; as proven by the many philosophical schools they had, religion and divine kings and prophets dominated other lands.

The nonsensical idea of “absolute truth” also dominated them (still dominates many), as “told” to humans by the gods and their priests. Anybody who believed differently deserved punishment, including death. The Greeks did nothing of that.

The Greeks not only allowed freedom of thought in Greece, they did not convert any of the peoples they conquered. They allowed them to continue practicing their religions. They did that with Jews, Indians, Egyptians, Persians, etc.

“But slaves and women could not vote!” Come on!, nobody could not vote in the World right up to the American revolution. There are some very localized exceptions; the Swiss accepted that common people (men) vote in the local assemblies even in the 12th century. The English, some Norther Europeans and a few others had forms of government that recognized some people, outside king and Church have a say in government.

As for slavery; practically all nations practiced it until recently. Major nations did not abolish slavery until the twentieth century, quite a few other abolished it in the twenty-first century!.

The critics of Greek slavery try to discredit Greek democracy because they practiced slavery 2700 years ago. Let us be serious; the French maintained slavery even after the French Revolution! As for the US, it abolished slavery in the 19th century, and they had a civil war over it because half the country wanted to keep it.

Many slave owners were very religious people; Catholics, Anglican, Presbyterians, Jews, etc.

Critics of Greek democracy believe Greek democracy had deep flaws because it allowed slavery 2700 years ago. These same people do not feel that US democracy, or French democracy, or all all other representative democracies are delegitimized because they practiced slavery until yesterday.

But it gets worse. The French, the Americans and the rest enslaved blacks because they felt blacks, somehow, should be slaves. Sadly, other blacks were not too perturbed by black slavery; many of them practiced it in Africa and sold fellow blacks to the Europeans and the Arabs.

Ancient Greek slaves were people of the same race as the Greeks, people captured in war and turned into slaves because of that.

But women could not vote in Ancient Greece! This is a joke! The first country who allowed women to vote was New Zealand, in 1893!

Had Greek democracy survived, it is obvious they would have outlawed slavery and allowed women to vote, many, many centuries ago. I say this because already 2600 years ago several Cynic philosophers opposed slavery.

We also know slaves and women in Greece had much more freedom than in the US and other “modern” countries. How we know that? Because we know Plato, in his famous Academy, admitted slaves and women too. For example, Hypatia, a woman, directed the Platonic Academy of Alexandria. Fat chance a woman would direct a university in the Modern World until recently!

There are other facts that show Ancient Greece was far more developed than us politically and socially. Two other examples; Greeks tolerated homosexuality and did not practice polygamy.

Ancient Greece is still a light to the World; they had more tolerance for diversity of ideas. Even today, dogma enslaves the modern world;  religious dogma and by Atheist dogma do it. Modern atheists, including Communists, often despise or hate God and organized religion, but feel comfortable being as dogmatic in their beliefs, and against God and organized religion, as organized religion was, and often id, against Atheists until recently.

Conclusion; do all you can to bring a modern version of Greek direct direct democracy back. Direct democracy, besides returning the power of the people to the people, is more tolerant of freedom and diversity.

The only country that comes close, but does not yet match Greek democracy, is Switzerland. For now, Switzerland should be our reference, but can be improved. Interestingly, the Swiss are starting to talks about bringing direct democracy fully to their society.

Full direct democracy means no politicians, no political parties, as a result, no lobbyists either; the people a selected by lot, and further selection by special panels appointed by the people, to serve in government; once their time is up they go home, no hanging around as lobbyists, appointed to other government institutions, etc. Government by the people, literally.

Victor Lopez