A structural fault in society owing to a design flaw in the electoral system

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Wed Oct 19 15:40:58 EDT 2011

Dear all,

I wish to share some theory work that's been keeping me from Votorola
lately.  It relates to Votorola because it points to a problem that
the software (in hindsight) was designed to solve.  For my own part, I
never understood the problem in its entirety, but this appears to be
the gist of it: [FAU]

   An individual vote in a general election has no meaningful effect
   in the objective world, and no effect whatsoever on the political
   outcome of the election; whether the vote is cast or not, the
   outcome is the same regardless.  Beneath this fact lies an
   extensive structural fault that emerges here and there in society
   as a series of persistent discontinuities between facts and norms,
   or contents and forms.  I trace the cause of this fault to a
   technical design flaw in the electoral system wherein the elector
   is physically separated from the ballot.  Crucially this separation
   removes the elector cum voter (the active decider) from the means
   and product of decision.  It thereby disengages the citizen from
   constitutional electoral power and its concomitant supports of
   equality.  I argue that the sum of these disengagements across the
   population amounts to a power vacuum, which, in mid to late
   Victorian times, led to the effective collapse of the electoral
   system and the rise of a mass party system.  Today, the organized
   parties make the decisions and exercise the electoral power and
   political freedom that were intended for the citizens. [QCW]

My plan is to draft the text quickly, then return to working on
practical things.  If I postpone the historical sections, research and
publication, then I can probably finish it in under a few weeks.  It
seems to be a strong theory.  I find a kind of independent
confirmation in critical discussions [H], in the design of Votorola,
and in Habermas's own theory and social history.

I plan to post new sections as I draft them.  Critique and comment are
welcome at all times.

 [FAU] The draft text is located here, with acknowledgements:

 [H] Links to public discussions are indexed here:

 [QCW] CW's steady insistence (Skype, 2011.9) that the economy has
     primacy over politics has led me to juxtapose (however clumsily)
     these two snippets of theory:

   * The individual labourer as such (as an artificer) being alienated
     from the product of her labour (artifact), is thereby disengaged
     from economic power and freedom.

   * The individual decider as such (elector cum voter) being
     alienated from the means and product of her decision (vote), is
     thereby disengaged from political power and freedom.

Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528

More information about the Votorola mailing list