Progress of Democratic Practices, by TAGDit, for the People
The curious thing about progress is that it often begets something like its opposite. Progress is, in a word, ambivalent, which literally means to head in two different directions. All progress contains, if not its opposite, regress, then certainly new obstacles or challenges that demand further action. Progress is therefore characteristically difficult to measure or assess, and its dialectic with regress is arguably without end. Some examples will help illustrate the point.
The phenomenon of “progress” takes place in various spheres. One such obvious realm is that of technology. Man the toolmaker, as Benjamin Franklin once called him, has a seemingly infinite amount of ingenuity, as one tool begets another; one form of technology gives rise to ever more. However, with every such technological advance comes a new kind of failure, a novel manifestation of error, and the possibility for “creative destruction,” to appropriate Joseph Schumpeter’s famous locution.
As the French thinker Paul Virilio has argued at length, the Industrial Revolution’s technological inventiveness has unleashed a string of new kinds of catastrophes: the invention of the automobile gave birth to the car accident, that of the boat to the shipwreck, the emergence of the airplane to the plane crash, and so on; to say nothing of the nuclear winter following upon the splitting of the atom, or graymatter as a result of nanotechnology.
Something similar can be said to take place in the social and political sphere. The French political philosopher Pierre Manent speaks of the phenomenon of the “organ-obstacle” or “instrument obstacle,” whereby something that once allowed us to achieve a desired objective becomes the very obstacle to achieving our aim. The examples Manent provides include that of the law, which has the aim of protecting the weak from the strong, but often results in privileging the strong over the weak, as well as that of the sovereign state, which was founded to guarantee peace among individuals but has become a major factor of modern war.
Sociologists make similar observations and have called it “perverse effect.” The destructiveness of various technologies and inventions, and the perversity of social and political innovations can, of course, be maintained and managed through a combination of critical thinking and responsible action.
With the aforementioned in mind we might ask about democracy itself, and wonder whether it too has brought forth new kinds of political catastrophes, or social perversities—or at least bears certain inherent negative possibilities—not otherwise intended by its early advocates and defenders. It does not require a great deal of imagination to come up with a list of grievances and concerns about contemporary democratic practices.
For example, insofar as democracy is government of the people, by the people, and for the people, as Abraham Lincoln famously put it, one might expect the very best among any given people to serve in its structure; democracy is an opportunity for the most talented to apply their skills on behalf of their fellows. Often, however, the opposite is the case. Thus democracy can suffer from becoming a series of choices, during elections, among mediocre representatives—or worse. Without adjusting democracy to the modern world with its myriad complexities and rapid rate of change, a democratic catastrophe awaits.
Fortunately, the developers of TAGDit offer hope for updating democracy and minimizing the perverse effects of democratic practices today. TAGDit is a software soon to be tested in commercial settings as a Team Internet Search Engine that will provide tremendous value to businesses in facilitating the creation of a shared knowledge pool, alongside an algorithmic amalgamation and ranking process to produce desired outputs.
The TAGDit software furthermore offers a platform for individuals to both build and measure trust, or social capital, through a sophisticated method of vote transferring. In this regard, it retains the sense of a democratic process by the people insofar as all participate, but especially works for the people by elevating information, outputs and skills of the people—to the benefit of all.
The trial process in a corporate setting will demonstrate the great potential of TAGDit, and it won’t be long before its broader application in society will become apparent. The challenges of progress necessitate that we human beings—we toolmakers—continue to be as innovative and creative as possible in all areas of life, and that we continually refine and improve our tools, not least of all by the adoption and creation of additional tools. TAGDit will become the latest democratic instrument in retooling democracy for the twenty first century.