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Tim O'Reilly Steps In To Debate Open Government and Linux 45

PatrickRIot writes "Aeon Magazine ran a longform critique of Open Source politics last week titled 'Open Sesame: "Openness" is the new magic word in politics – but should governments really be run like Wikipedia?' It referenced Tim O'Reilly and the man himself has stepped in at the bottom of the page for a detailed and lengthy rejoinder. 'I'm a bit surprised to learn that my ideas of "government as a platform" are descended from Eric Raymond's ideas about Linux, since: a) Eric is a noted libertarian with disdain for government b) Eric's focus on Linux was on its software development methodology. From the start, I was the open source activist focused on the power of platforms, arguing the role for the architecture of Unix and the Internet in powering the open source movement. ... One thing that distresses me about this discussion is the notion that somehow, if open government doesn't solve every problem, or creates new problems as it solves others, it is a failed movement. The world doesn't go forward in a straight line! The "open" democracy experiment of 1776 is still ongoing; we're trying to figure out how to use technology to adapt it to the 21st century and a country with a hundredfold greater population.'"
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Tim O'Reilly Steps In To Debate Open Government and Linux

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  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @07:47PM (#42803239)

    Nonsense. Read up on what a republic is, what a democracy is, the Federalist Papers (and read all of them, not just the 2 lines your favorite site fed you) and something about the context of when the constitution was written.

    The US is a constitutional republic. Congratulations, so is France, Germany, China, Russia, the ex-USSR, Egypt, and a whole host of others. There is nothing more common than a constitutional republic in the world of national governments. What is also true is that the US is a representative democracy, a smaller subset of the super set of republics. This can be distinguished from direct democracies (which are also republics, and can be constitutional), or binding representation, (which are also republics).

    Again, there is absolutely NOTHING special about the US being a republic.

    The Founders explicitly shied away from establishing a democracy for the simple reason that democracies do not scale beyond a small collection of city states.

    And if you'd read the Federalist Papers instead of just parroting someone else, they are EXPRESSLY referring to a direct democracy not scaling. After the initial definition, they just refer to democracies, while implying "direct democracies".

    Open government? Democracy? That's a recipe for totalitarianism -- because only the strongest consensus builder can assert control to get anything done and few, if any, checks and balances can be imposed or enforced.

    Congratulations. You discovered the principal flaw of democracy. You're only about 300 years late to the party. Voltaire has a nice discussion around what makes a ruler legitimate. You might want to look into it. Once you do, you'll also realize that the US was subject to the same risk from the day it became a nation, because it operates on exactly the principles you decry: openness in operation, democratic election of legislators and executives, and a requirement for consensus-building to operate.

    Yes, it's just semantics. But it bothers me because the trend seems to be define things in such a way until only a very small and very vocal minority is allowed to participate in government. Of course, they do it because they are the only ones who truly understand how the founding fathers wanted to run things, and they are the only ones who can save the nation. Now where have I heard that before....

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich