[EM] Re: majority rule, mutinous pirates, and voter strategy

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Fri May 27 12:29:45 PDT 2005

At 06:25 AM 5/27/2005, James Gilmour wrote:
>steeped in social choice theory believe that the purpose of a voting 
>system should be to maximise representation of
>consensus among the electors.  But there is a much older view: that the 
>purpose of a voting system should be to maximise
>representation of the diversity among the electors.

Those two goals could support each other. However, many voting systems 
accomplish neither purpose.

The goals are compatible because the best way to ensure the widest 
consensus is to have as many players at the table as possible. You may 
increase meeting efficiency by excluding minority factions, but at the cost 
of potentially excluding them in deliberations toward consensus.

Proportional Representation, of course, advances the diversity position, 
but also is based on a party system. Unless, of course, voting becomes 
proportional rather than number of members. I.e., proxy representation. And 
Delegable Proxy makes the concentration of proxies into a council or 
working group almost automatic. The idea is to reduce meeting size to the 
ideal. What that ideal is, again, would depend on the nature of the 

One point to be realized is that a 20-member council with delegable proxy 
would be far more diverse than one with, say PR. This is because a few 
proxies would likely hold many votes, and thus proxy-holders with many 
fewer votes might still qualify for the council. In other words, a 
20-member council would likely have members on it representing much less 
than 1% of the electorate. But I don't think we can predict the results.

Delegable Proxy could fail if introduced prematurely into a highly 
polarized election process, and where people have no expectation of being 
able to personally communicate with their proxy. What would happen here is 
that people would give their proxy to highly-visible, media-savvy 
candidates, who would then have great power. The problem is that we don't 
really know those people! This is why delegable proxy will work best when 
the direct proxy assignment scale is quite small. The exact number would 
vary with the nature of the organization, but in an active organization, 
with broad interest among its members, I'd think that twenty direct proxies 
might be about right. Then delegability allows proxies to be further 
concentrated without creating a big step, without breaking the personal 
links of trust that would make delegable proxy work.

Once again, this failure mode for Delegable Proxy is why I think it crucial 
to introduce it into Free Associations -- which can't, by design, be 
hijacked -- rather than into necessarily more stable institutions. If those 
FAs don't work, little will be lost, and the networking created will still 
be valuable.

(Free Association is a term which formalizes certain characteristics of 
ad-hoc peer organizations, common when they start, much less common, indeed 
rare, when they grow. Delegable Proxy theoretically makes it possible for 
Free Associations and Direct Democracy to scale, to become quite large 
without losing the freedom and full participation of direct democracy in 
young organizations.)

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