Democracy 2.0

A simple, legal way to put power in the hands of the people.

Legal precedent for the police state

This is pretty old news, but last month a New York congressman proposed a bill abolishing term limits for the government position of president. It might be a little hard to believe, so here’s the bill itself. This is a reintroduction of a bill proposed two years ago that did the same exact thing. Throughout the 90s this happened several other times. One of these bills will go through eventually.

Obama is passing (I guess the correct term here though would be forcing?) executive orders left and right that effectively strengthen the dictatorial powers granted to him by his predecessors (mainly JFK). Now his buddy in congress is trying to give him to power to remain president indefinitely, clearly because Obama himself could not propose a bill like this without being impeached. The reason for all these executive orders is preparation for war. This includes World War III as well as Civil War 2.0. The people with power want to have the legal precedent to prevent any group from taking their power. This is (one of the many reasons) why violent revolution would fail. Having legal precedent makes actions morally right in the eyes of many, regardless of what those actions are.

But let’s get real: these executive orders are nowhere close to the scariest legislation passed. NDAA 2013 is worse than many of these executive orders for the simple fact that it gives the government the freedom to kill or imprison people without trial. Obama didn’t even need to pass an executive order for that: it got through congress no problem. It’s generally accepted that US citizens no longer have their first, second, fourth, eighth, ninth, and tenth amendment rights. It seems that the people with decision-making power right now do not have the best interests of the people they claim to represent at heart. It’s time to do something. It’s time to hack democracy and take back what should have been ours to begin with.

PS: A while back there was a list of “tyrannical executive orders” Obama had passed circulating the internet. Type “obamas worst executive orders” into google to see what I mean. While still scary, these were not signed by Obama but rather JFK, Ford, and Johnson during the Cold War. Get your facts straight people, otherwise no one will take you seriously. There’s enough real scary shit going on right now that no one should have to embellish the truth to get people’s attention anyway.

Why Hacking Democracy has mass appeal

People are clearly frustrated with the existing system. Sure, many are placated with smartphones, a non-stop stream of addictive media, and freely available drugs but the number of people who are starting to question societal structure is increasing exponentially as existing governments consolidate their power. Just look at your facebook feed. Anyone who followed the 2012 election period is well aware that the existing system is pretty much a farce at this point. Republicans were claiming women couldn’t be raped and democrats are defending the Obama administration selling guns to Mexican drug cartels.

The economic crash of 2008, and the subsequent bailout of “too big to fail” banks is what set off many people questioning the status quo. Obama’s first presidential term proved to the world that it was possible to have a president worse than Bush. This shook up the few paying attention even more. The technology motivated, Arab Spring was the first clear expression of this growing tide of dissent. Then Occupy Wall Street. Now there’s riots in Egypt again. It’s gotten to the point where many die-hard liberals have started questioning societal structure. Die-hard conservatives aren’t even really taken seriously anymore. The congressional approval rating is at an all-time low, and for good reason. Congress keeps putting off resolving the budget crisis due to partisan politics, while bills that strip US citizens of our rights get passed unanimously. All news media and many top government officials worldwide seem pretty certain World War III is imminent. No wants a war though other than power-hungry politicians and corporations that are part of the military industrial complex.

People want a solution to the cancerous system taking over the planet but don’t know how to direct their energy, or their votes. Most rational people think that public servants should serve the public, not the other way around. Democracy 2.0 is an elegant solution anyone can wrap their head around. There’s little risk, as nothing about democracy 2.0 is illegal, difficult, or dangerous. It’s just a more efficient version of the system we claim to have that utilizes a ubiquitous technology roughly a third of the entire world (including children and tribal societies) have access to.

Probably the best part about democracy 2.0, is that other than the elected representative, no one has to even leave their house to participate in this plan. Posting links, drafting legislation, and upvoting good ideas can all be done from the safety of your own home. This is even easier than peaceful protest, let alone violent protest. Democracy 2.0 is the first revolution that actually appeals to people’s laziness. For the first time, “liking this post” will actually have a tangible effect on society.

