Amiga History Guide

I'm glad I do not have to read it because I remember it :-)

10.06.2005, 09:05

The people must lead the executive, control the legislature and be the military

In response to Richard :

I agree with you that a representative democracy can not at the same time be a direct democracy.

I agree with you that a representative democracy will always erode.

I claim that the system I'm describing is not a representative democracy.

I claim that it is possible to create a system that delegates the work over various levels from local to global without delegating power .

You say direct democracy means that the people themselves make the laws and decisions, not legislatures . I say it depends on your definition of "make". The system has to put the people in "control". The members of the legislature should be delegatees and not representatives. They should have no power to decide. They receive drafts of legislation from the people, they should then "harmonize" these different drafts and forward the results for decisions by the people. These decisions by the people are then executed by the executive.

In representative democracies, it is the executives that lead and drive the legislative agenda and it is the legislatures that control that process - and they have the military at their disposal as the ultimate reinforcement.

These powers have to be taken away from executives and legislatures. The people must lead the executive, control the legislature and be the military.

If we can come up with a system that truly enforces these principles, then direct democracy can coexist with hierarchy !

You say that you... very much disagree with the claim that "every people have the government they deserve." . I said ultimately they will.

Do the people of Iraq deserve what is being currently imposed on them? No, they don't. The situation in Irak is one where seven wrongs still do not make a right. But ultimately, they will have the government they deserve. If they do not find a way of building a strong understanding for the need of harmonization that is deeply rooted in their local communities then it will not be the one we would like them to have.

If people have a perfect system in place that ensures their direct democratic control, they will also have the power to destroy it, should they choose to do so. Ultimately, they have the system they deserve. That means we have to educate people and people have to be willing to make their contribution for the system to work. Do the people deserve a perfect system if they are not willing to make their contribution?

Richard wrote: We are born into a system, and seldom is there an opportunity to change it. Many of the world's governments have been imposed from the outside, by either conquest or intrigue.

You are correct that in these cases it is unfair to say that they have the government that they deserve. I meant the statement in a way that looks at the big picture without focusing on any specific point in time. If we would say "We the people" have the government we deserve then that would mean several things:
  • It would include the advantages and disadvantages that we inherited from our ancestors.
  • It would mean that it is worth while to work towards improvements even if we as individuals might not be able to see much of the benefits during our life time.
  • But it also would mean that any achievements gained will be quickly lost if "We the people" become complacent.
  • And it would mean that it will require the hard work of the people and is not something that can be handed to them by some charismatic individual.
Richard wrote: <i>You give no reason to expect that your suggested system would not erode toward greater centralization as all of our current sytems have done. I believe that it would so erode. We've had referenda, initiatives, and recall in California for years, and it has made no significant difference as regards democratic governance.</i>

Direct democracy is only sustainable in its absolut form. If the sovereignty of the people is compromised then it will erode - and by definition, it would no longer be a truly direct democracy.

There can be no compromises. The sovereignty must stay with the individual and through the individual with the people. All current systems make compromises that turn their democracy into a farce.

Here in Switzerland we call our system a half-direct democracy. We have made compromises that mix the concepts of direct and representative democracy. The same is true for the system in California. Even if California would have a system that sustains direct democracy to the top it would be a farce because California itself has no sovereignty.

I believe that the basic unit of sovereignty is the individual and not the community. In a direct democracy the individual can not delegate this responsibility to the community.

If an individual in a certain situation believes that the right thing to do is to break the law, then it is ok do so, as long as that individual is willing to accept the consequences. Sometimes breaking the law might be the only honorable thing to do.
Even in the military, individuals should be responsible for there actions and follow their conscience - but still suffer the punishment if they decide to go against the rules.

Only free individuals will be good community members. The community is the first and most important level of "hierarchy" but not the basic unit of sovereignty, in my opinion.

"Can democracy coexist with hierarchy?" ...Probably not, because when I described a direct democracy  working over several hierarchical levels, I should probably have dropped the word hierarchy, since I believe that there should be direct interaction between the individual and any level and not just an indirect structure where the individual is only involved on the local level.

So, hierarchy is probably an inherently bad thing and not compatible with democracy. But I think direct democracy can work at various levels from local to global.

