Fri 3 Oct 2014 5:02AM

What could a single, global democracy look like? How would it work?

PS Peter Schurman Public Seen by 46

Would a representative or direct democracy make more sense?

What about liquid democracy? See: http://youtu.be/fg0_Vhldz-8

What checks and balances should we have?

What basic rights should be guaranteed to everyone?


Kevin Bayuk Fri 3 Oct 2014 10:08PM

The following portion of the wikipedia entry about direct democracy leads me to wonder where technology could intervene in making direct democracy more effective and less expensive:

"Democratic theorists have identified a trilemma due to the presence of three desirable characteristics of an ideal system of direct democracy, which are challenging to deliver all at once. These three characteristics are participation – widespread participation in the decision making process by the people affected; deliberation – a rational discussion where all major points of view are weighted according to evidence; and equality – all members of the population on whose behalf decisions are taken have an equal chance of having their views taken into account. Empirical evidence from dozens of studies suggests deliberation leads to better decision making.[4][15][16] The most popularly disputed form of direct popular participation is the referendum on constitutional matters.[17]

However, the more participants there are the more time and money is needed to set up good quality discussions with clear neutrally presented briefings.[citation needed] Also it is hard for each individual to contribute substantially to the discussion when large numbers are involved.[citation needed]

For the system to respect the principle of political equality, either everyone needs to be involved or there needs to be a representative random sample of people chosen to take part in the discussion. In the definition used by scholars such as James Fishkin, deliberative democracy is a form of direct democracy which satisfies the requirement for deliberation and equality but does not make provision to involve everyone who wants to be included in the discussion. Participatory democracy, by Fishkin's definition, allows inclusive participation and deliberation, but at a cost of sacrificing equality – because widespread participation is allowed there will rarely be sufficient resources to compensate people who give up their time to take part in the deliberation, and so the participants tend to be those with a strong interest in the issue to be decided, and therefore will often not be representative of the overall population.[18] Fishkin instead argues that random sampling should be used to select a small but still representative number of people from the general public.[3][4]

Fishkin concedes it is possible to imagine a system that transcends the trilemma, but it would require very radical reforms if such a system is to be integrated into mainstream politics. To an extent, the Occupy movement attempted to create a system that satisfies all three desirable requirements at once, but at a cost of the resulting system being widely criticized for being slow and unwieldy.[3][19][20][21]"


Jordan Parker Sat 8 Nov 2014 10:20PM

I believe it would need to start on a micro level in order to ever be functional at the macro level. Starting with an individual, their immediate family, their neighborhood, and their community. How can we create a true democracy within small communities that would open the way for a global democracy?


David Elsbree Jr. Sat 8 Nov 2014 10:26PM

To get everyone globally to have the opportunity to participate in a single discussion, the language barrier issue would need to be addressed.


Peter Schurman Sun 9 Nov 2014 12:52AM

Kevin, Jordan, and David - Thanks for jumping in here.

Kevin - I think Bobby Fishkin's random-sample idea (which you cite) is interesting, and it's one possible structure. Personally, I'd prefer to see universal inclusion.

Jordan - Yes, that may a good path forward. I'd encourage you to post it also at:

David - You're right. And there are sites such as Wikipedia that seem to do a very good job of handling language barriers now. This appears to be a soluble problem.


Poll Created Sun 23 Nov 2014 12:52AM

A blend of crowdsourcing and deliberation might do best! Closed Thu 26 Nov 2015 12:07AM

A lot of direct democracy is text-centric, and web-based, and used to arrive at 51% approval, but that leads frequently to bad ideas getting implemented. There's something wise about a council or legislature, when well-constructed, but in the age of the internet it's foolish to limit problem-sovling to a small group of people. Instead, I think the best solutions will involve a blend of crowdsourcing and deliberation, and will allow citizens to either participate, or pass their vote on to someone else. For example, every citizen who wants to participate is an a council of 8 (often on specific topics, but also integrators at every level). What proposals can get 7/8 people to agree to them as advances over the current state, in 80 or 90% of the relevant councils? With creativity, a process for handling concerns, and a deliberation process that looks for ways to transcend polarities (like left and right), I think better outcomes are more likely.

For something equivalent to the supreme court, there are elements of the current system we'd want to keep (e.g. choosing wise people for fixed terms).

BTW, Tom Atlee and I are putting together a global thought leader gathering of participatory democracy thinkers for the spring ... so have been giving this a lot of thought lately...


Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 75.0% 3 DU BB NH
Abstain 0.0% 0  
Disagree 25.0% 1 DB
Block 0.0% 0  

4 of 50 people have voted (8%)


Brian Burt
Sun 23 Nov 2014 12:52AM

Because it's so true :-)


Nader Hekmati
Sat 4 Apr 2015 5:36PM

Huge improvement over the 51% method; I've never thought this method worked to put the best choices in place


Daniel Blewitt
Sat 11 Apr 2015 5:22PM

I love the thinking here, my main concern though would be that private interests might gain even more power than they currently do by nonstop, incessant advertising campaigns. I think this is always going to be a risk with bottom line voting styles.


[deactivated account]
Thu 8 Oct 2015 8:40PM

A wise blend of "collaborative e-democracy", "federated sociocracy", and "inclusive democracy" I think are key.


Lawrence Grodeska Wed 26 Nov 2014 4:35AM

I like the idea of crowdsourcing feedback from as many as possible on a given idea or proposal, and using that as input for a smaller group process, a la Fishkin's random sample or Atlee's citizen deliberative councils: http://www.co-intelligence.org/CDCUsesAndPotency.html

Speaking of Tom Atlee, Brian, please keep us posted on the participatory democracy gathering you and Tom are putting together. Sounds great, and would love to be of service or in attendance if at all possible!


Peter Schurman Wed 14 Jan 2015 10:30PM

David - Here's some recent news on advances in real-time language translation, enabled by technology.



Daniel Blewitt Sat 11 Apr 2015 5:19PM

Hi guys,

I've sort of been developing my own material and theories in isolation, and only slowly being shown the wider community around this subject.

Heres one video I did exploring the current economic breakdown of a Singular state;



Dr. Roger Kotila Tue 28 Apr 2015 9:46PM

The Earth Federation Movement has the advantage of having the Earth Constitution: It's the "gold standard" for the establishment of a democratic world federal union government: World Parliament, Judiciary with enforcement, World Ombudsmus, Human & Earth Rights. The Earth Constitution is designed to replace the undemocratic UN Charter. Fix the fatally inadequate UN, or replace it with Earth Federation government under the Earth Constitution.


Germà Pelayo Fri 25 Mar 2016 5:32PM

Dear friends,

Given that this is just a space of discussion and not a consolidated group, I want to explain my interest in being here. I am ready to discuss and work with people around the world, whether from this list or others lists out there, who believe both in “real” post-representative democracy and in the need of a global and cross-scale subsidiary democratic system for everyone.

I am interested in:

  • Starting a small group of studies for listing and comparing the different models and experiences of post-representative democracy and for thinking about complex logistics for combining and implementing them at a global and multi-scale level.

  • Starting a world citizen’s assembly working firstly through e-forums (example: reddit forums or maybe loomio like this one) in which people can discuss and self-organize in topic-based and territory-based circles around the world, and later spread and split to more groups including physical meetings networking among them in order to become an international citizen movement.

  • If such network and movement is successful and one day becomes large enough, it could consider appropriate to become a counter-power to the current system and to consider itself legitimate enough to involve in actions leading to an operative, powerful and complete global-scale political and systemic change.

Personally I am not interested in discussing about the following items, (even if I can change my mind later, depending on the arguments I read) :

  • Whether representative government is better or not that advanced post-representative democracy in its many variants as deliberative, direct, or by lot democracy, and others (i. e. liquid democracy as a transitional model), and its combinations and differences in every part of the world (1). I believe that is not and I am interested in joining only with people who believe the same. I believe that representative governments are not democratic at all for the simple reason that the political parties and governments work first for themselves, second for those who paid them and only third or sometimes never, for their voters and the rest of citizens. (2)

  • Whether politics are separated from economy or not, so that a project for global political transformation should not discuss about economic governance. It should discuss about it, in my opinion. Whether the future economic system is capitalist in any of its variants, communist, socialist (social-democracy), anarchist, “buen vivir”, “common-good economy”, or others, or a combination of some of them, or there are several systems by region, country and community… in all these cases it should be the people who decides democratically what economic system or systems they want, and not the current elites or any other minority, to impose them in a violent way (including the fact of owning the monopoly of violence).

  • Whether is better or not to first to implement advanced democracies at a local level instead of global, regional, etc. My point of view is that every scale is good to start with, so than later we can connect the dots among the good experiences from different levels through building a bottom-up subsidiary structure. So I am interested in a “glocal” advanced democracy agenda and interested in working with people who have the same vision of simultaneity. We need to transform every scale of governance, including global, and keep this glocal vision even if each one of us is more interested in a given scale or a given country.

