[EM] Completed comments on Abd's posting

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Fri Jun 24 12:54:55 PDT 2005

At 03:55 AM 6/24/2005, Russ Paielli wrote:
>MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp-at-hotmail.com |EMlist| wrote:
>>Abdul says:
>>I intend to set a filter for Mr. Ossipoff, I'd rather not expose myself
>>routinely to the temptation to comment again on his writing
>>I comment:
>>That's good news. An idiot considerate enough to quit commenting.
>>Mike Ossipoff
>It always seems to boil down to the same thing, doesn't it.

Note that, in such a contentious environment, we have been able to reach 
complete consensus. All agree on the value of my abstaining from response 
to Mr. Ossipoff. As to idiocy, well, it is idiocy indeed to waste effort 
trying to convince idiots. Again, I'd expect we'd all agree on that.

>Also by the way, I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce a 
>foolproof new election method. I'll call it the Saddam system. Here's how 
>it works: you vote for Saddam or you watch your children tortured and 
>mutilated (and I mean tortured in the original sense, not just 
>disrespecting your holy book).

Ah, Russ! You and Mr. Ossipoff deserve each other. You make a lot of 
assumptions, don't you? Has it ever occurred to you that a habit of 
gratuitous insult, or the attempt at same, might be a sign of some deeper 
difficulty? However, I'll back off from exploring this one. This is an 
Election Methods list, not a let's discuss the idiocies of our members list.

But I will make a brief political comment. Saddam Hussein was widely 
detested in the Muslim world at a time when the U.S. was busy propping him 
up. All too easily we forget that the U.S. quite happily provided Saddam 
with the technology he used (not terribly effectively, it seems) to develop 
weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. stood aside when Saddam gassed 
villagers, when he massacred the Shi'a, when he gratuitously invaded Iran, 
because the U.S. saw him as a valuable pawn in its disputes with Iran. The 
U.S. only turned against Saddam when he finally went too far, and invaded 
friendly Kuwait. It is not clear to me how much of the demonization of 
Saddam is propaganda from that event, and how much is real, but Saddam was 
definitely a Bad Guy. But he was *our* Bad Guy, wasn't he? It's a very old 
story. When he was no longer *our* Bad Guy, but started to act without 
getting our permission first, we slapped him down. And then stood aside 
while he massacred the Kurds and Shia who, with our support, had risen 
against him. We promised those people our support, but when it no longer 
suited us, when we decided that stability in Iraq was more important than 
freedom and democracy there, we left those people to twist in the wind. And 
then, more than ten years later, quite probably because the powers that be 
here decided that Iraqi oil would be more efficiently converted to money in 
their pockets if Saddam were gone, and given the political currency by 
9-11, it was decided to toss out Saddam, and the excuses were manufactured. 
To be sure, Saddam cooperated by playing his old game. He wanted to keep 
the world thinking that they'd better tremble in their boots when they 
think of him, he wanted them to think about rains of missiles filled with 
poison gas or biological weapons, so he played his game of cat and mouse 
with the inspectors. But the inspectors concluded that he didn't have the 
weapons. And it appears that they were right about that.

Am I happy that Saddam was removed from power. Damn straight I am. The man 
was horrific. But who put him in power? Sure, he seized power in a coup, 
but he did not do so in a vacuum. He did so in a world that found him 
convenient; we would rather deal with a single strongman, whom we think we 
can manipulate with money, than with an actual democracy.

Now, maybe Iraq will end up with a democracy after all. But it looks to me 
like Iraq is repeating many of the mistakes, institutionalizing many of the 
flaws in the U.S. and European systems. They may be doing a little better, 
but the conditions there are severe. They badly need mechanism sfor 
developing and expressing and, indeed, proving social consensus. Sunni 
Islam is a consensus religion, the very name, ahlu sunnah wa'l jamaa', 
means "the people of tradition and consensus." But it never developed good 
and stable consensus mechanisms, instead, early on, it fell victim to 
oligarchical structures that crushed disssent. This was quite contrary to 
Islam, by the way. But power finds ways to justify itself, the Christians 
did quite the same. As if "What would Jesus do?" would be to invade a 
country that is internally nasty but externally defanged, instead of doing 
what he taught. As if he would be to be quite content to see millions of 
deaths of other people to avoid a few of our own. As if he would be happy 
to support dictators and tyrants, to rule over others, whom we would never 
want to rule us.