26.06.2005, 16:14

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25.06.2005, 13:20

Looking at FreeBSD 6 and Beyond

A Q&A with the well-known FreeBSD developers John Baldwin, Robert Watson and Scott Long .

Robert Watson: "One of the things I like to point out about FreeBSD is the longevity we see in our contributors -- we are one of the few open source projects that can demonstrate a code history going back almost 30 years, and who have active developers who have worked on that code base for much of that time! I began using FreeBSD in about 1995, and joined the developer team in 1999 -- despite being on the project six years, I consider myself a relative newcommer. Many commercial software companies would count themselves lucky if their senior engineers had half that time working on a project."

24.06.2005, 11:01

Qualified Minority Veto

Reform of the Security Council should have been a precondition for Switzerland joining the UN as an official member. Unfortunately, when the Swiss people went to the polls, they didn't comprehend the short term significance and long term insignificance of joining - and failed the long term interest of the UN by joining before the concept of veto rights in the Security Council had been replaced by truly stabilizing mechanisms more compatible with Swiss neutrality and political philosophy: qualified minority veto rights.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday , Peter Maurer, the Swiss ambassador to the United Nations, called for "stronger and more specific wording" of the proposal to make the Security Council "more representative, more transparent, more accountable and more inclusive". A very, very first babystep towards qualified minority veto rights? Wishful thinking. I'm sure.

In the United Nations, a qualified minority veto should replace the current post-world-war-II veto rights in the security council and get UN reforms moving towards global democratisation. Already on a local and national level there may be needs to protect ethnic, religious, geographic or language minorities from being overpowered by the majority. Harmonization and consensus development tends to be easier to achieve on local levels and will probably need some help by design on hierarchical levels further removed from the individual.

Certain decisions could for example require a qualified majority in order to override a qualified minority veto. If 2/3 of the nations in one world region reject a proposal then it will be blocked even if it is backed by the majority of the global voters - unless the approval exceeds 2/3 overall. Or the rule might simply be that the percentage of overall approval has to exceed the percentage of minority disapproval.

With fine tuned systems like this, I believe even a global direct democracy will be possible.

22.06.2005, 21:24

The Doom of Representative Democracy

Richard asks: Can democracy coexist with hierarchy?

"In envisioning a new democratic system, we might think we could do better than America's Founding Fathers, and design a liberal democracy with even stronger safeguards against the centralization of power. I suggest that we would be deluding ourselves. In the compromise between hierarchical government and popular sovereignty - which is the defining characteristic of liberal democracy - the tendency toward hierarchical centralization will always eventually win out. The forces pushing toward centralization - both elite pressures and legitimate concerns for efficiency - act relentlessly over time. In the contest between stone and water, the stone, no matter how strong, eventually succumbs to erosion."

"At its best, liberal democracy provides only a very limited version of democracy, and it always goes downhill from there, as regards responsiveness to popular sentiment. If we want to establish genuinely democratic societies, we need to look for models of governance that are not based the delegation of power to hierarchical institutions, and which enable people to participate directly in the process of setting the agendas of their societies."

I believe the criteria that causes modern democracies to suffer from erosion is not that they are "liberal democracies" but that they are "representative democracies". I hope Richard will use that term instead, since it is not the liberal characteristics that cause the erosion of democracy. While todays liberal democracies are representative democracies, they could also be direct democracies and not suffer from erosion.

Yes, I think it is possible to design a system that would be a direct democracy and that would not erode. The people can delegate law making to a legislature and the people can delegate the execution of decisions to an executive government. But they must not delegate the decision making and they must not delegate responsibility.

The people do not need leaders but instead must lead through initiatives and referendum. Initiatives to give binding orders to the executive and legislature and referendum to control and confirm that work of the executive and legislature.

Since in a direct democracy it's the people that make decisions, it would always be the people that decide which issues are put to a referendum. And ministers would lead their ministries and would never attempt to lead the people or make decisions for them.

I believe hierarchical direct democracies can escape erosion if the delegation of responsibility to higher levels always stays reversible. Never delegate the final decision making and never delegate responsibility.

Ultimately every people have the government they deserve.

21.06.2005, 03:01

Violence in a real democracy

More comments regarding "What is real democracy?" :

Yes, violence has to be part of the answer: Because in a "real democracy" the people have to be in control of "violence" and not be controlled by "violence".

