Cyberdemocracy Challenging Representation: Should we be Concerned?

2009 Words 9 Pages
Cyberdemocracy Challenging Representation: Should we be Concerned?

The recent rise of the Internet along with the subsequent evolution of communications technology raises many questions about the possible effects it will have on politics in America. Two basic debates have been born out of these questions. The first debate is over the question of what effect the Internet will have on the political world. Some predict a cyberdemocracy revolution leading to direct democracy in the United States. Others believe there will be little or no change in the American political system. The second debate regards the question of whether or not an Internet-based direct democracy is desirable. The battleground for this conflict lies at the
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One must discover whether information and communication costs are the only obstacles to direct democracy, or whether there are inherent flaws in its very nature which make representative democracy superior. There is much historical and logical evidence to support the latter.

A good historical example of the dangers of direct democracy can be found in the French Revolution. The Declaration of the Rights of Man, the document on which the revolutionary government was established, relied heavily on the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau thought that government decisions should rely on a concept he termed the “general will,” which is discovered through a majority vote by all of the citizens of a polity. In an ideal world, one in which every citizen would always vote in the interests of the polity as a whole, this idea of general will might preserve justice. Men are not angels, however, and cannot be relied upon to protect the interests of their fellow citizens. The French Revolution demonstrated this with instability and a Reign of Terror in which the majority persecuted dissenters. In his writing On Social Contract (1762), Rousseau seems to admit the glaring contradiction of participatory democracy: By placing all political rights directly in the hands of the people as a whole, the rights

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