[EM] Free Associations (was: Trees and single-winner methods)

Juho juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Mar 23 10:33:24 PDT 2007

On Mar 23, 2007, at 7:56 , Dave Ketchum wrote:

> I suggest you look at Trees by Proxy as a better base for your  
> thoughts.
> It provides for electing legislatures, such as boards of trustees  
> or elders, via continuous elections (proxies).
> Unlike Free Associations, these have traditional powers and  
> responsibilities.

I agree that the "traditional powers and responsibilities" can not be  
replaced overnight. And even if it was possible I wouldn't recommend  
to do so (often such ideological experiments have failed). The FAs  
could however be a useful tool at the edge of the political system. I  
don't expect the difference to traditional political ways of working  
to be very big, but reminding of the need to keep the system flexible/ 
responsive/open/discussing is a good thing to do.

Maybe it would be good to discuss separately about each of the  
proposed ideas (FAs, proxies, continuous elections, permanent  
representatives, use of tree structures etc.) to keep the discussion  


> I said nothing of parties, but said nothing against parties.  I  
> suspect they would have less power than with traditional elections.
> The actual "electing" of someone wishing to be a legislator has  
> little formality.  The attracting of enough proxies to make one a  
> legislator with muscle could get involved.
> On Thu, 22 Mar 2007 21:50:47 +0200 Juho wrote:
>> On Mar 21, 2007, at 21:02 , Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>>> "Free Association"
>>>> Is it still "free" if it is part of the "official machinery"?
>>> If it is part of the official machinery, it is not free, most   
>>> likely. Free Association is a technical term I coined to refer  
>>> to  an association with a certain set of characteristics. It's  
>>> free in  a number of respects. It is free in that it is not  
>>> coerced.  Membership in a free association is solely at the  
>>> choice of the  member. You can't be expelled from a Free  
>>> Association. Again,  necessity allows what may otherwise be  
>>> forbidden. The Association  is a Free Association in other ways:  
>>> freedom of association  includes the freedom *not* to associate.  
>>> FA meetings can set their  own rules; these are the rules of the  
>>> meeting, not of the Association.
>>> It is free in that there are "no dues or fees."
>>> FAs are actually the default organization of peers; but peer   
>>> organizations very often devolve rapidly into something else,   
>>> particularly if they see some success. Power structures appear, etc.
>>> Another important aspect of the FA is that it is "free" from  
>>> bias.  The FA does not take positions of controversy. You can  
>>> join an FA  without thereby endorsing *anything.* Except possibly  
>>> the simple  idea of association itself, of free discussion and  
>>> voluntary  coordination. So you can join the Range Voting Free  
>>> Association and  be totally opposed to Range Voting. Indeed, we'd  
>>> invite you to do so!
>> I'm trying to analyse the difference between parties and Free   
>> Associations. The formal machinery calls established political   
>> groupings of people "parties". They are clearly part of the   
>> machinery. In most countries people are free to form new parties.   
>> (Depending on the current political system they may have  
>> different  chances of becoming really influential parties.)
>> The Free associations that you described seem to differ from  
>> parties  roughly in that they have a very limited set of rules and  
>> are  therefore more "free" than the traditional parties. I noted  
>> at least  the following possible differences.
>> - one can't be expelled
>> - no permanent rules (only per meeting)
>> - no fees
>> - no power structure
>> - does not take positions of controversy
>> - members don't endorse anything (except the existence of the   
>> association itself)
>> - members may be against the basic targets of the FA
>> A party with very relaxed rules could be a Free Association.  
>> Maybe  people are also free to choose whether to influence via FAs  
>> of more  formal parties and the system could support a mixture of  
>> these two.  (In this case FAs could be part of the "official  
>> machinery" (but only  lightly regulated if at all).)
>>> But I'm pointing out that if enough people belonged to a  
>>> political  FA (which means an FA that is interested in politics,  
>>> not one that  is partisan, in itself), and if this FA was DP, the  
>>> people could  control the government, without breaking a sweat.  
>>> It would not be  the FA controlling the government; the FA merely  
>>> provides the  communications, it would be the people.
>> Hmm, maybe I'm trying to point out that the formality of the  
>> groups  (FA vs. party) is a flexible concept, and that some people  
>> might feel  that "controlling the government" is possible also by  
>> having rather  rigid parties that the voters can choose from (and  
>> trust that hey  will efficiently drive the policy that is written  
>> in their program).
>>> Indeed, the people already control the government, only they are   
>>> asleep, so they act in accordance with their dreams, those of  
>>> their  own, or those induced by the dream masters.
>>> I'm suggesting that the people awaken, not in the sense of  
>>> Awaken  and Throw Off Your Chains, but in the sense of simply  
>>> allowing  group intelligence to arise. I'm not attempting to  
>>> prejudge what  that intelligence will decide, and I would  
>>> certainly advise caution!
>>> Instead of waking up and thrashing about, which in the stupor of   
>>> recent sleep can do a lot of damage, just wake up and look  
>>> around.  Smell the coffee. And start to talk about it.
>> It seems that what we are looking for is a political system that   
>> allows people to influence and not get e.g. the feeling that  
>> whatever  way they vote, the professional politicians (and  
>> potentially also  lobbyists) will promote their own goals, never  
>> mind the voters, and  will never give anything more back to the  
>> voters/citizens than  promises. I'd call that a "working  
>> democracy". Free Associations  (="very free and informal parties")  
>> could be one tool in achieving  that but I think also formal  
>> parties, different political systems,  voting methods etc. can be  
>> used to achieve that. (Same with proxies  and "continuous  
>> elections".)
>> Juho
> -- 
>  davek at clarityconnect.com    people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
>  Dave Ketchum   108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY  13827-1708   607-687-5026
>            Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
>                  If you want peace, work for justice.

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