In "The Great Degeneration" Niall Ferguson argues that inclusive institutions, not culture, explain the success of the West. "... while culture may instill norms, institutions create incentives. Britons versed in much the same culture behaved very differently depending on whether they emigrated to New England or worked for the East India Company in Bengal. In the former case we find inclusive institutions, in the latter extractive ones." I have previously argued that culture is a significant factor in impeding the tyranny of the majority and persecution of minorities, but Niall has a point. Further proof comes from the structure of the Swiss Federation which protected the rights of the large minority Catholic Cantons against domination by the Protestant majority. If only the same could be created in Syria and Iraq for Sunni and Shia.
(The Human Rights Act may also help.)
This site seeks to contribute to the debate on improving democracy. The proposed "Interactive Democracy" system utilises Information Technology to allow anyone to suggest a policy by ePetition (Ideas Engine). Those with sufficient support would be refined by the elected Parliament, taking into account similar and opposing proposals, to form laws to be ratified by national referendum. The elected government is then responsible for implementing the new law or directive. Modern technology can facilitate this in a secure and cost effective manner. It can also enhance the debate by enabling the "pros" and "cons" to be aired and by allowing voters to pose questions.
This system recognises that today's politicians have no mechanism for reliably discovering what the majority of their constituents think on any one issue and they may also be confounded in their ability to vote on their constituents behalf by the power of the party whips.
Comments and questions are welcome.
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