Philip Dingeldey Researcher, Institute of Philosophy, University of Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany


Liquid democracy is defined as a cyber democracy that combines representative democracy and spontaneous direct democracy by using technologies of the web 2.0. In recent years, some political theorists and actors have been optimistic that liquid democracy could make a more participatory and direct democracy possible to fulfil the democratic promise of freedom and equality of the people. One could even ask if a supra-national system could become a democratic option by using digital technologies for discussions and deciding. After the historical transformations of democracy, from the Greek city state via the nation-state to a global or supra-national unit, and the second and third ones came or come with a loss of participation, there could be, according to net-optimists, a fourth and more participatory transformation of democracy. This article doubts the emancipatory and participatory potential of liquid democracy (especially for a supra-national system), and I choose the classical theoretical perspective of democracy´s ancient core elements of free and equal participation. By analysing the arguments of net-optimists the problems for participation in a political sphere are shown. The point the paper wants to make is that under the circumstances of a (digital) oligopoly-capitalism, fragmentation, and digital divide, or in short, the omnipresent influence of big social inequalities, a cyber-democracy is an unlikely ideal.


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