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The Net — Democratic Panacea Or Autocratic Tool? 204

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-tubular-googocracy dept.
Alex writes "On April 6, 10,000 protesters organized in Moldova against the nation's Communist leadership by utilizing new media like Twitter and Facebook, demonstrating the ever-increasing potential of the Internet as a democratic and liberating tool. But in the current Boston Review, Evgeny Morozov critiques the view that the internet will inevitably democratize autocratic regimes like China, Russia and Iran. He argues that the Net's democratic effects are not inherent, and that autocratic regimes have been successful in controlling electronic media to disseminate their ideology. Will the net ultimately spread American democracy, or just American entertainment?"
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The Net — Democratic Panacea Or Autocratic Tool?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:21AM (#27540559)

    Some of us have our own democratic systems not based on the US.

    • by skrolle2 (844387) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:11AM (#27540979)

      I wish I could moderate the article "-1 flamebait". A better term is "Western Liberal Democracy", that's all the good things that we all agree on, and yet isn't exclusive to a single country.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        I'm not sure we all "agree" nor and I sure who "we" are.

        The "western liberal" in democracy is pretty much what seems to be taking rights away and making things less free either directly or indirectly. If you think everyone agrees to that, your crazy.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by skrolle2 (844387)

          I'm not sure we all "agree" nor and I sure who "we" are.

          The "we" would be the people who live in these democracies, and I think we all agree on which countries are such a democracy and which aren't.

          The "western liberal" in democracy is pretty much what seems to be taking rights away and making things less free either directly or indirectly. If you think everyone agrees to that, your crazy.

          Nice strawman. Yes, if you look at it from the very narrow perspective of the last seven years, and only in a certain north-american country, then yes, you could get that impression. I was kinda aiming for the larger picture, liberal democracies have been going strong for about 200 years now, and we are richer, happier, and much, much better off than the people living

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by sumdumass (711423)

            The "we" would be the people who live in these democracies, and I think we all agree on which countries are such a democracy and which aren't.

            Which ones are they then? Is it the surveillance country without free speech that the UK has turned into? Or the my economy collapsed 20 years ago and there is unemployment through the roof which is so bad that there are riots in the street several times a year France? Please tell me where this liberal democracy has done more then just lip service. Sure, you have in

      • -1, Clueless (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Das Auge (597142)
        Or you could try to understand that Slashdot is a US-centric website and tends to tell it from an American perspective.

        Everything on the web doesn't need to be done from a perspective that you find acceptable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hal_Porter (817932)

        It's not really Western either. The richest countries in Asia - Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are democracies and likely to stay that way. Places like Malaysia and the Philipines are more likely to end up democracies than anything else. Actually most of Asia, apart from China and its neighbours are counted as free or partly free according to Freedom House

        http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/fiw09/MOF09_AsiaPacific.pdf [freedomhouse.org]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjellander (163404)

        I wish I could moderate the article "-1 flamebait". A better term is "Western Liberal Democracy", that's all the good things that we all agree on, and yet isn't exclusive to a single country.

        Why not call it French Democracy? Theirs is the model for the American one at least.

        • by Miseph (979059)

          You are aware that the American revolution occurred prior to the French one, right? And that the current US constitution was drafted and put on the way to implementation during the French revolution and the Reign of Terror?

          Somehow I doubt our system is based on one that didn't exist until after we worked out ours.

          Not that there isn't any influence from French and British Parliament, but the US took it a lot further and gave it a lot more power than either of those systems had prior.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by eclectro (227083)

      Like Elbonia? [wikia.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chemicalscum (525689)
      Like Ghandi said about western civilization so too would American democracy be be a good thing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) *

      Some of us have our own democratic systems not based on the US.

      Indeed you do, and the GP was a bit insensitive in that regard, and it's not like the U.S. didn't crib a lot of our legal system from the British and others.

      However, the current lingua franca for a good part of the industrialized world is English. Both the British Empire followed by American economic hegemony made a working knowledge of English a requirement for many people. That's been the case all throughout history, however: the dominant economic power's primary language is learned by others because t

  • Difference: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:23AM (#27540569)

    In Moldova, the web (Twitter, etc.) was outside the government's control, hence the citizens control the net. In China, Russia and Iran the net is well inside the government's control. Hence the net (and the government behind it) controls the citizens.

