[pp.int.general] Democracy in PPI
admin at game-point.net
Sun Jan 17 19:34:20 CET 2010
On 17/01/2010 15:45, Eric Priezkalns wrote:
> I'm grateful to the people working in PPI to support the national Pirate
You have a funny way of showing it.
> However, speaking as someone who was active in founding the UK
> party, I have some concerns about PPI's role and how it communicates
> with the national parties. I'll try to make some constructive
> observations - I'm not interested in starting a flame war - and I hope
> that everyone reading can accept my comments in the spirit they are
For the uninitiated, Eric's general mode of communication is, "my way or
the highway. If you disagree with me, I'm going to try and undermine
your character and claim that you ignore reason."
> My first observation is about communication. There is an expectation
> that pirates communicate with the PPI through its channels - email, chat
> and the conference. Whilst that is not wrong, I see a lot less evidence
> of PPI reaching out and making contact to the national parties through
> their channels, or evidence of the PPI talking directly with the
> national party leaders. Forgive me if other national parties have a
> different experience, as obviously I'm basing this on what I've seen in
> PPUK. There's nothing wrong with PPI having its own channels, but if
> there is a requirement to communicate using PPI channels, it places the
> burden on the national parties rather than on the PPI, even though PPI
> is meant to support the national parties and not the other way around.
> When engaged with doing a lot of hard work in a national party, it is
> reasonable to question if the time and effort to engage with PPI leads
> to an actual benefit for the national party
Why wouldn't it? The Pirate Party is an international movement - that
is how it will be strongest, and that is an aspiration that major
players in the PP movement like Rick Falkvinge have expressed. United,
the national Pirate Parties will be much stronger.
> - or if it is just drawing
> time and resources away from other tasks like campaigning and building
> the national party's membership. Communication is a key area for the PPI
> to demonstrate how it supports the national parties.
You're one to talk when it comes to communication.
> My second point is linked to why I'm writing this now. I see that the
> PPI conference is scheduled for April and that two delegates per nation
> are expected to attend. I sympathize that it is difficult to pick the
> perfect time for an event like this, but it is likely that the UK's
> national elections will be held in April. We will not know for sure
> until the election is called. This will be the first election the UK
> party will fight, it will likely take up all our financial and human
> resources, and naturally we want to see our members concentrating their
> efforts on winning votes in that election. It would be wrong to send two
> senior representatives of the party to this conference at such a time,
> and if we're not sending senior representatives, then there is little
> point in sending any representatives. This makes me think that the
> scheduling of the conference is symptomatic of the flaws in how PPI
> communicates with national parties.
I've been meaning to pick you up on this for a while now, but I've held
back, however when you're going to use it as an argument for not
engaging with PPI I'll call it out. What exactly do you think we'll
achieve in the next UK general election? For those of you not familiar
with our electoral system, it is not one of proportional representation.
It is a system of 'constituencies', of which very few are even
remotely winnable by any party other than one of the major 3 in this
country. It is a system that rewards geographic concentration of
support, and punishes widespread national support - whether or not it
sets out to do so, that's the outcome. UKIP and the like have been
punished in this way. We have widespread national support, not
concentrated geographical support, and so if we win a seat I will
officially eat my hat. We in the UK are basically a pressure group that
calls ourself a political party. Whilst I'm perfectly happy with that,
you seem to be caught up in the notion that we may win a seat, or even
make a major difference at the next UK general election. We will not,
and even to entertain such an idea is utterly foolish. The PPUK's
chance of success lies in the long term, not at the next GE, and
particularly in gathering support with the help of the international
Pirate Party movement.
> My third observation is that it is not necessary to organize a meeting
> in order to make decisions and reflect the views of national parties. It
> is also peculiarly old-fashioned for a movement born on the internet.
You, sir, are the person who was most vociferous in opposing my proposed
reforms of the way in which the PPUK's national executive communicate
with its members. You were insistent that we needed a UK physical
get-together conference (as you go on to describe, pretending that you
have somehow learnt from the outcome), and that IRC, the forums, etc.
were a waste of time. In my mind, you can't just turn around now and
claim that you support communication over the internet more. You're a
flip-flopper. This is very rich coming from you.
> The inevitable result is that PPI will be biased towards the European
> parties that find it easiest to send people who can attend in person. As
> the purpose of PPI is seemingly to support the development of parties
> worldwide, I find this to be a very serious problem with how PPI is
> managed. Europe is not the centre of the world.
