[MG] Global advisory parliament

Wybo Wiersma mail at wybowiersma.net
Sat May 28 20:13:46 EDT 2011

@Ed, Alexander and Michael

> Welcome, Wybo. I appreciate your good cheer in debating all of us. :)

Np, though I will quiet down a bit now, as the thesis-work is mounting ;)

> If there is an active community debating whether or not a local park
> should be built in a township, then the critical mass is more like
> in the hundreds, perhaps even fewer.
> This sort of governance does not have to be left to politicians, and
> it opens the door for community-based open governance. If open
> governance can take hold on that scale (or really, I propose even
> smaller communities), then it can gradually scale as people realize
> that it is more effective, more democratic, and more free than
> anything that is left up to politicians.

As long as the politicians are the ones deciding about budgets and (local)
government actions, I guess getting politicians in on what ever a
community wants is neccessary, or at least enormously helpful (unless
the community, in addition to normal taxes, wanted to fund, and run
the park themselves...).

I do admit, by the way that I might have a slight bias towards
national and global issues, as I still move around a lot as a student,
and local issues generally don't interest me (also at least in all the
studies I have seen, turnout for elections is lower the more local &
the less powerful the posts they are for, are, with as the only 
exception elections for the EU parliament, but that could be due to 
other reasons).

> If metagov tools are useful enough so small communitys could use it to
> discuss their problems, it might be an easy step to connect communities with
> similar topics to each other via the mechanism that will enable the
> stand-alone-instances of communities to connect to all other communities in
> a p2p fashion. ...and crossforum theater might be helpful here.

Possibly, I mean there's likely more than one way. But unless it is
made super easy for people, and integrated in tools they already use,
and interesting for a wide audience, I think it will be very hard.

> There are a lot of small communities which discuss political topics.
> Some are NGO's, some are small political parties, they could really use it
> as an internal instrument for consensus. Some are just normal people.
> If differend NGO's and small political parties and other communities discuss
> the topic of democracy, they might find the content produced by these other
> communities via the p2p-mechanism or crossforum and so it might be possible
> to expand metagov tools to what might be called "critical size"

Much political talk within groups is social (to socialize with known
others) and/or specific to such groups, so I don't know whether with
information overload and all, people will appreciate integrating it to
a large extent.

> > ... Wikipedia could start out small, because a small Encyclopedia
> > (especially when indexed by Google so people find the article if it
> > existed) is already an Encyclopedia, and useful in its own right.
> You may say that if you wish, but it seems indefensible.  You make two
> assertions that both hinge on calculations of utility:
>   (1) A general encyclopedia in draft form is still useful as an
>       encyclopedia no matter how few articles it has, or how generally
>       incomplete those articles are.
>   (2) A single article in isolation of the whole is useful to readers
>       because it is indexed by Google.  The drafters who contribute to
>       the article are motivated mainly by this calculation.
> Would you try to defend either of these?  Neither seems plausible.
> Even if you succeeded, then you'd have to defend two other points:
>   (3) Such calculations could not motivate the early contributors to a
>       compendium of draft statutes.
>   (4) No *other* calculation or cause could sufficiently motivate the
>       early contributors.
> Only then would you reach the conclusion (unhappily for us) that a
> grassroots legislative initiative is doomed to marginalization unless
> it first achieves critical mass.  Do you still wish to make that
> argument?

I'm sorry, but if anything, you (Michael) would have to prove (make
plausible, I'm not that demanding) that Wikipedia and collectively
drafted statutes are sufficiently similar to warrant reasoning by
analogy on Wikipedias success.

And honestly where a Wikipedia article, even a stub, is written to
provide people with information (which they apparently were looking
for, or else they would not find it through Google), statutes, or
political proposals are not going to fulfill that need (they are
meanth to propose, not to provide impartial information), especially 
if formulated and/or supported by not more than minorities.

(and the people taking the time to write statutes out of the blue will
be minorities, and the people voting on statutes not debated in
existing parliaments and/or summits will also be few)

Anyway I'd be happy if you proved me wrong by actually making it work,
and getting the people to use it, but until that time I will have to
agree to disagree on this...

(I read all the other comments, but guess this was the most important

> > At best such an organisation would be looked at for it's management
> > techniques, but not for its political views. Politics is about 
> > participation in numbers (or other forms of leverage such as money if 
> > one is cynical), about people realizing others are critical of some 
> > situation as well, and politicians facing numbers, it is about 
> > critical mass.
> You see public affairs and mass politics as inseparable, but they were
> not always so [1].  C. W. Mills draws a distinction along moral lines.
> I feel his approach is more useful than an underlining of the status
> quo as a brutal fact.  Fact or not, it ought not to be. [2]
>   In a *public*, as we may understand the term, (1) virtually as many
>   people express opinions as receive them.  (2) Public
>   commununications are so organized that there is a chance immediately
>   and effectively to answer back any opinion expressed in public.
>   Opinion formed by such discussion (3) readily finds an outlet in
>   effective action, even against - if necessary - the prevailing
>   system of authority.  And (4) authoritative institutions do not
>   penetrate the public, which is thus more or less autonomous in its
>   operation.
>   In a *mass*, (1) far fewer people express opinions than receive
>   them; for the community of publics becomes an abstract collection of
>   individuals who receive impressions from the mass media.  (2) The
>   communications that prevail are so organized that it is difficult or
>   impossible for the individual to answer back immediately or with any
>   effect.  (3) The realization of opinion in action is controlled by
>   authorities who organize and control the channels of such action.
>   (4) The mass has no autonomy from institutions; on the contrary,
>   agents of authorized institutions penetrate this mass, reducing any
>   autonomy it may have in the formation of opinion by discussion.

I agree with much of this, but one has to start somewhere, and imho
letting everyone vote (and comment) on issues that are brought to
their attention by the mass media, and are actually being discussed in
parliament, and thus can be impacted in a timely manner, is more
likely of success, than not just doing this, but also trying to set the
agenda out of nowhere...

> Speaking of moral arguments, have you given any thought to my question
> below?
> > > > Why only advisory: - Because it will provide the best
> > > > interaction with existing institutions, and will be seen as
> > > > reasonable by the majority. ...
> > > 
> > > If we could somehow limit the public's influence on government to
> > > an advisory role, then how would that result in the "best
> > > interaction"?  I gave reasons why it *cannot* be so limited, but
> > > why do you say it *ought* to be?
> Why?

To work within the system, to get a broad base of support and
participation, and thus to maximize chances of actually improving
things in the end.

Maybe you should try talking about this to ten random people you meet
on the road, or in a canteen, and see what sticks with them and what
doesn't... Anything beyond advisory will not (and as said, I am not
even myself in favour of doing away with institutions that have shown 
to at least provide basic levels of social and political freedom, for
centuries in some cases).

I hope I sufficiently clarfied my viewpoints for now, and do
acknowledge the limits of my knowledge (critical mass is always
tricky), and that there might be more than one way (local first might
work, who knows until it is tried). Anyway, I won't be able to post a
lot in the coming weeks as I'm rather busy. But y'all keep up the good 
work for democracy (writing free software is never a bad idea :),


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