Interactive democracy

An interactive democracy or iDemocracy is a type of democracy that encourages direct interaction in order to create a fairer society according to the expressed will of the people.[citation needed]

Interactive democracy is by its very nature 'interactive'. Accordingly, advocates of iDemocracy believe that change should happen at a number of levels and does not simply refer to one's ability to vote which does not in itself lead to a fair society. A true iDemocracy requires that people learn to think in a democratic way in all aspects of their lives - from the transactions they make, to the way in which they learn and relate to others. The key mantra is: being interactively democratic means thinking and acting democratically!

iDemocracy recognises the potential importance of communications technologies which can be utilised to transform current power structures for the greater good by ensuring that people have more direct involvement in decision-making processes right across the political-economic, scientific-technological, social and cultural spectrum. Ideologically speaking, it has the potential to more readily reform the activities of, for example, existing dysfunctional government and corporate systems and other prevailing knowledge systems at the local, national, international and global levels if they are perceived to be not serving the interests of humanity at large.

Crucially, iDemocracy is distinct to eDemocracy in terms of who sets the agenda. Typically, with regards to eDemocracy, which advocates the use of such things as ePetitions, the agenda is for the most part set by the institutions of power and then presented to the people on the assumption they will respond according to the options they are given. By contrast, in an iDemocracy, in which a democratic attitude is more thoroughly embedded within the fabric of society, the reverse is true because the agenda is created by the people who then present it to the institutions of power in order to exert influence. This ensures that iDemocracy is built from the ground up, not imposed from the top down (which is un-democratic).

Frank Hassard

Professor Frank Hassard's keynote address entitled: "iDemocracy: Towards a 'New' New World Order" presented to the 32nd Anniversary Annual Meeting of The International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics (IIAS) at the 24th International Conference on Systems Research, Informatics and Cybernetics (Baden-Baden, Germany, July 30 – August 3, 2012) argued how a cartel of Western elites has sought to establish a New World Order based on financial oligarchy which has historically served to undermine democracy and contributed to the many economic, ecological and political challenges faced by humanity today.

Hassard further considered how emergent global communications technologies, and the resultant political consciousness, can enable people to transcend the failings of the modern democratic process and negotiate the current political impasse through a new transformative politics described by the term "interactive democracy" – iDemocracy. He suggested that this has the potential to shape a ‘new’ New World Order reflecting a new consensus founded on a positive and collaborative spirit and enacted through a global interactive network of the people, designed by the people, and in which only the people are truly sovereign.

Hassard’s ideas about iDemocracy build upon the concept of Idemology which he first introduced in his paper entitled: ‘Culture, Inheritance and Identity: towards an Idemological Perspective’[1]

His use of the term Idemology is derived from the Latin word idem which, in the Oxford English dictionary, refers to: ‘the same’. The word ‘identity’ is derived from Late Latin identitas which is historically derived from idem. In Hassard’s usage idem is interpreted from a cultural perspective and refers to ‘shared’ or ‘common’ – such as a ‘common inheritance’ or, collectively, a ‘common identity’ or 'shared values'. From this foundation, iDemocracy can be understood as a political ‘offshoot’ of Idemology and reflects his belief that human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the kind of global political awakening which has emerged in recent times coinciding with the dawning of the Communication Age.

On another level, and more profoundly, Hassard understands iDemocracy as an integral part of a wider human-evolutionary necessity. In this connection, his Address to the 23rd International Conference on Systems Research, Informatics and Cybernetics (Baden-Baden, Germany, August 1 – 5 2011) to the 1st Symposium on Art of Relational Living in the Communication Age opened in the following terms:

‘Imagine, if you will, a world in which all inhabitants enjoy a life of peace, prosperity, justice and harmony, nourished by a deep sense of meaning and purpose, framed within a secure and sustainable environment. I believe that such ideals are fundamental to human life, but the extent to which these aspirations are perceived by many as hopelessly naive is (perhaps) a measure of just how derailed human evolution has become. However, it must be conceded that there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that we are today faced with significant global ecological challenges which need to be overcome if we are to secure any kind of positive future for life on Earth as we know it.’[2]