[EM] Part 2, Mr. Lomax's posting
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
abd at lomaxdesign.com
Sat Jun 25 20:39:40 PDT 2005
I'm responding to this because Mr. Ossipoff said something that is not
commonly said. He acknowledged that "Direct Democracy, with delegable
proxy, is what we should have." This, of course, is what I'm saying.
He has, however, completely misunderstood my comments about election
methods. He somehow failed to notice my statement that I fully intended to
support election method reform. I used the bandage analogy. Just because I
consider election reform a band-aid, not a cure for the underlying
problems, does not mean that band-aids aren't useful or even necessary.
Indeed, I'm not proposing delegable proxy for elections in the near term.
Rather, I'm proposing them for independent free associations which could
bypass the existing political structures. Not destroy them, not replace
them, but bypass them so that those structures become manageable.
Election reform may make that slightly easier. And, in the event that the
FA/DP concept does *not* take off in the near term (it could, and it might
not), election reform will be much more important.
At 05:43 PM 6/25/2005, MIKE OSSIPOFF wrote:
>This is quite common. Anyone advocating a more far-reaching reform will
>want to denigrate modest immediate reforms.
Perhaps Mr. Ossipoff thinks that way. I don't. The election reforms which
have been developed over the last centuries *are* improvements. If you must
have elections. And I do see elections as necessary in the near term.
Whether or not they will be necessary in the long term, I'll leave to a
consciousness higher than mine.
> Direct Democracy, with delegable proxy, is what we should have, but
> it's hardly going to be enacted this year or next year.
It can be enacted tonight. In any NGO. The mistake is in thinking that we
need to start with governmental reform. Governmental reform is quite
difficult, not to mention hazardous. Lots of "good ideas" have resulted in
simply more carnage and repression. And they were "good ideas", only
incomplete and premature, missing certain critical elements and understandings.
FA/DP concepts could be applied in China, immediately. FA/DP organizations,
I strongly suspect, will be able to act with the full flexibility needed in
dificult situations. FA/DP organizations don't need to tear down existing
structures, just as the development of the nervous system did not require
abolishing the diffuse chemical messaging that preceded it. Yes, they will
change certain things, but in due course and in the right time. They will
be fully deliberative structures, collecting the best rather than focusing
the worst, which has all too often happened with mass organizations.
> So right now it makes sense to use our effort to get a better voting
> system, for our single-winner elections of representatives of various kinds.
Yes. Absolutely. But not all our effort. For single-winner elections for
representatives have an inherent flaw. That flaw will continue to weaken
and polarize society, no change in legal election method will fix this.
What I've been saying is that if we put one-tenth as much effort into
analysis of the overall system, into understanding how it works and how it
fails, and how we could begin to function as a society in much more
satisfactory ways, we might not have to deal with so many difficult
problems. We are constantly battling symptoms: Bush is a symptom, the
tax-supported sacrilege against the image of Christ is a symptom (tax
support of contemporary "art" is an oxymoron). Sure, we must treat
symptoms, the symptoms can kill you. But if you only treat symptoms, sooner
or later one of them *will* kill you. We must look and act more deeply than
>Besides, even with direct democracy, we'd need a good voting system, and
>so enacting one in the nearer term would be useful when the direct
>democracy proposal is later made.
The direct democracy proposal is being made *now*. We can do it now.
Actually, *tonight*. (But not too likely, maybe tomorrow.) If it works in
NGOs, then, maybe, it could become appropriate for governmental bodies. As
to needing a good voting system, small direct democracies don't need voting
systems at all, particularly if they understand the value of consensus.
Simple Robert's Rules and the right of the majority to make decisions is
quite sufficient. The trick of delegable proxy is to turn a large direct
democracy into a small direct democracy. If a direct democracy needs
elections, it can run them as a deliberative process.
But that is long term. In the short term, DP will be applied in NGOs, and
elections will continue to take place in governmental bodies. Further, I've
been mostly talking about the FA/DP concept. Free Associations have special
characteristics that make the desirability of consensus clear, they are
protected against the tyranny of the majority. Once you move into
organizations that own property, and organizations that exercise
sovereignty, those protections are lost. I think that a great deal of
education is necessary before society is ready for DP in power structures.
If ever it is ready.
But FA/DP organizations, NGOs, if successful, can *control* electoral power
structures. By standing outside the power structures, they maintain the
protections against the tyranny of the majority.
