Conference Notes

Notes from Big Brother and Empowered Sisters: The role of new communication technologies in democratic processes, Uppsala, April 16-17. See Also the ICT for Democracy blog’s entries. Related sites are Sida and in particular, Spider.

For bios of speakers, see here.

Day One

I. Introduction: Mia Melin & Helena Bjuremalm

In Tanzania, Civil Society, citizens engage and monitor schools using cellphones: is there a school in the first place? As many classrooms as officially announced? Are teachers showing up for work? Bathrooms? ICT + grassroots.

II. Helen Belcastro: What’s New about New Technologies?

From Sida’s ICT for Development Secretariat

ICT: supposed to foster: poverty reduction/democracy/empowerment enhancement.

Poverty includes lack of information, possibilities, and power.

No technology inherently good or bad.

Technology used reflects dominant groups’ priorities.


ICT= technology used to process info. and speed info. Cells, Internet, GPS, TV, Radio (computers vs. mobile phones)

Contextually relevant info. + Open Source

Choice of tech. shapes organization & ideology of society.

= transparency, etc. should guide it

3 Levels of ICT:

i. Gov’t = e-gov’t:

-increasing gov’t ICT can lessen individual rights; rule of law is crucial

ii. People & Gov’t:

-strong state + powerful tools requires vigilance; personal integrity needed more

-electronic pub. of bills

-electronic election systems

-community info. centers

iii. ICT for Empowerment:

-citizens as consumers vs. citizens as agents

-horizontal networking

-Power and independence of nation-state has been reduced by ICT

-Internet can play intermediary role: debate, protest, monitoring and reporting (e.g. Burma, Belarus, Malaysia: SMS for mobilization)

What’s New?

-created opportunities in prov. info:

1. Personal integrity & Information: need to be addressed: risks of abuse of public info.

2. Use for hate

3. Access makes them effective; transform. from passive to active user/producer

-Unprecedented citizen-journalism:

-transient single-issue involvement; global collective action; whimsical; nation-states weakened; unbound by borders; fragmentation of discourse & debate = affects quality of discourse

-increased possibilities to participate

-intensify existing biases; permanent who is in and out

-collect & structure

-importance of trust

-IPR vs. Open Knowledge/Open Source Frontier:

1. the new social movement exists beyond physical boundaries

2. are they replacing old social movements?

3. producing social involvement?

Can ICT become a Trojan Horse for democracy?

See: ICTs, the Trojan horse for democracy and development?

III. Anriette Esterhuysen: Empowered Sisters — Strategic Uses of ICTs to Promote Social Justice and Equality

From Association for Progressive Communications

-Apartheid resistance efforts: South Africa, Philippines Civil Societies connected by e-mail (cool!)

-Solidarity Networks in Global North vs. direct from-the-ground sources: e-mail!

-Access to Knowledge Treaty:

i. IPR and activists

ii. share, collaborate

iii. multilingualism

-collective vs. individual action: ICT‘s make possible microactivism and macroactivism

-interesting: thrives when there’s repression; but also thrives when there’s freedom; traditional activism emerges when there’s a common enemy – ICT allows more sustained activism

-not just issues, but systemic change

-Digital Opportunities Task Force: Donor community believes media powerful for democracy but not ICT: donors fear ICT, believing it can be used disruptively

-Universal Access Fund

-case study: TakeBackTheTech:

*(women RP, Malaysia)

*controversial image in Africa for African men

*Women to take control of ICT and use vs. VAW

Note: everyone in Business Class are men!

*postcards: “If I could communicate, I would not feel as trapped”

*telling digital stories = sharing & healing

Note: Malaysia = used ICT‘s, Woman’s Candidacy Initiative

See: Don’t you wish your MP was fun like me?

IV. Robert Hårdh: Big Brother and Freedom of Expression

From The Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights

-lawyers can help promote subversion of the Law!

-wrong for people to assume problems are elsewhere (esp. Sweden must recognize it’s capable of violations, too)

-Fighting impunity: bringing Russia to the Int’l Court of Human Rights over Chechnya

*evidence provided by Russian soldiers videotaping abuses, uploading, not realizing they were providing evidence

-danger of private companies working with government (e.g. vs. pedophilia): safeguards purely w/ professionalism of police and ISP‘s

-Big Brother and his fears:

Repressive governments want to indoctrinate and control populations

*cat & mouse: regimes vs. civil society

*disturbing production & use of mass information

*Belarus 2006: KGB sent SMS saying there would be a bomb to disrupt attempts at People Power (N.B. like home!)

