[EM] Sociological issues of elections

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Sun Oct 27 05:12:59 PDT 2013

Fred Gohlke said:
> This is not to say elements of Pivato's method can't be improved.
> The part of his method that must be preserved, and the beauty of his
> insight, is the concept of a dynamic political structure that
> embraces the entire electorate and gradually ebbs and flows in
> concert with the changing circumstances of the people.

I've been compiling a comparative table of designs.  I added Pivato's
"pyramidal democracy" and your "practical democracy".  I'm framing it
in terms of "popular decision guidance", which I try to ground in
sociological theory.

   Popular decision guidance is the regulation of administrative
   decisions under advice of the lifeworld.  The guided object is
   always a power-structured decision system as depicted in figure
   PDG, while most designs would place the guiding subject (the guide)
   within the communicatively-structured public sphere of the
   lifeworld.  Such a public form of decision guidance was first
   attempted in the late 1700s, but the public sphere at the time was
   unable to hold up its end of the arrangement owing to structural
   faults, and it subsequently failed.  What follows is a comparison
   of different forms of guidance (guideways) that have since been
   proposed.  Taken as corrective designs, these would be intended to
   structurally reinforce the public sphere in its traditional role of
   confronting the administrative system.


There's a long list of designs below the table that are currently
excluded from the comparison because I haven't researched them yet.
Eventually I hope to cover all the more inclusive methods of decision
(not just guidance).  I'm less interested in the election methods
commonly discussed here in the list because they'd mostly be identical
under this comparison.  But if anyone knows of an unconventional
method that I missed (or a proper guidance method), please let me

> re: "... if Pivato's method yields legislative directions
>       that are valid, then we can expect those directions
>       to be followed by any competent legislative body, even
>       if it wasn't elected by a Pivato method."
> That doesn't necessarily follow.  The competence of a legislative
> body is dependent on the method by which its members are selected
> and elected.  Pivato's method is a bottom-up - pyramidal - process
> that lets the people elevate their most meritorious citizens.  It
> lets the people channel political leadership toward those deemed
> most committed and competent by their peers, thereby ensuring a
> competent legislative body.

(Yes, I didn't mean to imply otherwise.  But now having re-read
Pivato's paper, I see it's just an election method.  It yields no
legislative directions.  So please ignore what I said.)

> re: "... the problem of "who are the law makers" already
>       has an electoral solution that's difficult to change,
>       being cast in constitutional stone."
> It is accurate to say the existing electoral solution is difficult
> to change.  However, in the United States, the existing electoral
> solution is not 'cast in constitutional stone'.  Nothing in our
> Constitution expresses or implies the right of political parties to
> control the political infrastructure. ...

By "who are the law makers", I mean the decisive answer.  The answer
comes from an electoral system in which the parties have no decisive
input.  They have all the initiative and they use it to dominate the
elections, but they do it without the power of decision.  Meanwhile
the body of electors who have the power of decision are passive and
without initiative.  Although they decide "who are the law makers",
they do it like a thermostat (a twist on Kristofer's analogy) decides
the temperature; as a passive instrument.

In itself, I think that's a good thing.  The decision makers in a
democracy should always try to behave like that.  Except the guiding
hand they invite to turn their dial should be that of the public, not
the parties.  But somehow the public is collapsed on the floor and
unable to reach the dial or speak in a coherent voice.  In one view,
the parties *had* to step in and take control under these
circumstances in order to avoid a legitimacy crisis.  A modern
democracy cannot stand without a legitimizing public.  The only reason
it continues to stand (in this view) is because the parties are
propping it up by acting as surrogates for the public and we (mostly)
pretend not to notice.


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