[EM] Trees by Proxy

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Sun Mar 25 21:18:00 PDT 2007

At 05:43 PM 3/25/2007, Juho wrote:
>I don't believe there would be one single method and
>formal procedures that would be best for all environments.

Right. It is not being proposed that FA/DP is for every 
organizational type, merely that it is an interesting tool that could 
rapidly transform society. Maybe. If tried.

As noted, a government *can't* be a Free Association, as we use the 
term. It is an oxymoron. FAs don't exercise sovereignty. A government 
*can*, theoretically, use Delegable Proxy, and we are quite 
interested in that, but consider it foolish to promote it at this 
time because of the utter lack of experience with DP, the Demoex 
situation being too short of duration and too problematic for other reasons.

But there is no reason to wait for experience for trying FA/DP. All 
it takes is an organizational opportunity. At this point, I'm mostly 
publicizing the concept, so that somewhere, someplace, someone will 
have the understanding to try it when the opportunity presents.

In addition, we have started a number of pilot projects, but none of 
them have attracted sufficient support to even test the concept, 
beyond a few indications. I know personally the value of assigning a 
proxy, because I've done it and it works for me in many ways, and 
I've only begun to rely on it, just a little.

>  (This
>applies also to many other discussions on this mailing list on the
>relative merits of different voting methods and discussions on "which
>one is best".) To me it seems obvious that FAs and legislative
>processes need different parameters, the expected behaviour of voters/
>members is different etc. Often concrete examples of the intended
>environment help me in understanding what cases the discussed
>theoretical concept are expected to cover. Proxies can be used in
>many different ways, as this stream of discussion proves.

Sure. I do suggest that we keep in mind a basic concept of the proxy, 
which is someone who exercises a right that the principal could 
exercise if present (and competent), having been freely assigned that 
responsibility by the principal, and subject to the continued consent 
of the principal.

As described, Trees by Proxy so constrains the citizens that some of 
this is lost, though it is unclear to me that these constraints are 
essentials of the system, but rather seem to me to be artifacts of 
the theoretician's additional opinions. For example, if we imagine 
Trees by Proxy as proposed by Ketchum, and then we add to it the 
following provisions:

(1) Voters may vote directly at any assembly by showing up and 
voting, technical constraints permitting. This presence does not, in 
itself, give them other participation rights.
(2) Proxy assignments can be revoked at any time by notice to the 
affected bodies by the principal.

These changes would bring the proxies into conformance with the basic 
concept I've described, and it is not clear to me that they would 
alter the basic function of Trees by Proxy, except to make it more 
democratic and free.

In considering these matters, one thing has become clear to me, that 
there are two sources of power and function. Voting rights come from 
the citizen and depend totally upon the continued consent of the 
citizen, who can substitute his own vote as desired (where practical, 
and generally it could be made practical), but "floor rights" are 
granted by a deliberative body, according to its rules. Floor rights 
might depend, provisionally, on, say, the number of proxies held, but 
they need not be restricted to this, and, in particular, an assembly 
could continue the floor rights of a member for a time even if the 
member loses proxies to fall below an established threshold. There is 
no harm in this; the *voting power* of the member is reduced. 
Similarly, an assembly might delay the admission of a new member 
based on number of proxies held having reached the threshold.

It's all about what the *assembly* decides. And with proxy voting as 
the norm and direct voting allowed, it would seem that we would have 
the best aspects of direct democracy and representative democracy combined.

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