And the other major side of Iraqi society, the Shi'a, have a full name that 
is again, ironic. Shi'a Ali means "the party of Ali." The Qur'an actually 
says, literally, "those who are "shi'a," have nothing to do with them." The 
word in Qur'anic usage means "sectarian," people who hold isolated beliefs 
and cling to them as superior to the beliefs of others. So in origin, the 
Shi'a would not be in favor of democracy, for they generally believe that 
the majority (which would be the Sunnis) are astray. But in Iraq, they are 
in the majority. And Shi'a leaders have come out in full support of 
democracy there.

As we might say in the U.S. with reference to 2000, "It depends on whose 
Gore is being Axed."

>  Guaranteed to get a clear majority by any standard. Darned impressive 
> turnout too. Self-government at its finest! Who can argue with it?

Saddam did hold elections. Quite remarkable ones. He was unanimously 
approved, not one dissenting vote. Now, it is completely obvious to 
everyone that this was fraudulent. If he had actually cared about making a 
show of democracy, he'd have manufactured a few dissenting votes. But that 
was not his purpose. His purpose was to instill fear and despair in the 
minds and hearts of those who would oppose him. He was thoroughly brutal 
about this. And, of course, this led to his downfall. He alienated his 
supporters, time and again, for trivial reasons. While he was able to 
maintain an appearance of control, people simply slacked off. Dictatorship 
is highly inefficient.

But since he was in power so long (partly due to outside support, from the 
U.S. and others), Iraq's institutions were demolished. Iraq never did have 
strong democratic institutions, as I recall, it only had a few beginnings. 
Those were thoroughly crushed. Democratic society requires quite a few 
preconditions, among them freedom of expression. That's not really possible 
in Iraq right now. It is far, far too dangerous. Sure, some brave people do 
express themselves anyway, and there seems to be no shortage of brave 
people in Iraq, but let's put it this way: many of those people are 
disappearing, sometimes to be found shot, beheaded, and some simply never 
to be seen again.

By going into Iraq and removing Saddam from power, the U.S. did Iraq a 
service, even though the action was illegal by international standards, 
even though it sets a terrible precedent. But by staying there, by failing 
to truly internationalize the occupation, by making a whole series of 
blunders, such as discharging the entire Iraqi army, by continuing to treat 
Iraq as a war zone rather than a high-crime zone, thus justifying 
continuing and massive civilian casualties, by excluding Baathists from 
political life instead of letting Iraqis make that decision, by treating 
suspected insurgents ("terrorists," when only some of them are truly 
terrorists) with humiliation -- serious in Arab society, more serious than 
here -- and, yes, by allowing ignorant soldiers and guards to disrespect 
the religion of detainees, thus unnecessarily making enemies not only of 
those who supported the detainees, but also of an entire religion that 
would otherwise, in this case, support the U.S., by failing to take 
advantage of a rush of sympathetic world opinion -- by far the majority 
opinion among Muslims around the word -- to put a stop to terrorism, which 
hurts all, and which was hurting Muslims more than anyone else before 9-11, 
and instead focusing on stopping terrorism *here*, the U.S. completely blew 
the opportunity.

By all means, were it not a sign of disrespect in Islam to remove one's 
hat, I'd say "hat's off" to the U.S. soldiers who truly understood their 
mission in Iraq and conducted themselves according to standards of decency 
and international law. But the U.S. not only allowed too many to act 
otherwise, it actually set policy to act otherwise where it seemed 
convenient. And the U.S. is rewarding the architects of those illegal 
policies with high office, so the policy, truly, must have the approval of 
those at the top.

This is a democracy? I think not. It has a few shreds of democratic 
institutions, that's all. It has the potential to become something better, 
but only if the people wake up. If not, there will be, I predict, more 
9-11s. The U.S. will lose a major city, we will look back on 9-11 as a 
peaceful and safe time in comparison.

Don't imagine that this is a threat from me. It isn't. If I became aware of 
any actual plot, I would do anything in my power to stop it, and I think 
this is true of most Muslims. We do not believe that the ends justify the 
means. We do not believe that it is legitimate to kill the innocent if 
there is any way of avoiding it. We do not support terrorism, though we do 
support the legitimate right of people to defend themselves and their land. 
And sometimes the U.S. calls "terrorist" people who are only doing that, 
such as the Shi'a villagers in Lebanon who drove a truck loaded with 
explosives into a U.S. Marine base. Their villages were being bombed by the 
U.S. They were quite simply defending their people. Terrorism is generally 
accepted as indicating the creation of fear among civilian populations by 
general attacks against civilians. If it includes attacks against military 
forces of occupation or invasion (as distinct from mere police forces), 
then the U.S. would be the world's biggest terrorist, a point which has 
often been made. And even if we restrict the definition to attacks against 
civilian populations, or attacks against military installations with 
reckless disregard for civilian populations, resulting in vastly greater 
loss of civilian life than military life, then the U.S. has the 
inconvenient history not only of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but also of Tokyo 
and Dresden and elsewhere.

