[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.

Great idea.

>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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