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Forum Post: Pluralistic ( Constructive ) Democracy

Posted 10 years ago on Dec. 6, 2011, 2:04 p.m. EST by Nanook (172)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Oakland! Occupy Portland! Occupy Boston! Occupy LA! Occupy Everything! Please read this. Please try to understand it. Please try to implement it.

One of the highest VALUES we hold in every protest is the word DEMOCRACY. And ALL of us want "better" democracy. HOWEVER, what philosophers have long understood, and what most people don't understand, is that the form of democracy established by the Greeks, in either its representative or direct form, was FATALLY FLAWED! They quickly found that out. It only lasted in Athens for 40 years! That flaw is commonly referred to as the "tyranny of the majority". We also know it as "majority rule" or "lynch mob democracy".

What this means is, in short, no matter how well we control voting access, or fraud, as soon as a VOTE is taken, the minority (the losers of the vote), do NOT get what they want. Their freedoms are suppressed. So, why do we put up with this? Why don't we change it? Because, for 2500 years, people thought the way we vote was the best alternative! They thought it was the ONLY way for people to have "a voice". But this "voting" process is still cherished like a shrine by the whole Occupy movement. While we all realize there are major flaws with representative democracy, our knee-jerk response is to grab on to direct democracy, failing to acknowledge the fact that the way we envision implementing direct democracy is still flawed with the same major problem.

So, PLEASE, let's end this tragedy once and for all. And yes, not only have I recognized this flaw, but I've constructed a solution for it. I'm only going to summarize it here. To read a more complete description, please look at A3society.org , on the Democracy tab: Tyranny of the Majority and Fixing Democracy.

In short, the flaw in conventional voting arises because we view the voting process in light of a two party system. To align with that system, we CONSTRUCT laws in a TWO OPTION format. We then vote on the two options, i.e. A vs. B, or yes vs. no, and end up with ONE result. That's the problem! ONE RESULT. This is then forced on everyone. Most people can't even imagine that there might be another way. But there is. A very simple example shows one example.

Let's say a group of people decide to go as a group to the beach. Using our current model of democracy, two people, Jim and Jill, are selected to prepare lists of things which the group needs to take. A vote will be taken on which list to use – MAJORITY RULES! Sounds fair, right?

Jim presents his list: 6 coolers of beer, pretzels, 6 Frisbees. Jill presents her list: hamburgers, buns, potato salad, green salad, soda for the kids, napkins, hand wipes etc. 3 pages! Two other people are then selected to "debate" the lists. Joe speaks for Jim: "short and sweet list; not much to carry." Jane speaks for Jill: "Our list is much better. Jill considered everyone. It's an all day event. We'd starve if we accepted Jim's list." Joe responds, "Jill's list is hopeless. There's no beer, pretzels OR Frisbees."

OK. Time to vote! The vote is 53%/47%. 8 men, including the bachelor on the block, voted for Jim's list; 7 women voted for Jill's list. Jim's list was the winner! Well - almost. The women then had their own meeting and decided to boycott the event. So, the beach was cancelled and everyone lost.

While this is obviously an overly simple example, it is an accurate analogy to show how the democratic system of voting we have now is DESIGNED for failure. Here are some reasons:

The process immediately limits (over constrains) the choices. Only 2 alternatives are available to pick from. This is a major failure of a two party system.

By limiting the choices, it creates a simple, black and white, adversary environment. The use of just 2 options, yes / no, or A vs. B, "characterizes" the process as a contest, thereby implying "opponents". This model feeds on strongly inherited psychological drives which tap into strong human emotions.

To develop a "winning" strategy, the issues are exaggerated to clarify them and "polarize" the voters. People are then FORCED to select from sets of exaggerated options that neither side really wants. The process changes from a "selection" process to an "avoidance" process – voting to NOT GET something we most don't want.

To avoid losing votes, many issues that might have value to many voters, but are controversial for a few, are left out, further narrowing the result.

Because of a similarity to warfare, also typically a 2 party process, people are pushed to take "sides" early, so personal animosities can be added to the processes, losing site of the real issues. The vote may then be decided based on social issues ( political parties ) rather than any of the real issues involved.

When the choice is finally made, only those items included in the winning package are kept. Any "good" items in the losing package are lost.

The significance of the individual is lost. The outcome is a conglomerate number, e.g. 53% / 47%.

But how can this process possibly be done any other way? We have to VOTE, don't we? Fortunately, there are alternatives. Most of them are pretty SIMPLE, once they are explained. Let's plan for beach day again. This time, however, NO Yes/No VOTING!

