Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I have been criticized as being a "Japan Basher" for my comments about the dysfunctional Japanese democracy. I'd like to point out that I criticize everything that I think is wrong and don't discriminate by nationality. I don't think Japan is the only country with problems. In fact, I think that many countries have similar problems with their democracy.

Joi Ito has posted some thoughts about Japan's problems, and he could just as well be speaking about the USA.



I don't think that you are a "Japan Basher" at all.

It's weird that people who try to point out what is not going well and who try to find solutions to the problems that are obviously there are often called "bashers", "Nestbeschmutzer" whatever.

In Switzerland the high times of "Nestbeschmutzers" was in the 70's and 80's - with famous key figures Max Frisch and Friedrich Dürrenmatt.

It's only recently, say starting in the 90's, that this climate of suspicion has waned. This is largely due to mental changes after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Still there aren't enough bloggers around and the bureaucratic establishement is still vigourous.

Also in Switzerland, the right wing SVP is at the moment part of the establishment and has annexed at the same time the oppositional discourse - which is very backward-oriented mentally. So in a strange way, the same people who called writers like Frisch and Dürrenmatt "Nestbeschmutzer" are now playing the advocates of democracy.

It impresses me very much, what you are doing right now. You, Larry Lessig and some others...

I should have added a lot of other important people who changed the way Swiss see themselves but the list is too long. I just took the two most famous writers because they are also known outside of Switzerland.

So now finally the views which were once intolerable to most swiss people are now becoming more accepted (mostly these debates around the history of Switzerland).

But what has this to do with the future? And even more with what I started with?

I think the future in some way always starts in the past, but nonetheless the recipes that worked once in the past do not necessarily work in the future or should I rather say... almost never

[In some strange way - one country calling itself a direct democracy and the other one seeming to having only adopted democracy under foreign pressure - resemble each other quite a lot.]

Hmm... I wanted to add something to my - in some ways naïve first comment - but now I just don't know how to conclude.

Maybe if one has started something the wrong way, I just have to end it the same.

Zannen desu.

I don't feel that the US is a 'direct democracy'.

If it was, in the 2000 election, since Bush lost the popular vote by 600,000 votes, we who are in the US would have a different president right now.

The influence of third party candidates can often serve as a 'spoiler' that ends up frustrating the desires of the majority, using our current (IMO fatally flawed) voting method..

For example, if voters had been given a chance to make a 'second choice' vote, in addition to their first choice, clearly, the election would have turned out much differently.


Joi, have you ever heard of preference-weighted voting systems such as the Borda Count?

Maybe discussion of alternative voting systems would be a good subject for a thread, because I think switching to a more accurate way of gathering the vote in elections would benefit both Japan and the US tremendously..

Search Google on 'Borda Count'