    This is why the copyright debate is so important. Who gives a s**t about Mickey Mouse and who watches of doesn't watch him? The real game is who controls what gets seen, heard and written over the Internet. Copyright is just the government's cover and the RIAA-government relationship is a convenient symbiosis.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can't believe it.

    You had and have Actors as heads of state, only two parties one can vote for, tolerate torture, infiltrate other countries ...

    WTF is democratic about that. Please go away and do not spread ANYTHING in the world, thank you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Svippy (876087)

      The American system may be less democratic than common European systems, as well as Canada's.

      However, and most importantly, the American system is more fair than the European system.

      In many European countries, small parties can often sit in a centre political position and change the outcome of who becomes Prime Minister, and what parties are going to rule the country for the next 3-4 years or so.

      You think a party representing 4% of a nation's people should have the last say in who becomes Prime Minister? D

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Vanders (110092)

        The American system's quirks comes from the fact that it is the world's first modern democracy

        That simply depends on how you define "modern" and "democracy". Great Britain had a functional democracy long before the United States of America.

        • by Svippy (876087) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:07AM (#27540945) Homepage

          Same democracy that granted the colonies taxation without representation? It might have been functioning, but apparently not very well.

          But deep down, the United States of America is a republic rather than a democracy. Its federal levels shows exactly this. Notice how citizens do not vote directly for president?

          Sure, that seems unfair, and at worst, 50% of a state's votes can be disregarded because the other half won, and winner takes all. But the electoral college is a method of protecting state's rights. If not, then all candidates should do was campaign in New York and California. I mean, the USA could easily disregard the states down to region level, but then they really won't be the USA any more.

          I am no way saying that American democracy is perfect, but the most reason why two parties are the only actual choices is because of voters being stupid and not trying to vote for third parties, I mean, for real, voting for them.

          But I will take back that America was the first modern democracy, but it was one of the first. And it is probably the only one with the formula the American system uses.

          • If not, then all candidates should do was campaign in New York and California.

            As it is, they campaign in places like Iowa. Granted, I live in Iowa, and I enjoyed knowing I was a small reason for our current president being nominated, let alone elected.

            But you're basically saying that it's OK for a Rhode Island vote to count more than a Californian vote. Why? Are the people who live in Rhode Island that much more capable of choosing a leader?

            I mean, the USA could easily disregard the states down to region level, but then they really won't be the USA any more.

            Unlikely. What many people seem to forget is that the President isn't supposed to have that much real power. State legislatures, and city legisla

            • by Shark (78448)

              Unlikely. What many people seem to forget is that the President isn't supposed to have that much real power. State legislatures, and city legislatures, still do quite a lot on their own.

              Insightful post, but that part there is rapidly becoming untrue. The federal government is taking over pretty much everything nowadays, especially though executive decisions.

              The US *would* have the best system in the world if it still actually acknowledged its constitution as the supreme law of the land.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Vanders (110092)

            Same democracy that granted the colonies taxation without representation?

            Yes, in the same way you would no doubt consider the United States of America a democracy even though it denied suffrage to women until the 1920's and practices racial segregation well into the 1960's.

      • by drsquare (530038)

        You think a party representing 4% of a nation's people should have the last say in who becomes Prime Minister? Do you think that's fair?

        A party representing 4% of the people has 4% of the say, if that happens to tip the balance of a coalition over into a majority then so be it. They can only be part of a government that collectively has over 50% of the vote behind it.

        Meanwhile, US elections can be decided by a few votes in crucial swing states.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Svippy (876087)

          Perhaps, but like with any system, someone will always be there to abuse it. One such abuse in this 4% example would be each side "bribing" their way to the these crucial votes.

          Which means, that these 4% will have a lot more say in politics than represents 4% of the people, because they know they have to be satisfied, otherwise they may point to the opposition for the government.

          In Denmark, for instance, the Danish People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti) controls about 22 seats in the parliament, they are import

        • by mellon (7048)

          Er, it seems that you are contrasting two things that are essentially the same.

    • Who said democracy was pretty? Political philosophers have long criticized democracy for being equivalent to the "tyranny of the masses", i.e. we're all at the mercy of whatever most people want to do rather than what's sensible or right.

