Dahl’s Ideal Democracy Resolved

May 4, 2022

The Ape is a personal assistant that assist and empowers Peer Democracy.

Professor Robert A. Dahl (1915-2014) said that our present system is neither a democracy nor a dictatorship but something in between – he called it a Polyarchy. To be a democracy he coined some criteria that must be fulfilled. Here they are slightly reformulated:

All adult citizens should have equal and efficient ways to:

  1. Vote, and the votes must have the same value.
  2. Participate in the previous debate.
  3. Learn about the relevant arguments and the possible consequences before the voting.
  4. Suggest new proposals and decide which issues will be on the agenda.

“…can any actual association ever be fully democratic? In the real world is it likely that every member of an association will truly have equal opportunities to participate, to gain an informed understanding of the issues, and to influence the agenda? Probably not.”

I am happy to announce that Dahl was wrong. Dahl’s five criteria are met by Peer democracy – a system of e-democracy apps. It makes these five and some additional criteria possible by limiting the number of issues. In Peer democracy, everyone has the same – but restricted – democratic rights. The voting right is still equal, but this restriction resolves a general problem in a democracy. There must be a way to protect minorities from the majority’s oppression. By restricting the voting right to a few issues yearly, the minorities automatically gain more influence over their issues, as they most likely will choose to participate and vote on their own concerns.


Democracy is a method of deciding things together. To be able to do that, Peer Democracy uses different tools and apps. Because voting is a private issue, everybody needs to have a digital ID to log in to the digital toolbox at a strictly private account accessible 24-7, named after Martin Luther King Jr.


Next, we need a voting booth where we can leave our votes safe and securely without any opinion registration, named after Solon, a founder of the Ancient Greece Democracy.


Before you vote, you must have time to read the arguments for and against, so you know the good and bad possible consequences. And you may not have time to read all the arguments, so you want the most important arguments to be at the top. Then you will want to rank the arguments so that the most important ones come out on top. The most important pre-arguments are gathered in one list and the most important counterarguments are gathered in another list. Both argument lists are ranked by those who vote on the proposal. If you come up with an argument that is not already on the list, you must be able to write it. And if you find an argument is poorly worded, you should be able to help improve it, so that the best suggestions are at the top and are formulated in a good way. Structured argumentation is done in Arendt debate, named after political philosopher Hannah Arendt.


It’s not enough just to debate and vote. Someone must also decide what issues you should vote on in the voting booth, and this “someone” should include you, right? This means that there must be a way to decide what to vote on. Dahl’s agenda ranking is an app where we prioritize suggested proposals by ranking them. The agenda is a prioritized list of upcoming proposals. The ranking means that you put up the important proposals on the agenda and move down those that you think are less urgent. Proposals that don’t reach enough support at a certain time are canceled.


What proposals are coming up in Dahl’s agenda ranking then? There must be an equal opportunity to submit proposals. This is done in Proposal Popper. You are only allowed to leave one proposal every year because we don’t want it flooded. There are ways to work in concert with proposals. And then you must be able to support good proposals so that they can advance to Dahl’s agenda ranking and eventually be voted on. All this work is done in Proposal Popper, named after Sir Karl Popper.


Politics also requires a balanced budget. Peer democracy has a special app to set the budget. Everyone has the right to vote. The app is a budget calculator with different control sliders that you can drag up and down. One slider determines how much you want to spend on tax, another how much money you should spend on education, etc. If you think that education should cost a little more, you raise the slider for education. Then every other slider automatically drops a little because the budget must be balanced. When you are satisfied with your shadow budget, you send in your proposal.

The program puts all budget proposals in a long line with the most extreme proposals at the far ends, then it removes those at the far right and left until only the very middle budget proposal remains. It’s called the median and this is the winning budget proposal. We choose the median because if you instead went for the average, for example, a teacher could be tempted to put all the money on the school slider to try to benefit his own business. Extreme values affect the mean, but not the median. Therefore, the median is always used in budget voting. Porto Alegre‘s participatory budget also shows the preceding budget results. The ambition is that anyone can audit the economy, and that every dollar used in the system is openly reported.


To be able to share the power we need to abstain from the ambition to rule the world by ourselves. Peer democracy takes power from global companies and nation-states and shares it with the people. Thus, it will have a lot of enemies. To safeguard the system so that no one can destroy or corrupt it a set of rules is needed. The set of rules is found in something called the Althing Constitution. Everyone has the right to vote for constitutional changes, but they are held more seldom, every 3rd year or so.

