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« A.C. Grayling on Bombing Civilians in Wartime | Main | Wendy Brown on Tolerance »

November 16, 2008


Evan Ravitz

Participatory democracy is not only practical; it's the check and balance which keeps representative democracy representative. The Swiss have had NATIONAL ballot initiatives since 1891. Their Parliament doesn't act like royalty (think: Congress) because if they don't do what people want, people do it themselves.

Switzerland doesn't start wars, torture, spy on its citizens, screw its citizen with NAFTA et al, bailout the hyper-rich, ad nauseum.

The most evolved project for a hybrid direct/representative democracy is led by former Sen. Mike Gravel. Registered voters can now vote to ratify the National Initiative for Democracy at, much as citizens ratified the Constitution at the Conventions when the Legislatures wouldn't!

Matthew Avelland

I found the whole "participatory democracy is impractical, so..." completely unconvincing. It's an assertion in place of an argument. First, it hasn't been supported with any evidence, and so we're left to simply take Phillips' word for it. Second, it assumes the argument that "practicality" is a criterion necessary to measure the value of democracy, as if we value democracy for its administrative efficiency rather than the moral and ethical values it reflects.

If we are concerned about representation, as I think we should be, I don't think we should dismiss the problem of participatory democracy.

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