Re: How do we keep our movment from getting hijacked?


Richard Moore

From: "John Pozzi" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: How do we keep our movment from getting hijacked?
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 18:28:00 -0500

Dear X,

A direct democratic movement that includes
everyone on earth can't be hijacked.

John Pozzi
beyond the matrix

Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001 07:23:52 -0800 (PST)
From: Jessica Markland <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: How do we keep our movment from getting hijacked?
To: •••@••.•••

This is a really important question. In the late 60s I
joioned the Radical Feminist movement in Toronto. They
wanted to have a leaderless group, and formed us into
small cells.

  My experience was that they were so much opposed to
having leaders, that most people were scared to
volunteer for anything or take the lead with an idea.
So basically those who formed the mvoement, and were
not scared, were the leaders.

  Also, in my opinion, our movement in Toronto, in the
early days, also got a bit sidetracked by the number
of lesbians who joined and whose agenda was certainly
different from mine.

  I have only scanned your material on this, because
I'm on vacation and can only access Internet via local
library, but it needs a lot of thought.

  Perhaps an anti-manifesto? This is what we are not.
This is how we do not behave. So members can have some
awareness of what a hijacker might be like?

Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001 11:43:12 -0800
To: •••@••.•••
From: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: How do we keep our movment from getting hijacked?

Dear Richard:

As usual, I love your perceptive coherence.  I think you/we
are hot on the trail of something important here....

Did you know that you can get a book created for free, using
the new print-on-demand technology?  I know you're trying to
write a coherent book, but I think you might consider
getting some of your essays published in this way while you
do the coherent one.  Take a look at
.  Rosa and I will most likely be using this approach to get
some stuff off my website into book form.

You also might consider publishing some of the
correspondence like this in a FAQ on your site, since you
ARE answering questions, after all...

A few comments on your essay:

    > Nonetheless, 'an-archy' - the absence of hierarchy -
    provides I believe the key to answering your question.  As
    regards terminology, I think the word 'decentralization'
    means about the same thing as 'an-archy', and it isn't quite
    as frightening to contemplate.  So I tend to talk about
    'centralization' vs. 'decentralization'.

you might try "panarchy" - rule by everyone/everything/the whole

(it is basically synonymous with "self-organization", the creation of order
[governance/rule] by the whole system or organism]

    > business.  The second is that we, in the course of
    civilization, have not not had nearly as much practice with
    decentralized structures as with centralized ones.

True, "in the course of civilization."  In prehistory,
however, we had a lot of experience with decentralized

It is useful to note that "civilization" has "civ" at its
root.  Civ is CITY.  Hard to decentralize a city, but that's
part of our challenge, isn't it...?

    > So what we are looking for is a way for 'the people' to
    _first deliberate, and _then to decide what they want.

Some intriguing approaches to this that I've just learned
about in the last several weeks, include:

Philadelphia II/ Direct Democracy. and Plan for a
Healthy Democracy Referenda -

Philadelphia II is one of the most "out of the box"
proposals I've ever seen.  The people involved seem a bit
arrogant, but they have done good work.  I think it is a
useful concommitant structure-proposal to the more
freely-evolving movement you are envisioning.

    > I am now beginning to work with others in pursuing
    research of various kinds aimed at demonstrating and
    customizing these processes - and bringing them to the
    attention of wider audiences.  We believe that a few
    strategically chosen 'success stories' might have a
    transformative effect on 'movement consciousness' and lead
    to widespread application  - and ongoing refinement - of the

Can you give me more info on this project, even if it's an
"imagineering" story, so that I could it put up on my
innovations website (hopefully to attract further

    > A recent successful precedent can be found in Porto
    Alegre, Brazil, where for years a participatory process has
    been used to manage the city's budget.  People first get
    together in neighborhoods, and then delegates get together
    at higher levels, and so on until a budget emerges for the
    whole city. The process is made possible because the
    Brazilian Workers Party has been elected to office in Porto
    Alegre, and in the surrounding province.  But the party does
    not 'run' the process hierarchically, and does not determine
    its outcome. There are one and half million people in Porto
    Alegre, and they have found a way to harmonize their various
    interests without using hierarchical methods.

