Open Society

Term first proposed by Henri Bergson and later expanded by Karl Popper.

any different from Liberal Democracy?

Summary - "Open society" is a way to describe the positive aspects of democracy. At the most fundamental, philosophical level, the concept of open society is based on the recognition that people act on Imperfect Knowledge and that no one is in possession of the ultimate truth (Absolute Truth). In practice, an open society is characterized by the Rule Of Law; respect for Human Rights, minorities and minority opinions; the division of power (Separation Of Powers); and a Market Economy. Broadly speaking, open society is a way to describe the positive aspects of Democracy.

Here's another summary from George Soros. Open society is based on the recognition that we act on the basis of imperfect understanding. Perfection is beyond our reach; we must content ourselves with an imperfect society that holds itself open to improvement. The acceptance of imperfection coupled with a constant search for improvement and a willingness to submit to critical examination are the guiding principles of an open society.

The Open SocietyInstitute of George Soros is at http://www.soros.org/osi.html It funds and organizes a lot of interesting projects, but seems to lack the boosterism of the Viridian Design crowd.

George Soros article in The Atlantic: "Toward a Global Open Society". Recognition of our fallibility is necessary but not sufficient to establish the concept of the open society. We must combine it with some degree of altruism, some concern for our fellow human beings based on the principle of reciprocity. Any variety of Asian, or other, values would fit into a global open society, provided that some universal values reflecting our fallibility and our concern for others - such as the freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial - were also respected. Western democracy is not the only form that an open society could take. In fact, that the open society should take a variety of forms follows from the epistemological argument.

Are any of these attributes ends in themselves? I don't think so. So what is the end? What are the goodness-criteria? Because what we have here, of course, are a set of Game Rule elements...


My current list of priorities for making the NYC/USA society more open: (some of these items seem a bit peripheral, have to chew a bit more...) (see Games To Play)

Shut down the American Empire process. Non-Interventionism as Foreign Policy.

Let's get some Supreme Court review of legislation and executive orders since Sept11 (e.g. Patriot Act, Total Information Awareness).

Get some good Reputation Management and Idea Futures markets going, so that information can take the place of regulation. (Consider how many areas below have relevance to this...)

End the War On Drugs

  • legalize Marijuana completely. George Soros (among others) is funding efforts on Medical Marijuana as a first step.

  • decriminalize other non-opiates (coke/heroine bad, LSD good)? I think some "spiritual exploration" is a good thing.

Likewise decriminalize other Victimless Crime-s (and I have a narrow definition of force, Coercion, and victim)

Protect the universal General Purpose Computer Platform from stupid legislation

  • see Matt Jones rant

  • Ed Felton bit - If you're designing a computer, you have two choices. Either you make a general-purpose computer that can do everything that every other computer can do; or you make a special-purpose device that can do only an infinitesimally small fraction of all the interesting computations one might want to do. There's no in-between.

  • DRM, Broadcast Flag, Trusted Computing warning

  • Net Neutrality

Make the government the lead guinea pig in the Transparent Society

  • put everyone's meeting calendar, with attendee list, on a public web-based calendar server. Only blacked out for national security reasons.

  • make every security camera in a government office into a WebCam! Again, only blacked out by explicit national security decision

  • Term Limits? Getting more comfortable with the idea.

  • Campaign Finance reform? not sure what's appropriate here... something to break the Two Party System duopoly

  • unbundle bills to avoid hidden bullshit and make each lawmaker more responsible for his voting record (no "well I voted for that stupid bill because it included this little amendment which was really important to me"). (Some of the worst cases are explicitly called Omnibus bills; some of these little add-ons are called Rid Er-s or EarMark-s. General category: Pork Barrel)

  • Simplify the tax code, eliminate loopholes

  • Deep Democracy

More Educating Kids choices/experiments - decentralize

  • more School Vouchers/Charter School/School Choice programs

  • more/all power to principals?

  • eliminate teacher's unions, or at least the stupid contract clauses which (a) make it impossible to fire bad teachers and (b) assign teachers based on seniority rather than training/skill.

Eliminate Corporate Welfare. End Big Agriculture subsidies, which should encourage more global Free Trade.

Give people ownership of their HealthCare

  • make personal health expenses tax deductible, or conversely make employer tax benefits taxable! (give Free Agent crowd an even playing field) (this should apply to other benefits/insurance as well)

Make Social Security a defined-contribution plan instead of defined-benefit!


At the same time that no one has Ultimate Truth (Absolute Truth), no one is completely out of touch with it either. --JohnAbbe

  • Well, I think there's some question as to whether the entire notion of Absolute Truth holds any water in a quantum universe. But, I see the relevance of the question to the Open Society being that when engaging in Society Design under uncertainty, one should be humble in justifying the basis for a rule (e.g. "God wants it that way" is a red flag). --BillSeitz

[monopoly of money] --2003/09/08 02:42 GMT
End the Monopoly Of Money held by private banks. See reinventing Money for loads of good reading and links. Josef Davies-Coates of uniteddiversity (DigiCash)

How to create Open Society --2003/09/28 09:32 GMT
see http://www.terrahome.net.tc please Mattis Manzel

The most Open of all Open Society Means Full Sharing of All Information --2003/11/12 03:04 GMT
Everyone seems to have a way to save the world. Here is one you must read: http://betterdifferent.com

decriminalize marijuana and coke,heroine,LSD? --2003/11/27 13:38 GMT
Our offsprings will all be nuts if this is done.Who the hell are you to come up with such ideas ?This whole thing is schizophrenic.Soros became a billionaire in a democracy, so what the hell does he want to change ?

2004/01/07 11:54 GMT
More Personal Development. End Corporate Personhood. More Citizen Deliberative Council-s. More Dialogue.


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