[pp.int.general] 'Liquid Democrazy': Pirate Party Sinks amid Chaos and Bickering

carlo von lynX lynX at pirate.my.buttharp.org
Sun Feb 24 19:41:41 CET 2013

On Sun, Feb 24, 2013 at 01:31:38PM -0300, Nicol?s Reynolds wrote:
> Zbigniew ??ukasiak <zzbbyy at gmail.com> writes:
> > On Sun, Feb 24, 2013 at 9:42 AM, Nicolás Reynolds <fauno at kiwwwi.com.ar> wrote:
> >> why is liquid feedback nonbinding? this has always been a big wtf for
> >> me... (also the concept of liquid democracy :P)
> > I don't know German law - but in some cases the law does state how the
> > decisions are made.
> even for internal procedures?

german laws enforce the *existence* of a board but they do not
impede the existence of a permanent assembly, if done right.
in fact several bundeslands are already enjoying those. if the
PP-DE wants to make it for the bundestag it must immediately
introduce the bicameral system - one binding LF and the existing
non-binding one, and quickly start ratifying useful stuff that
has been lying around unattended in the non-binding LF.

at least they started doing non-binding recommendations to the
board which is a quite powerful tool if done right. "right" in
this case means: do not criticize the board if it is just
executing liquid vote. fight it out within LF, then accept the
result democratically. the way everyone thinks he can yell at
the board and the board can never get it right for everyone is
self-destructional and exactly what happened to the greens
thirty years ago. if only we could at least learn from history.

> > I can see how LF can help with the oligarchy problem - but on the
> > other hand it can also lead to vote selling (for money or for favours,
> > or in a horse trade of policies) and thus making it worse, not to
> > mention the problem with computer security which is really under
> > appreciated I believe.  And then there is also:

not sure about other cultures but i highly doubt vote selling could be
an issue in germany. in particular for the sheer numbers necessary.
german LF has over ten thousand registered members, and it is neither
completely accepted nor binding. so if germany was to introduce a
binding liquid i assume the participation numbers would rise.

should get funky to try buying votes in a liquid of some twenty-thousand
idealistic pirates who would rather leak your attempt to buy a vote from
them then to accept money from you. in germany it wouldn't work even if
the binding LF had only a hundred members.

> we know a lot about clientelism, charismatic leaders and demagogy here,
> and when i read about liquid democracy it didn't solve these problems,
> the worst case scenario being everybody delegating their vote to one
> person.  but the problem is who does things, not who votes for
> them... does LF have provisions for taking responsibility?

no, you have to figure out regulations that make people, in particular
the ones with high number of delegations, responsible of their actions.
this is the kind of area we have been researching in one year of
permanent assembly practice in italy. it's tough. we will probably need
more time to get the legal framework right, but it's the only alternative
to either representative or direct democracy.

right now in italy we are facing more symptoms of the direct democratic
kind - everyone has an opinion and votes although they got tired of
reading the proposals thoroughly - rather then symptoms of delegational
vote. liquid democracy didn't entirely remove the problems of the two
classic methods of democracy, but it is at least finding some balance
between them.

> > "Time and again, a majority of the party's members express support
> > online for a particular idea, only to scrap it at the party's next
> > real-world meeting."
> >
> > Why that happens?  Does that mean that different people vote in LF?
> > People change their minds?
> it looks like an unfounded claim to have us say "direct democracy
> doesn't work! we must have leaders." same for the anonymous messages

this problem arises when you practice too superficial direct democracy.
in the case of lqfb this can happen when people are too lazy to fully
work on the proposals but too proud or too emotionalized to not vote.

in real world assemblies it's worse: somebody comes up with some
demagogic proposal and everyone's yeah before really thinking about it.
just saw that recently happening at an assembly of an other italian
political movement. the leaders are so good at it, they manage to get
assembly mandates for whatever they want to do out of it, by not giving
the assembly time to discuss and bicker about things. and then they claim
they were elected by grassroots democracy for the rest of the electoral

these are the moments when i realize how injust traditional democracy is
and how much we are ahead of them, no matter how big the problems we face.
we must absolutely stick to our path.

> ppde leaders are receiving (secret services? they do these things), the
> lack of opinions from the party's bases... they are all painted as the
> angry mob.

that's because they failed to create a well defined feedback channel
which is democratically weighted. if you let everyone talk to you it
just freaks you out. feedback channels must go through a medium which
makes the criticizer realise when his opinion is with everybody else
or when he is totally way out. by getting feedback before getting to
the top, only the appropriate stuff gets to the top. so liquid feedback
could be a tool to solve this, or reddit and slashdot, and it has to
be THE official feedback channel to avoid burning executives out. with
"executive" meaning the ones who execute the grassroots will.   :)

> > From what I've read on this list the Italian Pirate Party wants to use
> > LF as the sole voting method - I hope we'll learn from them how it
> > worked there.

yes we must absolutely document our work better. we really have long
tales to tell. but each day i feel like i'm understanding more of what
we are doing...  ;)

> we've been writing our statuses, the first thing was to make it really
> simple to understand, not have adhoc procedures for every possible task
> but only one so we don't end up with a bunch of bureaucrats that know
> everything very well, confusing others and taking advantage of it.

yes.. THAT is a mistake we've been making. but OTOH there is only so
little that you can avoid to regulate under liquid rule. doing a
permanent assembly needs a lot more regulations that a traditional
political party. although many of us feel overwhelmed by regulations
we in fact still have to regulate several essential crucial things.

> we don't have a board but a permanent general assembly (currently
> mailing list), and make provisions to have small autonomous groups
> (called pirate ships!) based on interests, territory, etc.

oh, that's how PP-IT worked until last year...  :)

> every pirate can make propposals to the assembly and they get approved
> when there's no opposition from 3%, so you still can do stuff despite
> other's indifference (when no one shows at a meeting, for instance).
> that pirate is immediately responsible for that propposal, so it doesn't
> gets abandoned for lack of voluntarism.

how do you enforce that?

> we have to work a lot for newbies inclusion, knowing that many people
> just comes to see (they don't even reply to my welcome message! :(),
> others don't have the time and others complain about receiving many
> emails (they forgot they subscribed to a list?).

there is a tonload of reasons why mailing lists suck.
they are fundamentally anti-democratic, but they are also
impractical to anyone who doesn't know how to handle them.
if facebook groups are much easier to use, you should be worried.

> now we need at least 4000 pirates to become legal, maybe one day we'll
> have our own democrazy P)

one day we'll be so successful on the old continent that
we'll get the pirate media hype onto argentinian territory
for real.. then be ready for more people than a mailing list
can handle!!    :-D

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