The rules for Peer democracy determine things such as how many times you can vote a year, how long time the debate is open when the votes should be held, who can participate and vote, how to do if you want a referendum, etc.  There are also limits to how many arguments you can submit. You may only have to put and improve one argument in each debate. For the system to be fair, everyone must have the same influence limits. You may only be allowed to participate and vote on a single issue every year, but you decide which issue you want to participate in and debate and vote on.

You can also propose ‘meta-democratic issues’ in the constitution. Sometimes an extra question can come up that is very important and that you want everyone to be able to vote on, or you may want to postpone a decision due to a lack of information to wait for ongoing research results. In the constitution, you also decide which are your areas of personal interest, that you will be able to engage in. The constitution is made to be scalable. It means that the same system can be used on every level of democracy, from the local parliament to the global. Peer democracy is most urgent at the global level, because of the lack of global democracy. Thus, Peer democracy should launch with a global referendum held as soon as possible.


To have a fair democracy, everyone must have an equal opportunity to be involved in all steps of democracy. How can we motivate people to take part? Everyone gets paid a little. You get paid in a cryptocurrency called ‘pollar’ (equivalent to the dollar) when you fulfill your democratic duties. The money you earn collects in Wollstonecraft digital purse, and you will be able to use them as a global currency when the system is implemented.

THE APE (your humble assistant)

This is a lot of things to keep in mind, right? To make everything easy for you, Peer democracy gives you a humble assistant that keeps track of your settings and reminds you when it is time to debate, vote, etc. The Ape is a dynamic interface that adapts to the user’s communication. Under the hood is a personal AI. The Ape is to be perceived as a humble friend who helps to use the system and empower the user.


To sum it up, democracy consists of many different parts to give you equal and efficient ways to participate. The ecosystem of Peer Democracy consists of the following ten tools:

  • KING ACCOUNT – private cloud account accessible 24-7
  • MONTESQUIEU DIGITAL ID – security solution to protect and prevent fraud
  • SOLON VOTING BOOTH – where you vote on issues
  • ARENDT DEBATE – the pros and cons argumentation forum
  • DAHL’S AGENDA RANKING – setting the agenda
  • PROPOSAL POPPER – where you can leave a new proposal
  • ALEGRE BUDGET – the median budget calculator                          
  • ALTHING CONSTITUTION – to set the rules for Peer democracy
  • THE APE – your personal assistant

Thank you everyone for your invaluable input and support. I think this is the final conclusion of my 25+ years of thinking on democratic issues. Admittedly, I am a slow theorist. Now there is a Job To Be Done.


March 13, 2022
Russian revolution painting

I want to see a political system revolution. The political system is fundamentally misconstructed. Democracy arose to help us make rational decisions that affect many people. It is difficult because all people, no matter how intelligent and wise we are, sooner or later take bad decisions. About every tenth decision is wrong, it is almost a law of nature. Privately, we can only hope that it is not the most important decision that goes wrong.

A decision-game…

In a collective society, the consequences of bad mistakes can be catastrophic for an entire population. We can not afford to make bad collective decisions. That is why we have democracy. If many well-informed persons – who nonetheless are wrong from time to time – use the majority rule to make decisions together, they will still get it right every time. The USP of democracy is thus to make rational decisions and avoid disasters. Democracy is a decision-game.

…and a power-game

When democracy was introduced in the European kingdoms, it took over a hierarchical system based on power-game. The nation-states were formed by wars and conquests where the winner took it all and shared it with his allies. War is based on the ultimate means of violence. Power-game is devastating for both people and the economy, but war is not about making good decisions. Power-game is about who is to decide. Democracy is about how we should decide. Representative democracy is a combination of these two games: both power-game and decision-game.

Putin’s bad decision…

Decision-game is based on cooperation while power-game is based on competition. Since the power-game remains in representative democracy, certain decisions will be made for strategic reasons. These decisions will be in the interests of those in power and not in the public interest. A good example of this is Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. Even if president Putin himself realizes that it was a bad decision, he can not rewind the tape. The die is rolled, the power is at stake. He must continue in order not to lose control, even if it ends with a catastrophe.

…makes the revolution possible

Russia has a proud revolutionary tradition. It will make it easier for them to make it happen again. A new Russian revolution should get rid of the representative democracy and remove the layer between the people and the power. There is a competent and intelligent data-driven upper middle class in Russia that has all the prerequisites to make a peaceful political system revolution. I would be glad to help them create the world’s first digital Peer Democracy, равная демократия.

