DECLARATION OF THE FRIENDS OF DIGITAL DIRECT DEMOCRACY
Translation from the Greek text By Cloria Lawrence
My friends, fellow-citizens,
Introducing ourselves, we are just a small group of ordinary citizens today that are hopefully increasing in number everyday. What brings us together is our mutual concern for the considerable problems derived from the present practice of political power, as well as, the feeling which forces us to do something more substantial rather than merely detecting the problem.
A. Summary – Preface
A lot of verdicts have been carried out for the crisis of political system’s representative democracy, throughout the countries all over the world in general and particularly in our country, by quite a lot of people. We had as many as necessary so far and there’s no need to perform any others. What is actually needed now is to figure out the deeper and true cause of crisis, in order for us to take those constitutional and legislative changes that would invalidate it.
The prevailing views for the cause of crisis are actually confined to one & only, which is estimated to be the incorrect selection of leaders chosen by ourselves “the ordinary citizens”. The cause of this incorrect selection of leaders is “the average per head low level of educational and ethical culture of citizens”.
However, we do not accept this as a real cause. We believe the cause of crisis lies in the political system characteristics. Τhe “low per head level of culture” - that actually exists - is derived from the same cause which is the political system characteristics. We believe that overcome of crisis can only be achieved through advanced and more genuine democracy; broadening the existing representative democracies towards the principles of the Ancient Athens Democracy, based on the will of citizens and on the qualifications of digital technology.
The “play” that is performed by our leaders and delegates under the title: “You - that have deliberately destroyed us - have to quit and get yourselves away so that we can take on the situation and save ourselves”, no longer touches us and we’ve been tired of the whole situation. Our prospect to have a leader/messiah with great intellectual and ethical powers that would be able to save us has been disappointing because in practice it proved to be a poor prospect probability.
Can we find any other solution to the problem?
There are many experts, particularly foreigners, who support that the overcome of crisis can only be achieved by the orientation of the current representative democracies based on the principals of the Athens Democracy.
The political system of Democracy worked only in cities - states of the ancient Greece as only there it could be attainable due to their small size where all citizens were gathered in pnyka for exchanging information and decision-making holding referendums.
When cities - states disappeared, democracy disappeared as well and the regime of authentic Democracy has been forgotten.
In the contemporary grand States with millions of citizens, the regime of authentic Democracy, for easy to understand practical reasons, it was impossible to work.
But today, thanks to technology, the City- State possibility exists regardless of the size of States. “Today the whole world is like a village”, in which citizens:
· Can inform and be informed by selecting the most valid “digital pnyka” and
· Can be able, operationally and economically, to participate in great decisions taking through the digital referendums carried out by ourselves individually from our own homes.
Through such characteristics the culture of the City-State can be reborn and the principals of Athens Democracy can come again to light, duly tailored to the data of the 21st century.
On the following pages, you may find simple and comprehensible views of the basic characteristics of crisis, the real cause of crisis as well as the way to defeat it.
Possibly you might also agree with the fact that “a single digital referendum per year can gradually lead to a solid overcome of the crisis”.
B. The crisis and its encounter
In the frame of the above mentioned motivations and beliefs we hereby bring to your attention the following:
1. The figure of crisis
The basic characteristic of the existing crisis in our country and many others alike, is the downgrading of responsibility and sincerity, the giant growth of selfish motives, the deceitfulness, of politicians (delegates in general), but also of the citizens themselves.
The identification of public and private life that existed among the citizens the so called genuine democracy of Athens, no longer exists. Today, the great majority of people is only interested in their private lives and disregards the public interest that is shaped and controlled not by the citizens, but by all sorts of delegates that have been deliberately chosen. Honestly speaking, however, we do not choose them deliberately but under the strongly guidance of those few who actually exercise power. These few are those who control: the media, the economy, Political Parties mechanisms and the small but dynamic groups of citizens which protect corporate or political party interests.
Under these circumstances, on the one hand the knowledge, the interest and the responsibility for citizens’ public life have been downgraded, and on the other hand the selfish motives, the arrogance of the Monarch and Prince are the values that have been developed in a number of those in the power. The small number of exceptions does not invalidate this rule.
The substantial invalidation of citizens’ power has led to the transformation of the system of representative democracy in a regime of “elected oligarchy”, with a strong element of inherited authority.