-Countries in Transition:

*low quality of media and journalism

*poor education

*limited access to information for public/journalism

*corruption (bureaucracy)

*media market dominated by state media

*political groups & organized crime own media

*demographic problem: “technical Taliban” (senior people in orgs. that are tech. ignorant)

*dysfunctional market: difficult for independent media to be self-sustaining

*low participation of citizens in issues

-Sidestepping Big Brother:

i. how to transmit (in the past, meet in apartments, simplest)

ii. cheaper, available to more, and less risk: facilitates mobilizing

iii. access: even if small percentage have access to ‘Net, still larger than would have had access to indep. media

iv. for Donors: hesitance in investing in these methods, if illegal in that country

*case study: use of political graffiti in Belarus

*LGBT rights in 3 countries

*rock concerts, theater performances + use of CDs

-Russian human rights: “Internet will prevent Russia from returning to Soviet era.”

-case of British girl, abducted: posted pics on Facebook, Italian police then used Facebook to investigate (pics from party she was at moments before disappearance; people in photos brought in for questioning)

*privacy issues

*fake Facebooks

*emphasizes works only if professionalism on part of investigators

V. Alice Wanjira Munyua: Cooperation for Empowerment: Civil society groups and national ICT policies

From The Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet)

Clash in perspectives on ICT policy:

private sector = liberalize to universalize

civil society = sector-driven to universalize

government = Secrecy Act, non-sharing behavior dominated

Inherent tensions in any similar effort to get partners to get together

South Africa: Internet research kiosks during elections

Senegal: Rwandan genocide example encouraged clampdown on live broadcasts of elections

Kenya: “mobile reporters” using cellphones to report on elections; Kenyans trusted blogs/SMS more than foreign media

Succesful: Kenyan gov’t wanted to shut down SMS; instead, nationwide crusade to spread Peace Messages (reconciliation; send such messages free!)

-Digital Villages: Telecenters?

A kiosk based in school or district commissioner’s office; enables to access government services, incl. submitting taxes.




*Democracy better at fixing things but;

*Democracy is slow

See: Text wars or SMS for peace?

VI. Sasha Costanza-Chock: New Social Movements in the Network Society: Implications for Democratic Processes

-Twitter: schock

-Political economy of communication

-New Social Networks

Access to Knowledge Initiative

-On line activism: too much concentration on adding members and turning them into sources of funding, and systems to do this

-Participatory Technology:

1. State does use tools

2. Interface b/ween state & Civil Society

3. What can Civil Society do to use 1 and 2?

-Civil Society:

*community based org’s; geographically-based networks

*NGO’s: range from real to business and gov’t fake NGO‘s

*unorganized social movements (counter power)

-Think about:

A. Access Inequality: between different layers & actors; how increased access to one may deprive access to others

B. For each of the Players: To what degree is each player internally democratic? Accountable inside?

-Social movements: collective actions that are purposeful (outside State)

-The introduction to action on the Internet: (see An Introduction to Activism on the Internet)

*Tactical Communication: to communicate during crisis points

-Direct Action Online: electronic civil disobedience

*case study, cyberactivists vs. Puerto Rico U.S. military base (Vieques); used hack of autofill form to destabilize USN recruitement site; largely symbolic impact; opposition to the USN base in Puerto Rico was widespread and cross-sectoral (RC Church, etc. involved). (N.B. see Vieques, the Navy, and Puerto Rican Politics, and Navy-Vieques protests in Wikipedia)

-Horizontal comm. by Social Movements

*GIS = mapping tools

*games = Games for Change

*video = PEWS Center: 20% young Internet users (18-25) producing and uploading video

-Key Findings:

*Access Assymetry: w/in and b/ween Social Movements.

*Multimodality: cross-platform media use

*Localize ICT Tools: people need to be trained to use tools

*Face to Face: ICT skills transferred at mobilizations

-Social Movement impact of ICT: in past, mass media hits measure of success; in new space: important part is participation in the creation of media, not just how outsiders reacted

-Access inequality:

*1.5 billion Internet users, as of 2007: 10% in dev. countries vs. 60% in developed world;

*USA (2005) broadband, 40.4% urban, 20% rural; lowest use, 12% Latino vs. 40% for Asian-Americans;

*Among Social Movements: poor-led movements barely on-line (mainly e-mail by bosses)

-Movements that connect can draw away resources from local organizations, sidelines and deprives of resources by transnational movements

-High connectivity does not equal democracy

Ex. Singapore has more broadband but weaker political movements than Malaysia

-To address inequality of access:

1. Start developing measure of inequality, e.g. Gini Coefficient for access to ICT

-Mobile phones:

*3 billion mobile subscribers

*only connectivity for social movements


-Partnership & Accountability:

*Access inequality is crippling:

i. democracy

ii. government

iii. Civil Society

*More sophisticated analysis needed: accountability includes proposal-making

*N.B. community-based orgs. get equipment but not funding for staff

*What is the accountability mechanism? To ensure it, what do you do?

-Gimmick activism?

-“Social Movement Application Service Providers” -merchants of membership-management systems

*danger in increased specialization

-Case study: MST peasant movement in Brazil: in schools, program for ICT training w/Open Source ICT training

N.B. For both Hårdh and Constanza-Chock see: Side stepping big brother

Discussion Notes:

-Traditional view:

Internet = excluding effect

Mobile Phone = including effect

But does internet effect more democratizing effect unlike mobile phone?