But it can be a non-violent movement that forces an elite in power to surrender control over violence (because they cannot use it to defend it, otherwise they look like dictators in a banana republic to the rest of the world).

The people are in control of violence if they are the army. The ultimate power is military control and in a real democracy, power is with the sovereign individual. It's probably a dream to think that a society could get away without having a military force (although a very nice one). If the people do not control the army, they will be controlled by one.

To a very small extent, "violence" can be delegated to a professional police force. But any large and important security tasks cannot be delegated in a "real democracy" and have to be taken care of by the people.

Professional armies attract lunatics that will not hesitate to go to war. And they are socially unfair because they lure the economically weak to do the dirty work for an elite. Broad based obligatory militia forces ensure that the army will not be used against the people and, frankly, that it will not be used, period. After all, the best army is one where all the soldiers and officers do not want to be there.

21.06.2005, 13:42

Concordance and Subsidiarity

Richard 'rkm' Moore started a blog called "Harmonization":

"There are two major reasons why a charismatic leader is not a good approach. The first is vulnerability to assassination. The second is that if we want real democracy, we must learn to take responsibility for our own movement, rather than counting on some white knight to ride to our rescue."

"Based on these kind of considerations, I've come to the conclusion that a successful movement for radical change needs to be based on the same principles that I propose for a democratic society: localism and harmonization."

"Harmonization is about resolving conflicts through respectful dialog. It is about taking into account everyone's concerns, and coming up with plans and solutions that deal fairly with all those concerns."

"Localism is about the seat of sovereignty, and the extent of sovereignty, in a democratic society." ... "the local community needs to be the basic sovereign unit in a democratic society."

It's what we here in Switzerland call the two fundamental principals of "Concordance" and "Subsidiarity" with power being delegated from the bottom up towards higher levels where it is (and only where it is) necessary.

Unfortunately these principals are not being understood as well anymore and too many mistakes are made where power is delegated to higher levels too quickly and too unconditionally. Mostly because the Swiss people are too content with there situation and too lazy to do the work themselves at the lower level (or too afraid of the responsibility?).

18.06.2005, 03:58

>>> Wrapping Aspects around Mocha Objects?

