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

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Wed Sep 28 15:56:57 PDT 2011


Hi Peter,

A friend pointed me to this article in today's New York Times: [1]
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/world/as-scorn-for-vote-grows-protests-surge-around-globe.html

  "Our parents are grateful because they're voting," said Marta
   Solanas, 27, referring to older Spaniards' decades spent under the
   Franco dictatorship.  "We're the first generation to say that
   voting is worthless."

I have an expanded explanation to offer concerning how the failure
developed from the original fault [2].  I intend to write this up and
submit it for critique, but please comment now if you see any glaring
errors.  The original fault (recall) is the breakage between these two
structural elements of society:

    * individual person
    * individual vote

As emphasized previously, it is a norm in modern society that the
individual person matters greatly (subject of human rights), while it
is a fact the individual vote matters not at all.  It is a fact that
the course and outcome of the election are absolutely unaffected by
the individual vote.  More generally, the vote has no meaningful
effect in the objective world.

Now consider the effect of this impotence.  The individual person (as
a voter) is disengaged from the electoral system, which is his/her
only formal connection to politics.  Politics is about power.  By
design, the vote is the individual's only means of exercising
political power.  But society has a great many voters, and the sum of
their individual disengagements across the population amounts to a
massive power vacuum.  This power vacuum was the most immediate effect
of the fault.

The power vacuum placed a strain on the electoral system, in turn,
causing it to collapse onto the party system.  The collapse most
likely occured in the latter third of the 1800's, when Britain was in
the process of expanding its franchise in a series of parliamentary
reforms [3,4].  Those expansions increased the electoral load while at
the same time increasing the power vacuum that had been straining the
system.  This combination of increased load that was designed for, and
increased vacuum that was not, caused the electoral system to
collapse.  It collapsed onto a party system that had itself been
expanding.  Thus the party system came to exercise the political power
that could not, owing to the fault, be exercised by the individual
voters.

The fault is purely a technical one.  It is certainly the cause of at
least some failures in the broader societal system, and it may be the
sole cause of the worst that are observed today [1].  But that is
uncertain, because abnormal behaviour in a complex, adaptive system is
usually very difficult to trace.

Peter Lindener wrote:
>    I my analysis finds two broken aspects to the flow of information
> regarding the true desires of the electorate into the governance
> policy decision process.
>   1st problems regarding the information flow of the electorates
> desires, is related to how are system of representation is currently
> configured....  Representational trust relationship management
> apparently does not scale well towards the many-to-one, infrequently
> group-selected, not so accountable, politically twisted by money,
> single representative.

I suspect that this failure too may be an indirect effect of the
original fault.  Might it not be caused by the breakage in the
electoral system (known fact) working thence through the power vacuum
and the party system to produce these symptoms of failure?

>   2nd regards to need for a wide open option choice spaces with
> prioritized preference ranking between each voters expressed ranking
> of alternatives...

Likewise here.  The paucity (in fact absence) of options available to
the individual might be one more aspect of the general failure.  The
chain of causes, however, could easily be rooted in the single point
of breakage in the electoral system.


 [1] Nicholas Kulish.  As scorn for vote grows, protests surge around
     globe.  New York Times.  September 28, 2011.  p. A1.
     http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/world/as-scorn-for-vote-grows-protests-surge-around-globe.html

 [2] Complexity in politics and society. (see bottom)
     http://metagovernment.org/pipermail/start_metagovernment.org/2011-September/004311.html

 [3] Universal manhood suffrage was introduced in France in 1848, and
     in the newly constituted German Empire in 1871.  But I follow
     Habermas in seeing Britain as a model case for such developments
     during this period.

     Jürgen Habermas.  1962.  The structural transformation of the
     public sphere: an inquiry into a category of bourgeois society.
     Translated by Thomas Burger, 1989.  MIT Press, Cambridge,
     Massachusetts.  http://books.google.ca/books?id=e799caakIWoC

 [4] The three reforms (1832, 1867, 1884) extended the franchise to
     roughly 14%, 40% and 60% of the adult male populatiom.  See:
     http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/citizenship/struggle_democracy/getting_vote.htm
     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reform_Act_1884

-- 
Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
http://zelea.com/


Peter Lindener wrote:
> Hi
>    Mike A-
> 
>    I my analysis finds two broken aspects to the flow of information
> regarding the true desires of the electorate into the governance policy
> decision process.
>   1st problems regarding the information flow of the electorates desires, is
> related to how are system of representation is currently configured....
> Representational trust relationship management apparently does not scale well
> towards the many-to-one, infrequently group-selected, not so accountable,
> politically twisted by money, single representative.
>   2nd regards to need for a wide open option choice spaces with prioritized
> preference ranking between each voters expressed ranking of alternatives...
> 
>    Both of these problems are fully addressable....  But the second of these
> challenges has only recently been properly addressed with in the more recent
> work the Joey Durham and I collaborated on together.
> 
>    Feel free to write with any questions you or others might be having...
> 
>    all the best
>        -Peter Lindener
> 
> 
> On Sun, Sep 25, 2011 at 6:14 PM, Michael Allan <mike at zelea.com> wrote:
> 
> > Dear Peter,
> >
> > > ...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 systems ... can be effectively addressed....
> > >
> > https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=11uyedC3rAWHaNZDIP5JLcVIcbL_1oTGdOeoYSTKhdxg&pli=1
> >
> > Thank you, I definitely agree!  I have a question about how the
> > delegable proxy works here, and I'll forward it shortly.  I'm a
> > software engineer working on project Votorola, and we use similar
> > models.  Maybe we can collaborate?
> >
> > > My own personal opinion is that the formalitys of Information
> > > Theoretic Social Decision Theory can be applied here..... This t
> > > gain significantly more insight as to what is not working in our
> > > current socio-political system....  Yes even in America..... There
> > > seems much is currently boken within our system....and it is not
> > > hard to use mathematical induction to show that such is so...So in
> > > that sense [Michael Schudson's] statement that things actually work
> > > in our American democracy...seems more like wishful thinking than
> > > critical, formal analitc review.
> >
> > Except that the break appears at a single point.  I took care in
> > responding to Michael's defense of the system that the voter not reply
> > as an offended victim of that system, but rather as a passive aspect
> > that insists on nothing but its own existence.  I now take it as a
> > structural fault (a break) and these are its two broken ends:
> >
> >    * individual person
> >
> >    * individual vote
> >
> > The individual person matters greatly in a modern society; while the
> > individual vote matters not at all.  The structure has failed at this
> > precise point, between the two.  My first impression of the immediate
> > cause and effect:
> >
> >   A. The electoral system's model of society is wrong.  The formal
> >      aggregate of votes in the count engine does not correspond to an
> >      actual aggregate of voters in society.  The individual votes are
> >      brought together to make a result, but the individual voters are
> >      not brought together *as such* to make a decision; therefore no
> >      valid decision can be extracted from the result.
> >
> >   B. The breakage is total, but the failure is non-catastrophic.  The
> >      electoral system has collapsed onto an external party system
> >      that is now carrying the full load.  The electoral system has
> >      been bypassed.  The result that was supposed to be a decision of
> >      the voters is actually a decision of the parties.
> >
> > I lack experience in this kind of system analysis, and this is only a
> > preliminary assessment in any case, but I think the cause and effect
> > (A, B) are palpable in the narrative.  Michael's defence is an attempt
> > to hold the structure up, but the fault manifests itself everywhere,
> > and the structure cannot stand as it was supposed to.
> >
> > Can anyone see a flaw in this analysis?  Please critique freely,
> >
> > --
> > Mike Allan



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