[EM] it's pleocracy, not democracy

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Tue Mar 6 22:50:45 PST 2007

At 01:22 PM 3/6/2007, raphfrk at netscape.net wrote:
>However, it does highlight the problems of giving all the power to the
>majority.  It only works if there is some factional flexibility.

Majority rule can be conceived of in two ways. One is that there is 
some identified group of people who vote together who are "the 
majority." This is clearly an abuse.

The other kind of majority rule, the one which I support, is that on 
any individual and isolated question, the answer to which must be Yes 
or No, the majority shall prevail in a free and fair vote.

The "majority" in the second case is not some group of people, but a 
group of *votes*. It is the majority of votes which wins, not some group.

Now, an organized and factional majority can hijack majority rule and 
make it into an oligarchy. Typically it does this by enforcing a kind 
of discipline within the faction. It really can be just as oppressive 
to members of the majority faction as to those in other factions.

However, this kind of "majority rule" depends upon the people being 
disempowered, upon them not having free choice. Choices instead will 
be constrained within the limits that the oligarchs determine. 
Demagogues will present a limited set of options and through fear or 
intimidation will sometimes marshall an apparent majority.

Voices of moderation within this "majority" party will be treated as 
enemies. Because party discipline is enforced, the "majority" that 
the party supposedly represents is really only, at best, a majority 
within a majority, and it is often worse than that.

When I say that the majority has the right of decision, to reiterate, 
it merely means that if a group of people are making a collective 
decision, and they vote, the decision most likely to benefit the 
group as a whole will be the considered decision of a majority, and 
the likelihood of benefit increases with the level of majority, until 
it is maximized with consensus. A bare, slim majority is almost a toss-up.

So from this point of view, awarding an election in a large group 
based on a single vote of margin is quite equivalent to tossing a coin.

Indeed, consider this election method, which has been actual practice 
in Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a version of the power sharing 
suggested, done in a manner which makes some sense to me.

Every year there is a general Conference at which delegates from 
regions gather. This is always held in New York, where the service 
office is located, but there is a travel equalization plan such that 
all delegates pay the same transportation and housing costs.

The recommended method of delegate election is that nominations are 
taken, then there is a vote. If any candidate gets a two-thirds 
majority, the candidate is elected. Repeated balloting is done until 
a candidate is found who is supported by that supermajority. (This 
would be a good use for Approval Voting, and, I'm not sure, it's 
possible that this is sometimes done, it would be interesting to check it out.)

If, after repeated balloting, no such candidate can be found, the 
winner is selected by lot from among the top two vote-getters among 
those remaining after others have withdrawn.

The theory behind this is that it provides some representation for 
minority factions.

Once gain, my point: majority rule is not appropriate for 
*representation*. Systems of representation should indeed share the 
"victories." I prefer, of course, systems of representation that are 
not oppositional at all, everyone is represented within the limits of 
practicality (which would allow much more complete representation 
than what we normally see).

Direct Democracy by Delegable Proxy, with reasonably inclusive rules 
for access to top-level assemblies, is an example of a system that 
would maximize such representation.

Actually, ordinary corporate democracy (share corporation democracy, 
where the "citizens" are shares, one share, one vote) is fully 
representative, because it is direct *and* mostly representative by 
voluntary choice of the shareholders in the naming of proxies.

>  > 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.
>They have to want to talk to each other.

That's correct. But not all have to talk to all. It's enough that 
some talk to some....

>Unionists were afraid that
>giving any power to the Nationalists would mean that they would move
>NI more towards the Republic (which is probably what they would do).

It's a zero-sum game, which is a disaster.

>Alternatively, there is no need for compensation if property rights
>are preserved in both jusistictions.
>Working out how much land prices drop would be pretty expensive.

I've done a fair amount of thinking about this with respect to 

Where there is partition and severe polarization still exists, the 
option to remain in place, if one is in a region dominated by the 
other side, could be a difficult or impossible one. Compensation is 
not a simple thing to work out, but it is probably cheaper than fifty 
years of war....

>Yup.  However, there was very little trust between the two communities.
>That is difficult to build up when random people are being killed.

Again, the FA/DP proposals link groups through trusted individuals. 
Somewhere there is a "Unionist" who trusts someone, *an individual*, 
who is a "Republican," and vice-versa. If these people are connected, 
it becomes possible for the groups to connect through them. 
Essentially, each becomes a proxy for the other group within his or 
her own group.

And this then brings us to the real problem: moderates in such 
situations can be considered traitors.

However, my opinion is that such situations are maintained by the 
disempowerment of the ordinary citizen. If FA/DP organizations were 
to form from the ground up, common sense would prevail, I expect.

In Palestine/Israel (one is considered a supporter of one faction or 
another by what name one chooses!), there were whole communities of 
Jews and Arabs who lived together as neighbors, in friendship and 
cooperation, for many generations. All this was disrupted when, on 
one side, outsiders came in and essentially took over, and on the 
other side, the people of hatred, in societies which did not have any 
kind of democratic tradition, being essentially oppressed by the 
Turks for centuries, were able to foment ever-increasing division.

If I write the simple history of this one, many will consider me a 
partisan. That's unfortunate.

The ordinary people had no trouble getting along. But gradually the 
violence chipped away at this.

I was active in a group and was very close to one Orthodox Jew, we 
used to talk every day on the phone and frequently met. It broke 
down. Why? Well, when the intifada came in the nineties, it was 
impossible to remain neutral. It's pretty difficult when you see 
children being shot on television.

> > 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.
>PR-STV achieves (or near achieves) the same thing.

It would seem that way, but Asset frees candidates from the necessity 
of campaigning and thus depends less upon political parties, and thus 
less on those who profit from polarization.

>   The main problem
>was that the Unionists and Nationalists didn't like each other.  Very
>few systems would work in that case.

Again, this might be true of groups, but if these groups actually 
honestly represented significant groups of people (rather than being 
an only option, if anyone else stuck their head up, it was whacked 
down), it would not be true that all of those in one group hated all 
of those in the other....

But the system did not allow these people to become peacemakers. 
There were those who benefited, who gained personal power, from 
polarization and hatred.

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