Democracy and web-based dialogue

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On the background of the so-called Arab Spring, I discuss the issue of ‘civil society’ as postulated, for instance, by Jürgen Habermas and his concept of deliberative democracy. It is argued that his insistence on rationality and the need for an organised debate would ask for an arbiter limiting the democratic rights of participants. In reality, however, there has been little public dialogue in the public sphere of western societies. The surrogate debate offered by largely monopolised news media is hardly democratic, and before the arrival of the new medium internet, a debate involving all interested citizens did never evolve. There are some indications that newspaper blogs could become the forum for a public dialogue as a prerequisite of democracy, even though manipulation by interested parties could question their authenticity.


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