Can the Internet Improve Politics?

Can the Internet Improve Politics?
Can the internet improve politics? The question and answer are structured in a sequence of steps: (1) Politics is about counting, and the web is good at counting. (2) Politics counts evaluations, and the web is good at evaluations. (3) Political evaluations bear cognitive costs that need to be alleviated through trust, and the web is good at employing trust. (4) Political trust relations increasingly have a general network structure, and the web is good at networks. (5) Political trust relations need to be stored, and the web is good at storing sensitive data. Additionally, the availability to address large option numbers and offline access are addressed.

Contrary to aspects of e-democracy that are simply “nice to have”, steps 4 and 5 point to improvements that are necessary: The web allows for a network-based collective decision making that efficiently fits the necessities of societies that are no longer satisfied with the kind of representation that urges everyone to align to one group for all issues. Individualization and the cultural demands of non-Western societies go in the same direction in demanding a different and necessarily web-based solution to the cognitive-cost problem of democracy.

The paper is in the submission process of a scholarly journal. It can be downloaded from Researchgate or

Trust storage

Trust storage is the base of new democratic institutions.

Currently, trust storage is a taboo. At every democratic election, we throw our ballot into the ballot box and take back our hand, deliberately destroying the link between our documented trust and ourselves. There have been good reasons to do so. But it is no longer justified that they suppress a progress to lift the taboo. It is necessary to secure trust storage with the best available mechanisms. Even with them, it will not be able to grant 100% security for the secrecy of the ballot, especially when actors who currently benefit from lesser-democratic institutions will aim to hack trust storage. But 99.99% are a good and attainable goal.

And trust storage has huge advantages.

Trust storage allows for a flexible direct democracy. The people bear the ultimate responsibility, so the people shall decide everything they want decide. With storing trust, everyone can decide for every political question whether to engage in an own decision or to keep being represented.

And trust storage allows for actor openness: Not only parties or individual politicians can serve as representative actors. Everyone who is willing to bear responsibility can engage in evaluating options and canvassing for trust.

Trust storage will have to be built up as a distributed electronical system, through a non-profit organization that is self-controlled by its citizen-voters as fast as possible. For reasons of legitimacy, this cannot be a Silicon valley startup to be funded by venture capitalists. Crowdfunding will start soon, and if you are willing to support the project, please send me a mail.

Update: In any case, please read the story of Hu to your kids to feel the energy, and subscribe to our mailing list to be kept posted.

Trump, Zizek, and Irie

Some days before the U.S. election, Slavoj Žižek said that despite of fearing Trump, he saw Hillary Clinton’s “keep it up” direction as the larger danger. In a way, he is right. The idea that something is going really wrong in the U.S. has gained more ground today, and indeed Clinton would have brought more inertia.

But — to invest a last “as if” thought — she is not the blind Wall Street marionette some (including Zizek) see in her. She would have been interested in understanding and supporting change to the better. The chance that Trump as new president has any positive understanding for institutional change towards more inclusion seem, to me, much smaller. Hence if American people “return to basics, rethink themselves, and maybe some things can happen there” (Zizek), it will have to happen against the president and his understanding of what the American people really is, and this is no good news.

The shock that this election has caused will in fact drive people more towards understanding and supporting new institutions with individualized responsibility (and, necessarily, information efficiency). Trump’s main voters voted for him because most of them are kept in traps of unproductivity because no one helped them to develop their true potential. I do not know what kind of recipes the new president will plan to pursue, but defining property rights in individual’s welfare balances as in Irie support will be for sure a helpful (and in a way very American) way to cope with this problem.

Both the voters for Trump and many progressives, especially those who did not go to the polls, demanded more of having a say in politics. And Irie democracy is the best-reasoned way to overcome the oligarchy of elites in American politics. Trump’s sympathy for Putin nurtures fears that he will be more interested in keeping up a populist image of “the people” to his own best instead of giving responsibility to those people who are factually there, up to the danger that he may oppose and obstruct Irie democracy while Democrats (mainly regardless of who is at their top) would have let it go.

In the short run, however, the main message of this day will be that in fact the established institutions are coming closer to their very end. This is bad news for many Trump voters who implicitly cultivated a nostalghia for the good old 1950s when America was strong and every other nation was weak. The good old times of industrial society will not come back. But stable times when people have a say, and when people will know that their work is estimated, will come back.

Hierarchies and proto-democracies

Time allocation on production and appropriation, and result
Time allocation on production and appropriation, and result, depending on returns to scale

New institutions and the concept of individualized responsible linkage are necessary for a modern world after centuries of growth and regained interdependence. But their appeal and their ability to connect to societies outside the European tradition connects back to the history of mankind and to one simple mechanism that distinguished societies that were and are generally shaped by hierarchies and such that know decision making processes among equals. I have written a text that describes this mechanism and some of its applications an uploaded it to Researchgate.

How To Cope With Parallel Challenges: The Analytical Theory of Modernity and Second Modernity

Somewhat tired and perplexed – that was how in 2015 the Western world commemorated the end of World War II seventy years ago.

9-11 and Sarajevo
9-11 and Sarajevo: Just two incidents in a parallel history of terrorism

Challenges as terror, war, and migration, being complex and puzzling no less than those of the 1930s, shatter the former complacency of having built a sustainable world order on the ruins of 1945. Even commemoration has changed its face: Over decades, ever new groups of former victims have been included into remembrance. This year, the usual rituals suddenly reminded how many people currently die.

This parallel of challenges should be, however, more a stimulus than a hindrance. It opens the perspective towards changes necessary to cope with the current problems. Instead of seeing the current challenges as signs of an end of modernity, they can be read as signs for a current transition to a second step of modernity – far beyond what Ulrich Beck discussed thirty years ago. Continue reading “How To Cope With Parallel Challenges: The Analytical Theory of Modernity and Second Modernity”

About the book

2020s vs. 1940s: Two Global Crises in Analysis and Solution [Book cover]
Two Steps to Modernity: Two Global Crises in Analysis and Solution
Have you from time to time had the feeling of a dejà-vu? There are so many things now comparable to the early 20th century, from migration over terrorism to economic crises.

This book shows: this is no coincidence. Understanding that modernity has two steps is a key for understanding world history from the 19th to the 21st century, and shaping it to the better.

In the 2020s, institutional innovations bring a climax of crises as long as innovations in organizations are not yet matched on the macro level, and their solution when they finally do. In the current second transition of modernity, modern interaction principles have been introduced within organizations since 1968, but the general acceptance of individualized responsible linkages in democracy and career development as base for regained stability and prosperity still stands out. Read more!