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

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Mon Jan 19 00:09:21 PST 2009

Juho Laatu wrote:

> > If private and public opinions differ, then which is the
> > manipulated one?
> If they deviate it is hard to imagine
> that the private opinion would not be
> the sincere one.

That's because you are thinking of individual opinion.  Consider:

  * private opinion informed by mass media, and likewise measured by
    mass elections with a secret ballot

  * public opinion formed in mutual discussion, and likewise measured
    by peer-to-peer voting with a public ballot

It makes a difference when people act socially (inter-subjectively)
amongst themselves, rather than alone.  When they act alone, they are
apt to be systematically manipulated as objects.  Alone they have
subjective truth (personal sincerity), but together they have
communicative reason (mutual understanding or consensus).

> I think the common practice is to force
> privacy on everyone in order to allow
> the weakest of the society to keep
> their privacy.

That's because you are thinking of an administrative context.  Force
is permitted in that context.  We can be restrained from choosing our
own voting methods, at the polling station.  We can be forced to use
the methods as provided, or to abstain from voting.

The public sphere is different.  There, people can choose their own
means of expression.  We cannot restrict them to a private voting
method, except by violating the principle of free speech.  And if that
didn't stop us, the law would.
> It is true that public votes help
> implementing some features, but in
> most typical ("low level") elections
> privacy has been considered to be
> essential.

Privacy is essential, I agree, but it's insufficient.  The secret
ballot *does* work in state elections.  I don't mean it any
disrespect.  But it will work even better when it's complemented by a
public ballot in cross-party primaries.  (That's what I argue,

Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521

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