-Connectivity is the issue

-Transform user, expectations, attitudes, even language of democracy and behavior

-Experience in Sweden:

Multimodal = old methods, many issues, therefore, more sustainable.

Single Issue: new style, harder to sustain.

-In Africa: opposition to Internet backbone led by cell phone providers (commercial interest blocks community interests)

*to grab poor market: cell phone providers building consumers who can only afford basic handsets: creating a cellular phone underclass

*Open Platform/Open Source: need to be refocused and revised

*Pricing policies:

Latin American recommendations:

i. regulators to force per second billing, including prepaid, and also to buy Microamount: savings by poor people up to 30% of telephony costs; up to 25% of income goes to telephony so savings would be great

ii. bring down prepaid costs: like corner store more expensive than drive-to supermarkets.

-New Media influence: up to 20 people influenced by one mobile phone, so numbers have to be interpreted according to some new means to calculate access and use.

-3 problems of Development:

i. Lack of power & influence

ii. Lack of opportunity

iii. Lack of resources


*15.7% internet penetration

*concern with breadline began with idea on Facebook: everyone ended up knowing stay-home strike to protest bread lines; became national issue covering all classes; can be an arena to make people act

*amazing it was a woman affecting politics

-Ghettoization of Internet:

*Why does ICT have to have a noble/good purpose?

*first build it and let people innovate based on what they want

*do not Balkanize

*people just want to have fun, enjoy; do not stay in ghetto of noble ICT use

Day Two

I. Walid Al-Saqaf: Freedom of the Press and Political Activism

(N.B. was offered to be honorary Philippine consul in Yemen) invented so as not to use so many bookmarks; better than relying on

-presented charts of government-produced propaganda; it produces very few views online

-AccessFlickr!: enables Iranians, Chinese, to access Flickr. developed own version for Yemenis.

-Yemen government:

*cybercriminal law

*electronic websites law

*harassment of Walid

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the perseverance to continue that counts. -Churchill

II. Johan Hellström: Mobile Democracy – The role of mobile phones in democracy processes

-In Uganda, many politically-active people use two phones, for dodging government surveillance (like Philippines!)

FrontlineSMS: free download for NGO‘s; group alert, fixed communications

1. Democracy as a concept as something that involves access, empowerment, participation

*involving competitive elections

*involving party-based opposition

2. Democracy is slow, ICT is quick – can the two be put together?

3. Donor’s role?

*sustainable role in ICT/democracy

*distribute free mobile phones?

-Mobile applications, mobile phones

*comment: ICT can strengthen inequality in society

-Half of world’s population uses a mobile phone

*3% in Kenya

*11m out of 38 m in Uganda

-Who owns what?

*more likely a man in a city has a handset than a woman in countryside

*Mobile Divide

-Cost/Affordability: barriers to phone usage

*cost (Uganda: $25 new phone, SIM card, $0.50 load; $1.00 SIM card; prepaid: $2 = 2 minutes, 20-25 SMS messages)

*who is paying for low price? mobile manufacturers in China, Indonesia working 72 hours per week, very low salaries; plus harmful materials

*peer pressure for prestige handsets

*”If you don’t have a phone, you’re out of the game.”

-Discussion: in Cuba, $130.00 for SIM card, 1/2 year’s salary; long lines for SIM cards

-Is there any killer application?

*how has behavior changed once mobiles are in people’s hands?

*disappointment w/time and institutional response?

-3 A’s:



*Applications for Democracy

III. Workshop

A. China: Yu Zhang

From Independent Chinese PEN Center

In China:

-210 million Internet users vs. 115,000 in 1995

-50% online at home; 30% in Internet cafes

-83 imprisoned writers since 2004 (39 still in jail); 2/3 related to Internet writing

-Since 2000: 65 arrests of dissidents; 1st Internet case was in 2000: Huang Qi; latest, Hu Jia (just sentenced)

-Number of convictions: 60 since 2000: Guo Qinghai (in 2001); in 2007: Hu Jia

-Convictions of cyberdissidents only for Internet expression: 28 since 2001


*”disturbing social security”: Ma Yalian (for complaining online)

*”spreading false & terror information”: Li Changqing (for reporting outbreak of disease ahead of authorities)

“inciting subversion of state power”: Li Yuanlong: convicted for jokes (1/2 year for each joke; 3 jokes)

-Shi Tao: arrested with the help of Yahoo! Sentenced 10 years (Yahoo! later apologized, paid compensation; set up foundation for people arrested, $10m USD)

-Huang Jingiu: convicted of subversion; formed political party; sentenced 12 years

-Note: not that there are fewer arrests, and so, better atmosphere: instead, speedier surveillance of citizens in effect, who are then warned and self-censorship ensues. Surveillance of citizenry more thorough and efficient than before.

