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An article written by Dhruva Jaishankar on June 29th, 2016 for the Huffington Post has attracted our attention and we reproduce it here for our friends of the MENA region and elsewhere.  The obvious interest in such article is not only that of the Brexit representing the first major casualty of the ascent of digital democracy over representative democracy but also the fundamental fact of a majority expressing itself like this time against the wishes of the elite with however the help and / or assistance of the contemporary digital media.

Brexit: The first major casualty of digital democracy  . . .

Dhruva Jaishankar writes that with all the questions about what happens next, there’s a bigger question worth asking: What are the implications of Brexit for democracy? Arguably, Brexit represents the first major casualty of the ascent of digital democracy over representative democracy. This piece was originally posted by The Huffington Post.

In the aftermath of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, we are left with more questions than answers. What kind of relationship will the UK now forge with the EU, and how will that affect economic relations and migration? Will Scotland and Northern Ireland opt to leave? What is the future of British politics, given turbulence within both the Conservative and Labour Parties? Will a successful Brexit set a precedent for other EU members — perhaps even some eurozone members– to leave the union? What are the long-term economic consequences of the resulting uncertainty? Will Brexit even happen at all, given the absence of a clear post-referendum plan, the apparent unwillingness of ‘Leave’ campaign leaders to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, and the fact that the referendum was advisory and non-binding? Answers to these questions will make themselves evident in the coming weeks, months, and years.

[D]igital democracy… has contributed to polarization, gridlock, dissatisfaction and misinformation.

But there’s a bigger question worth asking: What are the implications of Brexit for democracy? Arguably, Brexit represents the first major casualty of the ascent of digital democracy over representative democracy. This claim deserves an explanation.

When historians look back at the world of the past 25 years, they will likely associate it not with terrorism or growing inequality but with the twin phenomena of the “rise of the rest” (particularly China and India) and of globalization. Globalization involves the easier, faster and cheaper flow of goods, people, capital and information. One big enabler of globalization is the internet, the global network of networks that allows billions of people to cheaply and easily access enormous amounts of digital information. The rise of service and high-technology industries, trade liberalization, container shipping, and the development of financial markets have also been important enablers, as is the increased ease and lower cost of travel, particularly by air.

Many technology optimists have assumed that globalization would lead to the democratization of information and decision-making, and also greater cosmopolitanism. Citizens would be better informed, less likely to be silenced, and able to communicate their views more effectively to their leaders. They would also have greater empathy and understanding of other peoples the more they lived next to them, visited their countries, read their news, communicated, and did business with them. Or so the thinking went.

Read more on Brookings.edu

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