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

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Fri Mar 23 12:02:32 PDT 2007

I started the Trees by Proxy thread March 18, in response to thoughts YOU 
had expressed:
      Abd has a new concept he calls Free Associations.
      Responding to YOUR thoughts, I propose keeping traditional 
legislature structures and responsibilities, doing the elections via proxy.

I do not pretend to have all the details sorted out - it has been less 
than a week since your post inspired me.


On Fri, 23 Mar 2007 19:33:24 +0200 Juho wrote:

> 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  clear.
> Juho
>> 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.
>> DWK
>> 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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