[EM] Helping the Pirate Party to vanish
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
abd at lomaxdesign.com
Mon Mar 18 15:20:32 PDT 2013
At 04:41 AM 3/18/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>On 03/18/2013 03:49 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>At 05:29 PM 3/17/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>>>Given that there has been zero experience with the use of liquid
>>>democracy for the exercise of power, yes, I am asserting something on
>>>which there is zero experience. There's zero experience either way.
>>I'm not proposing "liquid democracy" for the actual exercise of power,
>>precisely because it's untested.
>Alright, I think there's been some confusion here. Let's clear it up.
>Since I was talking about this in the connection of the primary
>mentioned by Allan in the parliamentary compromising thread, I was
>thinking of liquid democracy in the sense of a continuous election
>for the purpose of exercise of power.
And, in fact, you and Michael Allen may also have been talking past
each other. Or at least one past the other, and does it matter which
one? No, let's just get it clear.
Allan was referring to what he calls a "primary." This is *not*, I
expect, the kind of primary we see in two-round runoff, where options
in the second round are limited and maybe a decision is made in the
"primary." He uses the term primary to refer to a discussion and
process that, among other things, measures the degree of consensus
among participants on some issue. It does not, itself, decide the
issue. Someone or something else does that.
In all the more-complete structures I've proposed, a more traditional
structure is hybridized with a delegable proxy structure, such that
the latter is *purely advisory.* While advice can be powerful, if it
is trusted, the decision of what to trust is left to those who are
going to *act* (or not act), whether the action is voting in an
election, making some decision using executive power, or voting in an
assembly on some issue, whatever. In a free association of
shareholders, the delegable proxy process would advise shareholders
individually, and they choose the degree to which they want to trust
their own proxy in the DP process. The process does not officially
assign their corporate proxy (unless a corporation decides to
automatically do it, which is a kind of decision I'd not yet
recommend, until we know much more about how delegable proxy
*actually works*. The inconvenience of actually needing to personally
and individually assign a share proxy is small, compared to the
security of not tossing everything into the care of an untested system.
This is a concept which reserves power for individuals. That's why it
is relatively secure, by design.
Yes, if there is some *binding character* to delegable proxy
discussions and polls, that's dangerous. There is then an attractive
target for corruption. While a highly trusted proxy might be
targeted, that's just normal "talk to power." I.e., through the
proxy, talk to the entire natural caucus. It's the caucus itself that
has the power, not the proxy who defines the caucus.
The problems of trust in the proxy are the problems that we routinely
face in life. Do we trust our physician, knowing that the physician
might be tempted to advise according to "standards of care
>If you're arguing that my objections do not hold when liquid
>democracy is used in an advisory setting, then we're talking past
>each other; and then I should repeat that I agree with your
>suggestions of what to do. Let's use liquid democracy to produce
>advice. Let's see what happens, and gain experience.
>If, on the other hand, you're arguing that even though there has
>been no experience in the use of liquid democracy for the exercise
>of power, my objections to it are inapplicable for logical reasons,
>then I can explain and elaborate on my reply.
No, there are reasons to object. We could argue about how *strong*
they are, but that's actually speculative no matter which way we slant.
The objections may be valid in one context and not in another. There
may be some problem that none of us can anticipate.
FA/DP is *actually revolutionary,* but I noticed something about
prior revolutions, where they were developed first in thought and
abstranct analysis. When applied as if the thinking and analysis were
"truth," the results were sometimes totally horrific. I'm thinking of
the communist revolutions in particular. It is not necessarily that
the analysis and abstractions were "wrong," but that they were
incomplete and did not understand all the details of how human
societies function -- and fail. Instead of being implemented with
caution, they were implemented with force and such certainty that it
was considered legitimate to kill for them. That was hubris, and the
results were disastrous, and we still have not completely recovered
from the damage.
That does not mean that, what, laissez-faire capitalism is perfect.
It isn't. But some aspects of it work, and have worked for a long
time. In order to replace what we have without great harm, we need to
thoroughly understand it. Sometimes things look other than what they
are; for example, hoarding and profiteering, bad, right? Well, maybe,
sometimes. Sometimes they are the way in which a social structure, a
collection of traditions -- such as concepts of property --
anticipates shortages and buffers them. There may well be better ways
to do it, but for every example of someone who profited greatly from
"greed," there is someone else who lost his shirt because of it.
Basically, we need to realize how little we know, and proceed with
humility. We can do better than we did in the past, I *declare* that,
and I trust it. Most of all, though, we need to listen.
>So, before we continue, are we talking about liquid democracy for
>the exercise of power or as a deliberative and advisory system?
There are some defending LD for the exercise of power, but I don't
see that they have a successful demonstration of that. Demoex is a
mixed bag. Demoex did use LD for a short time, but, as far as I know,
abandoned it. (I don't see clear descriptions of what they are *now*
doing.) I see complaints about how they are not being successful,
blaming it on everyone else. I.e., the stupid City Council that
wouldn't promote Demoex. That might not be fair, for various reasons,
but ... the point is that we don't know. Demoex has not really
engaged with the rest of the community interested in delegable proxy
and expanding public participation in democratic process; what Ive
seen has been of the nature of promoting their approach for
imitation, and not for improvement. Again, I'd love to be wrong.
>I say again that I don't object to liquid democracy or delegable
>proxy for advisory purposes. I was talking about liquid democracy
>used to exercise power. If my phrasing, "Regarding liquid democracy
>methods in general" was the source of this confusion, then may that
>clear it up.
It is possible to propose liquid democracy methods in power
structures, but ... it raises a host of problems that should probably
be solved first, most notably security and (in)vulnerability to
corruption and coercion. In advisory structures, there are still a
few issues but they are far less serious in potential impact, and
less likely to be real problems, or, in particular, there are
relatively simple solutions that have to do with how the advice is
generated and analyzes. That does *not* need to be a central
function, expect for providing certain convenient -- and verifiable
-- analytical tools.
Lots of Liquid Democracy proposals consider that it's the internet
that makes it possible. No. Delegable proxy would have worked a
hundred years ago, in certain societies. It's about the
person-to-person *structure*. What technology changed was speed, not
substance. However, speed is important. Nevertheless, the necessary
speed, for large-scale process, was supplied by long-distance
communication, and that *could* have been done with much earlier
technology. Local structures (i.e., say, in a city) don't absolutely need this.
One of the working ideas, a decade ago, was to take DP to Brazil for
use for representation of remote villages in central national
consensus-formation. Those villages would *not* need to have
high-speed communication. But, of course, if they do, back-and-forth
negotiation that involves, potentially, the whole remote community
becomes possible. Otherwise their trusted representative(s) would
simply represent them.
(They are not *forced* to send any single representative. However,
the more they send, the higher the expense. If they can cooperate,
they can keep the total expense down. DP naturally negotiates these
compromises. The key is not to allow coercion, but little can be done
about "social disapproval." There are ways to handle the situations
that can arise, but anticipating them all in advance is a waste of
time. I only write about the most obvious possibilities, just to
address the general ideas. The real organizations will be formed by
the truly involved people.)
(What must truly be respected about Demoex is that *they did it.*
They did not just talk about ideals, they actually implemented
something. However, now, Demoex, the next step is review.)
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