[EM] critical theory - election methods as a remedy

Fred Gohlke fredgohlke at verizon.net
Thu Mar 19 11:54:03 PDT 2009

Good Morning, Michael

re: "My offer of free software is not much help, because you
      cannot modify it yourself.  But you may find someone who

I'm sorry.  I'm so out of step I didn't even realize you'd offered me 
free software.  You're right, though.  I couldn't modify it.

re: "The voters may note it, too.  Their judgement may suffice.
      Or, for your part, you may impose a limit on group size.  We
      could then experiment.  (The system isn't centrally
      administered, so individual towns and regions can easily do
      their own thing.)

When I first read this, I didn't understand it.  It didn't seem (to me) 
to relate to the question of finding the optimum group size.  Now, I 
think you're referring to your software.  You're saying those who use it 
can decide among themselves what group size would be most effective.

I fear you're several steps ahead of me.  I'm still struggling to reason 
my way through the human relationships inherent in a selection process 
like Practical Democracy.  So far, although I've visited the links you 
provided, I haven't been able to internalize the material.

re: "Maybe the method is strong enough to handle this without
      forcing sortition?  We could argue that a tension between
      partisan and non-partisan motives - between the particular
      and the general - is not an accident of politics, but the
      essense of it.  And if we expose the voters to this
      essential tension, then maybe the method's hierarchical,
      tree structure will provide the means to express it and
      resolve it.  I imagine it would be resolved, bit by bit,
      through trial-and-error vote shifting.

      Crucially the tree structure allows the resolution to
      occur at the level of single votes.  A single vote may
      simultaneously express both assent and dissent for a
      candidate.  It expresses a general willingness, on the one
      hand, to bend toward consensus (rootward), while being in
      tension with a particular interest, on the other hand, that
      is more-or-less dissenting (leafward).  The deliberate and
      sustained casting of the vote is the crucial act that holds
      the structure together.  So it is very strong.  (Structural
      strength is needed, because the method is not only for
      elections, but also for direct legislative voting.)"


Initially, I took the 'method' mentioned in the first sentence to be the 
Practical Democracy method.  Thereafter, I was lost.  Now, after 
re-reading it several times, I think you're talking about the way of 
your software functions.  Forgive me, but I'm unable to respond 
intelligently on that topic.

re: "I missed your specification of vote shifting.  In which post
      was it?"

Members of triads are under no compulsion to select either of their 
peers.  They may choose as they see fit.

The more I read your post, the more I think we're talking at cross 
purposes.  I keep thinking we're critiquing the concept of Practical 
Democracy, but you seem to be talking about how that concept can be 
integrated with your software.  Although I've visited your site, I 
haven't been able, so far, to get a good handle on what I've read. 
Could we start by discussing the purpose of the software, and then, 
later, how the software helps achieve that purpose?

Fred Gohlke

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