Is there some political theory to run a state without full-time politicians where policies are made based on sets of specialized communities?

I was wondering with the advance of information technology in theory it is possible to run a state somehow like the way Stackoverflow or other web 2.0 communities are managed but need some resource to study if such one already exist.

  • Plato's Republic? Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 16:39
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    If Stackoverflow would be a state, what would be the role of the Stack Exchange employees and management? Are we users really sovereign if they can change our constitution at will? Which, by the way, says they "may also terminate, block, or suspend any and all Services and access to the Network immediately, without prior notice or liability, in its sole discretion, for any reason or no reason at all"?
    – Philipp
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 16:48
  • @DrunkCynic: There are many theories for electing elites to make policies. I'm looking for a system without politicians at all.
    – Xaqron
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 16:49
  • RFC's seem made with a hope to work that way. I would guess someone has studied their politics.
    – user9389
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 16:53
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    @SJuan76 Antagonizing is safe because the total stakes here are lower than in a state. Banishment is a reasonably common punishment here; if a place with soldiers adopted this model that could be deaths.
    – user9389
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 17:16

3 Answers 3


I was wondering with the advance of information technology in theory it is possible to run a state somehow like the way Stackoverflow or other web 2.0 communities are managed but need some resource to study if such one already exist.

I don't think that you realize how StackOverflow is actually run. It is a benevolent oligarchy, not some kind of magical political system without politicians. They choose to delegate much of the power to the moderators, who are democratically elected. But they are in no way required to delegate that power.

It's also not true that StackOverflow does not have politicians. It does. We call them moderators. The reason why they don't seem much like politicians is that they have such limited power (they can't even levy taxes and then spend that money). If their power mattered more, the professionals would soon find ways to displace them. Then StackOverflow's politics would become more like those of more traditional governments. In other words, it's not the StackOverflow system that makes for great moderation. It's that we lack the corrupting power that encourages bad moderation.

Also, if there is a "bad" moderator, StackOverflow has the power to unseat that moderator, overturning the election results. This gives them a lot of power over moderation and the definition of bad moderation.

Overall, this is probably good. Think about it. To whom would you give a lifetime moderation power in your nation? How would you choose that person? How would that person become well enough known for you to choose? Politics.

In a comment, you said

still radical moves have expensive consequences for them coz of system's transparency.

Presumably you mean that people would leave if such a thing happened. This is called voting with your feet or jurisdiction shopping. It doesn't work as well at the international level. There is no federated system where the only guarantee is free movement among the states. The two closest are the United States and the European Union, but both of those have central governments that are too strong for this.

For example, Japan's laws are inconsistent with being a US state. In the US, Japanese gun laws and treatment of searches would be unconstitutional. So a state can't copy the Japanese system.

Similarly, you couldn't copy the Saudi Arabian system to a European state. It wouldn't meet the civil rights constraints of the EU.

But if you can't copy those states, how would you ever satisfy those people who want to live in states like that? Note that both Japan and the US are democratic societies.

Another consequence is Brexit. If one country finds itself accumulating people that it doesn't want, it can of course leave the federated system.

The Stack system works here because the people make it work. And because its occasional failures are rather minor. Don't like the way things operate here? Stop coming. Or just read the posts and never post yourself. That works because this really isn't that important. But what if we were choosing things that actually affected your life? Tax rates. Spending. Laws. Regulations. You probably wouldn't be nearly as happy with the system then.

Anyway, there is some study on benevolent dictatorships and jurisdiction arbitrage.

  • Another big problem is that SO's scope - both problem set wise AND numbers wise - is smaller than any state.
    – user4012
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 18:39
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    @user4012 Vatican City has a population smaller than two thousand people. Purely on numbers, Stack Exchange doesn't do that badly.
    – origimbo
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 18:59
  • @origimbo - technically speaking it's a microstate :) But yeah, I'll grant that.
    – user4012
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 1:37

Yes, there is such a theory, and people attempted to implement it in Spain in the 1930's. The implementation of this political system, and the very confusing ensuing civil war that followed, says a lot about how controversial it was. It could be said Fascism, Soviet Communism, and British Colonialism all provided military support to those who violently opposed the development of a political system with no centralized power structure.

