[Election-Methods] DYN is probably better, but less proposable

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Thu Jul 26 21:50:45 PDT 2007

At 11:09 PM 7/26/2007, Paul Kislanko wrote:
>Regarding: "It is simply not traditional in politics. It
>is ubiquitous in business" referring to proxy voting.
>I don't think you want to go there. The way "proxy voting" works in business
>is you give the board your proxy or don't get a vote at all. And if you give
>your vote to the board, they don't vote your wishes (if they wanted your
>wishes voted they'd have let you vote...)

You know, this kind of ignorance is quite common. A little common 
sense would lead one to expect something else. However, we often 
don't use our common sense.

Here is what common sense would suggest. The corporate model was 
developed by rich people. They demanded control in the corporation 
proportional to their investment, so control was apportioned with 
shares. Voting power is proportional to shares, in share 
corporations. There are other corporations where, by definition, 
members have one share each.

Rich people also didn't want to have to attend boring meetings, 
they'd rather be out playing polo or whatever. So they want to be 
able to be represented. And they *don't* want to trust the board; 
after all, the most common thing that is voted on is electing the 
board. Would you allow your board to elect itself? Well, if you know 
the board and trust them, yes. But would you set up a structure -- 
remember, you are rich and you *have* choices -- that did not allow 
you to directly vote your shares or assign a proxy of your choice?

In any case my view is that the corporate model was not designed for 
huge numbers of shareholders, and because of that, a certain abuse 
crept in. Boards routinely send proxy solicitations to shareholders 
asking them to assign their proxies to someone they name, who will 
exercise them. Lots of clueless shareholders routinely sign those 
proxies and send them it, enough that small shareholders really don't 
get a voice.

But the problem is really shareholder ignorance, plus there *is* a 
certain natural tendency, if you are a shareholder, to trust existing 
management. Usually if you don't, you simply sell the stock.

However, if you read the fine print, and I've read the fine print on 
a number of these thingies, you can go to the annual meeting and vote 
in person. Corporate democracy is, in fact, direct democracy. *And* 
you can name *anyone* to serve as your proxy. There are rules for 
filing the proxy, I think it may be that it must be filed the day 
before the meeting in what I've read.

So, Paul, do your research. Don't just make assumptions without 
looking at the actual rules.

Now, it's entirely possible that some companies have set up rules 
that truly do ace people out. Most don't, I think, and I simply would 
not want to own stock in a company that so thoroughly disempowered 
shareholders. It's a bad sign. It could be the next Enron.

There is a solution, indeed, and it is FA/DP organization of the 
shareholders.... Cheap, very cheap and simple, easy, and I expect, it 
would be highly effective. But it won't happen until people, in 
general, figure out how disempowered they are by not being organized 
for collective action.

Periodically, people figure this out, but most of them fall into the 
traps of traditional organizational structures which are mostly what 
got us into this mess in the first place. Proxy is traditional in 
business, but what we are proposing is a little different, it is 
delegable proxy.

Proxies have always been delegable, but the idea of making them 
*routinely* delegable, as well as ubiquitous -- everyone names a 
proxy, ideally -- is quite new. And applying this in the Free 
Association context brings in organizational traditions from an 
entirely different place, from a highly successful but narrowly 
focused organization, Alcoholics Anonymous.

Bill Wilson, the founder -- as far as organizational theory is 
concerned -- of Alcoholics Anonymous, studied what made organizations 
fail. He didn't want AA to fail. And he did a fantastic job of 
designing traditions for the organization to avoid these pitfalls. 
 From our point of view now, he designed a thoroughly 
libertarian/anarchist structure, but without the sometimes vicious 
edge that has often doomed attempts to set up anarchist 
organizations. In a way, AA was more anarchist than the anarchists, 
*throughly* non-coercive.

And that is a huge topic....

In short, though, coercion is poisonous to intelligence, 
organizations that are coercive will be dumb. Relatively speaking. 
They may be stronger than *other* coercive organizations, making them 
look strong.

A trick in understanding this is realizing that power becomes 
coercive, so if the organization collects power, it becomes coercive, 
necessarily. The way around this is to keep all power with the 
member, all the organization is concerned with is communication, with 
intelligence, which is powerful in a way, but which is not coercive. 
It seeks to persuade, at most, and, in a Free Association, it is 
never the organization which is seeking to persuade, it is people 
with knowledge and opinions. The organization itself has no dogma.

AA has a Big Book, they call it, the actual name is just Alcoholics 
Anonymous. It is up there among the most printed books of all time. 
It does contain some opinions, so it can be said that it is promoting 
some point of view. However, it isn't published by AA! It is 
published by a nonprofit, AA World Service, Inc., which most 
explicitly is *not* AA, it is just a "service board." It could go 
south and AA would sail on with hardly a ripple. The local meetings 
would either publish their own literature or would arrange for the 
Big Book to be published. Local groups can and do print their own 
literature, and you can go to a meeting and disagree with anything in 
the Big Book and, while you might find some strong disagreement, they 
will tell you, generally, "Hey, if it works, let us know. We'd like 
to be able to take another drink without getting drunk, too."

The advice in the book is just the collected experience of some 
people who have been there and done that. Who learned how to 
communicate and share their experience in a way that kept those who 
kept with it sober.

Anyway, my goal here is *not* to promote AA, but it's an example, a 
very clear one, of an organization which is a Free Association. And 
it was fantastically successful, it is ubiquitous. Without money, 
without grants, without collected property, without collected power. 
And stable.

AA World Services was specifically designed to be *continually* 
dependent upon donations for operation. Individuals are not allowed 
to give more than a comparatively small amount, I think it may still 
be $1000. They are not allowed by their bylaws to keep more than what 
is called a "prudent reserve," which is pretty much enough that would 
allow them to fulfill their legal obligations as a corporation if 
they needed to shut down. Wages and debts would be paid. But they 
would have to close if the donations dried up.

They don't accept grants.

Note that AA members, however, do set up nonprofit and other 
organizations for various purposes, and these organizations, which 
are not AA, can and do collect power. They can be share corporations, 
they can be, more often, board-controlled nonprofits. AA does not 
endorse them, but they can, and do, endorse AA. You will never see a 
treatment center advertising that they are "AA recommended."

But individual AA members can and do make recommendations.

A great deal of how I envision FAs working comes from AA practice. 
What I've done is generalize it to organizations dealing with other 
issues than alcoholism. I'm not the first to think of this! It's 
actually a common idea kicked around in recovery circles, people who 
are familiar with the program concepts.

But how to apply it to politics has really escaped most of these 
people. And delegable proxy is the missing key....

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