Now, certain obvious injustices existing in the Muslim world have been 
mentioned here, as if these injustices were somehow inherent to Islam and 
that, by being Muslim, I would somehow be obligated to defend them. 
Assumptions have been made about me that are actually ridiculous if one 
were to simply look at my name, not to mention how I write, even without 
doing research on me. I was born here. I was not born into a Muslim family. 
I'm not an African-American, though there are African-Americans with the 
name Lomax; they have that name because I have ancestors who owned slaves 
here and those slaves continued the name when slavery was abolished. I 
accepted Islam in 1971 or so, when I began to realize what it was. It is 
not what the vast majority of you, most likely, think it is. But Islam is 
not the topic here. The topic here is Election Methods and, related to 
that, how election methods and society interact.

I'm not here to defend myself nor to defend Islam. Nor am I here to prove 
that any of the readers and writers here are idiots, tempting as that might 
be at times. I'm here to increase my own understanding of election methods, 
to help advance that understanding for others, and to publicize my own 
general solutions to the problem of government. In the latter I am trying 
to solicit broader participation in the development and application of the 
delegable proxy concept, which I developed independent of other efforts, 
long before "2002." I'm not sure exactly when. In elements, it was as early 
as the eighties. But if there were any Free Association with Delegable 
Proxy organization about something that even remotely interested me, I'd 
join it. I do not desire nor need to be the center, for FA/DP organizations 
are designed, among other things, to gather and efficiently process ideas. 
Ideas become important, not so much the personalities who have the ideas. 
But obviously I can't do this by myself.

I have suggested a specific election method using DP techniques. It is at 
least as practical as many other suggestions here. I think it deserves some 
discussion. The discussion page for it on the wiki has not been used. There 
may be others here who are quite happy to say, "Yes, I've thought about 
this, it isn't a new idea," but there is a severe shortage of cogent 
discussion about it.

Anyway, I don't have time for more of this irrelevancy. It is a general 
rule on mailing lists that silence does not indicate assent; this is one 
reason why some members of mailing lists, in the absence of specific 
mechanisms for measuring consensus, can imagine that a consensus has been 
found simply because opponents stop writing. It hasn't. It has only been 
found when a large majority of participants actually and explicitly, 
directly or through chosen representatives, have validated it.

I'm probably going to be moving my efforts toward the promulgation of the 
FA/DP concept among Muslims -- where there is a crying need and where the 
theory of it should be rather quickly recognized as, indeed, a religious 
necessity, at least among Sunni Muslims -- and among the Chinese, where 
there are immediate applications. I've been seeding a lot of FA/DP 
organizations, most of these seeds just sit there. But it only takes one 
germinating for me to have accomplished my purpose.

And the rest of you are welcome, if you choose, to continue to complain 
about the way things are, how idiotic those who don't understand you must 
be, how the world would be a better place if just we could throw the bums 
out, or institute some superior election method when what we are proposing 
is just a band-aid on a gaping wound. Don't get me wrong. Election methods 
are important, just as bandages are important. It is valuable that people 
study and develop band-aid technology. And I'll continue to support 
superior band-aids, and especially ones that are practical and relatively 
easy to implement. I'll not only vote for superior election methods, but 
I'll probably help campaign for them and I'll donate to the cause. If I can 
find a trustworthy organization, which is not a trivial task. Even without 
that discovery, I could still contribute; after all, I'm free to place ads 
in the local newspaper, same as everyone else. It is not terribly 
expensive, compared to the hundreds of hours of volunteer work that some 
people are willing to put in. I already write letters to the editor of the 
major newspaper here, which have uniformly been published.

But I'm going to continue to put most of my effort into global solutions, 
into examining the structure of democracy, not just one specific part of 
it, the technology of elections; indeed, elections are not central to 
democracy but only to some implementations. You can have elections without 
democracy, remember Saddam, but also Ruanda, the Germany that elected Adolf 
Hitler, the Soviet Union and even the U.S. in some ways, and you can have 
democracy without elections, as in some small share corporations and many 
informal direct democracies. And, hopefully, in FA/DP organizations, which 
may or may not have actual elections; FAs may not need them at all, non-FA 
DP organizations, which may have collected power and property, may need 
officers, and elections can be appropriate for officers. Never for 
representatives, except in the extreme cases -- too often the case in the 
present world -- where secret ballot is required, and even then true 
elections can be avoided, secret assignments of proxies can be employed

The electorama wiki page for Delegable Proxy Election:


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