But we need to be honest here.  One and a half million
people aren't involved in this.  I understand that 10-20,000
people actually participate in these meetings -- which is
still amazing.  But it isn't a million. However, surveys
suggest that 85% of the people support the process -- even
in the face of an antagonistic local press.  That is a very
important fact.

I'm wondering if perhaps the ideal of universal
participation needs to be qualified to allow for various
kinds of volunteer and representative conversations that
aren't as mathematically inclusive as the one you outline. 
Off the top of my head right now, I think the guiding
principles might be something like this:

    a)  Does everyone who WANTS to participate get to do so in
    ways that (1) suit their level of interest and (2) are fair,
    considering the population of everyone else who wants to
    b)  Are all perspectives/voices (stakeholders, whole
    population, meta-voices [earth, future generations, etc.])
    adequately respresented in the conversation?
    c)  Is the essence of the dialogue (if not always the
    dialogue, itself) visible to the larger community (usually
    through the media, online, briefings, etc.)?
    d)  Is there a dialogue-rich culture in which all this is
    taking place, so that there are hundreds of informal
    conversations happening around the periphery of the central
    conversation, digesting its implications?  These informal
    conversations set the stage for (e) and (f).
    e)  Are there ways for the larger population to provide
    input into and, ultimately, to pass judgment on the progress
    and/or conclusions of the dialogue being carried out on
    their behalf?  (Final voting is the simplest approach to
    this, but there are many others.  (e) is the form of
    participation that, in the absence of (a)-(d), turns into
    the manipulable democracies we're familiar with.  However,
    it is essential and, when combined with (a)-(d), very
    f)  Perhaps most importantly:  Does the entire process seem
    to the larger population like it reflects their views and
    needs and provides a satisfactory approach to collective
    decision-making?  (This is the question of "legitimacy" --
    the ability of a decision, policy or system to engage the
    cooperation of the people without the use of force.  Since
    PR can [and, in modern societies often does] generate a
    pseudo-legitimacy, it is important to have a meta-process
    for regularly reviewing how well the
    deliberation/decision-making process is serving the people's
    needs.  An interesting attempt to do that is suggested in .)

See also


Tom Atlee

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Dear Tom,

Thanks for your lively thinking.

    > I'm wondering if perhaps the ideal of universal
    participation needs to be qualified to allow for various
    kinds of volunteer and representative conversations that
    aren't as mathematically inclusive as the one you outline. 

What you are describing, at risk of over-simplifying, can be
called a 'jury' approach.  Those seem like they would be of
value in _any society, and fair play to you for promoting
their use under current cirumstances.

At the same time, one needs to have a primary governance
mechanism of some kind.  My investigations have convinced me
that voting is an inherently dysfunctional mechanism for
that purpose - whether it be for candidates or for
referenda.  Also, centralized power structures, I believe,
are inherently self-aggrandizing, and cannot provide
sustainable self-rule.

Hence, I think it is essential to develop our understanding
of how a fundamentally bottom-up system can be made to work.
 Within such a political environment, I'm sure the jury-type
system would be employed as a way of dealing with specific
projects in a representative way.


How ironic that you should express interest in:

    > I am now beginning to work with others in pursuing
    research of various kinds aimed at demonstrating and
    customizing these processes".  

_You are one of the people I consider myself to be working
with in this regard!  We've influenced one another rather
harmoniously, and we're each working away.  As far as I'm
concerned we're doing research together.   Rosa and I have
talked about some specific project we'd like to pursue, and
I hope we'll be able to pull something together by the time
I get there in August.  And I keep getting introduced to new
people, and new initiatives - the network keeps growing. 
Just today I learned about the Chaordic Alliance, which
seems to have some useful angles in it.

in collaboration,

Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
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