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> ES5 Candidate Specification
> ReverseHttp and RelayHttp
> The best solution is that one isn't needed
> New Eclipse Helma plugin project
> Is the Bespin web-based code editor the ideal future ServerJS IDE?
> Server-Side Javascript Standard Library
> First Soleil on Mont-Soleil
> Rhinola 0.8 - Server JS reduced to the minimum
> Helma turns 1.6.3
> Helma 1.6.3-rc3 ready for testing
> Helma 1.6.3 Release Candidate 2
> Release Candidate 1 of Helma 1.6.3
> Helma at the 2008 OpenExpo in Zurich
> Large Hadron Collider
> Ecmascript Harmony
> The A-Z of Programming Languages jumps to Javascript
> Fresh Javascript IDE in Ganymede Eclipse release
> Helma at the Linuxwochen in Linz
> Brendan on the state of Javascript evolution
> Stuff by George Carlin
> Is AppleScript done?
> ES4 Draft 1 and ES3.1 Draft 1
> Want ES4 in Helma today?
> SquirrelFish!
> Permaculture 101
> ES4 comes to IE via Screaming Monkey
> Apple's position on ECMAScript 4 proposals
> Helma Meeting Spring 2008
> Attila Szegedi about Rhino, Helma and Server-Side Javascript, and scripting on the JVM in general
> Helma 1.6.2 ready to download
> Larry Lessig's case for creative freedom
> Earthlings - Can you face the truth?
> The Story of Stuff
> A Quick Start to Hello World
> The Overlooked Power of Javascript
> Adobe's position on ES4 features, plus the Flex 3 SDK source code is now available under the MPL
> Solar cell directly splits water for hydrogen
> Asynchronous Beer and Geeking and other opportunities to talk about Helma, Rhino and Javascript on the server-side
> Openmocha and Jhino updated to 0.8
> Even more Server-side Javascript with Jaxer
> e4xd and jhino - javascript server-side soft-coding
> Additional Filename Conventions
> Update to Helma 1.6.1
> Netscape, the browser, to live one more month
> Heavyweight Champion of the World by Reverend and the Makers
> SimpleDB vs CouchDB
> Nuclear plants in Switzerland are modern Orgetorixism
> Helma powered AppJet - Takeoff!
> CouchDB for Helma
> Bubble bursting friendship bracelets
> Evolving ES4 as the universal scripting language
> Helmablog and an article in Linux Pro Magazine
> More praise for Helma
> Javascript as Universal Scripting Language
> So, what's up with World Radio Switzerland?
> Helma Conspiracy Theory
> JSONPath and CouchDB
> Hold the whole program in your head, and you can manipulate it at will
> Keeping track of localhost:8080
> Rhino 1.6R6 with E4X fix and patches for Helma
> Helma 1.6 is ready!
> Junction brings Rhino on Rails to Helma
> Javascript for Java programmers
> The server-side advantage
> John Resig on Javascript as a language
> Rhino on Rails
> Release Candidate 3 of Helma 1.6.0
> ECMAScript 4 Reference Implementation
> Antville Summer Of Code 2007
> Helma 1.6.0-rc2
> Using H2 with Helma
> Helma warped around existing db schemas
> Rocket the Super Rabbit
> Bootstrap is out of the bag
> The last mention of Microsoft
> Helma 1.6.0-rc1
> Introducing Planet Helma
> Helma ante portas
> Fixing Javascript inheritance
> Shutdown-Day the Helma way
> Upcoming Helma 1.6, new reference docs and IRC channel
> Making Higgs where the Web was born
> Jala for Helma
> See you at Lift'07
> More on Javascript Inheritance
> Mocha Inheritance
> Helma 1.5.3
> Fresh Rhino on Safari
> Truly Hooverphonic!
> Helma 1.5.2
> RFC 4329 application-ecmascript
> Helma 1.5.1 ready to download
> Aptana - Eclipse reincarnated as a Javascript IDE
> Building the Conversational Web
> Drosera steps in to debug Safari
> Helma 1.5.0 has been released!
> Helma 1.5 RC2 is ready
> Helma 1.5.0 Release Candidate 1 available for download
> FreeBSD Jails the brand new easy way
> Javascript 2 and the Future of the Web
> Frodo takes on chapter 3
> No Rough Cut :-(
> Welcome to Helma!
> 40th Montreux Jazz Festival
> trackAllComments
> Rails' greatest contribution
> Consensus vs Direct Democracy
> A candidate for CSCSJS or a Mocha Fetchlet
> A (Re)-Introduction to JavaScript
> coComment Roundup
> Track your comments
> Sketching image queries and reinventing email
> ECMAScript - The Switzerland of development environments
> I love E4X
> Tutorial D, Industrial D and the relational model
> Stop bashing Java
> E4X Mocha Objects
> Logging and other antimatters
> Stronger types in Javascript 2
> Javascript Diagnosis & Testing
> Homo Oxymora
> Yeah, why not Javascript?
> Moving beyond Java
> Spidermonkey Javascript 1.5 finally final
> Helma Trivia
> Finding Java Packages
> JSEclipse Javascript plug-in for Eclipse
> Catching up to Continuations
> Mighty and Beastie Licenses
> Tasting the OpenMocha Console
> "Who am I?", asks Helma
> Savety vs Freedom and other recent ramblings
> Mont-Soleil Open Air Lineup
> Rhinola - Mocha reduced to the minimum
> OpenMocha 0.6 available for download
> E4X presentation by Brendan Eich
> What is Mocha?
> Do you remember Gopher?
> The disappointment
> OpenMocha Project Roadmap
> MochiKit Javascript Library
> Getting your feet wet with OpenMocha
> People flocking to see global warming
> Rails vs Struts vs Mocha
> The JavaScript Manifesto
> OpenMocha is ready for a spin
> The limits of harmonization
> Le Conseil fédéral au Mont-Soleil
> Amiga History Guide
> The people must lead the executive, control the legislature and be the military
> Copyback License
> Looking at FreeBSD 6 and Beyond
> Qualified Minority Veto
> The Doom of Representative Democracy
> Violence in a real democracy
> Concordance and Subsidiarity
> More >>>