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[liberationtech] Freedom in the face of power and a vanishing vote

Peter Lindener lindener.peter at
Fri Sep 23 00:13:57 PDT 2011

Dear Mike -

     Some of your points seem near the truth....But then not completely spot
Granted that our current methods for a Social Decision process from an
Information theoretic point of view, fails all tests of legitimacy from the
point of view of conduction the aggregate will of the electorate into the
governance decision making process.... and as such, by conclusion must only
be rituals designed to satiate the masses into thinking they had some input
into the decision process.

   And granted you do make the point of personal alarm that would seem
fitting....but it is not entirely a lost cause....   These problems
regarding the transmission of the desires of the electorate into the
governance process can with the appropriate Social Network based  Decision
be effectively addressed....

   In summery you are spot on regarding the limitation of choice space....
and also the unresponsiveness of representation to those who are not
donating $$$s to political campaigns....

   But there are much bigger challenges Noam
Chomsky<>point out involving
the electorate apparently being effectively blind to
media driven mass manipulation.   I personally think this will resolve it
self by means of neurological maturation once our Social Decision systems
mature to actually respond to the will of the electorate...


On Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 11:37 AM, Michael Allan <mike at> wrote:

> Dear all,
> I'm posting to ask if anyone has heard an argument like the following.
> I know that the rationality of voting is sometimes questioned from an
> economic standpoint of cost and benefit [1], but I never before heard
> an argument that puts that benefit at exactly zero, or draws the moral
> conclusions with regard to individual freedom and the legitimacy of
> state power and laws. [2]
>   I used to believe that I was free because I lived in a democracy
>   and had a vote; but the truth is, I have no political freedom at
>   all.  Whether I vote or not, and regardless of who I vote for:
>     (a) the candidates are chosen ahead of time, and I have no
>         influence over the choice;
>     (b) the course of the election is unaffected by my vote;
>     (c) the outcome is the same, regardless;
>     (d) state power is unaffected; and
>     (e) the laws are unaffected.
>   If I disobey (d) state power or (e) the laws, then I am brought
>   into submission by force.  The powers that affect me are unaffected
>   by any comparable power of mine.  In regard to my political
>   freedom, I might as well live in China or Saudi Arabia.
>   Disobedience is my only freedom, and yet the cost of exercising it
>   is physical confinement or worse.  In this regard, it follows that
>   I am a slave.
>   By a corollary, state power and laws have no moral authority or
>   legitimacy.  In embodying a disregard for my liberty, which is the
>   most fundamental of human rights, they forfeit any claim to
>   reciprocal recognition.
> The conclusions are difficult to swallow.  But the argument as a whole
> seems solid, and I think this comes from its rigid focus on the
> individual.  Has anyone heard this argument before?
>  [1] Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt.  2005.  Why Vote?  A
>      Swiss Turnout-Boosting Experiment.  New York Times.  November 6.
>  [2] The argument was developed in these discussion posts:
>      It continues in these (which are temporarily inaccessible):
>      (see Writing a charter)
> --
> Michael Allan
> Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
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