2. The cause of the crisis.
The root of this crisis is derived from the loss of power of the citizens - which are the physical owners of the power – and the concentration of the power to the few.
The loss of citizens’ power is not derived from the violation of the letter of institutions, but from the solemn violation of their spirit.
Indeed, in contrast to the spirit of institutions, the leading power authority of today- in practice- is not the Parliament but the Government, not to say the Prime Minister himself. Actually, politicians and experts proclaim today, without concerns and suspensions that in elections people choose Prime Minister rather than Parliament.
But this excessive concentration of power, leads to deterioration of responsibility and the huge growth of self interest of politicians and citizens alike; leads to increase social entropy and the death of democracy, if not the death of the social system itself.
3. The drastic encounter of crisis
According to those mentioned above the overcome of crisis can be achieved by the increase of power exercised today by the citizens. The predominant notion that citizens have the power, but they cannot exercise it in practice, is a logical and ethical contradiction.
The people as a whole, as a “set,” select and choose the best solutions for their survival, which are considered possible in a given physical or social environment. This physical determinism is vaguely affected and certainly not at all overthrown by mere educational and cultural programmes.
Real education can be found in genuine democratic environment only. The current ugly situation in education is basically due to the fact that real democracy does not exist in the students’ communities and in society itself.
All above mentioned lead to the conclusion that: the low level of educational and ethical culture is not the cause but the result of the political system’s crisis.
Therefore dealing with the crisis primarily requires institutional changes in order to invalidate the root cause of crisis and to prevent regime from situations of its transformation into oligarchic regime by the name of “democracy”.
The successful selection of capable and ethical leaders is an important factor in overcoming the crisis and yet it is a secondary factor. The inherent weaknesses of the system prevail over good intentions and spoil the efforts of overcoming the crisis. Such inherent, of course have already taken place and will continue to take place prompted by a small number of Rulers. Rulers who have good intentions, but they are in opposition to the interests of the system, are discarded from the political system.
It is time to put an end in our “seeking for truth in fairy tales”.
4. The strategy of overcoming the crisis.
The invalidation of the real cause of the crisis can be effected by the enlargement of the current parliamentary regime towards the Ancient Greek Democracy. An enlargement that would be focused on the principles of the Ancient Greek Democracy, but also adapted to the social, economic, political and technological 21st century conditions. Vehicle for this enlargement is the new digital technology of interactive networks; the technology of the Internet.
This strategy requires to be understood that there is an urgent need to make the following changes in perceptions of citizens and in the institutions of the state:
a. Transfer a share of power exercised by the current political system of the representatives, to the citizens themselves. This transfer was obviously always necessary and desirable but only today is functionally and economically feasible by the use of digital technology.
b. Awareness that this transformation is vital for the future of democracy because the use of new technology in the exercise of power, exclusively from the few our elected or “our elected” representatives, is a high-risk option. No doubt the new digital technology sooner or later will be used in the exercise of power (e-governance). The problem is that new technology can serve equally and effectively, genuine democratic, or oligarchic or pseudo-democratic institutions. If it serves genuine democratic institutions, the new technology will prove to be a blessing. But if it serves oligarchs or pseudo-democrats then it is going to be a curse and a nightmare. The creation of institutions is, obviously, all people’s responsibility and not that of technology.
c. The constitutional and legislative changes required for the implementation of that strategy, should be carried out into effect by the current political system; they must and can be realized by the citizens’ representatives who have neither very strong reasons, nor the ability to ignore such a citizens’ will, in case it emerged.
d. The new democratic institutions will work in a digital space and time, which means that the interactive information, the consultation and the votes of the citizens will be carried out in our own houses and at our own convenience, maximizing in this way the facility potential and minimizing the direct and indirect costs, of the institutions operation.
By this strategy will achieve the progressive transformation: from the today's society of adherences to a society of citizens and from the current “culture of war to a culture of peace”.
Ordinary people know this strategy and they explain it in the Doric simplicity by the saying: “the carriage awakes the carriage-driver”.