-China Internet Police: est. 1996 “Special Police for Internet Security Inspection”

*1998: Public Information Network Security Inspection Bureau, Ministry of Public Security

*2002: more independent special task force: nationwide, provincial, city contingents

*2006: Virtual Police: started staging online, 150 cities; patrols every 30 minutes; Jingjing & Chacha icons. Ex. Beijing Internet 110 Virtual Police w/ (())cyberalarm: anyone surfing can send information on people/websites

*50,000 cybercops, one per 4,000 users; more than 500 cybercop websites

*2004: more than half of Internet cafe’s shut down; surveillance software installed in the rest recording names, addresses, ID Numbers, enable cybercops to centrally monitor and control Internet activities.

*More journalists simply fired; not even arrested; sends warning to others in the profession.

B. Philippines: Manuel L. Quezon III

Presentation in PDF format uploaded at or at

(Discussion Notes)

N.B.: The innovative use of mobile applications in the Philippines — Lessons for Africa and InciteGov, esp. Crossover Leadership in Asia.


-Magnifies top down; hierarchy

-Push for niche marketing in keeping with Zeitgeist but incompatible with collective action; frustration/hopelessness leads to apathy

-In battle for individual hearts and minds, resources are with the government

-Government websites plentiful but not updated

-ICT problems

* legislation hasn’t kept up: e.g. Administrative Code requires answers to citizens by officials within given period; but not implemented in terms of online comm.

*barriers to information arising in keeping with larger themes: i.e. executive privilege

*Favila, DTI, to Donors: “If you are only going to complain, we don’t need you”

-The dominant ideology: Development vs. Democracy; ICT is a business tool for efficiency and profit, not for accountability and democratic participation. Note dominant ideology of efficiency etc. promoted by ICT. Effects on:

*corruption and accountability

*social mobility: effects on citizenship, of Call Centers, Outsourcing: beneficial and harmful effects on society

-ICT used for different ends:

*government: money-making (fees), prestige, power; QCT to most: another racket, $120-$340m NBN-ZTE deal;

*public: entertainment and not citizenship

*NGO’s: prestige, money-making, networking (power) but not substantive: lack of publication and information, of dialogue

-Law: not keeping up; old laws being used to establish control over New Media

-Discourse: how can it enable participation? Communication & advocacy vs. stunts

-Public: bridging the diaspora

-Propaganda: gov’t playing wiretapped tapes after opposing their use

-Note: Sweden’s Official Gazette: compare with Philippine experience

IV. Conclusion of Conference: Helena Bjuremalm


Need to go beyond basic description of democracy, focus on rules, outcomes


1. More than 50% live in democracy of some sort; but only 13% in full democracy; 40% under authoritarian rule. This will not change any time soon.

2. Stagnation: growing authoritarian backlash, but regimes less likely to resort to traditional repression. Instead, legalistic tactics and economic pressures being pursued: use of tax police, advertising pressure, restrictions on foreign aid (N.B. or alternative sources, e.g. China). Donor & creditor responses naive or cynical.

3. Global trend: loss of momentum in democracy; unique regional trends: disappointment in Latin America; strong central state in Russia

4. Democracy not widely accepted as only game in town: deficit between the unempowered and how authorities have monopolized, abused, rules of the game in democracy. Rules defunct, even if institutions in place!

5. Rise of oil and gas -increased prices strengthened antidemocratic govt’s; punished democracies w/ weak economies.

-Art of “Muddling Through” more characteristic of democratization. Why?

*About changing power relations, b/ween those pushing for it and those resisting it;

*expect longer time scales: 10-15 years for changes

*democratization after effective state and rule of law in place? Democracy is destabilizing?

V. Other Notes:

-Conversation with Hårdh: “Sweden gave the world the institution of the Ombudsman -but it only works in Sweden. That is because it was an institution that developed according to a situation peculiar to Sweden, where you can expect an investigation by officials appointed by the authorities to be investigated.”

Manuel L. Quezon III.

91 thoughts on “Conference Notes

  1. mlq3, your link is still pointed to a file i.e.


    It should be pointed to a valid URL. that should start with ‘http://’

    BTW, did the conference have any discussion on Net Neutrality?

  2. cjv, aargh. wil ltry to upload somewhere else.

    as far as i can recall, the term did not surface at all. but this was a follow-up conference where the term may have been discussed, you can download the proceedings from past conferences here:

    there will be a podcast about the conference on may 2. and then next year, the presentations will be published (we are supposed to submit formal papers based on our presentations on may 30).

  3. mlq3: I’ll collect my thoughts later, but I noticed you scribbled down these entries:

    community-based orgs. get equipment but not funding for staff

    -Gimmick activism?

  4. upn: yes.

    1. the first was with reference to what one participant says is a problem with donors, they will gladly donate to buy shiny new equipment but won’t provide funding so that someone can operate the equipment and teach others to use the equipment

    2. a british participant expressed skepticism about online activism, saying it led to flash in the pan gimmicks, but not to what’s really needed, which is building membership for long-term oriented political organizations.