Peer Democracy

November 9, 2021

Let me introduce Peer democracy; self-limited direct democracy as an alternative to representative democracy. Internet makes it possible to establish new forms of democracy. The purpose of Peer democracy is to realize Robert Dahl‘s criteria for ideal democracy. The system utilizes collective intelligence while avoiding information overload and the iron law of oligarchy.

Division of Labor instead of Division of People

Rational decision-making takes time and requires knowledge. Peer Democracy solves the problem by letting the citizens decide on a few issues each. This means that everyone can concentrate on the issues they are interested in. In contrast, Representative Democracy solves the problem by letting the people vote on who should be allowed to decide.

Knowledge is unevenly distributed both between and within people. A person is often knowledgeable in one area but ignorant in another. We usually have more knowledge about subjects we find important. Peer Democracy limits the influence to 1-3 issues a year that the people choose themselves. It provides a specialization, a “division of labour” among the citizens. To encourage participation, a new cryptocurrency is introduced to reward democratic activity.

Most Urgent at the Global Level

It is easiest to introduce Peer Democracy where no previous democratic parliament exists. This is the case in the world as a whole. At the global level, anarchy still prevails, which makes it difficult to make the necessary decisions for mankind and the planet. Global laws should apply to the entire planet. Formerly sovereign nations may instead find themselves becoming world regions. Our unprotected world oceans also deserve very much needed protection.

Three Steps to Launch Global Peer Democracy

  1. Smartphone with digital ID
    The prerequisite for participation is that the users have a smartphone with a digital ID. An important requirement is that only natural persons can vote – no robots, companies or organizations. Over 70 percent of the world’s population already have a smartphone. To be able to vote, you must be able to identify yourself with your smartphone.
  2. Download the voting app gives 10 Pollar
    With the mobile, you can also download the app for Peer Democracy. Then you also get 10 Pollar, a new cryptocurrency that is equivalent to dollars. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, Pollar rewards democratic work. Everyone who participates gets a small sum. The cryptocurrency simultaneously verifies voting and guarantees anonymity.
  3. Vote by using the app on the mobile.
    To vote, you identify yourself with a digital ID. The question in the first referendum is:
    Do you support the establishment of a people-governed, transparent, self-limited direct-democratic parliament on the Internet that has the power to enact global laws?

People-governed means that only people are allowed to vote. No nations, companies, robots, or other artificial systems. The future of humanity must be decided by human beings, therefore only we have the right to vote.

Transparent, on the Internet, means that the global parliament is with us everywhere. All matters, debates, decisions, and costs are reported openly. The system is available 24-7 worldwide via the Internet. Transparency also prevents corruption, fraud, and power abuse.

Directly democratic in the sense that the votes are equally valuable (one person-one vote) and everyone has the same opportunity to participate.

Self-limited means that we choose which issues we want to be involved in and decide on. Cases are limited to 1-3 per person and year Globally. The limitation gives us time to get acquainted with the issues, and experienced decision-makers lead to better decisions.

Human Governed, Direct Democratic, Self-Limited, Global on the Internet

Hurray – you won!

January 16, 2018
  • The richest people in the world are Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos.
  • The world’s richest countries are Qatar, Luxembourg and Singapore.
  • The largest organic footprint per capita makes Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Congratulations – you are the winners! The growth competitions are over!

Time to start new games:

  • Least junk!
  • Smallest organic footprint!
  • Minimize use of fossil fuels!

Now let´s use all smart technology and people we have to find the sustainable solutions. In the lack of fast democratic changes, let´s use consumer power to avoid companies that continues to convert the seas and oceans to lukewarm sparkling water.


The complainer test

March 16, 2017


Are you a loser in globalization? If not – you won’t complain!
It’s easy to understand that losers tend to complain. The worst socially and economically disadvantaged are excepted because they cannot make their voices heard, but for all others, it seems that the more you protest and complain the bigger loser you are.

From this perspective it becomes obvious why the UK and the US are ruled by grumblers: they are the losers in the globalization game. Their heyday as empires is gone. However, even bigger losers are the conservative Islamists who want to become alpha males in Muslim states.

Contrary, the well-educated women who have escaped male oppression do not protest at all. That’s a very good sign. If the oppressors complain we know that globalization goes the right way.

