[EM] Trees by Proxy

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Tue Mar 20 20:52:45 PDT 2007

At 06:01 AM 3/20/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>While our thoughts on proxy are similar, I see what I am trying as 
>being far from Free Association.

Think about it a while, you might come around.... :-)

I originally developed delegable proxy having governmental structure 
in mind. However, I also had significant organizational experience in 
what was the model for Free Associations. And I realized that the 
combination could be extremely powerful and effective.

Free Associations are modelled after Alcoholics Anonymous, though 
much of the theory also resembles anarchist and libertarian thought. 
When Bill Wilson was putting together the Traditions of AA, which, 
with the Concepts for World Service, formed the structural concept 
for the organization, he had in mind a series of specific 
organizational failures from history, and he was trying to create a 
narrow-focus organization that would avoid these problems. He 
succeeded brilliantly. AA might have been successful, maybe even very 
successful, for a short time, without these limitations that he set 
for the organization. But it is quite likely that it would by now 
have been an obscure footnote in the history of alcoholism 
treatement. As it happened, AA, with very little funding (and the 
funding they had was almost irrelevant), rapidly expanded to become 
practically ubiquitous. There have been a few efforts to start 
competing organizations based on this or that alleged shortcoming of 
AA, but those efforts are tiny compared to AA, which is *everywhere*.

I'm not an alcoholic, but if I were, I could walk out the door any 
evening and find a meeting, probably within a short walk. When I 
lived more out in the country, I might have had to select a 
particular evening to find a meeting in my very small town. These 
meetings are all autonomous, they are all self-supporting. The 
central office, AA World Services, Inc., doesn't fund meetings or 
local activities. Rather, they fund it, out of the excess 
contributions coming from passing the hat, almost entirely. AAWS 
won't accept large donations or bequests from *anyone*.

Among people familiar with AA and the other programs that sprang up 
using the same principles, it has been common to think that there 
might be some wider application for the Traditions, but there has 
been little idea of how to scale the process, for AA really functions 
at the local meeting level, where it is direct democracy with a 
strong penchant for consensus.

(I mentioned that I had organizational experience in this .... I was 
national conference chair for a different 12-step program, not AA. 
There are *many* such programs. This one had a delegate conference 
with maybe a hundred delegates, mostly from the U.S. but a few from 
elsewhere. It was large enough to have problems of scale, which were 
partly addressable through a committee system; I also learned a great 
deal about the "persistence of inequities" effect throught his 
experience. My work empowered the delegates in an organization that 
had largely depended upon the elected Board; from what I now know, I 
should not have been surprised to find a backlash.)

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