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Can democracy truly be emergent?

October 14, 2004

Jon writes: emergent democracy or cultivated dissent?

I'm not sure anyone has really analyzed whether or not democracy is driven by emergence - i.e., it makes itself from itself - it has no path, or alternatively it is driven by 'decisions' made by other groups - such as activists or the media. I propose that emergent democracy does work: but for 1% of the populace. 99% of the rest of us aren't born leaders. We go where we're taken - whether by media or activists.

In the UK it's not uncommon for national tabloids to come out in support for a party a week before the national (general) elections - usually in the biggest and boldest way possible. That's cultivated dissent. Emergent democracy is the pub meet which convinces 100 people that voting for a candidate is a bad idea.

Online - it's not different. The emergent democracy is from Talking Points Memo and the Daily Kos - whereas the the cultivated dissent comes from Yahoo! replacing their front page with a 'vote Kerry' front page. The democracy comes from the blogs who argue their points with eloquence. Dissent comes from the shock-tactic approach of bold headlines.


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