[pp.int.general] Consensus and power (before Re: Reflections on the PP GA)

seykron seykron at partidopirata.com.ar
Thu Apr 17 22:31:11 CEST 2014

Online consensus practice in easy enough with our existing tools, even
applying quite adapted versions of classical techniques. For example,
the Permanent Assembly might be this mailist. Usually no everyone is
interested in all topics (for example, only you answered to my email
about consensus). The advantage of the mailist is that no everyone
MUST to be present physically on the same location to get involved in
a decision making, so it promotes participation. The mechanism is very
very simple:

1) You propose a topic to the Permanent Assembly. If someone is
interested in this topic (usually about a specific issue or activity)
will get involved in the discussion to enrich the whole perspective and
make an agreement. In the PPAr we consider consensus when three persons
agree on a topic.

2) If there's Relevant Dissent, the decision is blocked until dissent
is resolved ("Difficulties in Reaching Consensus" section of the
Starhawk's article is a good reference to identify dissent). For the
PPAr, Relevant Dissent means that at least 10% of people involved in a
discussion disagree. This mechanism helps to avoid the "dictatorship of
the majority" (or the so called 50%+1 factor) and it also avoids
blockings from a single person.

3) If there's Relevant Dissent, it is a warning sign. Usually in a
group like pirate parties, personal values involved in a decision
finally can get closer (or some concessions can be easily made from
all sides). If it does not happen, it may means that something in the
organization is declining. I also could mean that the topic is very
controversial -like abortion, to mention an example-, or even simpler:
there're misunderstandings on what someone is trying to say (sometimes
it's very hard to express yourself). In any case, if there's Relevant
Dissent the decision is blocked and the discussion must be taken away
from keyboard. For example, it could be discussed in a conference room
with Mumble, or if it is possible in a bar drinking a beer :). If it
does not work, there're several unlocking techniques, but I will not
extend myself on this (some good techniques are explained in "Tools for
Consensus Process" section of Starhawk's article).

The key point is: we are all human beings, we make mistakes, and we act
with good faith. Of course, I'm aware of what "power" means in a
capitalist, post-industrial society. But the key question for PPI to
answer is:

What *power* means for pirates?

In the PPAr it is always under discussion, however we have consensus in
this point: power means to build a strong human organization which
distributes its power between all participants. And these "pieces" of
power is what legitimates any decision. If an organization grows with
this kind of legitimation, it is very difficult to take it down, it is
very consistent on its decisions (which is essential to manage outer
press and public opinion), and it is very strong despite personal
problems between people within the organization.

How to take a decision is the answer to the question "who has the
power". A decision may imply a lot of economic resources, and we all
know how we behave when there's money in the middle (in the PPAr we
work very hard to decentralize money, for example). From here to a
political party is just a little step, but "why a political party
instead another kind of organization" is out of the scope.

If you reached the bottom of this message, I encourage you to think
about power, how people is involved on it in the real world, and how
conflicts rise and are resolved by people when there's power in the



On Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:37:33 +0200
Zbigniew Łukasiak <zzbbyy at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi there,
> seykron - good point about consensus.
> Any ideas how we could translate
> http://www.starhawk.org/activism/trainer-resources/consensus.html into
> on-line circumstances?
> It is possible that we are already a group too large for a traditional
> consensus decision making - but who knows? We cannot tell if we have
> not tried.
> Z.
> ____________________________________________________
> Pirate Parties International - General Talk
> pp.international.general at lists.pirateweb.net
> http://lists.pirateweb.net/mailman/listinfo/pp.international.general

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