L'utopia della ciber-agorà. Problematicità, limiti, possibilità della democrazia digitale

Anno XLIX, n. 211, settembre-dicembre 2014
Centro Einaudi
Articolo completo/Full text


Addressing the issue of e-democracy and its implications requires us to express clearly which model of democracy we refer to, and to reflect on political deliberation and its procedures. I believe that our deliberations cover three distinct areas, connected by a recursive loop: the private, the public and the political area. In particular, in the political one (in which we make decisions regarding the legal use of coercion to enforce laws), the fundamental principle of deliberation is political neutrality towards controversial conceptions of good life. Moreover, politicians have the moral right to make decisions that they could not make as ordinary citizens in the private and public areas. To make this possible it is necessary for politicians to have a fiduciary delegation without any obligation of mandate by citizens. The most radical theorists of e-democracy believe that this should replace liberal democracy with direct democracy: a sort of cyber-agora where it would be possible to get rid of economy and State rules. This is a dangerous and utopian dream. It is no coincidence that these theorists believe that the goal of e-democracy is to reach 100% consensus. Their ideal of total citizenship represents the other side of the coin of the total state. On the other hand, the use of ICT can promote the development of representative democracy by introducing new forms of participatory democracy. It makes it possible to consult citizens and to improve their involvement in political decisions and in the governance of public administrations. In order for e-democracy to be actually practiced it is necessary to recognize certain principles on which an e-civility is founded: the principle of co-responsibility (we are responsible together with our stakeholders of the choice and use of ICT); the principle of cooperation (the commitment of stakeholders to behave reasonably in compliance with the principles of fairness, comprehensibility, truthfulness); the principle of justice (the commitment to have equal access to ICT). The establishment of e-democracy also requires an update of the idea of social contract which should be able to combine the reasons of direct democracy with those of representative democracy. The use of ICT may increase the possibilities of political participation by citizens, but the cyber-agora is not the most desirable alternative to the liberal-democracy.