Information Technology: Gateway to Direct Democracy in China and the World

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The world watches as China moves towards greater democracy. The question in everyone's minds, including Chinese themselves, is “what model will China arrive at, at the journey's end?” There are many lessons to be learnt from other countries, some positive (Tanzania) and some negative (Laos). The United States has no doubts about the “goodness” of its own model but their unthinking belief in the superiority of their model should not be accepted at face value. The Chinese government and people will understandably be considering various different models very carefully, so that they can choose the best possible model for their country, and their own context. In this paper we will consider why current Western models of constitution should be viewed with caution by China as it attempts to move towards an improved socialist democracy. The paper considers the electronic voting system used in the US presidential elections, and draws attention to the opportunities for vote rigging that this type of electronic voting facilitates. It also looks at models of democracy used in the ancient world, and compares these with modern systems. Finally, it presents a secure and anonymous mechanism for electronic voting on issues of concern to the population. We conclude by sounding a note of caution about the dangers of plebiscites being used as rubber stamps by dictators if there are inadequate controls over who puts issues to the vote.

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This essay first describes the evolutionary logic of world socialism as an anti-chrematistic civilizatory paradigm. It briefly analyzes the two preeminent civilizatory projects or attractors of modernity—capitalism and socialism—as a result of the general law of the evolution of modern society since 1648/1789. The construction of twentieth-century socialism—the second attractor of modernity—by Lenin and Mao and the respective communist parties in Russia and China, is the topic of the following sections. The demise of the second attractor in Russia and the discussion of the transitional perspectives of China’s revolution close the analysis of “The Past and Present of World Socialism.” The second part, “The Future of World Socialism,” studies the inherent evolutionary logic of the world system and the potential for the appearance of collective transitional subjects, capable of achieving a trans-capitalist phase change towards a non-chrematistic political economy and a participatory democracy. The third part examines the potential of China to become the new liberating socialist subject of mankind and the last one poses the question of whether a cyber-socialist evolution of Marx’s paradigm is necessary, due to the revolution of productive forces of the industrial age towards those of the twenty-first-century digital civilization.
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The Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances for 2007 provides insights into changes in family income and net worth since the 2004 survey. The survey shows that, over the 2004-07 period, the median value of real (inflation-adjusted) family income before taxes was little changed, while mean income climbed 8.5 percent. Unlike family income over this period, both median and mean net worth increased; the median rose 17.7 percent, and the mean rose 13.0 percent. This article reviews these and other changes in the financial condition of U.S. families, including developments in assets, liabilities, and debt payments.
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China has become the biggest mobile communication carrier in the world since 2001. Advanced technologies create a communication revolution, and the individual, through the advent of mobile media, has become an active participant in this process. This study investigates the mobile phone's impact upon the developments of public participation, social inclusion and citizenship through the case study of Xiamen PX demonstration. In terms of local environmental activism, the Xiamen residents shared information with the help of wireless communication about the alleged misdeeds of party officials and took various civic actions again them. A rare sense of participation in public affairs is fostered through the use of mobile communication technology. The government must figure out how to improve the effective and regular information exchange and feedback top down and bottom up to raise the awareness and understanding among higher decision making agencies, government and the public.
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We suggest a set of procedures utilising a range of technologies by which a major democratic deficit of modern society can be addressed. The mechanism, whilst it makes limited use of cryptographic techniques in the background, is based around objects and procedures with which voters are currently familiar. We believe that this holds considerable potential for the extension of democratic participation and control.
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Critics argue that electronic voting is vulnerable to fraud. We test whether voting technology affected electoral outcomes in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. We find a positive correlation between use of electronic voting and George Bush vote share. The effect could have been large enough to influence the final results in some swing states. While this pattern would appear to be consistent with allegations of voting irregularities, a closer examination suggests this interpretation is unlikely. We find no evidence that electronic voting had a larger effect in swing states, or in states with a Republican secretary of state. We also find that electronic voting has a negative effect on turnout rates of Hispanics (who tend to favor Democrats). Electronic voting was more likely to be used in counties with a higher fraction of Hispanics; especially in swing states. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
This chapter focuses on the new democracy of China. For many years, communists have struggled for a cultural revolution as well as for a political and economic revolution, and the aim is to build a new society and a new state for the Chinese nation. That new society and new state will have not only a new politics and a new economy but a new culture. Any given culture is a reflection of the politics and economics of a given society, and the former in turn has a tremendous influence and effect upon the latter. In the course of its history, the Chinese revolution must go through two stages, first, the democratic revolution, and second, the socialist revolution, and by their very nature they are two different revolutionary processes. Here democracy does not belong to the old category — it is not the old democracy, but belongs to the new category — it is new democracy. It can thus be affirmed that China's new politics are the politics of new democracy, China's new economy is the economy of new democracy, and that China's new culture is the culture of new democracy.