  5. mlq3:
    #1 brings back that situation of “donor-clueless but with money” versus “recipient — clued-in but without money” faced with a transaction (high value to the donor, marginal utility to recipient) but which the recipient does not want to reject because “an asset is an asset is an asset”.
    To remember— a shiny new piece of equipment generally has an objective — productivity. Productivity usually means replacing expensive people-hours with less-expensive plastic-and-metal-plus-electronics.

    Moreover, foreign donors usually do not want to pay the staff salaries of NGO’s or local schools. This may even cause problems, e.g. it is easier to label as “Western Agents!!” those NGO’s whose staff-salaries come directly from the US, etcetera.

  6. upn: the question really is, what will maximize use of the equipment? it has a purpose. the problem identified is, what is the equipment, if not essentially useless, if all that’s given is the equipment but not the means to utilize it? my own response was the case of a public school someone told me about, where a pc was donated. the students are periodically shepherded to gaze at the equipment and make noises of gratitude, after which the pc is locked away to ensure nothing happens to it.

    precisely, the problem is, if a donor will not pay for salaries, then something is wrong: specially if the equipment was supposed to boost productivity or result in efficiency. at the very least, some sort of technology transfer should ensue, and that’s the problem at hand. there was the example of the brazilian peasant movement that established ict as a sunject (using open source software) in its schools, so kids would learn how to use ict. but as you pointed out, and there’s no incompatibility between what you pointed out and the person making the original observation, there’s something wrong if people accept shiny new objects without insisting on the means to make those objects useful and train others to do the same thing.

    since this was a eurocentric conference the usa only came up marginally, at best.

  7. mlq3: Agreed…. or what I am agreeing to is that donor and recipient have to fully agree — eyes wide open — before assets get transferred or technology/hardware-based projects get started. Some donors are full-service and have accounting-line-items to provide staff training/salaries. Some donors are less complete (e.g. I met a group of Filipinas from Montpelier (southern France) who raised money, then bought and donated laptops for their home province in the Visayas. They subsequently ran into the situation that you have painted above. Equipment goes to waste.).
    One of the better organized donors is the the Japan Fund for Global Environment (JFGE) (Initiated by the Japanese Government) whose goal is to support NGO programs working for the conservation of the global environment. They identify the following as eligible for funding:
    ·. Expenses for the purchase, lease, and repair of the equipment and facilities necessary to implement the project at the site.
    ·. Expenses for project activities such as research, workshops, and environmental education for local people.
    ·. Expenses for travel, transportation, accommodation, food and facility rental.
    ·. Salaries for locally-hired staff for the amount of time specifically dedicated to the project; salaries for hired experts or locally stationed NGO staff for the amount of time specifically dedicated to the project.
    Expenses for communications translations, printing, and publications which directly relate to the project, including expenses for making progress reports and financial reports.

  8. PS: For their next round of projects, the Filipinas from southern France aimed for (1) cash-for-school-roofs, (2) jobs training (handicrafts).

  9. god bless ’em filipinas in southern france. and all the tens of thousands all over doing similar things from where they are.

  10. Met Swede married to Filipina, with foster son studing in Manila: highly concerned about whether son is taking studies seriously or not. Asked for help finding out.

    I’m amazed he didn’t ask you to send him shrimp paste.

  11. Global trend: loss of momentum in democracy; unique regional trends: disappointment in Latin America; strong central state in Russia

    Manolo, I think the world needs to focus not in pushing forward a democratic rule of government per se but in ensuring Bill of Rights, Human Right and civil liberties are upheld–all of which are not concomitant to democracies. At least, I think they shouldn’t be. Representative government is not all idea in my view. I think intellectuals need to explore in depth how democracy as a form of government stands besides rights and the more basic in both and spiritual sense) fulfillment of all humans.

    I think democracy was a mere formality anyway, i.e. a formal construct in lieu of the more organic reality (still undefined) of improving the governance of peoples. Anybody get my meaning can add his two cents.

    Why don’t we take democracy apart into its individual elements and keep those elements that we think are good and even necessary for human beings and take away those we feel obstructs our collective wish to better our lives.

    Guys, go deep and broad, stop assuming we know everything there is to know about having a happy and free society.

  12. brian, the bill of rights is fundamental to all these, and so basic and ancient that perhaps those from the west can’t imagine how it can’t be anything but the bedrock of democracy; that in other words, it’s a given and a basic requirement: will be discussing this in tomorrow’s entry, see:

    for starters.

  13. You got it the wrong way, it’s not the B of R that I want to question it’s democratic rule or what we popularly call a democracy. Democracy is essentially the same idea as realized by the US founding fathers. Needs to evolve.