Another revolutionary component of democracy 2.0 is that it integrates completely with the existing system. For instance, a strategy that can be implemented for the acquisition of mainstream support is getting the D-2.0 representative to run as a democrat or republican. Many people don’t vote for a third party out of fear that the “enemy party” will win the election. There’s no reason why a D-2.0 representative shouldn’t run as a member of the two-party system. People who can’t see past the two-party system will vote for the D-2.0 rep so the other “team” doesn’t win the election and because they think it will maintain the status quo. Hopefully they will also see the D-2.0 rep, accurately, as a democrat/republican who has a closer tie to his constituents than any preceding politician. Why would anyone in their right mind not want that? Every politician in history claims to know what his constituents want. For the D-2.0 rep this would be literally true. Unlike the failed direct democracy party of Australia, any citizen can participate in this system, not merely members of an obscure minor party. Democracy 2.0 is the first revolution your complacent parents can get behind.

And don’t forget that anyone can use the D-2.0 system. Once democracy 2..0 gains enough momentum, citizens can begin publicly pressuring politicians to use this system in conjunction with traditional legislation methods. Instead of interns in the Obama administration providing “official” responses to some petitions, Obama himself could propose legislation using this system and connect more directly with the people who elected him. Why shouldn’t our leaders have some accountability? Why should our government be hiding the legislation they want to pass from the people? Why should it refuse input from any citizen? If our existing leaders have any credibility and good ideas, the D-2.0 system would actually give them more power. Keep in mind that the D-2.0 system gives power to popular, useful ideas, not individuals. There’s no reason why our existing representatives couldn’t be full of good ideas. But the truth is, they probably don’t have many more good ideas for improving society than the average citizen. Wearing a suit doesn’t make you smarter, it just makes you look smarter.

Democracy 2.0 will also appeal to the many individuals who think they know the best way to run society. D-2.0 gives everyone the freedom to change the existing system to something better. Don’t like taxation? It can be removed and a crowdfunding system can be used in it’s place to fund specific government projects. Don’t like being part of the United States? Now you can secede if you get enough support. Want to ban all weapons or give every man, woman, and child mandatory firearm training? Either way, it’s quite possible using D-2.0, unlike the current system that has so much red-tape and bureaucracy many politicians have difficulty navigating it.

Everyone gets a little power instead of a few having all of it. Decentralized systems work. Decentralized leadership will happen. And it all starts with posting links from the comfort of your office chair.

nulpunt

As with all good ideas, someone else is already working on a similar system to what I’m proposing called NulPunt. The primary difference with NulPunt is that citizens cannot propose legislation, only comment on it. It implements a mechanism to tie all activity in NulPunt to a social network. Here’s a well made video describing their idea more eloquently than I could.

…and some quotes of interest from the video:

“In the past years, we have witnessed the development of an international democratization movement. The demand for transparent government and political self-organization has become evident.”

Regarding a transparency law from 1980:
“But the law is seriously outdated, a product of the pre-digital era and embodying a traditional authoritarian bureaucratic culture in which access to information is seen as a favor to citizens and not as their right. Responses to requests for information are seriously delayed and habitually negative, forcing the requesting party to enter expensive legal battles. Access is easily denied, as grounds for refusal are broad and lend themselves to abuse.”

“…the time invested daily by politically-aware citizens—using social media, online forums, and newspapers—indicates there’s no lack of willingness for political participation. We just need a tool to enable us to do so directly.”

“It is a dashboard – a digital parliament where we control and shape our politics.”

“This is our contribution to the only concept of democracy we deem right: a democracy without secrets.”

Democracy 2.0 injection and the D-2.0 system takes this one step further: instead of having a transparent government controlled by a few wealthy individuals, it’s a transparent government controlled by the people being governed.

You say you want a (violent) revolution…

You’re thinking about revolution all wrong. Its too impractical to eradicate the current system and replace it with a completely different one. This has been tried in the past hundreds if not thousands of times and all that happens is the new regime becomes corrupt. A new system needs to be implanted gradually.

