Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Power of Authority

In the post war years the Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram set up experiments that were to lead to an understanding of how individuals could be driven to hurt other people when authorised to do so. Their shocking observations were that about 60 to 65% of us would cause pain to others, despite our better judgment, if encouraged to do so by an authority figure.

Authority is essential for leadership and leadership is an essential ingredient of Interactive Democracy. But in the ID system the gravitas of government or the amplitude of media opinion leaders are somewhat balanced by individual experts who can genuinely claim to know the subject that is up for consideration. Their authority comes not from holding office over all things but through close attention to one.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Undermining Party Finance

Interactive Democracy gives more power to the electorate and less to the political parties. I suspect that this would cause a serious switch of political funding towards campaigns on issues and away from the traditional parties. But would this strangle them?

Political Parties are still important in the ID system. They contribute to Parliament and can become the government. So they still have influence and, I assume, would still garner support and funding. However, if a lack of funding became a major issue for the survival of the parties a debate could be raised about alternative methods of support. Something that has been done in many countries around the world.

Political Finance

Cash for honours??? Cash for influence may be a more serious issue?!
Laws have been developed to limit the influence of political donors but there's a sneaking suspicion amongst the public that deals done on millionaires yachts may have a pernicious influence. Would Interactive Democracy, and its re-balancing of democratic power, have a detrimental effect on party funding? Would wealthy individuals decide instead to create a campaign for laws that benefited them? Would they spend thousands on advertising to persuade us to vote for their proposals?
I suspect they would. But I don't think it would be such a bad thing. In fact it could be a great contribution to debate and would likely be far more obvious to the public than today's opaque political money go round.