More to Fair Vote about making progress


I rechecked about Italy and Greece. Yes, they are not very good examples of proportionality. And I should stop using Wikipedia as an authority about country's voting systems. The Greek system of giving the largest party extra seats so it has a majority is beyond ridiculous.

And it does seem that the more a country has a genuine proportional system, the more it is able to stand off "austerity". Actually, austerity is a weasel word for being placed under tribute. When a country is conquered from without or within, things usually get very "austere" for most people.

So, I think that the best way to protect the country from neo-liberalism, or better to call it neo-fascism, is to have a true proportional system. In Canada's case, it seems to be closing the drawbridge after the barbarians are already inside. And as I have said before, the way to get PR is to put forward the simplest, easiest to explain, most effective and most proven system.

Participatory Democracy and Proportional Representation

Now, as for this statement; "I do find it a bit odd that you complain about Dave bring up new ideas beyond the usually discussed PR systems, and then bring up this "beyond PR" stuff which is even less proportional than first past the post though."

I recently came across a quote from Edwin Land, the inventor of color photography; " It isn't that we need new ideas, but that we need to stop having old ones". The problem with "Dave" is not that he has a new idea, it is that he has an old idea that keeps coming up over and over no matter how often it is shown to be misguided. I think a couple of other people made the same point about it in more detail than I could.

There are rarely any new ideas. Ideas that solve the problems they are applied to have usually been around for awhile. For some reason people cannot or will not use them until they have tried just about every bad idea around first.

Participatory democracy is a very old idea, going back to the start of recorded history. Where it has been applied it has worked very well. Ancient Athens is the classic example, but it is applied in village councils all over the world. The modern example of it is the Brazilian city of Porto Allegre and its imitations.

As for it being "less proportional"; he doesn't get it! Proportionality is only a consideration if you have a partisan system. PR makes "majority rules" systems less unjust and volatile, but it is still inferior to a consensus system. It is in fact an intermediate step from a representative system toward participation and consensus.

Consensus means making decisions by discussing things until everyone or nearly is in agreement, rather than voting on it so that there are winners and losers. There are many different methods of dealing with dissenting minorities which can be studied. Consensus does not mean that minorities stop anything from being done until they get their way, or every bone head around can waste everybody's time on nonsense.

There is an evolutionary process going on here that he is also not getting. Over time people evolve in stages away from rule by force to less barbarous forms of governance. It is the same way human knowledge and competence develops in all other areas. This is also why you find a non existent contradiction between me explaining where things are going, and me not wanting to hear the same old crap that keeps coming up over and over.

making progress

As I said, a problem leads to a solution which opens up one or more new problems requiring a new definition of the problem and a different set of solutions. What solved the previous problems usually does not solve the next set of problems. So, Participatory Democracy needs to be treated as a new topic from Proportional Representation, although a related one.

So, a group like Fair Vote needs to take a different approach to these two problems. With PR, discussion should be over; we know the problem, we know the solution. It is about demanding that the solution be implemented, with no more nonsense from establishmentarians who see it as a threat to their privilege. Acting as though this is still something unknown or unproven, in need of more debate, is self negating behavior.

As for PD, this still is largely an undiscovered country. There are some successful examples of modern cities being governed in this way, although with limited powers. While there have been some limited experiments with national government by consensus, they have really been under communist autocracies and of a consultative rather than participatory nature. No modern state has been governed according to a consensus system.

The nature of a consensus system is that it must be built up from the local level. That is very hard to draw out from a representative system with all sorts of local councils and representatives seeking to protect their own power. This is why advocates of participatory democracy must focus at first on local government.

It is also why it is good that at least some elements of Fair Vote are focussing on local government. However, they need to work like a separate department from groups working on PR for federal and provincial governments. As Ryan Campbell shows us, advocating for both at the same time, in the same venues, tends to confuse people.

That is why his idea of splitting this discussion into different areas could be very helpful. The question is, what format, what software?

As well, having separate discussions will not eliminate the need for strong monitoring of the discussions to insure that there is integrity. If the aim of the discussion is to educate people, then the discussion must be lead by people who are actually knowledgeable about the subject. The ignorant must not lead the ignorant; that is the big problem with internet discussion groups and it is very destructive to human progress.

It is correct that Fair Vote has not been making much progress in recent years because it is not clear about what it is for. It needs to take a closer look at how voting reform movements have had more success in other countries. If it does not finally decide what specific system it is going to advocate, I am going to start tuning it out for the time being.