      Actors as heads of state is democratic. Consolidation into factions is democratic. Invading countries inhabited by "foreigners" and torturing those "foreigners" is democratic. All these things are democratic as long as 51% of the people thought they were a good idea at

      • by Shark (78448)

        Amen... It would still work though if the constitution wasn't constantly used to wipe the collective asses of congress and the executive (and the court, to a degree). I think that's the root of the problem.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      This is funny. You could replace "The Net" in that headline with "Barack Obama" and it would still make sense.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Quothz (683368)

      You had and have Actors as heads of state,

      Only one actor, singular and lower-case. Reagan had a degree in economics and a fairly long political career; it's not like he stepped right off the silver screen into the White House.

      only two parties one can vote for,

      Not entirely accurate, although the two major parties hold a strong dominance. Generally, two parties have been dominant in the past, but not always the same two. We've elected one President with no party at all. We currently have two US Senators and a fair few US Reps who are neither Democrats nor Republicans. At the state le

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      Interesting set of non-points.

      Actors as President or governors? How is this counter to democracy?

      One can actually vote for any of many parties. However, for a number of hardly-fair reasons, only two parties have any reasonable shot of winning the Presidential election. (Third parties have a decent chance at winning smaller elections.)

      Tolerating torture and infiltrating or making war on other countries is entirely democratic, if the people are behind it. Perhaps you meant to include that plenty of Americans

  • by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:30AM (#27540583)

    The net has the potential to be a near indestructible tool for democracy and free exchange of information if, and only if, full anonymity were possible.

    And that is why this aspect of the net is seen as the ultimate danger to authoritarians, and so no effort is to be spared to destroy any attempts at fully anonymous net. And so enter the "save the children" crusaders and witch-hunters, who somehow, strangely, rather then focus on abused children seem to focus on thought crimes which, also incidentally, require wholesale removal of anonymity from the net to "stop" ...

    Combine this with efforts at whipping up frothing-at-the-snout frenzy and moral panic amongst the general population and the author of the article is right: the net will slowly but surely become the tool of power holders.

    Of course there are all sorts of other excuses (like libel etc) why the net has to become non-anonymous, all of them bogus in light of what is being lost versus what is being gained. But then again that is the point, as the "cost" to the ruling elites everywhere is frightening.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      the "cost" to the ruling elites everywhere is frightening.

      I agree but there's a difference between democracy and mob rule. If the days of the state being able to controlling the news media are over, what are the drooling masses going to have knee-jerk emotional reactions to now? I fear that the internet may lead to lone wolf behaivour in the cyber realms.

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        What I've observed is that the internet has disproportionately empowered fringe groups, to the point that fringe viewpoints are being imposed on the majority. One only need look at Calif.Prop2 to see how that works.

    • A gun is also an indestructible tool for democracy... or an indestructible tool for totalitarianism. The American founding fathers used them to (try to) create democracy, but the British of the time also used them to try to prevent it. Tools are, by definition, agnostic to the human "causes" to which they are applied.

      Democracy doesn't require the sort of anonymity you're promoting. No one else in human history has ever enjoyed or needed it for the sake of democracy. The founding fathers didn't need it.

  • American? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ignavus (213578) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:31AM (#27540591)

    Perhaps they will import Australian democracy - after all, even America copied our practice of voting by secret ballot.

  • Get Over It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by okmijnuhb (575581) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:32AM (#27540593)
    America must get over the ideology of spreading American democracy around the world. While it's wonderful as a system, imposing it on other nations is often counterproductive, and nary worth the American blood and treasure used to achieve it.
    • Re:Get Over It (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BlueParrot (965239) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @09:09AM (#27541437)

      America must get over the ideology of spreading American democracy around the world. While it's wonderful as a system

      As a citizen of a country that uses parliamentary proportional representation and has strong protections for workers and limitations on what companies can and cannot do in order to try to force their customers/employees to obey, I have to respectfully disagree.

    • While it's wonderful as a system, imposing it on other nations is often counterproductive

      I think the real issue here is: you can't impose democracy on others. If you have a system of government imposed on you (esp. by external military force), then it is not chosen and therefore is not really democracy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:32AM (#27540595)

    Rigged voting machines, lying government, involved in wars all over the globe under false pretense, constant and flagrant erosion of our rights yada yada yada thank god for america.

