[EM] it's pleocracy, not democracy

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Tue Mar 6 06:57:25 PST 2007

At 06:33 AM 3/6/2007, raphfrk at netscape.net wrote:
>From: abd at lomaxdesign.com
> > No. But that condition is essentially impossible. There is *never* a
> > consistent faction of that size in a majoritarian democracy, indeed,
> > I think I wrote, there is no faction of *any* size of which this is
> > true, since the vast majority of choices made in real societies enjoy
> > almost total consensus.
>It happened in Northern Ireland.  The nationalist faction is  around
>45% of the population.  They want NI to be part of the Republic. The
>other faction is the unionist faction.  They wanted to remain part
>of the UK and represented around 55% of the population.

No, it did *not* happen in Northern Ireland. That is a *single* 
decision. Yes, it is a big one, but is it being suggested here that 
the alternative, joining the Republic, be imposed on the majority?

Frankly, I don't like imposing decisions on minorities. Rather, 
societies in such divided condition must work to find better 
alternatives, situations usually are not so black and white, all-this 
or all-that.

But, again, this is only a single decision, all be it one that feeds 
quite a few others.

This situation, though, points out the hazard of giving the right of 
decision, by some random process, to the minority. What is the 
"history" of having their way? There is a single decision. In order 
to give all groups "their way," one would have to make and unmake the 
decision, make it this way one year and the next the next year. Would 
Northern Ireland be part of England one year and the next year part 
of Ireland? This is the only way I could think of spreading out the 
"getting their way."

You want my opinion of how to deal with a situation like this? You 
try to give everyone their "way." You need a system in place for 
functioning as a deliberative democracy that can seek consensus. 
FA/DP is exactly such a solution, and it is exactly designed to 
function even in very difficult situations.

The most that is needed as a modification of standard FA/DP would be 
Asset Voting at the base level. This allows individuals to remain 
anonymous but still to choose who represents them, without 
restriction (in general).

FA/DP theoretically will bring together all factions at a single 
table, where a relatively small group of people who *actually* 
represent, collectively, nearly everyone, can seek better solutions 
than Half-Win, Half-Lose.

Maybe Northern Ireland should be independent, or maybe it should be 
partitioned (very complex and difficult but doable *if* there is free 
choice and full compensation, which is almost never proposed, instead 
what is proposed are "us win you lose" kinds of partition.... get off 
my land! you don't belong here. Even if you have been here, with your 
ancestors, for hundreds of years).

>In fact, the original split of the island into NI and the Free State (as
>the Republic was then), was designed to give the unionists as much
>territory as possible, while still giving them a majority.

Bad design, for sure. Setting up situations with narrow majorities on 
very important issues is a formula for civil war. N. Ireland is an 
example that proves this, but there are many others.

>This was the single most important issue in every election, and the
>unionists won every time.

People who profit from polarization (think Milosevic in Serbia) will 
promote this kind of thinking. What is more important, whether we 
belong to Ireland or England or whether we put in a new sewer system? 
Does the sewer system choice depend on whether the Unionists or the 
Republicans are in power? Yes, it might, where politicians have a 
personal interest in making everything into a single issue. Us Good, Them Bad.

And this, of course, results in terrible consequences for *everyone*, 
even for these politicians and certainly for their communities.

Sensible communities would, given the systems and opportunities, not 
choose the people of polarization as leaders. They would choose 
people who actually desire to serve the best interests of those they 
represent, which is not usually furthered by making neighbors into 
enemies. Sure, sometimes strong action is required, and difficult 
choices are required, but a society which allows this to be the 
routine case is in serious trouble.

When the majority attempts to suppress the right of the minority to 
even be represented, this is not the kind of issue-based 
majoritarianism that I suggest is appropriate, it is *group* based 
majoritatianism. Which is also called discrimination and oppression.

Most people actually want the sewer system to function. They want 
roads to be passable. They want to be safe. They want to be able to 
make a living. Sure, they also want to be proud, to have an identity 
and a sense of ownership of where they live. But the latter can come 
in many ways, and membership in a fanatic ethnic prganization is 
actually a serious distraction, it does not confer ownership and 
pride except by distracting from the real issues to blame of the 
"others" who are "keeping us down" or are perceived as threatening us.

>   The end result was that the UK government
>decided to administer  NI directly, due to civil disorder issues.  The
>unionists went from having a permenent majority to being a relatively
>small party in the UK parliament.  This highlights the problems with
>ignoring a large segment of the population.

Of course. The problem here is representation. If a majortty *party* 
-- remember I wrote about party majority as distinct from individual 
majorities, can control all or most of the seats, even though it has 
only a slim majority, there is a serious problem in representation, 
and we can guarantee that this will result, under many circumstances, 
in oppression and rebellion.