Jim and Jill "volunteer" to be supply "coordinators. Jim offers to start. "I think we need beer, pretzels and Frisbees. "This is where the process changes. He asks, "Who wants beer?" 12 hands go up, some with one finger raised, some with 2 fingers. Jill counts the fingers and writes down: beer – 18. "Who wants pretzels?" 6 hands go up. Jill writes down: pretzels – 2 bags. "Frisbees?" 4. Jill also has some ideas, "obviously we're going to need food, drinks for adults and kids, utensils, games, toys. Let's start with the food. Any ideas?" The group replies, "hamburgs and hot dogs for sure; sausages here; I'll make potato salad; Phyllis has to bring her apple pie; I'll do the photography … etc. "

Let me list, specifically, how this is different.

There is NO "conventional" VOTING. But voting is actually going on. In this case it is "inclusive" or "constructive" voting. That is, each individual person is "voting" their assent to include something.

There are NO constraints on the choices.

There are NO adversaries. There is NO contest. And when the issue of cost comes up, since each person will be expected to "pitch in" for the things they receive, that also becomes a decision totally in control of each individual.

There is NO need or value for exaggerating issues. People get what they want, in the form they want, at the level they want. They also DON'T HAVE TO TAKE what they DON'T WANT.

The choices are not limited any more because some "influential people" might not want them.

There is no longer any reason for "taking sides" or aligning with a group to get what a person wants. Choices become completely personal and are made entirely based on issues, not affiliations.

No one is denied what they want because it was not in a "package deal". Every item is decided individually. Furthermore, during the process, if someone overhears someone else list "chocolate fudge brownies", which they didn't even think of, they can ADD those to the list, without causing any hardship to the other person who came up with the idea. That is, NO ONE is forced to forego anything because it was on the losing side of a vote.

And, NOTE WELL, the FREE CHOICE of EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL is finally achieved, down to the smallest detail. This was no longer an 8 to 7 vote with 7 losing and 8 going along with Jim's limited viewpoint. Every person's voice was TOTALLY and INDIVIDUALLY included. And, more profoundly, this approach would work just as well if 100, or 1000, or 1 million people were going to the beach with us!

This is how most bills before congress should be constructed. THIS IS HOW MOST ISSUES BEFORE THE OCCUPY GENERAL ASSEMBLIES SHOULD BE HANDLED!

I know there are complications. But don't throw the many benefits of this FREEDOM BABY away because of blind fear. Help make it work.

More details can be found on http://A3society.org on the Democracy Tab.



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[-] 1 points by April (3196) 10 years ago

This is incorrect. Our current Representative Republic recognizes more than an either or situation or A vs.B situation. The job and the very necessity of Congress is to find compromise solutions for legislation. This is further enhanced by the separate branches of government. Especially the Legislative and Executive branches working with eachother to find solutions and compromises.

There is absolutely no need to change our Representative Republic form of government.

As for the Occupy GA's. They should lose the anarchy and direct democracy nonsense. It's absurd. It looks like pre-school. I can't help but wonder if the people there are even potty trained yet.

[-] 1 points by Nanook (172) 10 years ago

I wish you were right. But, if Congress was doing what you said, the country wouldn't be in such terrible shape.

But I think you are missing the significance of the new approach. Let me reinforce just one part of my concept that the current process can never come close to. Pluralistic Democracy does NOT have to settle for compromise. In a compromise, two extreme situations are set up for the parties to battle over. When they come to a middle ground, both sides lose something. With a plural approach, each side would get what they want. And because of that, all the corruption disappears! Once you're able to understand how this works, I think you'll change your mind.

[-] 1 points by AFarewellToKings (1486) 10 years ago

There is a constraint though, the budget. Or only so much room in the car to carry stuff. Or one person wants to bring their dog but another is allergic? People working to come up with improvements is sure nice to see. Keep at it!

[-] 1 points by Nanook (172) 10 years ago

@AFarewellToKings - Correct! And to be honest about it, some of the constraints will still be tough. But every question I've run through this process comes out so far ahead of where we are now. Thanks for the encouragement.

[-] 1 points by hidden (430) from Los Angeles, CA 10 years ago

Yes, and this two party voting system is not a coincidence, it's strategically designed to set people against each other to prevent formation of movements. The greatest strength of OWS movement is that it doesn't take sides. We share the same goal "Informing the public".

The system you proposing, is to vote on isolated solutions, not on certain individual, party. Trough, if I'm not mistaken, you still want to have representatives to present the solutions. But do we really need them? Here is another idea:

Imagine a platform, where everyone can anonymously post a solution with complete description. He must take all the necessary steps to promote promote the solution to get minimum amount of voters and when the required number is achieved everybody get notified to vote on it. Also random notification can be utilized for ideas that did not reach the minimum amount of voters. Voting for or against does not take much doesn't require much though so instead, everybody should not be voting directly on the solution. But on the points comments in support of the solution or in critique of the solution or post your own. The post voted for comments will float up, so people can get an idea of the solution with the first glance. They would see how many votes in support and in opposition of the solution in all support comments and in all opposition comments and the most important issues. Also, the solutions with the most voters will float up and people would be able to change their vote any time they want.

