Digital Direct Democracy
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Direct or Representative Democracy?

By Demosthenes Kyriazis


To the above fundamental question has been given answers   by many, philosophers, law scientists, politicians, sociologists, even ordinary citizens. Despite the multitude of views, the citizen can hardly have a clear and solid answer. The answers are contradictory and its reliability does not rely on natural laws and simple logic, but it relies on the prestige of that who expresses the answer.

The reason for that an ordinary citizen, whose knowledge and experience belongs to Physics and Technology, is dealing with this issue,  is a book. Nikos Alivizatos, professor of the Constitutional Law at the University of Athens,has recently issued a book entitled: "WHAT DEMOCRACY FOR GREECE AFTER THE CRISIS".  In this book it is stated that: (1) The operation of the Direct Democracy,  even with the help of digital technology, is utopia and (2) The great comparative advantage of the Representative Democracy, compared to all other ones,  is in the process of reaching a compromise and finding solutions with the greatest possible acceptance "(pages 105-107).

As it is well known, high-ranking philosophers and thinkers, such as Thucydides[1], Cornelius Castoriadis[2] and Jacqueline De Romilly[3], have expressed completely opposing views from those of Professor Nikos Alivizatos. These thinkers believe that Direct Democracy is deliberate, necessary and feasible; that it is the constitution that will redeem man from the current crisis. Despite the high and undisputed prestige of these thinkers, we will not invoke their views to comment on the above two conclusions of the professor.  We will put forward views based on common sense and our humble knowledge and experience from the field of physical science and digital technology.

1. For the view of utopian regime

The basic prerequisite for the functioning of Direct Democracy is the existence of good communication conditions in order to ensure easy and low cost performing of interactive information, consultation and voting, that are the basic functions of this regime. It is also known that in the 4,000 years of the well-known human history the realization of the aforementioned functions required the presence of the citizens in a "common space and time"; it required the presence of the citizens in Pnyka on the same day and hour.  However, this requirement, for obvious reasons, reduces the flexibility and increases the direct and indirect costs of functioning direct-democratic institutions.

In the small states - cities of ancient Greece, citizens’ communication was easy and low cost due to their small area and population, resulting in the feasibility of direct democratic institutions. Instead, in states of large area and populations such the today, the operation of Direct Democracy was practically impossible; it was utopian.  

The above explains why Direct Democracy functioned only in the small states of ancient Greece. When these States died, Democracy also died, and instead was created "democratic regimes» adapted to the communicative potential but also to the interests of all forms of power establishment; of political, economic, and intellectual ones.

Today, however, thanks to Digital Technology, the operational and economic difficulties that have made the Direct Democracy a utopist regime, have been dealt with in a way that is fantastically easier and more economic than that of the city-states.

In the positive sciences and technology, the difficulties of moving from an A situation to another B (such as from Representative to Direct Democracy), although transient,  are considered not just justifiable, but as the most important and the most difficult part of the whole problem[4].  In political and legal science, however, these difficulties are dealt as a minor problem, and not the major part of the problem. Perhaps this difference in perception explains the reservations of the "competent scientists".  In this logic the reservations about the ability and reliability of technology in the operation of direct democratic institutions, although expected, are both erroneous and contradictory.

They are erroneous because the use of technology in so many areas (education, administration, public and national security, economy, health ...) has exceeded the most of the transient difficulties, created fantastic improvements.

They are contradictory because, while we trust digital technology in the areas mentioned above, we have objections and reservations to its use in relatively simpler operations such as interactive information, consultation and referendums. Really, Is citizens’ familiarity with the digital submission of their tax returns and the digital management of their financial issues, easier than the familiarity with the aforementioned ones of direct democracy?

The fact that politicians, intellectual leaders and citizens trust technology in the areas mentioned above, but not in the exercise of power by the Citizens' Set is contradictory and absurd. It is contradictory and absurd, because technology is already used in the exercise of power, but it is not used by the citizens themselves but by their representatives. Is this discreet trust a product of the rationality or is a product of self-interest of the political, economic and spiritual leadership?


2. For the view that only in the Representative Democracy, consultation, partnership and finding solutions with the greatest possible acceptance are ensured

In the Direct Democracy the major decisions are taken by the Citizens, while the minor ones, induced and limited by the major ones, by the leaders and officers. So, "finding solutions with the greatest possible acceptance" is the basic characteristic, it is the foundation, of the Direct Democracy.

 On the contrary, in the Representative Democracy, where the major and minor decisions are taken by some subsets of the citizens (by MPs but actually by advisors and dynamic minorities), the decisions have less and permanently disputed acceptance than that of the Direct Democracy.  In the Representative Democracy systematically and monotonously, the majority of delegates claim that it expresses the will of the citizens, while the minority claims the opposite. In the Direct Democracy, the will of the citizens is expressed by the citizens themselves with authority and no doubt.  The fact of maximal acceptance of decisions in Direct Democracy is compatible with the principles of Statistical and Quantum Mechanics, according to which the credibility of the set is greater than that of any sub-set. Consequently, according to physical laws the acceptance of decisions in the Representative Democracy is less than in the Direct Democracy. This is reflected in the credibility of the citizens' will, which results from polls (from a small subset / sample of citizens) and from elections (from the set of citizens). No one claimed that the credibility of the polls is greater than that of the elections. This view therefore is contrary to physical  laws, to logic, but also to what  people are aware of and experience every day.  


 The advantage of Direct Democracy
The great comparative advantage of Direct Democracy, in relation to Representative Democracy and any other constitution, is in its compatibility with Physical Laws: (a) of the non-transferable power of man and (b) of Entropy..

The non-transferable power of man. The physical power of each person to receive and realize logical decisions is called freedom of human. This power, like muscle and spiritual power cannot be transferred to third parties, voluntarily or forcibly, or by orders of human laws. Representation, therefore, as incompatible with this law, constitutes a violation of Physical l Laws. However, violations of Physical Laws are not deleted by human laws, but they are always punished. Natural Laws always prevail over human laws

 The entropy of social systems. It has been reported that: (1) Social entropy is proportional to the concentration of power and (2) An Increase of entropy results an increase in the degradation of systems and a decrease in their efficiency. Therefore, in the Direct Democracy, social entropy receives the lowest possible price, that means optimum stability and effectiveness of the system.  



Summarizing the above, we conclude that Direct Democracy is the best of all other regimes because: (1) It has the greatest compatibility with Natural Laws and the highest possible acceptance of decisions. (2) Ensures the exercise of all people: For making  reasonable decisions on matters concerning the set of them and for evolving them into citizens with power and responsibility; ensures the exercise of people in that called by the ancient Greeks Παιδεία (Paideia).    (Related article,  )






[2] The Ancient Hellenic Democracy and its importance to us today ".  Cornelius Castoriadis. Ύψιλον   Publications, 1999

[3] How up to date is the Athenian Democracy today?", Jacqueline De Romilly, Hermes Ltd publications , 2009

[4] A typical example of major transient difficulties, is the restoration of electrical power to a power Network which has break down



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