5. The institutions of democracy enlargement
The enlargement of Democracy is not a general and obscure policy, which is being usually promised by politicians. It is a distinct policy based on the following four key institutions:
a. The great and the few decisions taking through digital referendums. Indicatively the following decisions should be taken by citizens’ referendums because, for obvious reasons, it may be difficult to be taken by our representatives: the electoral system - the immunity of educational institutions - the immunity and remuneration of Members and officials of the Executive Authority - the rational equation of the protection conditions of ordinary citizens and consideration people of political, social, or economical power - the maximum permitted tenure of governors/leaders in all levels of power - the effectuation of Referendum when it represents the demand of a 10% of citizens .
Today a lot of people believe that even if just a single referendum could be carried out once a year it would have been enough to lead us out of the crisis and to transform the current adherences of a leader/Messiah to “ruler and being ruled”, responsible citizens.
b. The election of leaders not exclusively carried out through the voting procedure - which today is powerfully conducted by the power establishment – but through a combination of election of a highly estimated leader and the draw procedure of many others “leaders”. This ensures equality of citizens to power (ισοκρατία, issokratia) and keeps a tight rein of "controlling political inheritance order".
c. On the application in all power levels of preceding the above two institutions; Nation, municipalities, prefectures, and cooperative associations, trade unions, schools and students communities.
The extent of use of the draw institution will be increased from the highest to the lowest levels of power and will take its maximum value in schools and students communities, because these are the nurseries of democracy. The opposite would apply to the extent of use of the election institution.
For example: All “leaders” of students' communities may be elected through draw between those willing to participate. The Councilors should be elected through draw from a list of highly estimated leaders (created by citizens’ voting), in order to strengthen the meritocracy and to reduce the municipalities’ dependence on other power centers. Relatively, the same may apply to members of the administrative councils: clubs, associations and cooperatives even to the members of parliament, appointed by the head of each party (State Members).
d. In the full separation between legislative and executive powers by the institutionalization of the incompatibility of the membership of Parliament with the membership of Executive power; Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other senior officials of the Executive power. The separation of powers during the genesis of modern representative democracies was considered so important that in article 16 of the French Declaration of 1789 it says: “a State without the separation of powers does not have a Constitution”, which obviously means that the State may not be a democracy, but not even a constitutional monarchy.
We are aware that these thoughts by the majority of citizens are considered to be kind thoughts but in practice they are unenforceable. We are aware that the vast majority of the citizens and politicians believe that the overcome of crisis can only be achieved by the election of a Messiah, who with his great spiritual and ethical powers, will take us out and deliver us from the crisis.
This is not what we believe.
We believe that the redemption will not come from such a Messiah, but if it does it will be temporary. The redemption will only come when people believe that the real Messiah is in their will, in stochastic wisdom, and in the real citizens’ power and responsibility; when people come to believe in the “Citizen-Messiah” who does not need to be applauded, cheered or besprinkled with flowers.
C. Constitutional rules of the DDD Association
1. The purpose of the Association
The friends of DDD are not and do not intend to become a political party. They are an informal Association of ordinary citizens who intend to communicate the ideas of DDD, to as many citizens as possible, including citizens who have or are claiming the honorary office of our representation.
2. The operation of the Association
The association will work in a "digital space and time", which means that the interactive communication, consultation and the votes of its members will be carried out by means of digital technology of the Internet. Due to digital mode, the Association does not have offices, and does not hold any meetings, having as a result the least operational cost. The Association will have: an e-mail, a Web Page and a Blog, for the publication of its own ideas and proposals, as well as the ideas of every individual citizen.
Creating and operating this digital media is costless and can be remedied by a group of ordinary citizens.
You are welcomed to copy or republish free of charge any information published on our websites.
3. Registration on our Friends’ Digital List - Digital Signature of the Declaration.
The "Digital Signature" is not an official signature. It is a simple act of flexible and short statement/notification of a citizen that agrees with the General principles of this Declaration.
Those Greek or/and Foreign Citizens who: (1) conform to the key points of this declaration and (2) covenant to use the Association only for the promotion of the ideas of DDD and not for any political parties or other organizations intentions, are welcomed to “digitally sign” it.
The Digital Signature can either be effected by the electronic signature of the Web Page www.dd-democracy.gr , or by sending an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org , where there is a printed text as follows: (a) the phrase "I agree with the General principles of the Declaration" and (b) the personal details of the sender: surname, name, place of residence and optionally the profession/citizen hood (farmer, worker, teacher, professor, student, etc.)
Those who do not have their own e-mail can send this message from their friends’ computer.
