On Thursday, at 7.15 in central London, Demsoc will be launching the first in our Ideas of Democracy series. The series is intended to give space for writers to express a vision and contribute to the debate on the future of democracy and democratic governance. The books are personal views, and not those of the Society.
Here Paul Evans, author of “Save Democracy – Abolish Voting” discusses his new book:
“Save Democracy – Abolish Voting” sketches out an alternative means of managing liberal democracy.
It is an unusual book, in that it defends the values and reputation of Representative Democracy as vigorously as possible while also promoting a new form of Direct Democracy that could even eventually replace our current parliamentary system.
While rejecting the use of referendums, the book also rejects the argument made by some opponents of referendums about how voters don’t have the intelligence to make big democratic decisions for themselves. Instead, it argues that it is the wise voter who rejecs the selective appeals of politicians who allow us a say on some carefully-chosen questions but not others.
“Save Democracy – Abolish Voting” calls for an equality of control over every aspect of our governance. The book suggests an alternative to balloting – one that makes it practical and possible for us all to have our interests defended and advanced equally.
The book goes further than just a rejection of referendums. It questions the very link between the desire of each citizen to get “the kind of government that I want” and “casting a vote.” It ridicules the idea that the way citizens can direct a government by selecting from a limited number of political options in an attempt to say what we think we want.
It attacks what many believe to the very heart of democracy; our vote, and the right it gives us to decide what sort of government we think that want to have going forwards. It doesn’t do this without making a better suggestion though.
There is currently some truth in the old anarchist slogan; “it doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.” While defending the values that underpin Representative Democracy, “Save Democracy – Abolish Voting” recognises that it is not enough for us to only have parliamentarians and other elected representatives directly responsible to us.
“Save Democracy – Abolish Voting” proposes a way of placing every part of the public sphere – every resource that goes into writing laws and deciding what governments do – equally under the control of each citizen. Crucially, it does it in a way that does not depend upon citizens needing to put any direct effort in. This is not a proposal for a system that rewards activists, or the cash/time rich citizens who currently dominate our political system.
“Save Democracy – Abolish Voting” is written from an understanding of how digital technology is changing politics and society. It voices a demand that is very rarely made in a sustained way. It calls for the most complete democratic equality that is practicable. It calls for a huge expansion in the role of participatory government. It does this in a way that actually complements the best aspects of Representative Democracy while abolishing the worst bits.
Most of all, it is a rejection of the idea that “politics” is a good tool to use to control a democracy. “Save Democracy – Abolish Voting” proposes a better alternative.