    • by gregorio (520049)

      Rigged voting machines, lying government, involved in wars all over the globe under false pretense, constant and flagrant erosion of our rights yada yada yada thank god for america.

      A black man from the DEMO-RATS got elected instead of a warmongering idiot who was in bed with most of corporate america. So yes, it is a freaking democracy. Is it perfect? Hell no. But it is a democracy.

      Rigged voting machines? Diebold and others are the only ones actually offering voting machines at the manufacturing scale th

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:36AM (#27540615)

    I thought it was a Corporatocracy, based on the ample evidence that just about everyone in Washington is bought by one corporation or the other with campaign donations and backroom deals.

    I know Americans get to vote every now and then, but a substantial portion of the results are suitably processed by unverifiable digital "voting systems" to ensure that the people won't accidentally vote wrong. Not that it matters much as both US parties are essentially the same.

  • American Democracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by marx (113442) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:40AM (#27540629)
    America has just spent the last 5 years torturing people and invading a country against international law with American soldiers massacring its population with impunity. It's a terrible role model for democracy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wumingzi (67100)

      America has just spent the last 5 years torturing people and invading a country against international law with American soldiers massacring its population with impunity. It's a terrible role model for democracy.

      There are several comments in this thread that would be good as a jumping-off point for the role of the Net in preventing authoritarian tendencies. Yours seemed good. Congratulations!

      Let's look at a few things:

      1) The US has, by law if not necessarily by practice, one of the freest flows of informat

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        While a lot of heat is made of potential vote fraud in Ohio and Florida, the fact is that most states were not very close. (FWIW Bush lost my state by 5% the first time and 7% the second time).

        It only takes one state. There are three states where Nader was blamed for robbing enough of the vote to make a difference and any of those states would have swung the vote the other way. Since we know that there were HUGE shenanigans in some states and in some precincts in particular and we are seeing more evidence of vote fraud and manipulation every day (largely related to electronic voting machines, what a surprise) it's clear that manipulation of the vote was not only possible, but occurred.

      • by mellon (7048)

        I think you're ignoring the fact that during the period to which you refer, most people were getting their news from propaganda outlets, not from free outlets. E.g., Fox News, etc. I mention Fox because they're the most blatant, but pretty much all of the news networks can be accused of being propagandists, even if they're not doing it deliberately [nyu.edu].

        If you read the article I just linked to, from the NYU School of Journalism, you'll see that they have a pretty good working theory for why this is so. What

  • by KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:42AM (#27540641)
    Is American the best kind of Democracy we can come up with? I'd at least hope for one where lobbying isn't a full time job, where how much money you doesn't matter when running for office, and where every vote counts. Not one where 51% is just as good as 100% (state level).
    • When America was created, freedom was the goal and democracy was one of the tools used to create it. Others included separation of powers, separation of church and state, and so on. Now, it seems, democracy has become the goal, and freedom is no longer important.
  • by AHuxley (892839) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:45AM (#27540655) Homepage Journal
    This is just to hype twitter.
    The problem is the security forces are all over twitter, facebook.
    Read up on the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minitel [wikipedia.org]
    They where using 'online' to co ordinate national strikes back in the 1980's.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:52AM (#27540685)

    Ha! You mean the one we can witness in Iraq and Afghanistan at this very moment?

    The Bush administration's rendition (torture) policy, and Obama's approval and continuation of it? The unconstitutional wiretapping of US citizens? Attack wars on sovereign nations for oil and political dominance? The notion of the executive branch being untouchable by any law?

    Wow, I cerainly hope the net is not about spreading that ideology.

    • by Shark (78448)

      Actually, it is... And as you just did, doesn't portray it in a very good light. Hopefully it will wake enough people up to make sure this sort of thing doesn't stand anymore.

  • by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:04AM (#27540731) Journal

    Why is it that the US is a major target of Amnesty International again? What about your warrentless wire-tapping? Exceedingly low voter turn out. Etc, etc, etc.

    Seriously, if you want to spread democracy, then the first step would be to actually have one.

    • by CRCulver (715279)

      Why is it that the US is a major target of Amnesty International again?