How the Democracy Experiment ended

September 16, 2014


The world’s first direct democratic internet party Demoex (2002-2013), does no longer exist. After ten years as a local party, we decided to join other Swedish direct democrats to create a national party. To make it possible we changed our name and invited other direct democrats to cooperate. The party Active Democracy initiated a joint conference in Gnesta in August 2013 where we decided to run for the elections in 2014 together as “Direktdemokraterna”.

The new party was formally established on March 23, 2014. We began to work together with the objective to keep the mandate in Vallentuna and take seats in another couple of municipalities. We launched a website and a Facebook page and some active members met in early July to market the new party in Almedalen, Gotland. We made t-shirts and flyers.

Last week before the Election Day the interest increased, but our local marketing campaign was suffering because we spent almost all the time and resources gaining the growing national movement. I thought people in Vallentuna would support us anyway because we spread their “local model” nationwide, but nope.  We lost the mandate in Vallentuna and won no new mandate. Demoex failed, but Direktdemokraterna will raise as a Phoenix. I hope.

Hello, Mr Putin!

April 15, 2014


I don´t think you will read this, but I would like to remind you that political priorities can be sorted by posing the question: I want to do what is Good, but for whom should this be good?

The possible answers I can find are:
1. Good for me and my friends
2. Good for my tribe, Country, or Nation
3. Good for God, the culture or something “higher”
3. Good for Humanity
4. Good for all nature – not only humans

There are no sharp borders between the steps, but World History moves slowly from 1 to 5. Here is my advice: Move forward. Politicians who go backward will be forgotten.

Your priorities now seem to be at step 2. It is time to take the next step forward instead of defending the nation. We have something in common. I love Russian culture; the authors, and the music. But I hate war, even the cold war.

Lottery selects direct democracy candidates

March 23, 2014


The Direct Democrats in Vallentuna (Sweden) picked candidates for their ballot in the next election by randomness. The candidates wrote their names on table-tennis balls and placed them in a tombola, but first, they let the goddesses of Fate decide if a man or a woman should be at the top of the list and they choose a woman (of course)!


The lottery was an attempt to revive an ancient democratic tradition. In the Golden Age of Athens, they never choose a leader, instead, they used the Kleroterion to select them. Democracy is based on the idea that we all have equal value. To choose a leader is to give someone a higher value and it goes against the basic democratic principle.

The political missions lasted for a year, which meant a constant circulation of people in decision-making positions. To reach a similar effect the Direct Democrats in Vallentuna decided to let the top four candidates lead the party one year each during the following mandatory period. They are:

1. Karin Forsell
2. Lennart Hedman
3. Aida Ericsson
4. Per Norbäck

(The picture shows Karin Forsell dropping the “winning ball” in the tombola.)

A Lesson from the recent History

January 19, 2014


Already at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, it was clear that he will be remembered by the world as a one-of-a-billion hero, so let us not forget what made him special: he fought for freedom and justice by challenging the dominant power.

He started the fight with non-violent protests, became a political prisoner, and spent the years from 1962 to 1990 in jail. He was branded as a terrorist by the South African apartheid regime and thus he became the very symbol of injustice, the spark needed to start a fire spreading by itself. When he was released the world had changed.

“Mandiba” is a true fairy-tale, a lesson from the recent history that tells us that some enemies of today likely will become the heroes of tomorrow. An interesting thing is that we already can assume who they are: those who fight for freedom and justice by challenging the dominant power. Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Pussy Riot, just to name-drop a few. They are not going to be seen as terrorists in the future.

Organizations have no feelings

October 9, 2013


What is an organization? What is the least common multiple of all companies and institutions? They all have a mission and a structure, they depend very much on the labor. But do they care about the future?

Organizations are advanced, artificial structures without biological content. An organization may be built up like a biological cell, but it doesn’t have any feelings. Through good advertising, we sometimes associate a company with emotions, but the company doesn’t feel anything for us. We are only means, our money is the input.

Political parties once were founded to strengthen the people’s rights. A democratic party was a way to articulate the common public will. The party was like a megaphone, speaking the grassroots will to those in power. Now, this has changed, at least in Sweden. The megaphone turns in the other direction, telling the people to vote for the parties in the next election as if they have their own will. But they don’t. A political party is like any other organization. 

Almost all humans and animals seem to have emotions, but I doubt organizations have. They can have human missions, but they have no hearts, no feelings at all. If humanity eventually will cease to exist no political party or global company will cry. So why do we let organizations rule the world instead of the people?