[EM] The structuring of power and the composition of norms by communicative assent

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Fri Jan 16 04:40:20 PST 2009

Replying to Kristofer Munsterhjelm and Juho Laatu,

Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:

> Ultimately, what we want is for the "representatives" to be
> effectively aligned with the wishes of the people, while not being
> disproportionally more aligned with the wishes of those who have
> more power.  How to do that isn't obvious, since the mechanisms
> don't know about power.

In the context of executive elections, where the issue is power
itself, the voting mechanism actually does "know about power".  It
will be deeply informed by it, assuming the proxy structure and the
power structure are in close alignment, as I predict (see original
post, section 2).  I figure we'll be voting for proxies partly
*because* they are plugged into a power structure.  So there would be
no separating the cross influences - of votes on power, and power on
votes - the two would likely join as a whole.  (At first, I thought
that was definitely a problem.  Now I think it might be OK.)

But if the question is influence peddling, I agree that the proxy
structure offers more opportunities to a vote buyer - more than the
periphery of voters anyway (see my other post) - but probably no more
than the status quo.  In one sense, there is *less* opportunity than
the status quo, because the candidates and their supporters (proxies)
will have less need of money.  The voters will be informed by
peer-to-peer communication and (where the issue is executive office)
by the actual competence of power, so bills for mass advertising
campaigns will be reduced.  It might no longer cost millions to get
elected, so there'll be less need for candidates to sell themselves.

Juho Laatu wrote:
> I note that flexible proxy systems are
> in some respects also safer than current
> systems with fixed representatives since
> those changing proxies are harder to
> contact and they are not really part of
> the "fixed club of leaders" that may well
> have lots of all kind of bindings and
> dependences among them.

I think Juho's argument is best supported in the context of normative
voting, where the issue is the on-going construction of a norm, such
as a law, and the typical proxy is also a drafter.  In that context,
vote shifts will be guided almost exclusively by the distribution of
text in the population of drafters - attractive text content pulling
in votes - and the anticipation of influencing that distribution -
votes pushing text content.  In such a shifting, fluid environment,
it's hard to see where a corrupt (bought) drafter could hold
influence.  With no structural supports for her corrupted decisions,
she'd get washed away in the general flow of votes.

It would be different if people were voting for her - not because of
her text content, or her drafting and consensus building skills - but
on the basis of other, irrelevant factors.  For example, she might be
a popular Hollywood actress.  Her fame would then give her an external
support, and the relative freedom to write anything she liked into her
text (suppose), and still retain a following among her irrational
fans.  She could therefore sell that freedom for money, if she was

Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521

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