  14. You’re talking to the wrong person, Manolo. Wasn’t I the one who keeps repeating like a broken record that the Bill of Rights should be taught in school? It just seems to me that B of R is not contingent (perhaps a better word than concomitant) to democracy and democracy may not necessarily be too interested in ensuring the sanctity of the Bill of Rights. Democracy was an idea the predated the link you just posted. Take the Philippines for example. Who will say that with our regular plebiscites and our active Congress that we are not a democracy?

  15. In addition, ask yourself this: Can civil liberties be ensured without representative government, without regular plebiscites, without the basic appurtenances of what we call “a democratic government.” Think of an alternative government that can do better in protecting people’s rights (all the rights that a democratic person is gven). Try thinking outside of the box. Don’t just ASSUMiE. I would hate it when someone replies in this vein: but voting is the ONLY way a people can protect itself against tyranny… ” Don;t want to hear that since obviously plebiscites does not always protect the people and it is not only through voting that people’s will are expressed.

  16. Is voting for a public official fundamental right? Compare how people in parliamentary governments vote with people in representative governments like US and Philippines vote. We vote for every person from barangay captain to mayor to senator to president. Brits are given less choices. On the philosophical level, there’s a significant difference between the two. We get to vote for actual people while the Brits vote for a party… in other words a system of principles.

    Imagine then if we take it a little step further. What if we vote for or against every new law directly. Inasmuch as the vote do not go contrary to the constitution (we can let the judges interpret it). Before that we need to propose a bill. Who proposes a bill? A collegiate body of some sort. congress without the power of the purse, for example. A Senate that act more like clerks processing suggestions from the people and professionals doing feasibility studies and such. We bypass the politicians and instead of politicians we have technocrats and bureaucrats entrusted to expedite the people’s will. It’s still some sort of democracy but not democracy as we know it today.

    correction: Wasn’t I the one who keep[s] repeating like a broken record that the Bill of Rights should be taught in school?

  17. Anarchism -except it was only tried for a few years, in a few places, in Spain, until exterminated by Franco from the Right and the Anarchist’s communist allies on the Left.

  18. Huh? I suppose people get turned off by anarchy for religious reasons–this is how psychoanalysts would interpret it. Hierarchies are a reflection of God’s will here on earth and remove these hierarchies and people will feel they’re being abandoned by God himself.

  19. Brian,

    I am with you in regards to the B of R..I’ll summarize here the evolution of how the B of R is now the Main Body of our Charter..It was in l960 that the B of R was enacted into law, and just barely a few years after the SC (l949) was recognized as the Court of last resort, but still at that time under the BNA didn’t have a broad power to declare any law null and void as the Parliament Supremacy was still the final court to repeal or amend the law..

    In l982 the then Liberal Government of Pierre Trudeau repatriated the BNA from Britain and embedded the B of R into the Constitution and thus gave the SC the broad power to interpret every law, Federal, Territorial and Provincial including the common law and Quebec civil code if the case goes before it on appeal or by the referral of the Government..

    If we talk about the Charter now it is nothing more than the Bill of Rights and some related provisions on how to: amend the Charter, the Right of Aboriginals and the Equalization and Regional Disparities (which is very important in Federalism). Simply our Charter is just the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, nothing more, nothing less…

  20. brianb, not to put a fly on your ointment but a national vote for or against every proposed law? you kidding? you know how much would the whole thing cost (including your “collegiate body”), and can we afford it?

  21. btw, brianb. people are not turned off by anarchy because of religious reasons. i think it’s more because the person with the most lethal killing machine will be the big boss, and he only last and live until the next chap comes along with a bigger and better weapon.

  22. Bencard, ever heard of the Internet? We can try voting through our credit card or ATM numbers.

    Anarchism is a truer rule of the “entire” populace than what we currently know as democracy. You’re confusing anarchism with barbarism. The kibbutzim in Israel is an example of an anarchic society, but what I have in mind makes use of current systems of employment.

  23. and, brianb. human life is not all about human rights or bill of rights. it is also about responsibility. for every right there is responsibility. how is it possible for anyone to exercise a right without others respecting it as a matter of responsibility? there’s no free lunch – one has to pay his due.

  24. BTW re anarchism, it came from MLQ3’s reply to me I think. It’s his interpretation of what I was trying to say. A government without hierarchies but run by true public servants (the bureaucrats) under the DIRECT behest of the people.

  25. brainb, by its nature, anarchy negates the presence of rule or law and, therefore, order. it’s every man for himself, and only the strong and ruthless survive. no, sir, i’m not confusing barbarism with anarchism. there can be anarchy among “civilized” people, and there can be a rule of conduct in a “barbaric” society imposed and administered by a barbaric ruling authority.