The “registration” to the Association, for Members of the Parliament and politicians, is considered honorary and intentional, by the self-explanatory condition that those registered are consistent with the principles of the Declaration and, in particular with paragraphs C 1, 3 and 7. In cases such as “profession/citizen hood”, the individuals’ details will not be registered as politicians but only as citizens.
Those registered by the 'Digital Signature' will be automatically inserted on the DDD Friends’ List, in alphabetical order, regardless of the date of their signature.
The above list will be displayed on the Association’s Web Page so that the expansion of acceptance of these ideas is clearly shown.
This registration and disclosure, which clearly aims to the dissemination of ideas of DDD, is the only moral assistance requested. The friends have no economic or any other kind of obligation.
4. The Association Members’ Rights
The Association Members have the right to participate in the digital, updates, consultations and votes, in order to develop specific and detailed proposals for the implementation of the DDD ideas.
The Association is managed collectively by all its members and the mutual exchange of information, consultation, and votes for decisions taking, will be carried out digitally only.
The Association will be represented by the Executive Secretary, who is elected through a drawing procedure by all its members who wish to take duties of an office Executive Secretary.
The mandate of the Executive Secretary is one year. The exceeding of one year’s tenure of a leader is permitted to those interested in circular rotation.
7. Penalties, Digital Ostracism
In cases where the behavior of the Executive Secretary or a member of the Association, is incompatible with the principles herein, it is deleted from the Association List with the process of “Digital Ostracism”. During this process the members send an email to the Association with the name of the person whom they have decided to delete. If a 30% of the members have decided a deletion, then the member concerned is permanently deleted without the opportunity to proceed for an appeal.
Deleting a member by “Digital Ostracism” is the only penalty that is been imposed on a member by the Association. Any other law violation will be dealt by the competent government law.
8. Dealing with the Crucial Activity.
It is obvious that the success of our effort identifies with the extent of promotion and acceptance of DDD ideas by the citizens.
Apparently this effort is not easily brought into effect through the current conventional media, for two main reasons: (1) because, for the majority of the people, there is a common concept that "all these standards are good but not achievable" and (2) because the DDD ideas conflict with the interests of power Establishment
Therefore in practice, the only effective way, is the promotion of these ideas only by us; the “ordinary citizens”.
But what has changed, which gives hope to ordinary citizens that they can cope with the situation without having money, newspapers or TV Channels?
In fact what has brought the change is the presence of new technology, that gives ordinary citizens the economic and functional ability to obtain their own “Digital Media”, whereas neither have the money nor the special knowledge.
Of course you already know that in our country Newspapers and Magazines have been replaced by Web Pages and Blogs, TV Channels and Radio Stations by Sites on the Internet and Books by Digital Books.
It is estimated that today in Greece there are 200.000 Web Pages (electronic journals) and approximately 40.000 Blogs (the exact number is not known, because their operation is not subject to any approval or authorization).
How many such sites will be there tomorrow?
No doubt people of tomorrow will not or will hardly read newspapers, magazines, books or listen to radio stations and watch TV of the current format and technology.
These prospects are our allies in our efforts and also illustrate the deeper meaning of the term “Digital Democracy”
9. DDD Ideas in International Perspective
The DDD ideas are the offspring of the Ancient Greek Spirit of Democracy that grows in the 21st century’s conditions. The Ancient Greek Spirit is a World’s Heritage and belongs to people all over the world and not just to Greek Natives or to a small group people like ourselves.
This is the reason why the ideas of Digital Direct Democracy, have been promoted by ordinary citizens and spiritual institutions in many countries such as: England, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand and others. The most known for its efforts institution is the University of Florida.
10. Association Prospects
The circulation of this present Declaration is not the end but the beginning of suggesting proposals for DDD.
The list of DDD’s Friends is not closed but is open by the today list of 81 members of our association
If we believe in the moral and rational principle that “democracy means equality of all citizens over their rights and their obligations", then and only then, DDD’s Friends may grow and become the River that would overrun this crisis.
If this does not happen, then the present Declaration is going to be one more of those texts of kind but not practical value proposals.
Athens 8 November 2009
The Association, Friends of Digital Direct Democracy.
Light from Ancient Greece
 Pnyka is a small hill near and opposite of Acropolis of Athens. Pnyka was the open-space parliament of Athens Democracy citizens.