In my opinion, the book is permeated too much with the belief in democracy. Even I do not fully share this belief. I think that currently in the Western countries there exists pseudodemocracy instead of the real democracy. Probably, the western democracy worked enough well during the last 200 years, but for the recent 10-20 years it is not the case.
The authors write correctly that the local government in
does nothing constructive (possibly this is not true with the USA).
The authors write that the main problem of the monarchy is the “fortuity of birth”. I don’t agree with this; I am not sure if in modern democracies the politicians are more intelligent that a randomly chosen monarch or a randomly chosen citizen. The main problem of monarchy lies in another field – if a human gets the unrestricted power, he always uses this power excessively, and this power corrupts him.
Chapters 2-6 – mostly agree. Chapter 7 – not fully agree: only in theory the Internet gives access to a diverse high-quality information, in fact one must search for it thoroughly, and a common voter usually cannot afford this (not enough time, etc.).
The authors write that the Internet offers the following advantage – one can visit a social networking service and ask the classmates of a politician “what a guy he was”. I must say that I partially disagree with this idea. It looks, to some extent, like rummaging in one’s dirty underwear. The politicians will not appreciate such interest to them, so less people will be motivated to become politicians. Besides that, there is a fundamental problem that honest politicians will often lose, because the level of education within the politicians is much higher than that within common citizens. In particular, in the
politicians prefer not to tell whether they are atheists, because the
percentage of atheists among the politicians is much higher than among the
Chapters 8,9 – rather interesting, but not sufficiently close to the subject. Chapter 10 – agree, the electronic signature is of course necessary.
Chapter 11 – the examination for the knowledge of constitutional law, or a “symbolical filter”, can be useful to some extent, but it will not change the things radically: when a voter votes, usually he needs not the knowledge of the constitutional law, but some other knowledge related to the subject. If an economic reform is suggested within a referendum, the voter must have the knowledge of economics; if a judicial reform – he must understand the jurisprudence, if a prohibition of alcohol is suggested – he needs the information about alcohol and economics, etc. Besides that, instead of the examination it is simpler to include the course of constitutional law into the school program.
The “live measurement of the trust to a representative” – I think, this idea will cause more harm than benefit (see below). The “matrix delegation of the trust” – in my opinion, this is quite a silly idea (below). The “compulsory honesty” – in principle, right. But this can be implemented in a more easy way – let all sessions of the parliament be taken down in shorthand and published in the Web, together with the information about each deputy – whether he has come to the session and what he voted for.
Chapter 12: the compulsory non-anonymity and honesty – this sounds good, but who will gather and publish the information about politicians? Evidently, this must be the work of mass media and amateurs (bloggers, etc.). I am not sure if the mass media conduct anti-corruption investigations sufficiently often.
Chapter 13: I think, the suggested system will cause more harm than benefit. Between the elections, at least 4 years must pass (see below).
Chapter 14: I think that the vote delegation in combination with the matrix division and the possibility to recall the delegated vote at any time is a silly idea (see below).
Chapter 15: There are many unnecessary points, in particular, who is an expert? Currently any person can become a politician or a journalist, and publish his position – what is different between this and the work of an expert?
Now, the criticism of the authors conception. Here is briefly what they suggest. A kind of social networking service is created, in which all citizens are registered. Every person can post an initiative (e.g., a bill) on this site, and if his initiative gathers a sufficient amount of “Like” votes, it is shown for every member of the site. Every person can write his suggestions. Then, the members vote for this initiative and it is accepted.
Every member can delegate his vote to another member. The delegation can be either full (members get the opportunity to use this vote at any voting), or partial (in this case the second member can use this vote in a voting of a specific field, e.g., science, culture, sport, etc.). One can delegate the science to an academician whom he knows, etc. The member who has got the delegated vote can delegate it to another member, the latter – to another and so on. At any moment a member can recall his vote.
It is supposed that soon there will appear “thousanders” and “millioners”, who have gathered many votes. They will make the main decisions.
What are the faults of this scheme? Firstly, the division of the votes into categories will lead to a situation, which described in a Russian fable “The swan, the crawfish and the pike”: one delegate will hardly deal with the other, and they will impede each other.
If scientists will take decisions in the field of science, producers – in the field of culture, and sportsmen – in the field of sport, each category will try to get maximum funding for their own projects, i.e., they will grab the biggest piece of the pie. Besides that, the categories will be periodically changed: today we have the sport, tomorrow the “cybersport” , and then somewhat “parasport” – who will regulate these categories? Then, who will decide which category an initiative belongs to (take, for example, such initiative as the taxes for costly cars or fighting alcoholism)? If some group of persons will take these decisions, how can the abuse of their power be avoided?
In principle, the vote delegation is not needed, because each man, when he votes, can take into account the opinion of the other people. If you are voting in the field of science, you will probably listen to the advice of a known academician. When a referendum is conducted, usually the voters attach much importance to the opinion of the President. Everybody understands that the President is more competent than a common voter.
Furthermore, the possibility to recall a vote in each moment is a very bad idea, because it will increase the profanation of politics greatly. Currently a good politician can take an unpopular, but right decision, and there will be a chance that by the end of the 4 years the voters will admit that this decision was right. In contrast, if the voters will be able to recall their votes at each moment, this politician will be unable to complete what he has started. Probably almost every initiative will arouse a lot of voices of irresponsible demagogues, and this will inevitable lead to the recall of some part of the votes.
Here is one more moment. Nowadays, usually no politician gets an overwhelming majority of the votes; mostly often the number of votes varies near 50%. If some of the votes could be recalled, the initial “controlling interest” of votes will inevitably be lost.In general, this book is of course an utopia, but a useful utopia which should be read.