  26. yes brian, i’ve heard of internet recently (we’re kind of behind here, you see) but vote through internet? let’s see how that will play in the “homes along the riles” and similar places all over the country. what a frightening administrative nightmare that would be – not to mention cost-prohibitive. not too good an idea, i think, even if it was feasible

  27. Food-for-thought on anarchy: Anarchists are those who advocate the absence of the state, arguing that common sense would allow for people to come together in agreement to form a functional society allowing for the participants to freely develop their own sense of morality, ethics or principled behaviour. Anarchy does not necessarily mean “every man for himself”, anarchy can result in a nation disintegrating into much smaller communities of people where each community of people freely coalescing, organizing and establishing order to better care for themselves. Tribes, not cities.
    Wikipedia makes mention that for Somalia for a period of time, anarchy resulted in a more egalitarian society.

    Anarchy in Somalia
    Before the Islamic Courts Union took control, Somalia was the only country in the world without a functioning state. Abdo Vingaker, a Somalian living in Sweden, was quoted in an article by BBC as saying: “I am from Somalia and to live without government is the most dangerous system.” The article went on to discuss the abject poverty experienced by the citizens of this country. An economic survey by the World Bank found that the distribution of wealth was more equal, and the extent of extreme poverty lesser than in governed West African nations. Scholarly research indicates that living standards in Somalia increased — in absolute terms, relative to the government era, and relative to other African nations — during this period.

    The cut-and-paste above is for-discussion-purposes only. I will not be surprised if other papers will have their special sets of numbers to dispute the assertion that anarchy resulted in improved living standard in Somalia.

  28. That did not take too long to do. The United Nations still reports about the continued need for WFP (World Food Programme) food aid to Somalia. The same United Nations reports decry the intense piracy. Inernational Maritime Organization Secretary General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos requested UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to raise the issue of Somali piracy to the Security Council. In October 2007, a Japanese chemical tanker with 23 Korean, Filipino and Myanmar crew on board has been hijacked off the coast of northern Somalia. The Japanese vessel was believed to be carrying oil products.

    Just two weeks ago, France had a happy story to tell about the 30 crew members of The Ponant, who arrived back in France on Monday night alive and well after a week in captivity off the coast of Somalia.

    Half a dozen naval vessels, at least five helicopters and a surveillance plane took part in the operation to free them and secure the yacht, an operation coordinated by President Nicolas Sarkozy himself, his office said. Six pirates were captured.

    The operation was in some ways Sarkozy’s toughest test yet as commander in chief, with 30 lives very publicly at stake. His diplomatic adviser, Jean-David Levitte, said the president ordered the military to intervene only if the kidnappers separated the hostages or moved them to land.

    Sarkozy, who was catapulted to national fame for his role in a 1993 school hostage incident as mayor of the Parisian suburb of Neuilly, met the families of the hostages twice last week and held daily meetings about the situation.

    And I have not seen any ads mentioning opportunities in Mogadishu for Filipino or Bangladesh OFW’s.

  29. upn, with due respect, i think your view of anarchy is unrealistically idealistic (despite your example of somalia, a nation that was recently on the throes of chaos and starvation). to successfully practice anarchy, by your definition, humanity must evolve to a higher plane of nature and morality. as long as man is man, as we know him, he cannot be left to his own devices and “agree” to be equal with everyone else without some obligatory force outside himself. if as you say, tribes or families are free to establish their own order as they see fit, then how does that differ with an ordered society of millions of people sharing a distinct territory, language, cultural beliefs, religion, among other things, agreeing to the same thing, except size? would you rather have a thousand tribes fighting one another for supremacy over each other?
    or wouldn’t you rather have these tribes live in peace under a uniform set of rules that apply to each of them equally?

  30. Brianb, i agree your suggestion is worth looking into. As long as the Bill or Rights is preserved, i would characterize your view as being a more direct form of democracy (that bypasses representatives) rather than anarchy. Representative democracy is no longer the only game in town. Political scientist John Dryzek has written about this in his book ‘Deliberative Democracy and Beyond’. Political activists Hardt and Negri take this idea a few steps further in your direction as they describe in their book ‘Multitude’.

  31. Brahman from Brahmin to becoming a Pandit.

    Pandit Nehru (Pandit meaning learned one) became Prime Minister of India.

    The word pundit comes from the sanskrit word pandit.

    Here we have obviously a lot of fledgling pundits.

    Some of my favorite pundits are Stephen Colbert, Dick Cheney and of course W. The punditry or truthiness that comes from them are sometimes priceless.

    The punditry here is better left to each one to decide on. There have been gems though.

    Just to give one an example on punditry for hire —-

    April 20, 2008 NYT
    Message Machine
    Behind Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand
    “In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.”

    “The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.”

    “To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.”

    “Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.”

  32. cvj, so you say dryzek, hart and negri support your advocacy for “direct democracy”. so what? does that make it acceptable? maybe you should set up a cult, a la david koresh (of waco, tx.), or the more recent mormon group whose leaders are said to be engaged in incestuous child molestations, and see how far your hypotheses would work.