The real problem all of us have with the system is that the people with power, the ones making decisions controlling the flow of community money and resources, are making decisions not necessarily in the best interest of the majority. It’s not entirely their fault. We’re all human and the power that comes with leadership positions can corrupt any of us to make counter-intuitive decisions.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have leaders or that we should live in anarchy. Most people don’t want to live in isolated anarcho-communes. If we wait until society collapses, order will just reform naturally via violence instead of rational discussion. Communities that pool their resources and solve problems as a group will always have the advantage. We just need to elect leaders that actually do what the people want. We need to decentralize leadership.

Democracy 2.0 isn’t a traditional revolution. Revolutions are traditionally bloody. There is a violent ousting of an unpopular system and the subsequent forceful replacement with another one. Democracy 2.0 is another way of thinking about democracy. Why shouldn’t every individual in a community be instantaneously connected? D-2.0 is all about using technology to bypass prior limitations. We already do this with travel, medicine, even socialization, why wouldn’t we use technology to improve the way we’re governed? The only thing stopping us now is the fact that the people with power don’t want to relinquish it. Democracy 2.0 injection is all about using a loophole in the existing system to begin installing D-2.0.

I propose we make a system similar to reddit to propose and vote on legislation as citizens. This is democracy 2.0. Then we elect a leader in our democratic republic who makes his sole campaign promise be to use this digital democratic system to make decisions. It would be similar to what the US government already does, it would basically combine public congressional website with the whitehouse petition website. This elected representative wouldn’t need millions of dollars of campaign money if he got a youtube video to go viral. Hell the mainstream media would have to cover it if he got big enough on Twitter.

We know what doesn’t work: the existing system, violent revolution, occupying, protest, petition, etc. Let’s try something that’s never been done before. All we have to do is make a transparent democracy 2.0 system and let society determine what its laws should be, instead of individuals who tell us “what the american people want.” Once this system is made, anyone will be able to spread the meme simply by upvoting or posting the candidates video on Facebook

Judging from news reports from all over the world, humanity is ready for a paradigm shift in how we’re governed. You say you want a revolution. Here’s a real solution. I’m not talking about destruction. I don’t want money for people with minds that hate. I’m giving you a plan. I’m not proposing we change the constitution. I’m not carrying pictures of chairman Mao. We all want to change the world. Well, brother, you don’t have to wait any longer.

2013 State of the Union

It looks like Obama is already a proponent of democracy 2.0:

“It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few, that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation.

The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem. They don’t expect those of us in this chamber to agree on every issue. But they do expect us to put the nation’s interests before party. They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can, for they know that America moves forward only when we do so together and that the responsibility of improving this union remains the task of us all.

Our work must begin by making some basic decisions about our budget, decisions that will have a huge impact on the strength of our recovery. Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion, mostly through spending cuts, but also by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. As a result, we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances. Now we need to finish the job. And the question is: How?

Right now, there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates. Democrats and Republicans have supported it before. So what are we waiting for? Take a vote and send me that bill. Why are — why would we be against that? Why would that be a partisan issue, helping folks refinance? Right now, overlapping regulations keep responsible young families from buying their first home. What’s holding us back? Let’s streamline the process and help our economy grow.

Our actions will not prevent every senseless act of violence in this country. In fact, no laws, no initiatives, no administrative acts will perfectly solve all of the challenges I’ve outlined tonight. But we were never sent here to be perfect. We were sent here to make what difference we can — to secure this nation, expand opportunity, uphold our ideals through the hard, often frustrating, but absolutely necessary work of self-government.

We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title: We are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless these United States of America.”

The Obama administration is pretending to practice digital direct democracy with recent events like the Obama AMA, the fireside hangouts, and the whitehouse petition webpage. The current system is pretending to be D-2.0 because the people running it know that’s what people really want: a leader that actually does what his constituents want.

It Works for Valve

Valve is a wildly successful PC game company. They use a version of the democracy 2.0 system in their business model. Here’s a paraphrased excerpt from the Valve employee handbook:

Welcome to Flatland

Hierarchy is great for maintaining predictability and repeatability. It simplifies planning and makes it easier to control a large group of people from the top down, which is why military organizations rely on it so heavily.

But when you’re an organization that’s spent the last decade going out of its way to recruit the most intelligent, innovative, talented people on Earth, telling them to sit at a desk and do what they’re told obliterates 99 percent of their value. We want innovators, and that means maintaining an environment where they’ll flourish.

That’s why Valve is flat. It’s our shorthand way of saying that we don’t have any management, and nobody “reports to” anybody else. We do have a founder/president, but even he isn’t your manager. This company is yours to steer—toward opportunities and away from risks. You have the power to green-light projects. You have the power to ship products.

A flat structure removes every organizational barrier between your plan and the customer enjoying that plan.Every company will tell you that “the customer is boss,” but here that statement has weight. There’s no red tape stopping you from figuring out for yourself what our customers want, and then giving it to them.

Below is a set of graphs demonstrating how Valve and the direct democracy system work. You can read the full text of the Valve employee handbook here. If this sounds reasonable to you, join the movement. We want to implement Valve’s system in society. It works extremely well for Valve, and almost anything is better than the bloated, stagnant, immature system we have today. Hacking democracy is the first non-violent way to actually alter the course of society. Hunger strikes and occupation might have worked in the past, but no longer.

Flatland map

Problems

1) As silly as it is to type this out, the biggest problem with digital direct democracy would be that old people don’t trust the internet. We want everyone to have a say in society, but they won’t know how to use this technology and will use their current control over society to suppress this system. Even worse, the people with a lot of power may try more violent tactics to suppress this system if it grows too powerful. This is the point where we must hope the police and military stand down. It’s not like anyone can suppress a truly good idea anyway.

2) The second biggest problem is probably people not quite understanding how the system works. Everyone fears what they don’t understand. Hopefully the FAQ will answer any questions people have. If there are any others, please leave them in the comments. The most important concept to remember is that D-2.0 is a tool to decentralize decision-making power to entire communities, not a new government in and of itself.

3) As for people gaming the system, that’s always going to happen. Fortunately D-2.0 counteracts this by firmly giving control of each piece of legislation to its creator while still allowing others to edit and comment on edits. Then it firmly gives control over whether or not to pass the legislation to everyone who cares enough about the issue at hand to vote. There are no middlemen, no wealthy lobbyists. Just people and their ideas. I think it will be pretty difficult to game a transparent system where emotion can be completely removed from the conversation.

4) It’s sad, but another possibility is that no one steps up to the plate. No one fixes society’s problems and entropy transforms our place into a wasteland. I doubt this will happen, especially if you can do it in the comfort of your own home, but it’s still a possibility. Then I guess we really deserve whatever fate we are given by stronger people, or whatever the puppet leader decides to do. It’s important to remember that D-2.0 is flexible. It can be used by anyone alive who claims to be a citizen of a given place, including current leaders. In fact, it could help them do their job more efficiently. Or it can be used by small, tight-knit communities. When it is demonstrated to work in small communities, D-2.0 can be used with larger and larger states until the world is unified, and divided, in the manner most people so chooses.

What is the best way to govern?

This question has been asked time and time again throughout history, but let’s just start with what our founding fathers said about it. They wanted a government for the people by the people. They wanted the ability to amend and constantly rectify their laws. They wanted a democracy in which votes are used to determine the best choice of action, but they only considered wealthy white, male landowners to be capable of making intelligent decisions. They wanted congressmen to be elected to represent the interests of all the people who had no time for politics. Why did they need congressmen to represent the people, even the small amount of official citizens they had? Because it was logistically impossible to hear from every citizen, amass a huge database of their preferences, and respond accordingly. Entities in the US government now have that capability, but they’re using it to spy on their own citizens. And even without the Utah data center, these problems are easily solvable with instantaneous global communication and a couple of servers. In fact, it could start as a subreddit.