Is China democratizing? The country's leaders do not think of democracy as people in the West generally do, but they are increasingly backing local elections, judicial independence, and oversight of Chinese Communist Party officials. How far China's liberalization will ultimately go and what Chinese politics will look like when it stops are open questions.
Electronic voting is a challenging application of cryptography technology. In order to replace the traditional voting system, This paper proposes voting protocols that satisfy a variety of security requirements. However, much room for improvements remains, regarding efficiency, participation of trusted authorities, prevention of vote buying and coercion, and formulation of admissible ballots. This paper surveys the security requirements, voting schemes and ballot formats of the current electronic voting system. It puts forward four main challenges faced with electronic voting protocols and introduces with detailed analysis several typical solutions, including visual cryptography, self-tallying election, vector-ballot voting and divisible voting.
The 2004 presidential contest between Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry and the Republican incumbent, President Bush Jr., amounted to another stolen election. This has been well documented by such investigators as Rep. John Conyers, Mark Crispin Miller, Bob Fitrakis, Harvey Wasserman, Bev Harris, and others. Here is an overview of what they have reported, along with observations of my own. Some 105 million citizens voted in 2000, but in 2004 the turnout climbed to at least 122 million. Pre-election surveys indicated that among the record 16.8 million new voters Kerry was a heavy favorite, a fact that went largely unreported by the press. In addition, there were about two million progressives who had voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 who switched to Kerry in 2004. Yet the official 2004 tallies showed Bush with 62 million votes, about 11.6 million more than he got in 2000. Meanwhile Kerry showed only eight million more votes than Gore received in 2000. To have achieved his remarkable 2004 tally, Bush would needed to have kept all his 50.4 million from 2000, plus a majority of the new voters, plus a large share of the very liberal Nader defectors.
Working-class citizens have been numerically underrepresented in policymaking institutions throughout most of America's history. Little is known, however, about the political consequences of this enduring feature of our democratic system. This essay examines the relationship between legislators' class backgrounds and their votes on economic policy in the House of Representatives during the twentieth century. Like ordinary Americans, representatives from working-class occupations exhibit more liberal economic preferences than other legislators, especially those from profit-oriented professions. These findings provide the first evidence of a link between the descriptive and substantive representation of social classes in the United States.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Leeds (Institute for Politics and International Studies), 2002.
The accurate counting of ballots is essential for a functional democracy. In recent elections, particularly the exceedingly narrow presidential one in 2000, widespread concerns surfaced that votes were not being counted accurately. This paper examines major voting technologies, their advantages and disadvantages, and the significance of residual ballots (overvotes and undervotes) across U.S. counties in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. In the 2000 election, 1.9 million ballots were voided, as were more than 2.3 million in 2004. The analysis explores three fundamental questions: (1) Do voting technologies tend to favor one political party over its rival? (2) Do voting technologies tend to favor one ethnic group over another? (3) Do voting technologies favor urban areas over rural ones? The empirical results consistently deny the existence of any of these biases at the national level, although the possibility of local bias remains an open question. The conclusion links these issues to the on-going debate about voting technology reform.