  33. Pundits need to get their acts together. The so called national state disintegrated in Somalia and power was devolved back to tribal governments. The state disappeared but was replaced by tribal governments. (Just like local governments)(Warlords)As long as there is a balance of power amongst the contending forces – AK 47’s and RPG’s then Ok lang. A microcosm of the world.

    Another perfect example is occupied former Iraq. The U.S. destroyed the state set up by the late long departed British Empire. So you have tribal sects now in charge and the most progressive amongst them, the Kurds, have set up a de-facto country with a flag and immigration controls. I am not sure if they are already issuing their own currency.

    Hong Kong and Singapore started out as enclaves of anarchy without government control. It’s natural harbor became a haven for pirates and privateers.

  34. Too many opinion makers, not much movers and shakers. Bencard, you should stop deceiving yourself, people like you are only capable of molesting themselves and helpless children. I pity your children…
    Do us a big favor, give yourself up to the Boston police you predator!

  35. go back to the hell you came from, goon! you don’t intimidate me with your boastful boxing prowess or shooting skills. the military is lucky to be rid of you – one less thug in military clothing.

  36. Its so entertaining how some people like Bencard here insists on pretending to be a lawyer while saying things like “lawyers protect the law” what? Are you out of your rockers? Any competent lawyer will focus on “protecting his client’s interest.” We pay lawyers to do just that! Are you still in law school? Forget about a career in law then!!!

  37. i never get no pay (intentional double negative for emphasis) from you – not one lousy peso, you clueless loud-mouth – so you’re not, cannot, and will never be, my client. and i’m not pretending to be a lawyer – it’s not up to you that i am one.

  38. Question and answer…. The government must always look to see if their policies are working by asking questions and getting answers. Information feedback.

    Amartya Sen warns that hunger and starvation only happens in autocratic states. Where information is controlled and markets are distorted. The greatest example was Mao’s great attempt at leapfrogging.

    Here in the Phils. the government bean counters have been drafted into the spin machine. Present Dean of the School of Eco. at the U.P. School de Dios has always pointed to the government utter lack of accurate data on poverty stats. Medalla also a professor from the same school implicitly always points out the same problem and points to the lack of financial resources to getting accurate data. The mere fact that the informal sector is a huge sector outside the purview of government social safety nets make this a huge problem when bean counters use their imagination to support political personalities.

    Passing off clear unadulterated propaganda as fact in the case of food supply and the the requisite demand for it based on income disparities is a tough go.

    A person whose income is good for 80 to 90 % of his food budget who sees his food cost double is not a victim of simple inflation. In NAZI Germany they called it hyper- inflation.

  39. btw, to any one: ano ba ang tawag sa taong bukod sa ignorante ay masiado pang mahangin. sobrang kayabangan at pag-bubuhat sa sariling bangko. executive daw at panay ang kain sa “shang-edsa” kahalubilo ng mga importanteng tao. hah!

  40. These RABID ANTI GLORIA crowd being referred to here are people I know who “actually” attend hearings here, “actually” talk to “real” people in government, and are “actually” people period.
    Bencard, what are you? If we are validated by “what we do” you don’t exist! You don’t do anything at all. Just sit there and annoy us to death by being a contrary mary (I assume you’re male right?) Haaay! Kabaro ni Neri pala!

  41. hvrds, i agree with you and thanks for your reference to Sen. Using and tailoring economic data for propaganda purposes is a very dangerous game which this Administration is fond of playing. Just a minor correction though, hyper-inflation inside Germany happened during the Weimar Republic in the 1920s, which was before the Nazis took power in the early 30’s.

  42. “ano ba ang tawag sa taong bukod sa ignorante ay masiado pang mahangin. sobrang kayabangan at pag-bubuhat sa sariling bangko. executive daw at panay ang kain sa “shang-edsa” kahalubilo ng mga importanteng tao?”

    ang tawag daw ay mang ben. haha

  43. juggernaut, i don’t think there’s any justification for casting the kind of aspersions you’re casting on bencard.

  44. UPn, CVJ, Bencard,

    Probably not too similar than the direct democracy previously advocated. You have to forgive me, though I’ve read the authors CVJ mentioned a long time ago I don’t think I am plagiarizing. The contemporary modes of employment must still be maintained in my view: there will still be CEOs and stock holders and laborers. It’s just that I simply feel representative democracy presents a lot of loopholes for people only too willing to subvert the rights of others.

    On a fundamental level, the right to vote for individuals should shift to the right to vote for laws. In fact the point of self-governance is restricted to each man being able to choose directly which bill he wants to put into law. Our current REPRESENTATIVE governance is, let me put it bluntly, palpak. The two-party US is actually closer to a parliamentary form of government than the multi-party Philippines. Politicians in the US are very rarely individuals. They are either left or right, conservative or liberal. In other words, Americans, more or less, vote for ideas not individuals, unlike here.

  45. BrianB, representative government is the automation of democracy, so most of us will have the free time to do something else. besides, direct participation will make an ellentordisillasdotcom of any legislature.

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