Like this: http://www.occupyr.com/Strategy/thread.php?id=582

The critique for every solution is very important, especially when our media not only fails to critique the wrong solutions, but also is paid to promote them, disinform the public about the proper ones and cover them up.

So people wouldn't blindly vote on something they don't understand more so on individuals they don't really know besides what media want people to know about them.

[-] 1 points by Nanook (172) 10 years ago

@hidden - My method is not "exactly" voting on isolated solutions. Rather, it would be collecting individual opinions about details to CONSTRUCT a result. For example, with healthcare, we wouldn't ask people to choose single payer or private payer. Instead, there would be a list of options for people to "choose". Let's say, there was a single payer option and 2 private payer options proposed. People would "choose" one. Let's say the results were 50%, 30% and 20% of the vote. That means, the government group putting together the new bill would design it so 50% of the population could use single payer, and 30%, 20% could use private payer. The group's job would be getting this to work out well for all involved. A similar approach would be used if there were 3 forms of "single payer", and 7 forms of private payer.

As for representatives, NO, don't want them in the form we have now. They would be replaced by "specialists" who's job is to get in touch with the voters who chose one of the options and make sure what the voters really wanted was understood and included. Methods like you outlined would fill in the details.

I describe all of this in a lot more detail at http://A3society.org under the democracy tab.

[-] 1 points by hidden (430) from Los Angeles, CA 10 years ago

I don't think I'm grasping the concept. Would we keep all the options presented for voting and just adjust their budget?

About the "specialists", I don't think that's a good idea, it would concentrate too much power in their hands and they would get corrupted. We have plenty of specialists among public, do we really need someone else to moderate us.

collecting individual opinions about details to CONSTRUCT a result.

I think we need something more transparent so everyone can see how the decisions are being made and how the proposals are being contracted. Right now it sound to me like a dream of every marketer, where all the information about market is being provided to him to construct his marketing strategy. So he could promise a lot and do nothing, just like Obama.

Though, I'm gonna read that "democracy tab" to understand the concept better.

[-] 1 points by Nanook (172) 10 years ago

Let keep talking about this. No, the options for voting change completely. There aren't any representatives working on Bills any more. This is where the "specialists" come in.

For example, if the people through a national referendum type process think we need a policy on preserving forests, then a "team of specialists" is pulled together to create that policy. This would include forestry people, fire fighters, soil and water people, road people, camp ground people, wild life people etc. The point is, the people working on the bill wouldn't be politicians who don't know squat about the details. Second, there wouldn't be any way to corrupt the developers because their job would only be to develop options. The specialists do not vote. When it comes time to vote, that vote goes back to the people in the form of direct democracy.

As for transparency, no problem. The information behind every detail would be totally public so the public can make good decisions when voting. But also remember, the new type of voting isn't choosing one item over another. It would be each person selecting how much of each item to include.

Let's make this clear with an example. Let's say the Sierra Club gets a lot of signatures on a petition to set aside 1 million acres for a new national park. By the old method, this would be put up for a vote: Yea or Nea. No other choices. Use a plural method, the whole process is different.

The "development team" is selected. Naturalists nominate "green" EXPERTS, business people nominate "industrial" EXPERTS. But education, government, law, finance, transportation, recreation etc. also send experts. All of these experts collect ALL of the relevant information and put it into a form that direct democracy can respond to. A national "vote" then captures how IMPORTANT each item is to the appropriate audience - i.e. national, regional or local. Those items are then put in the bill in PROPORTION to their importance. When that's done, we FINALLY have the "will" of the people captured about all the issues.

A new team expert at bill simplification and organization craft a final bill for direct "vote". Here is where the process really comes together. The "final" vote is not Yes or No. The final vote decides whether the teams did a good job capturing the "will of the people". If not, the bill goes back for rework.

So, this new process addresses and solves all the problems you anticipated.

[-] 1 points by hidden (430) from Los Angeles, CA 10 years ago

The "development team" is selected.

Who decides and selects the team? Who decide that we need a park? Who nominate and choose the "specialists"? By which criteria? Only "specialists" can prepare a bill? It's gonna be up for people to vote anyway, then why do we need to nominate anybody? Why not just let volunteers do the writing? The "green" EXPERTS can just volunteer.

It would be each person selecting how much of each item to include.

Let's take the beach example, what if two of them wanted to rent a helicopter to the beach, who is going to pay for it? Or if people want progressive taxation over flat tax? Free unconditional medical care for everybody? Or shelters with basic meals for homeless? Or carbon emissions progressive taxation? Or progressive land taxation? Or wall street transaction taxation? Or import per export ratio taxation?

Btw, I been reading the web-site, some good thinking put into it.