It is called Anarchism - The most fun way to learn about this is to watch this pseudo documentary called "Living Utopia". It can be viewed on youtube and was, for me, an enjoyable experience.

I have a friend who thought that a more fictionalized film about this topic called Land and Freedom was pretty good. For me it was ok, but not as good as Living Utopia.

Of course, you can read about it in this Wikipedia article about the experience of Anarchy in Spain.

Not surprisingly, TPTB have made the word Anarchy to be a dirty word that is synonymous with chaos and violence. The individuals who spoke from experience in Living Utopia made it clear that collective solidarity had very little chaos and violence; it just had no management. Whether it would work or not on a large scale is unknown; TPTB have done an efficient job of quashing the growth of this ideology.

  • 2
    The question specifically asks about running a state. Anarchism is fundamentally opposed to the existence of a state, so I'm not sure that this answers the question. Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 16:45
  • Is there really only one flavor of Anarchism? Is the real world beholden to your dictionary definition? Does the OP truly use the word "state" according to your perfect definition? I think you might be missing some nuance. Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 17:12
  • No, there are many flavors. I'm prepared to be wrong - if you can back up the existence of anarchists who explicitly support the existence of a state I'll remove my comment and upvote. You'll need a source more convincing that Youtube or Wikipedia though - like a primary text from an anarchist writer. Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 21:10
  • @axsvl77 There are multiple flavors of anarchism, but anarchism by definition is "Belief in the abolition of all government and the organization of society on a voluntary, cooperative basis without recourse to force or compulsion". All forms of anarchism agree with this in one way or another. While I can't know if the OP uses "state" based on the dictionary definition, we go by that definition so we don't waste time essentially 'making up' definitions and arguing what the OP 'truly meant' when he talks about a state.
    – Tyler Mc
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 20:41
  • @axsvl77 Also, why your film and text are good, it would be good to have more convincing proper academic, less biased sources. And I would say Spain had no management: Syndicalist Spain, like other forms of syndicalism (politics.stackexchange.com/a/52430/29927) - was managed by workers' unions and militias.
    – Tyler Mc
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 20:51

That's essentially what communism is about, however vague or unrealistic that notion might be. Technically, it's not a theory of running a “state” however, as abolishing the state itself is part of its stated goals. I am not sure I see how IT technology can help make it a reality.

On the other hand, I don't see what's fundamentally different about Web 2.0 governance. It's something between a democracy (vote and a degree self-organisation) and a technocracy. There are certainly different kind of politicians and people explicitly tasked with managing the rest in Web 2.0 communities (moderators, administrators, etc.)

  • Communities can vote for many things communism doesn't believe in. It is not about equality, it is about transparency, fast decisions and more control over power. It could be used by communism, capitalism...
    – Xaqron
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 21:44
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    @Xaqron Communism doesn't “believe“ in anything, it's a theory. And more control over power is precisely the point. The theory is that it would do away with any ruling class entirely. I am not saying it's necessarily a very useful one but you asked whether there is a theory of governance without politicians and this is precisely what it is, whether you realise it or not. On the other hand, how do you want to achieve that without equality? The fact that your Web 2.0 governance has no use for equality and could be used for many things just confirms it's really politics as usual.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 21:56
  • Technically, it's not a theory of running a “state” however, as abolishing the state itself is part of its stated goals.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 22:03
  • It could be made up of many expert communities and a ranking system, not necessarily based on equality. Whatever the criteria for rank is, it is transparent, and could be changed by community as it is done in MetaSOF. Such state would not be a vote in 4 yrs and is more dynamic.
    – Xaqron
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 22:05
  • @Xaqron Either the expert communities hold power over the rest and they function as politicians of sorts or they don't and this implies a fundamental equality between everybody. And obviously talking about “the community” as a whole changing the ranking begs the question: Using what process? How is that not fundamentally a political process? And how to avoid the emergence of a ruling class controlling the ranking without a strong equality?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 22:08

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