[EM] Helping the Pirate Party to vanish
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
abd at lomaxdesign.com
Wed Mar 13 12:44:04 PDT 2013
At 11:09 PM 3/12/2013, Michael Allan wrote:
> > We invented delegable proxy [DP], also known as liquid democracy and
> > by various other names, more than a decade ago to allow the
> > formation of consensus in large groups, efficiently. DP, however,
> > will not reverse or disable the Iron Law. However, it does provide a
> > means of watching it and limiting the damage from it. ...
>(Abd's an expert on election methods. He's also written on the
>topic of liquid democracy/DP, back as early as 2003.)
Thanks. That came out of about twenty years of study and experience
in various organizations, including 12-Tradition organizations built
on the AA model, but also other consensus organizations, such as
cohousing communities, and various nonprofit organization boards.
> > ... In my work, and because DP was untested in large organizations,
> > I always combined DP with a Free Association [FA] concept. ...
> > The FA provides the communication structure and *the same structure
> > can be used by competing parties.*
>Providing communication structure for their members is also the
>focus of technical parties like the Pirates and Partido de
>Internet. They look similar to FAs in this regard. They're bound
>by similar principles of freedom of information and expression that
>(by the Iron Law) seem to be incompatible with the exercise of political power.
The first model we could look at for a political FA/DP organization
would be Demoex in Sweden. They did not undertand the risks -- few
would. They created a *real political party*, which, then, of course,
met opposition, *solely on that basis.*
From my point of view, they made a series of mistakes.
1. They created a "bound councilmember," someone pledged to vote as
they decided through their own process. This, then, created a council
member *who could not negotiate,* defeating the function of
representation in deliberative democracy.
2. They thought of delegable proxy as a computer technique -- and
that was necessary because they needed *definitive votes*, and quickly.
3. They did not maintain the advisory structure distinct and separate
from the "executive/legislative structure." Really, the principle I'm
asserting here is the separation of the judicial and executive
functions. While we may not think of it that way, judicial structures
are advisory to the executive (and other organs of government.) They
do not ordinarily exercise direct power, they rely upon others for
the exercise of power.
4. Because they had developed this concept of "direct democracy," and
that was the definition of the experiment, they did not consider the
option of recommending voting for *existing or other members of the
5. They did not understand the possibility of organizing and
facilitating *direct citizen involvement* in *advising* voters and the Council.
I consider "instructed seats" to be a Bad Idea, defeating the purpose
of representation, which is *participation* in deliberation; instead
of going that way, rather, we can affirm a much older and established
principle, that of *chosen representation.* That is what appears in
an FA/DP organization, where a Proxy simply votes their own best
opinion, and Clients who generally trust that Proxy -- having named
him or her -- may still directly vote in a contrary manner, if they choose.
And if this is within an FA, decisions are not being made about the
exercise of power, not directly. Advice is being generated as to the
relationship of some proposal to the views and understanding of the
entire membership. That can include recommendations of how to vote in
an election, and each Proxy can generate, for their own clients,
independent advice, there is no central decision, only central
If the public election system is Asset Voting, it's all unnecessary
as to selecting seat members. The public system is itself a bottom-up
hierarchy. built from voluntary choices.
> > However, the existing system generally assumes that parties compete,
> > and often ignores the possibility of cooperation. DP technology can
> > make it possible to estimate the breadth of support for some
> > position, and consensus is powerful. If what people want to do is
> > fight and win, they may accomplish something, but necessarily at a
> > cost and with the reduced efficiency of dealing with opposition.
>(You speak of political parties, but here I suggest they can be
>swept away by the technical parties. Effectively their open DP
>primary dissolves away the political boundaries that separate the
>parties, which now become fluid in DP.)
I predict that if a technical party facilitates the formation of an
FA/DP structure, rigrously applying the traditions that have been
described, the party structure (the *organization*), if it respects
and duly considers the advice it gets through the FA/DP structure,
will be nothing but successful. It will win elections, and it will grow.
