Finally, there would be an institution to put the Internet at the service of democracy instead of being its burden. It would mean a bridge between citizens. Differences between worlds and experiences would become sharable, and difficulties and frustrations could be channelled into the democracy. Citizens’ trust and sense of control could increase. The ministry could provide space to experiment with democracy so it can develop. Democracy shouldn’t be an idea, but a lifestyle, which can be done better and differently every day.

Ministry of Social Trust - an alternative functioning

During my research, two tricky questions arose. One of the difficulties in online deliberative democracy is the culture of online arguments, where the lack of meta-communication causes problems. I borrowed the Meta-Belarus project’s solution, which aimed to avoid online conflicts on its digital-state platform. The government forums are primarily there to provide space for all voices, so as soon as you feel uncomfortable in a room, you should leave and create your space instead of engaging in conflicts. But on the civic and non-governmental side, the Ministry of Social Trust aims to help to keep debates manageable because constructive debates are a vital part of a healthy democratic life. This is why I think the idea of a ‘goodwill’ or ‘benevolence’ button handy, mentioned by Ciaran O’Connor, whose organisation, the Braver Angels, is bringing US liberals and conservatives together at the grassroots level.