The problem is not the right of the majority to make decisions. The 
problem is in fixing and identifying this majority as a specific 
group and giving that group special power. Majority rule actually 
requires that this not be done. It becomes oligarchy, not majority 
rule, for lots of reasons.

>The peace process is an attempt to restore local government in NI.
>The rules that they intend to use are not rule by majority.
>They use PR to elect the assembly.  Each candidate must say if they
>are a nationalist, a unionist or neither.  No bill can be passed by
>the assembly unless it majority support from both the nationalists
>and the unionists (and probably overall majority support).  This is
>obviously subject to abuse.  Once, some of the independents redesignated
>themselves as unionists so that a bill could be passed.

This is a special response to a special situation, and, yes, it is 
wide open to exactly the abuse mentioned. My own suggestion would be 
to use Asset Voting for the assembly. Asset Voting neither opposes 
nor needs political parties, representation is chosen and personal. 
The process aggregates votes with the candidates who hold votes 
essentially serving as proxies for the general electorate to select a 
defined body of representatives.

Who would not, intrinsically, be designated, would have no special 
powers based on stated party affiliation. Voters could certainly 
select such people, and a true majority party would have a majority 
of seats, we can assume, and would thus have the right of decision.

But the Unionists, I would bet, are not a true majority party. 
Rather, they are a plurality party, perhaps. It is possible that they 
would not even be that if voter choices were not severely constrained 
by the electoral process. People would choose those they trust, with 
Asset, and my experience in politics is that voters often don't trust 
*any* of the candidates on the ballot. They will vote, sometimes, but 
it is for the lesser evil. It is not true representation.

You know, it would not be necessary to be the farm on some new 
system. FA/DP could be set up in Northern Ireland, and, if necessary 
-- because FA/DP process must be open --, a base level of proxy 
assignments would exist that were made by secret ballot. This 
organization would function to advise its members how to vote, it 
would control nothing.

As an FA, it would not advise its members through majoritarian 
decisions. It would simply discuss and poll, and, through this 
process, estimate the actual support for any proposal, before it goes 
to the real polls. Thus proposals can be worked out and tested for 
support in advance of the actual election process. And proposals that 
will actually benefit the citizens of Northern Ireland, broadly, not 
narrowly, i.e., some presumed majority, will have a better chance of 
comeing to the top, of actually making it into public elections and 
then, if the FA/DP process is actually working, of winning.

I think I did not explictly state how recommendations *would* come 
back to members. It would be through the proxy structure. 
Essentially, if you are the average citizen, spending most of your 
time trying to keep your family and community functioning, you would 
have named a representative in the secret ballot portion of the 
process. That representative, whom you have chosen for trust and for 
nothing else, will come back to you and suggest how you should act 
and vote. If you don't trust it, you aren't obligated to follow the 
advice. But what do you think would happen if this open FA/DP process 
came up with a projected approval of, say, 90% for some proposal, and 
the proxies supporting it went back to their constituents and 
announced this and why it should be supported by the voters (and 
those opposing it might do the same from their side), and then a real 
vote were held?

My expectation? *More* than 90% would support it. I've seen this kind 
of thing actually happen. Once it becomes clear what is going to 
satisfy the vast majority of participants in an organization, even 
those who originally may have opposed it will come on board. I've 
seen dedicated polarization turn into total agreement. It is this 
kind of process that gets people excited about consensus, but they 
generally don't know how to make it sufficiently efficient. That's 
what DP is about.

And sooner or later, people will start trying it. It does not take 
changes in law, it takes changes in attitude. If it required everyone 
to change attitude, it would be impossibly difficult. But the plan 
does not require that. It only requires the few who can, under 
present conditions, follow this argument, to actually "lift a finger, 
change the world."


What does it cost to register on that wiki? It takes "lifting a finger."

Hey, if you want to "lift a finger" in a different way, why not 
register and tell us why you think this a bad idea?

*Nobody has done that, to date.*

>The executive is headed by a First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
>The larger faction picks the First Minister and the smaller faction
>picks the Deputy First Minister.  (I am not sure how non-aligned
>members are involved, perhaps they are ignored).
>The ministries are then shared using the d'Hondt system.  This gives
>larger parties an advantage, due to the bias in d'Hondt, but
>also because they get first choice, so can get the better/more
>powerful ministries.  However, it means that executive power is
>shared between the two factions in proportion to their number.
>I think their solution is also problematic due to institutionalising
>the factional divide.  A better solution would be to pick the First
>and Deputy First Minister by PR-STV (or maybe sequential approval).
>The assembly could then by majority vote make one of the 2  winners
>the First Minister and other the Deputy.  If both of them had veto
>rights for bills, then each faction would effectively have veto rights
>without having to specifically split the assembly between factions.
>Interesting site
>"what if anyone could modify the laws"
>Out the new free AIM(R) Mail -- 2 GB of storage and industry-leading 
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