> Direct democracy would be better accepted when people have seen how
> effectively they can implement what they want, with better voting systems.
Absolutely. And those demonstrations don't have to wait for success at
governmental election reform. Serious governmental election reform, without
some other line of approach, could take centuries. Perhaps I should repeat
the Lomax effect (anybody is welcome to suggest a better name): Inequitable
power structures act to preserve themselves. The reason is obvious. If a
power structure is inequitable, this means that it favors some special
interests over the general interest; it favors those interests by according
them amplified power. And since those interests will lose power if equity
is restored, they will resist the change. And, by the initial conditions,
they have amplified power, they are generally more able to be successful in
The classic case is the maintenance of winner-take-all in the assignment of
electors in the U.S. Electoral College. It is quite clearly inequitable;
without any need, it assigns all electors to the plurality winner, fully
depriving all others of representation. There are two obvious reforms. (One
or both might be in use -- or some similar form -- in the two (?) states
that don't use winner-take-all.) One would be to assign electors according
to congressional district, with perhaps two elected state-wide. This would
suffer from the defect of excluding minority parties, but it would be at
least somewhat rational. The other would be to proportionally assign the
state's electors according to the vote.
But these reforms have very little chance of passage. The reason is that
the assignment of electors is a state decision, it is made state-by-state.
The existing system favors the majority party within the state. If that
party allows the change, it will essentially be giving some of its electors
to the other party or parties. So the majority party will *always* oppose
the change, at least if that change comes state-by-state. Only if some
means is found, at a time of relative party balance, to change the rule in
*all* states at once, would the major parties allow it to happen, if they
have the power to prevent it, which they normally do. That could take a
So election reform is a much more difficult process than merely designing
the better election mousetrap and expecting the world to seek it out. They
won't. The only people exercised enough to want it and promote it are, for
the most part, those who would gain power through it (in this case by the
restoration of equity). And these people are, by the conditions of the
problem, in the minority.
So I think that it's not likely to happen except spottily, here and there,
unless we bypass the system. And that is what FA/DP is designed to do. That
and much more.
And, since I responded to the comments above, I'll add one more response:
>Mr. Lomax continues:
>, how the world would be a better place if just we could throw the bums
Note that by taking this statement out of context, Mr. Ossipoff may have
reversed the meaning. I was giving a list of wrong ideas.
>Mr. Lomax wants to throw the bums out, but that isn't good enough unless
>he has specific policy suggestions, to show that he and his new system
>won't likewise be "the bums".
This comment shows with certainty how Mr. Ossipoff has not understood what
I'm proposing, or, if he at some point understood it, he has forgotten.
Now, I don't particularly care if this or that individual understands, I'm
writing for the entire audience, which includes future readers not
participating here. If my ideas are adopted, it will be because they are
recognized as valid by many more people than me. I'm not seeking power. At
all. I'm seeking communication. The function of FA/DP organizations is
communication, not control. FA/DP organizations *can't* be the bums. DP,
used as an election method, could well continue to elect bums, though I
think it far less likely.
I am indeed suggesting a revolutionary system, but not a confrontive,
violent, disruptive social revolution. In spite of some resemblances of my
ideas to anarchist or libertarian ideas, I'm not anarchist or libertarian.
Under present conditions, I vote pretty much a straight Democratic ticket.
Under different conditions, I might vote Green.
What I'm trying to do is to seed an organizational concept, in the belief
that this, if understood and applied, could quite thoroughly revise our
concepts and opinions and beliefs about what organizations are and what
they can and cannot do.
FA/DP is *not* about throwing the bums out and replacing them with either
shining lights (as is usually imagined by the bum-tossers) or a new set of
bums (as will continue to be, more often, the case until the systemic
problems are addressed). It is about people waking up and realizing that
the only reason "special interests" -- whether they be of the left or the
right -- have the power they do, the only reason that money in politics is
even an issue, is that the people are not independently organized in a way
that maximizes the intelligence of the organizatoin. Rather they are
organized either through governments or through party or advocacy
structures which are either oligarchical or electoral democracies, which
are highly susceptible to the problems that we see.
It is not necessary for everyone to wake up. It is not necessary for
everyone to grab the reins. But it is necessary for everyone to have the
right to choose whom they trust to represent them. They actually already
have that right, but they don't know it.
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