From The Archives: 2008
I’ve been doing some soul searching, and challenging my own beliefs for awhile now. It is this habit that I have had, a mode of self-doubt, that allowed me to not only leave the church, and boldly attest to being a ‘born-again atheist’ (pun intended), as to also realize recently that not only can I not claim to have any belief in anarchy, as a form of freedom, but also I can no longer claim to be politically left. And before those of you who know me scream, do not think I have gone over to the dark side of the force. I haven’t, my Jedi skills remain free of fear. Part of the problem I have had in the past is the English language, on one hand I have an amazing ability to translate double speak, and techno jargon into clear “layman” terms. Yet, on the other hand, I still make assumptions about words that are used around me all the time, and fall into the trap of supporting something that upon further, and closer examination I would not support with a clearer understanding. Almost all my friends that are activists have a chip on their shoulder concerning Robert’s Rules of Order. There are other rules or agreements used by various groups to organize a meeting around, but in Canada’s Parliament it is ruled by Robert (yes, another pun). (Interesting side note, Robert’s Rules of Order were never intended as a means to run the house of commons, they were meant to run meetings of much smaller community based organizations, not government meetings).
Indymedia claims to run by a method of consensus, which is to say that in order for a proposal to be accepted by the group, every one must agree to it. This method can be found here. Decision making by consensus is not a democracy. The term ‘democracy’, meaning ‘rulership by the people’ suggests power structures in which one rules over another. Easily, the term ‘rulership by the people’ can be interpreted as ‘rulership by majority’. – Indymedia (A quick guide to ‘decision making by consensus’)
When I hosted a few meetings for the local Vancouver Indymedia in my home there was one thing that bothered me all the time. It is still the same thing that bothers me with Green Party meetings, Free Geek, and virtually all the other left wing organizations that I have associated with over the years. The thing that bothered me was abstaining from a consensus decision, and how easy it was for certain people to push the views to the level of consensus within the group. I, myself was guilty of pushing my own views towards ‘consensus’. All I can say now is that “ruler ship by majority”, is far better then ruler ship by corrosion. Besides, in the words of my mentor Phil,
“The purpose of democracy is to promote and protect the well-being of humans”, not ‘rulership’ but representation! “I noticed this very distinctly, when I once attended a meeting of the local Green Party. The organizers of the meeting made a big deal about how their “consensus-based” organization was superior to “traditional confrontational democracy”.
In place of Robert’s Rules of Order, it featured a capricious management of the meeting by an obvious alpha-dominant “facilitator” who was highly skilled at manipulating the discussion in such a way that contrary opinions were suppressed or ignored, and that his own agenda would be served. Instead of a secret ballot, or even voting by a show of hands, this “facilitator” got to arbitrarily decide what the “consensus” was. It just happened to be the same as his own viewpoint, and just happened to be the only viewpoint allowed much expression. I soon came to the conclusion that this particular organizer was hostile to “traditional confrontational democracy” because it possessed safeguards that protected the rights of individuals, and hampered the schemes of “leaders” and oligarchs.” – Phil Paine SIXTH MEDITATION ON DEMOCRACY
Consensus is used by the left for only one real purpose, to dilute blame and responsibilities. If a decision to do or not do something is made by the group as a whole, no individual is to blame for the outcome, including any legal consequence. This is exactly why those that claim to be politically ‘right wing’ created the legal persona of the corporation. To me, there is no difference.
I spent over 14 years on the road traveling across Canada, the Eastern United States, and Europe. In those years, I have lived on every kind of commune you can imagine, I have lived in co-operative housing projects, and know several people that still do. I have been involved in one ‘collective’ after another, and have been called correctly as a member of the Rainbow Family of Living Light, and my sum of experience is thus, they are bad ideas.
If you are interested, or involved in any of these things, consider this word of advise in anything you do or get involved in, take a look at what other people have done in the past, what others have tried to do, and the method in which they attempted to do it. Take on the whole of human history if you have to to find what your looking for, and they consider what worked. Learn to skip the mistakes of others.
The majority of hippies from the 60’s did not sell out, they learned that there were other means to change the world other then to ‘tune in, turn on, and drop out”, and they did change the world. (In fact most of them graduated)
Part of Human nature needs to lead, and other times it needs to follow, but most of the time it just need to be. You don’t need to attach a label to yourself to be a person, you already are a person. I am not an information broker anymore, nor am I a card carrying member of any group, I don’t need to be, to be.
I will no longer vote according to party line, regardless of the which party you can insert as a label, I will pick the individual person in my riding that best represents me. I won’t even attach the label of atheist to myself anymore, I don’t need to. I am not politically left by default, nor anything else because there is no closer match, no label can truly describe anyone, so I’m going to not bother trying.
And the reverse is true, I know longer care what label you use on your forehead, it doesn’t matter to me to the point that I never see it. If I like, or dislike you, it will be because of you, not some group your associated with. Don’t try to say that I should support this cause or that cause either for that matter, ask me to support individuals instead.
I’m not walking in the middle of the road either for that matter, I still have strong views on a lot of issues, but the point I’m trying to make here is this, they are MY VIEWS. – Wolfe
Sarah |70.56.173.xxx |2008-10-03 18:20:08 Well put – I’ve been struggling with the labels, arbitrary allegiance that goes with it, for a long time too. It makes much more sense to take candidates and issues one at a time. Unfortunately, that’s a lot more work! One line in there also struck a chord: sometimes we should be leaders, other times followers, and most often, neither. Modern society is obsessed with leadership, strong leaders, natural-born leaders… but who is following these people. Some of us must be in a supporting role some (most?) of the time. Why is that so very undervalued…. and just being… well, that’s not even talked about! Nice.
Phil Paine |173.34.11.xxx |2008-10-10 17:51:39 “Part of Human nature needs to lead, and other times it needs to follow, but most of the time it just need to be.” an excellent phrase. The cult of “leadership” is pounded into from early childhood, until people cannot conceive of any other value. But the real purpose of the “leadership” concept is to PREVENT YOU FROM EVER BECOMING AN ADULT — to keep you in a perpetual state of childhood. Children need to be led, because they are born helpless. But grown-up human beings should NOT be led, and should not follow “leaders”. The ability to govern and direct yourself is the essence of adulthood. Only primitive savages and disfunctional adults follow Leaders. Grown-up people govern themselves. Democracy is NOT a system of “choosing leaders”, it is intented to be a system by which people come together and make group decisions as self-governing adults.