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Democracy 2.0

July 4, 2008

In 2006 the Dutch Huis voor de Democratie (House for Democracy) was founded. I have been a programme director from the beginning. My colleague Roel in ‘t Veld, former State Secretary and current professor, stated in his latest inaugural speech that representative democracy may have served us well in the past, but has become obsolete. The mission of our Huis voor de Democratie is to demonstrate that democracy is more than the occasional run to the ballot and to reinvent democracy as we know it. Scales have become too big (global) and too small (local) in a networked society to let the opportunities for participation go by. Representation seems to fit an inbetween size that doen not apply anymore.

Inspired by Frans de Waal and his genetic base for empathy and ethics, as well as by cognitive neurosciences, we are interested in a broad discussion about democracy and its biological roots. Is democracy as organizing principle for societies a product of our ethics, empathy and dealing with fear? Can modern, representative democracy evolve into a new organizing principle? In hopeful anticipation, we like to name this “democracy 2.0” and we are exploring the possibilities of technology. I am intrigued by mass capture and self indexing, try to figure out the difference with polls – which I don’t like – and collect cases such as Porto Alegre, a Brazilian city with 1.6 million inhabitants and a successful system for distributing government resources through popular participation.
Inspired by Frans de Waal and his genetic base for empathy and ethics, as well as by cognitive neurosciences, we are interested in a broad discussion about democracy and its biological roots. Is democracy as organizing principle for societies a product of our ethics, empathy and dealing with fear? Can modern, representative democracy evolve into a new organizing principle? In hopeful anticipation, we like to name this “democracy 2.0” and we are exploring the possibilities of technology. I am intrigued by mass capture and self indexing, try to figure out the difference with polls – which I don’t like – and collect cases such as Porto Alegre, a Brazilian city with 1.6 million inhabitants and a successful system for distributing government resources through popular participation.

You are welcome to join our discussion on democracy 2.0 and its biological roots.

Floor Basten

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