Michel J. Menou on 6 Feb 2001 23:21:04 -0000

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<nettime> Re: Reform Democracy for the Internet Age

Michael Gurstein's points are well taken.

Even without sticking to historical materialism, it is however useful to place
the debate about democracy, electronic or not, in a particular time, space and

Direct democracy, or alledged forms of this, have shown throughout history
their limits. While it can work, to some extent, in small places among people
who can know each other and on specific issues, it can hardly apply to large
communities, especially if they are amorphous as Internet users worldwide for

Thus the issue is how to create legitimate and democratic bodies, structures,
intermediaires, etc. who can act as representatives for the many "virtual

There is no doubt that the technology in itself is capable of tremendously
easing democratic processes. However what we have seen up to now too often is
the possibilty it offers to a few wired self-appointed gurus to monopolize the
instrument and the discourse. Institutional manipulation is not less exquisite
when putting up an odd electronic conference or consultation for a short while
can be presented as the basis for evidencing democratic approval of a proposal.

Of course, this is only the beginning and we have a long way to go and learn.
Let's hope it won't get us in some brave new (already!) world.


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