Journal of Democracy 6.4 (1995) 65-79 The "third wave" of global democratization has left untouched several East Asian autocracies that are experiencing rapid economic growth: China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. These three countries have made enormous progress in liberalizing markets and integrating themselves into the world economy. Most private citizens there have gained considerable economic freedom and civil liberties as a result of market-oriented reforms. Yet these encouraging developments have not been accompanied by any meaningful degree of liberalization of the political system. Political rights and participation remain severely restricted, and the ruling elite maintains a monopoly of power. These East Asian autocracies' lack of significant progress toward democratization challenges two widely held views about the relationship between economic development and politics: 1) The historical experience of the West and the rise of new democracies since the end of the Second World War indicate that economic development has a powerful impact on a country's political system and forces major institutional changes, primarily (but not exclusively) to ensure greater security of property rights. New property-owning social groups eager to defend their rights will struggle to liberalize the political system. 2) The rule of law is the foundation for sustained economic growth. A cursory examination of the progress of political liberalization in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia would both confound and alarm advocates of democracy and the rule of law. How did ruling elites in these authoritarian states manage to hold on to power in the face of rapid social change unleashed by high rates of growth? How do we explain these countries' spectacular records of economic growth given their weak or absent rule of law? If the rule of law fails to take hold in the East Asian autocracies, will they be able to sustain their high growth rates? At first glance, the East Asian anomalies would seem to suggest that the above-mentioned theories are wrong -- that is, that economic liberalization can occur without accompanying changes in the political system, and that long-term growth can be achieved in the absence of the rule of law. A more careful examination of the evidence, however, reveals that in the East Asian autocracies, economic development is in fact being accompanied by changes in political institutions, albeit relatively slow and subtle ones. The rule of law is gradually emerging and acquiring constraining power, although not without great difficulty. In the case of China, although there have been virtually no signs of direct or overt democratization, endogenous and incremental changes in the political institutions of the authoritarian regime are gradually forming subtle but important checks and balances against the ruling party's monopoly of power, strengthening the rule of law, and cultivating self-government at the grassroots level. Although China's progress in these three different areas has been extremely limited to date, the liberalizing trends appear to be accelerating. If they are allowed to continue, they will gradually lay the institutional foundations for the eventual democratization of China. Thus far, the literature on democratization has focused on two main sources of change. Guillermo O'Donnell and Philippe Schmitter have emphasized the political calculation of autocrats as the most critical factor in transitions from authoritarianism. Others have stressed factors exogenous to the regime, such as foreign influences, mobilization of opposition forces, and socioeconomic conditions. Relatively few authors have examined endogenous changes in existing political institutions as a source of "creeping democratization." In most cases of transition, autocratic regimes pressed by rising costs of maintaining political control implement programs to economize their dwindling resources (mass political support and fiscal revenues). Most such programs lead to a greater dependence on institutions as sources of political stability, efficiency, and credibility. This explains why in many authoritarian states a significant increase in the level of political institutionalization long precedes democratization. Typical components of political institutionalization under authoritarian rule include a modest strengthening of the rule of law, the establishment of nominally representative institutions under the direction of the regime, the expansion of local autonomy, and even the holding of semi-free local elections. Such endogenous -- and usually incremental -- institutional changes may unexpectedly pave the way for genuine democracy. This is so primarily...
What alternatives are available to China in the next one or two decades? `More of the same' is not a likely scenario, because one-party rule is not optimal for coping with the challenges of modernization and global interdependence. A second model, Singapore's authoritarian capitalism, appeals to many CCP leaders. But Singapore's scale and way of life are so different that its example cannot be very relevant to China. Nor does the Soviet imperial model fit, because China does not suffer from imperial overreach as did the USSR. The post-Soviet Russian model—a move from rigid hierarchy to free enterprise anarchy—could await China. Both countries have lacked institutions of civil society that could stabilize the country if central authority collapses. Another alterative would be a return to regionalism, spurred by economic and ethnic differences within China. Some PRC leaders hope to find a Chinese way that transcends other models, but this is not realistic. The most useful model for China and the world would be a gradual transition from authoritarianism to multi-party democracy, as has taken place in Taiwan. In one or two decades, China could edge in that direction. If so, animosities between the mainland and Taiwan would also diminish, removing a thorn from U.S.–Chinese relations. Opportunities for mutual gain may then overshadow present tensions.
This paper examines the behavioral and psychological factors influencing the adoption and use of mobile phone in rural China. Based on the diffusion of innovations and perceived needs theory, this research, through a case study of Hubei, China, supports the theoretical model that both behavioral and psychological factors can predict Chinese rural residents’ adoption and use of mobile phone. Psychological factors, however, play a weaker role in rural residents’ adoption and use of mobile phone than do behavioral factors. Moreover, behavioral factors can significantly predict some of the psychological factors. By adding behavioral factors into the theoretical model, this study supplements the perceived needs theory and extends it from urban setting to rural setting. Implications of the findings have been discussed.
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