      Because Amnesty International has jumped the shark. But that's natural. All NGOs tend to drift away from their original mission over time. Not a few early Amnesty activists think that it has been taken over by ferociously anti-American elements, who are willing to overlook even more heinous deeds in full-on dictatorships and focus more on criticizing the US.

  • Do you think democracy has ever been applied? If the Web was left uncontrolled do you think that it would grow democratically or maybe crowds always glue into tribes who delegate to a leader? Can that be called democracy? Are examples like Wikipedia or even Slashdot good products of democracy?
    • by Daimanta (1140543)

      "Are examples like Wikipedia or even Slashdot good products of democracy?"

      No and no.

      Wikipedia is ruled by the admins since they have the final say in everything and Slashdot is ruled by CmdrTaco(who is himself a subject to his not so democratic overlords). Saying that they are products of democracy is only valid if you see democracy as "people can do some things(which are allowed by their overlords)".

    • by mellon (7048)

      Bear in mind that democracy means rule of the people. It doesn't mean "one person, one vote." That's a specific kind of democracy.

      The way in which democracy has ever been applied is that the people do eventually get their way. This has been true throughout the ages - a king who completely lost the peoples' confidence could not be sure of continuing to rule. See for instance Richard III's fate, or the fate of Charles I. Of course, the will of the people tends always to be in a struggle with other g

  • What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:27AM (#27540805) Journal

    The Printing Press - Democratic Panacea Or Autocratic Tool?

    How about disruptive technology and useful tool? How it is used depends on the people, not the technology.

    • Kind of what I came in here to say. I was heading towards something more like, "The interstate highway system: democratic panacea, autocratic tool, or entertainment device? You decide!"

      Yes, people use the Internet to get music and porn. People use the Internet to organize in some very great and powerfully democratic ways. People use the Internet to disseminate propaganda.

      People similarly used to use the roads to guy out and buy music and porn. They drove to meetings and events for various political a

  • It's obvious to intelligent people familiar with technology that tech advancements can generally-- perhaps always-- be used in pro-overdog/state (surveillance, intimidation, security, mass-murder) and pro-underdog/individual (whistleblowing, crypto, terrorism) ways. Note that even this dichotomy is not morally obvious-- techniques from both sides of the state/individual axis can be what used for good or ill. Some of the people I would trust most came from the military and are either still there, or work f

  • Huh? (Score:2, Troll)

    by Nazlfrag (1035012)

    Moldova is democratic. The Communist party won the popular vote. That's how democracy works. Don't like it? organise protests, that's how democracy works. The summary is pure flamebait.

  • American 'democracy' (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dudeeh (877041)

    I have always maintained that an essentially two-party system is NOT a democracy. You can see the results in the US, in England, in France to a degree... Political systems like the one in Belgium are more like a democracy, where there are a whole lot of independent parties and new ones can spring up at any time. (a party that is now like two years old already has about 15% of the votes here).

    The flipside of course is that it takes longer to get things done, but then again, that is the price you pay for demo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes feel free to spout off any nonsense you feel like.

      The US has a long history of third parties springing up, or independents running for election. A recent example example is Ross Perot who won 19% of the vote in the 1992 presidential election. In 2000 it was the votes won by the Green Party (Ralph Nader) that were the difference between Bush or Gore winning.

      The fact is that it isn't just two people on the ballot. The number is more usually 10 or so in a presidential election. You are free to vote for any

  • Yes, the net lets everyone have their say (well, everyone who has access to a computer, electricity, networking and the ability to use it). However, there is no obligation for anyone to listen. In that respect it's a write-only medium. Further, there is absolutely no requirement for those in power to take notice and act on what the vocal few rattle on about on their (frequently) specialised single-issue, or campaign-of-the-day websites and forums.

    If you want true democracy, then everyone must have equal a

  • Will the net ultimately spread American democracy, or just American entertainment?

    What is this thing you are speaking of?
    I always thought they were the same.
    A theater to distract from what's really going on.

    • By the way: This is not different here in Germany.

      Oh, and I love the Daily Show. Does this mean I am out of the axis of evil? *hopes*

  • What exactly is "autocratic" about American entertainment? Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Wheel of Fortune, Crossfire, whatever? I don't think so.