The general membership, to avoid loss of this structure due to the
Iron Law, must be vigilant. If the techical party arranges itself so
that it is *dependent* upon the continual and direct support of the
general FA membership, or, at least, of some caucus within the FA,
damage from the Iron Law can be avoided, and the oligarchy will
maintain its natural function as servants of the people.
There must be respect in both directions.
Notice my mention of "caucus." A large public FA with self-declared
membership *will* attract members of "opposing" parties. But the FA
itself never takes controversial positions *as an FA.* It merely
reports on polls taken of the membership -- as to direct vote, by
whom, and as expanded by proxy representation. I mentioned, in
another post, the concept of a "natural caucus." Such a caucus, or
some collection of them, can effectively represent any political
party in FA process.
FA discussions, when a large scale is involved, *must* be controlled,
or the noise will overwhelm them. That's where "proxy rank" comes in.
In the U.S., we don't like the idea of, say, a *Republican* being
involved in our political discussions. If we are Democrats. So, fine.
We can have a caucus that works internally, and that only allows
declared Democrats to be members. If this is a "natural caucus,"
there is a ready and efficient decision-making mechanims, the choices
of the proxy at the center of the caucus. He or she is running that
natural caucus! But a natural caucus discussion group *can* welcome
certain "outsiders," if they are capable of useful discussion.
Further, the FA will have some sort of "top-level" assembly, where
participation is limited to those who represent a certain number of
members. (There can actually be more than one of these, on occasion,
but if the FA is following FA traditions, it's not likely to be
necessary, it's merely a safeguard against abuse.)
I don't see FA/DP as killing political parties, though it *could*
make them less necessary. Asset Voting could make political party
affiliation and endorsement irrelevant to actual election to an
Assembly. But political parties could still have a function.
> > FA/DP -- like AA -- is about *communication*, the FA itself has no
> > power to fight over. AA deliberately avoided property for this >
> reason. Don't like a meeting? Start another. The saying in AA is,
> > "All you need to start a meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot."
> > And so AA harness the natural differences that appear in people to
> > multiply meetings like rabbits. The more meetings, the more
> > available meetings are when people need them....
>That's how open the technical parties ought to be. Anyone with a
>coffee pot should be able to fork a party (a technical platform) and
>invite the members (users) to try it out.
Yes. There are many ways this could be implemented. The "meetings"
could be physical, local meetings, or they could be, as an easy
implementation, a mailing list. The FA would *not* give out the
mailing addresses of ordinary members. However, I'd have the proxy
designation process involve an exchange of direct contact
information. Every member who wants it could have a home page, and
might list possible activities.
What I'll call the FA Assembly may also, by vote, establish
centralized discussions, typically with limited participation, but
each one could be paired with an open forum that allows anyone to
comment directly. (Or not. I'd want to see how it works! -- and I
prefer to see people represented in high-level discussions by a
trusted proxy, with people themselves advising their proxy, who then
acts as a *chosen filter.* A proxy who passes on useless garbage, too
often, may find himself or herself censured by that high level group,
which *can* manage its own process, a basic principle.)
>This means open primaries (electoral, legislative, executive, etc.)
>based on free-range voting. It's this that will sweep away the
>political parties. Or can anyone foresee a problem with this approach?
The FA process that I have in mind can function as a cost-free open
primary. It's advisory, and the party, wishing to be advised by it,
can look at affiliations of members. It is not, I hope, bound to
accept *anything*. One of the reasons for a totally open proxy system
is being able to make complex judgments based on member information.
A party would set up a nominating committee, I'd think, that could
propose candidates *based on that advice,* and an FA poll could
indeed be analyzed as to party affiliation of members. Political
parties are supported by particular people, who contribute to that
party's campaign activities, either wtih funds or with labor. Those
people have a natural right to determine party nominations. (And a
party can be structured to avoid the domination of wealth, that's a
Would we want a small party's nominations to be dominated by members
of a major party? Open primaries have been a disaster in some areas.
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