How DD can work without creating a new elite

Here is a possible way how DD could work (without having any special role for any group of people, elite or ruling class): All the central bodies (legislative, executive, etc.) would be made of absolutely randomly picked persons from among ALL citizens. They would hold their offices for one or two years, and there could be some overlap, a certain percentage of new members could be selected every few months.

Any citizen would be able to create a proposal for new legislation (a legislative initiative), a proposal to be voted on. Or a proposal to study a certain problem, to gather expert opinion on the subject and to prepare a legislative measure on this subject to be put to vote. All such proposals would be put into a queue, and they would be grouped together and ordered in this queue according to the number of citizens who proposed them, or supported someone else proposal, or required to study a given problem. Usually at any given time, it would be rather clear what bothers most citizens, what they think and talk about the most, what needs some attention. Such problems would then get the highest number of proponents/seconders and thus the highest priority in the queue. The legislative body (composed of randomly selected citizens as all other bodies) would then just work through this priority-ordered queue of proposals and prepare them for a vote (gather expert opinions for and against, organize supplementary discussions, etc, whatever may be needed and missing from the proposals in any given case to ensure an informed voting process).

In some future completely electronically wired society, it would be very easy to maintain such a priority proposal (legislative initiative) queue. All citizens would be able to submit their proposals electronically, and they would be automatically processed using a set of keys, grouped together, and placed into the queue. Everybody would be able to check the queue at any time and add/remove their support for any proposal, thus influencing their position in the queue.
Note added on March 27, 2007: Check out the new site which gives a possibility to any citizen to submit and discuss new proposals/initiatives in a way quite similar to the ideas formulated above. Actually, it makes it possible to start this process right now, with the current technical means available, in any jurisdiction that joins this project.

But even with our present technical means, we would be able to start transition to such a system if there is enough will to do that.

In many countries (Britain, Canada), there is growing demand for reforming the unelected upper chamber of an legislative assembly. What about to replace it with such body whose members would be selected a from among all the citizens absolutely randomly in order to gather some more experience with this system?
For example, the experience with randomly chosen Planning Cells in Germany - University of Wuppertal, Prof. C. Dienel - shows that their members are quickly able to educate themselves on a subjects, and contribute significantly to its solution.

Of course, our starting point is the present RD system. Transition to anything else has to start as a gradual reform of the RD system. But the focal point of such a reform should not be the effort to preserve the RD system forever, but to get as quickly as possible to a better DD system.

The prerequisites for my version and vision of DD is good education, perfectly functioning information systems, and tolerance. An important part of promoting DD should be an effort to ensure the availability of the same high-quality education for absolutely everybody, education that would promote tolerance.

And of course, the supporters of DD have to be aware that they will not play any special role in the DD system, they would just be able to continue to submit their proposals for further improvements of the system as every other citizen will. Anyway, DD can probably be started only if the majority of people will become DD supporters. And once the system is up and running, it would probably never be a finished system, it will by its nature continually change and develop. That is why that there is no great need of building detailed models of DD system at present, what is needed is to get it started somehow, and it will organize itself.

M. Kolar, Sunday 29 Aug 1999


I wrote this as a comment on a passage in a response of Donald Davison to Aki Orr on

Donald: I do not know that your brand of Direct Democracy (DD) is feasible today or in the future. You and others that argue for no representative body are not willing to outline the steps as to how a proposal is created and comes before the people for a vote. You yourself are opposed to the process of the referendum, but you do not say who or what is to create that which the people are suppose to vote on.

What you do not say is more important than what you are saying. It makes me suspect that you are using DD as a cover to create some sort of ruling class that will fulfill the role of creating all the proposals for the people to vote on - of course, only 'correct' people will be allowed to serve on this ruling central committee - Yes? - No?

----- My original message was introduced by this:

NO!!! Definitely not in how I imagine DD!

On the contrary, it is in the current version of the representative democracy (RD) that you have in fact a ruling class - most of the representatives and government members are elected from the same rather narrow group of people, in which the membership is often hereditary (e.g., Bush Jr. and Sr.; I have heard/read somewhere that almost all the US presidents of this century were somehow related together, even if in some distant way).