  • Whether a model based in uniformity is better than one based in plurality (exemple: English language to become the only common working language, as pointed by Daniel Blewitt in his video), because simply it’s not. There are some basic common principles that we can define maybe from the very beginning, and one of them in my opinion is keeping diversity as a common goal, instead of uniformity, (i.e. not eliminating diversity in the name of a supposed efficiency. Public institutions have worse problems than efficiency, namely corruption and excess of hierarchy).

So I am interested in looking for people who share these same principles more or less, in order to start working together. In short the principles exposed before are:

  1. Real (post-representative) democracy
  2. Economy subjected to people’s decisions
  3. Glocal strategy
  4. Integral diversity.

But I am open to discuss about the rest of important topics (i. e. inequalities, finances, weapon industry and disarmament, solidarity, rights, resources, food, energy, science, religion, ethics, environment, gender, identities, etc. etc.)

And I will keep participating here as far as I have time for it, whether other members of this list agree or not with my points.

I participated in the past in the WP21 e-forum co-ordination (2002-2004) (3) and in other global democracy initiatives. I am currently a team member of the rising World Democratic Forum (WDF) (4) whose plans are not exactly the same as the ones I am exposing here, even if they could converge sometime in the future. I believe that the time has come for envision and conceive a political system that takes the best from every culture and contributes to a world for humans and the nature and not for the privileged 1% anymore.

Best regards to everyone,

(1) http://is.gd/DBm5YC (“Politics without Politicians”, in Catalan only)
(2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoP_mSIHqTY (English subtitled in settings)
(3) http://allies.alliance21.org/wp/en/accueil.html
(4) http://fdm.world-governance.org/en


Germà Pelayo Fri 25 Mar 2016 9:00PM

By the way I want to say that I've talked a little bit about myself because I find nice to approach other people while knowing a little bit about them. Not in order of sending the message that I am better or worst that anyone. I hope not to create misunderstandings on this.


Jim Barton Sat 26 Mar 2016 2:56PM

I found the personal background more than helpful. Oftimes, these discussions occur as if in some Platonic philosophy seminar. I'm more interested in theory as it has some kind of real world presence: What organizations formed, and what did they actually do?

Anyone can write a thought-piece on what would happen if pigs could fly. Once you actually have some airborne hotdogs, then you've got my attention.

Would you want to have a skype call?


Daniel Blewitt Mon 28 Mar 2016 6:40AM

Hello Everyone,

We will be launching the crowdfund for the Unitary Republic of Humankind on the 31st of March, it'll be live on Kickstarter.

The funding will be for a documentary about what we're trying to accomplish, but also about the general 'unity environment' and all the organisations that have appeared over the past 50 years.

The rest of the URH and myself will be looking to put the concept and the question of unification on the political map. Not just for politico's and academics but everybody, which is the greatest step the ideas we're sharing can take.

I'll be posting links to it almost everywhere once it launches, however I thought I'd give this community a heads up before we went live.

Look forward to seeing more of you all soon.



Germà Pelayo Tue 29 Mar 2016 1:54PM

Hi Jim,
Well I think we are in a moment of history where everything can be useful or not, ideas and actions, depending on how they help to mobilize people for the change as well as to actually organize a changed society. I am not interested, and I think I am not the only one, in fighting for a kind of change so that nothing changes at the end. I wonder if French or American revolutionaries knew in advance, thanks to local experiments, if their system worked or not.


Germà Pelayo Tue 29 Mar 2016 1:56PM

I am available in skype (name germap)


[deactivated account] Tue 23 Jan 2018 12:19AM

Kia ora everyone, I am just going to leave this here.

I am doing some market research to learn more about what people need and to get feedback for a liquid-like democratically owned social network idea.
If you have a spare moment please fill out this survey questionnaire, I would love to hear your thoughts & comments and any feedback is much appreciated.
Survey: https://manytribes.typeform.com/to/hHgf6J

Many Thanks,
— William


Susanna Cafaro Thu 8 Feb 2018 11:01AM

Hello everybody,
I have just discovered this group and this discussion, I jump in.
I do research on Eu and Int'l law and I spent many years working on models of supranational democracy, I write a little blog on this topic and I am also organizing an event https://supranationaldemocracy.net/supranational-democracy-dialogue/
It's in southern Italy, where I am based.
Pity the call for papers closes in two days, but I accept suggestions for the next edition.
I felt people here should know about it!
Best, Susanna


Germà Pelayo Sun 4 Nov 2018 4:41PM

Hi friends,
please check this proposal and feel free to comment :