  • by arcade (16638) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @08:10AM (#27541187) Homepage

    Military intelligence
    Religious tolerance
    Business Ethics .. and today:

    American democracy

  • A one party system, right-wing capatalists, with the party machine (wall-street) fronting two men to choose from? A russian journalist commented on a past US election that it was almost like back in the days of the soviet empire and their "free" elections. Pick any guy, just as long as we support him.

    US democracy where the number of voting irregularities would have any other election in the world condemend as invalid by the "free" world?

    The US is far from the worsed exampel of democracy but holding it up

  • It's irrelevant about the way democracy is attacked. If it is attacked anywhere in the world then it is undermined. As long as we have lobbying dollars interfering with the democratic process democracy everywhere is attacked.

    When the establishment in first world democracies attack third world democracies to protect their own "interests" they also attack their own citizens democratic interests. Now our economic influence is waning we find our own democratic constructs under attack by our own legislators int

  • 1. Moldova isn't communist, it's parliament republic and has elected president
    2. Oragnizing a mob against current (and new) elected president will quickly land you in jail in most western democracies and rightfully so
    3. US of A isn't a democracy for a while, all it spreads around the world now is a greed for oil and messing with other countries
    4. Concerning Iran, Russia, China: if someone doesn't leak USA ass doesn't mean you have to go and "liberate" them. It's another country - leave them the fuck alone a

    • It is a "Federal Constitutional Republic".

      BIIIIG difference.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic [wikipedia.org]

      A republic is a state or country that is not led by a hereditary monarch but in which the people (or at least a part of its people) have an impact on its government.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy [wikipedia.org]

      Democracy is a form of government in which power is held indirectly by citizens in a free electoral system.
      Even though there is no universally accepted definition of 'democracy', there are two principles that any definition of democracy includes.
      The first principle is that all members of the society (citizens) have equal access to power and the second that all members (citizens) enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties.

      • by halivar (535827)

        The best definition I heard was "limited-democratic federalist republic", though gradual changes made to the system (voting for the name of a president rather than the name of an elector, more assertive central authority) are shaving off the "federalist" part.

        It is also may opinion that this system is vastly better than parliamentary government.

        • by halivar (535827)

          I should qualify that last statement, lest it be interpreted as flamebait. American government was designed so that the US citizenry would lack the power to make huge, profound changes in short periods of time. In a two-party electorate, the party that rules is the one a majority of Americans vote for. In a parliamentary government, any fringe, radical minority can rule government if they pull together enough other disaffected radicals to form a majority coalition. This is how the Nazi's came to power, and,

  • The story subject is a question. It evaluates "false" or is answered "yes" because it is a Democratic Panacea and an Autocratic Tool. Education is the antidote to bad government, and it is the greatest educational tool that has ever been. But the governments can also use it to keep tabs on us, so it's potentially harmful at the same time. Don't even need to RTFA to know that :P

    • by Shark (78448)

      You make me regret posting earlier. Smartest comment in this thread so far.

  • i keep being told that USA is run as a republic, not a democracy...

    color me confused...

  • i fear that its not just entertainment that gets exported, but also cultural elements.

    just like USA is a mix of cultures that over time blend into each other, so it seems that more and more US centric culture is blending into other cultures around the world thanks to entertainment exports.

    for instance, turkey, a very US bird, is starting to show up on european tables as a christmas/new years dinner. hell, im just waiting for thanksgiving being celebrated by people that has never had any relation to USA, tha

  • So, does this autocratic tool run off of mains power or will I need to buy batteries for it? Will it become available at my local Home Depot or Lowe's soon?

  • America is a republic. Often attributed to Ben Franklin, "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

    The problem we have in America is too many people trying to turn our republic into a democracy. Democracy is mob rule. A republic places restriction on its government so that the majority cannot simply vote away the rights of a minority. Without those restrictions on government we don't have liberty.

    It saddens me when I see peopl

  • What is this obsession so many of my countrymen have with spreading our model of democracy to every country in the world? There are so many different possible versions, some dramatically different from one another. Even our own democracy has changed significantly over since 1787. The current model we use, one person one vote without regard for their contribution, is fraught with obvious dangers (once the number of people feeding off the system exceeds the contributors, the system could spiral down into econ

  • The net is a good way to stay informed.
    Unfortunately, it's an even better way to stay misinformed.

  • "false dichotomy" sound familiar to anyone?

Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future. - Niels Bohr

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