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

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Jan 30 13:52:32 PST 2009

--- On Thu, 29/1/09, Michael Allan <mike at zelea.com> wrote:

> Juho Laatu wrote:
> > But I think people [a] also try to keep
> > the internals of their head in good
> > order. They don't voluntarily become
> > irrational inside. Many [b] believe that
> > they are almost always right and
> > consistent, and want to maintain
> > this belief.
> Agreed, but it can't be understood from just one
> perspective
> (private).  Private individuals draw strength from public
> engagement
> (its positive aspects), and this protects them from its
> negative
> aspects.  Engagement with others helps them to [a]
> "keep the internals
> of their head in good order", and [b] challenge their
> own personal
> biases and blindnesses.  Thus strengthened, they can look
> out for
> themselves.  This much is built into people.  It's a
> given.

Yes, the input from the surrounding
society is typically necessary and
often positive.

(I hope the role of public image
doesn't get so strong that people
would start thinking that their
whitened teeth and wide smile are
what they are, more than their
internal thoughts. :-)

> Given that, it would be ideal if people could use that
> strength to
> look out - not only for themselves - but also for society
> as whole.
> Because modern society is more than the private and public
> spheres,
> and the larger whole can be threatened in ways that people
> aren't
> equipped to deal with.  So it would be ideal if we could
> build the
> necessary equipment into society, in the form of
> institutions.  A good
> first step (I think) would be to give our voting systems
> the same
> private/public synergy as people have.

I think the democratic political
system already is supposed to have
these features. The systems can
and should be improved though.

> Currently, they're too one-sided.  They take individual
> opinion
> straight from the private sphere (one way), and they inform
> it via
> mass media in the public sphere (other way).  That's
> not the kind of
> dialogue that people are built to handle.  It was the best
> we could
> mangage in the past (and a big step forward), but now we
> can try to do
> better.

It is unfortunate that in many
societies people consider the
"institutions of the society" not
to represent "us" and our opinion
but "them" and their needs. Where
that is the case, reform is
clearly needed.


> > Sometimes the pressure of the society
> > may force the voters to make good
> > choices. But also the other direction
> > is possible, e.g. when the dominant
> > opinion is to discriminate some group
> > of people.
> I was at ChangeCamp on the weekend (an un-conference about
> governance), here in Toronto.  One of the best sessions was
> "How do we
> promote and maintain a sense of personal
> responsibility?".  It gave me
> the idea of adding some stories to Votorola's home
> page.  All of these
> are concerned with responsibility, and two of them (2 and
> 4) show how
> social pressures (different kinds) can actually contribute
> to it:
> (pardon my writing skills - and pardon the length of this
> post)
> (1) Who to nominate as Mayor?  It's a difficult choice,
> and you need
> more information, so you decided to begin close to home, by
> voting for
> a neighbour.  She's something of a leader in the local
> community,
> someone you know pretty well, and whose opinion you respect
> - a good
> choice for a delegate.  But now you're looking over the
> latest
> results, and considering whether to shift your vote.  You
> can see how
> your vote has been carried from delegate to delegate, until
> it reached
> a consensus candidate.  But there are several of them, and
> it's
> difficult to choose among them.  So you decide to speak
> with your
> neighbour, and ask her, "Why do you think *our*
> candidate is the best
> choice?"
> (2) Someone has initiated a proposal to change the Landlord
> and Tenant
> Act, and people are voting on it.  You're concerned
> about the issue,
> because you live in an apartment block.  But you're
> unsure how to
> vote, so you decided to vote for a friend who works at a
> real-estate
> agency.  And now you're with some neighbours and
> they're shaking their
> heads.  They say you're voting for the wrong version of
> the proposal -
> one that puts apartment dwellers at a disadvantage.  So you
> call up
> your friend and ask, "Are you sure we're voting
> for the right version
> of the proposal?"
> (3) You are crossing the local park, when you meet someone
> who is
> carrying a sign.  She says she is campaigning to improve
> the park, and
> has a plan.  She explains the plan to you, and it sounds
> pretty good,
> so you cast a vote for her from your mobile phone.  Later
> that night,
> you're looking over the details on her Web site. 
> You're thinking,
> "Maybe there's something I can do, to help."
> > Not also that it is possible the
> > people will not vote at all (or vote
> > as some opinion leaders expect them
> > to vote) if they fear that this is
> > a test of their understanding.
> (4) *** joining channel #albion ... synced in 0.043 secs
> chri. So which draft of the EU constitution are you voting
> for, Nick?
>       Or do you have your own draft, like me?
> nick. You're kidding me, Christabel.  I'm voting
> against the whole
>       thing.  Brussels can stuff it.
> chri. Are you out of your tree?  Brussels is opposed to it.
>  If we
>       don't reach *some* kind of agreement, then
> we're stuck with
>       whatever the Eurocrats give us.  Nick, you're
> voting for the
>       status quo!
>       ...
> chri. Look Nicky, you know me, we see eye-to-eye.  Why not
> vote for me
>       on this one?
> nick. Sure Chris... if it matters to you.
> chri. You see, I've gathered quite a few votes for my
> draft.  It's no
>       big deal, I've only made a few changes here and
> there.  But they
>       listen to me.  The drafter I'm voting for (she
> has a lot of
>       votes) she's using my changes!  And so on, down
> the line.  It's
>       kind of fun.
> -- 
> Michael Allan
> Toronto, 647-436-4521
> http://zelea.com/
> ----
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