We know what politics looks like nowadays. A bunch of people in suits arguing. Talking heads. Talking points. People making “power plays.” Politicians with warchests of money. Attack ads. Alliances. This is not government. There’s no governing involved here. There is a childish game being played called politics. As strange as it may sound, we need politics out of government. When people say they want “money out of politics” they mean they want bribery out of government. This of course is not what our forefathers intended, nor what the majority of society wants: individuals with the most money controlling all of society. Direct digital democracy takes the power away from the rich and gives it to everyone participating in the system. The rich still have wealth, but they can’t control an entire community using bribes nearly as easily as they can now. Furthermore, there is no time or energy wasted running election campaigns. People with good ideas can immediately get them realized without needing to be charismatic or rich. All anyone needs is an internet connection and a computer.

Inject crowdsourcing into the bottom of the pyramid

With D-2.0, all of these organizations still exist, but society does the governing of society instead of these wealthy institutions

Once society is run using D-2.0, communities can begin experimenting with different governing systems. D-2.0 is not a utopian system in and of itself. It does however allow decision making to be more fluid by putting decision-making ability in the hands of society. If you are familiar with thermodynamics, you probably are aware of the phenomenon known as diffusion. Diffusion is the random movement of particles in a system that causes that system to naturally reach an entropically favorable state, without the input of any additional energy. In order for diffusion to occur, one must remove barriers that keep particles in a given system. Diffusion isn’t just for thermodynamics though. A bee randomly “diffuses” through its environment to locate flowers. It doesn’t matter what direction it moves in; the longer it diffuses through its environment, the higher the likelihood that it will find what it wants. If you contained the bee in a small environment, there’s a low chance that it will find the flower it needs. In a similar vein, imagine civilization is the bee. The movements the bee makes in search of the flower correlates to the legislation civilization passes in search of utopia. By removing the barriers to creating laws, civilization will eventually diffuse into utopia. Keep in mind that legislation that benefits one society by no means is the silver bullet that benefits all societies. We need to have the freedom to choose how we want to be governed.

Different laws work for different groups of people. The title of this post is a trick question: there is no one best way to govern. D-2.0 isn’t a government system so much as a way for society to create and agree on its own laws. It can be used in any existing government where leaders are elected or even appointed. All the “leader” has to do is pledge to execute any legislation passed via D-2.0 in the existing system. If this decision-making technique proves to be useful, it will spread naturally. If it’s not, it shouldn’t be used in the first place.

Look around.

OWS. The Black Bloc. Clampdown on internet freedoms. Indian and muslim women speaking out against their oppressors. Every country with military is flexing their might heavily right now. Deutschland is demanding its gold back from the Federal Reserve. Alternatives to the Petrodollar exist. The passing of NDAA 2012 and 2013. The legalization of marijuana in America. A military suicide rate of at least a soldier per day. An unemployed percentage of 40%. Drone strikes. A god-damned The Punisher style superhero in real life.

There’s an exponentially rising tide of unrest worldwide. Ask any expert in societal structure or any average person on the street and they’ll tell you: the existing system is simply not sustainable. The writing is on the wall: something will give and a global revolution, whether fascist, anarchist, communist, or something else, is about to unfold. Democracy 2.0 is that something else. This idea is basically open-source legislation + internet voting tied to physical identity = democracy 2.0. This is done by decentralizing decision-making power to everyone the community who is willing to be held accountable by providing their physical location and real identity, something we all do for the existing government anyway.

This means there are no leaders in hacked democracy. Then who makes decisions? Every citizen in the state entity that votes. Then who makes the legislation that we vote on? Any citizen in the state entity that wants to. Then who does all the physical tasks like city maintenance? We pass legislation to privatize the whole thing. Using the democracy 2.0 system, we can use the system we were born into by electing new leaders that are part of the D-2.0 system. I like to call this “democracy 2.0” because we it’s the next logical progression in how humans govern themselves.

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