Dee Hock on Emergent Democracy

Joi Ito‘s paper on Emergent Democracy has been getting a lot of play recently. This response from Dee Hock is great reading:

As you may know, I have been arguing for a decade that the Internet was fatally flawed and would go the way of the telegraph, telephone, radio and television as far as its promise of elevating ideas and discourse, advancing democracy, enhancing liberty or facilitating economic and political justice. I have lived long enough to remember the claims that were made at the advent of radio and television, and read enough of the history of the telegraph and telephone to realize that the claims made by the messiahs of those forms of communication were not dissimilar from the claims made by aficionados of the Internet.

The failure of democracy to scale is also not complicated to understand. The founding fathers of this country, the “egalitie, fraternitie and libertie” of France and most other liberals that moved society toward freedom and liberty in the 1700’s could not have been expected to visualize the growth of populations, radical evolution of science, vast increases of technology and incredible increases in mobility of information, money, goods, services and people.

I wonder if you realize that a dozen or two people like yourself with the right combination of communication, technological and organizational skills could design and implement a global government without the consent of any present form of organization and provide it with the neural network to insure its success. A government that could continually evolve to ensure that no matter affecting the public good or the health of the planet fails to be disclosed, examined and understood. Or that any existing organization could escape being confronted with synthesized opinions and alternatives that would swiftly emerge. Such an organization based on rights of participation and withdrawal and consent of the participants could be something entirely new in this tired world. Now that would be something truly worthy of the best within us and the best among us. And a great deal of fun in the bargain!

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