No, but it is by far where the Pirate Party is concentrated right now
and to focus on Europe, which has the European Parliament (somewhere
where we might ACTUALLY stand a chance of getting some seats in an
election!) seems to be a perfectly reasonable strategy to me.
> Nobody can credibly
> expect a fair representation from South America or Asia, but the PPI
> should not be Euro-centric in its outlook. If it is, call it the PP
> Europe and at least make it clear that the organization has a more
> limited scope.
Why? Why do you get to say what it should be called? The PPI can
expand slowly beyond Europe as the parties outside of Europe become more
> It is reasonable to ask why national parties should have
> to send delegates to attend in person just to be part of the
> decision-making process. When the UK party suggested holding a national
> conference, many members raised their concerns that it would exclude
> those unable to travel and attend, even though the conference was not
> going to make national decisions.
I was one of them, and you chided me for raising such concerns. Don't
pretend you are a reasonable person who has learnt from this, or cares
what others who disagree with you think.
> PPUK allows all its members to vote
My best information is that you were the one who slowed this process
down as much as possible, by insisting on countless checks to make sure
that every member that could vote was 'officially paid up', instead of
being able to vote on stuff electronically in the members-only section
of the forum as I had suggested - a perfectly reasonable approximation
of our current voting system. It seems to me that you have no love for
electronic voting or communication. You also oppose my proposal to
allow members to initiate votes themselves, feeling that a dictatorial
executive is a better alternative. Don't lecture other people about
democracy; it's pathetic.
> Decisions are hence either made by a vote of members or
> are made by the people they elect to positions of responsibility. I fail
> to see why PPI cannot take a similar approach, making it much easier for
> all parties to be involved in decision-making.
No, they're almost never made by a vote of members. Other than
ratifying a few early drafts of our working groups' copyright and
patents policies (no doubt before you managed to stop all this voting
nonsense), please name me one single decision that has been made by a
vote of members that hasn't been electing someone to the executive, or
ratifying a single candidate that the executive saw fit to put forward.
> Finally, the decision to have two delegates per party, and presumably
> two votes per party is also peculiar, and I think most people who think
> it through would agree it is flawed. In most cases where decisions are
> made on behalf of a federation, the decision-making process balances two
> requirements. The first is that every constituent of the federation has
> a voice. The second is that the larger constituents have more influence
> than smaller constituents. This compromise is evident in both Europe and
> the United States. I have no desire to offend Luxembourgers, but I hope
> they would agree there is something unbalanced about a system where they
> have an equal influence to the representatives from Germany. The
> question of proportionality opens up another problem - which is how to
> measure the size of each party and hence much influence each party
> should have. Different democratic systems will mean different approaches
> to recruitment in each nation. The Swedish approach of free membership
> will not be appropriate for every country, and it would be obtuse to
> suggest that the membership numbers are a like-for-like measure of the
> support each national party has.
A fair point, which I support. However, it's rather understandable
given how relatively new an institution PPI is. In time, it will no
doubt represent the various national parties more fairly, although I
think that every nation should have some kind of say.
> In summary, I have not been inclined to get involved in PPI because, put
> simply, I have not seen much evidence that my putting time into PPI is
> an effective way of securing votes in the UK - my nation.
See above about how trying to 'secure votes' in the UK at the next
general election should not be considered a top priority because no
matter what happens, we will NOT win a seat, and will almost certainly
have no significant influence in who gets elected in any constituencies.
Our best bet is long-term pressure, and for you to focus on the next
general election as if your life depended on it is both bizarre and
> Nobody will
> ever vote for the PPI, so it can only be a benefit if it helps the
> national parties to get more votes.
What about influencing the general mood of the public, and/or the other
parties? That's what you used to believe we were all about, isn't it?
You told me in person that we're much more of a pressure group (at least
right now) than a party that's about winning seats.
> Seeing the direction PPI is taking,
> with the emphasis on decision-making through a conference that people
> are expected to physically attend, causes me to worry that the current
> governance of PPI is poorly designed to serve the PPI's mission. If I
> were to attend the PPI conference, I would be pretty confident that no
> matter what statutes were passed, none would make a difference to how a
> single person would vote in the upcoming UK election.
Sounds a lot like your proposed unconference. Why did you propose it,
Jeremy Morton (Jez)
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