People's Assemblies Network

Horizontal Hope – looking for English translators

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“What can we do to change things?” It’s hard to avoid this issue when considering the sad state of our societies …

Let us quickly recall some elements in explaining the genealogy of this political crisis.

Poverty proceeds from a dialectic that Marx revealed diligently: a minority monopolizes wealth at the expense of a majority that neverthelessembodies the lifeblood of a society. This majority progressively structured by the aggregate of individual interests, becomes powerless before the interpenetration of financial monopolies.

And yet if there is a way out of this debacle, it is in our collective strength, particularly when arranged in a synergistic manner.
This is what we think.

Some people think that the spread of their revolution will happen. But many have no contact with the reality of a struggle on the ground. They speculate and do not experiment.
How can we hope for a practical solution, if we are not even able to organize ourselves us in a small group or in a small organization? How can we solve problems on a large scale, when we do not even know how to adjust to a smaller scale?

One should also be aware of the difference between the popular support of ” I encourage you” and the popular mobilization of “I want to be by your side .” Popular support is an important factor in the revolutionary forces, but it is useless and vain too hope that all will rally to our side.
It is important to rely primarily on its own strength, be adaptive to the environment and be close to the people. These are basic strategic rules have been understood by all revolutionaries who have been able to achieve real change.

We could explain in a few words the often ignored non-Western origins of democracy, and at the same time, show an extraordinary approach to make better decisions together. On the other hand, human beings adapt to their environment and develop individualism above all because it is based on a system of the competition of individuals amongst each other. Given no better alternative, the community defers to those who already have the most.

Let us now turn to the heart of the matter:

When Gutenberg invented the printing press the deployment of knowledge outside of the clergy and nobility quickly caused problems in the institutions of the feudal system; the decline of feudalism significantly expanded science and the university, and radically changed the world and its operations to lead us to the industrial era.

In general, our communication tools are levers that can radically change the way we work, encouraging us to deploy more “collective intelligence”.

Similarly, the internet today has produced a “crisis of conscience” about the reality of political decisions and help in the deployment of a new world of open – source , collaborative company management, participatory media, the 15M movement, Occupy Wall Street, leading to new kinds of revolts as in Tunisia and Egypt.

Although the internet is not going to solve all our problems by itself, such a tool will necessarily involve a major change in our society. One can even argue that it will allow us to establish a way of life more “human” and more equitable among all.

Unfortunately, the overall vision of what can make a tool such as the internet is often limited to a simple appeal to the “democratic” , where in reality it is our democratic vision that will revolutionize the internet. For the internet offers us the ability to share real- time information with everyone else. Among specialists in collective intelligence, we speak of ” holopticism.” Schematically holopticism is the ability for all members of an organization to collect in real-time everything that is going on. This is key when you understand how information is vital in order to participate equally in a decision.

 

Understanding collective decisions and synergy

Some have claimed that there is a natural selfishness in humankind and a need for leaders. Nonetheless, monarchies and republics, even with their leaders, have not yet, with few exceptions, avoided crises , revolutions and chaos.

Paradoxically, the greatest remedy to this selfishness was found in the collective decision-making . The idea of ​​popular power is not a Greek invention, it is found to the origins of the human species : for example, even prehistoric tribes of hunter gatherers followed collective decision-making, and did not have a hierarchical structure.

Similarly, in nature, among dolphins , for example, one finds ways of living without hierarchy, where leadership changes from one individual to another at any time , and where individual freedom is extraordinary despite a strong spirit.

In humans, the method of decision-making that seems most prevalent historically is not dictatorship, nor a majority vote, nor “anarchy.”

This is a decision that involves a form of unanimity in the group, as evidenced by the exciting work of our ethnologists.

From “the apparent consensus decision” by Philippe Urfalino .

The Navajo do not have the concept of representative government. They are used to deciding any issue in meetings of all concerned … Traditionally, they make a decision after having discussed until consensus is met, or until the opposition concedes that it is impractical to continue.

This way of taking collective decisions, described in 1946 by Clyde and Dorothea Kluckhon Leughton for Navajo Indians, seems to have been the most widespread form of social organization.
The presence on all continents of this mode of decision-making sometimes described as “consensus”, sometimes as “unanimous” is evidenced by the work of anthropologists and historians. This is the only mode decision found among hunter-gatherer societies ( Baechler [1994 ] Silberbauer [1982] ) and was also the only legitimate form of collective decision in village communities in Kabylia (Mahé [2000] ) and in Black Africa ( Abeles [2003 ] Terray [1988] ) and Asia ( Popkin [1979] , Smith [1959] ).

European village communities of the Middle Ages also used deliberative assemblies, concluding their decisions without a vote, particularly in central and northern Europe: Otto Gierke ( Cited by Dumont [1983], p 99) noted the prevalence of unanimity for Germanic Europe. The Assembly of heads of clans Iceland, Althing, probably worked the same way (Byock [2001]). Consensus still prevailed in the decisions in some Scandinavian villages [as recently as thirty or fifty years ago?] (Yngvesson [1978] for Sweden, Barnes [1954] for Norway).

When we point out these examples, our interlocutor often stops us immediately: “You speak of prehistoric tribes? You mean to say that we should engage in direct democracy? These modes of operations also saw tribal wars, plus they were in small groups and on a large scale this organization is impossible. It is already hard to hear in a small group , and then how to decide unanimously on the scale of a country? Anyway, they had the same problems as us, etc. “

It is then necessary to establish simple elements:
- No, we’re not talking about direct democracy as commonly understood, but a more complex form of organization that includes other ways of deciding sets.
- These are recent discoveries, and few are those who know exactly what decision-making process were used to achieve unanimity, let alone their exact mechanisms.
- Similar processes are used today in many commission of experts, assembly of eminent persons, or the Italian Constitutional Court , because we consider that it is the most effective methods to get the best decision.
- In addition, we know exactly why these modes of natural organizations are not found in large numbers?

Their mechanisms are generally misunderstood. They reside in both the means for sharing information in the time allocated to adaptation decisions, but also in the differentiation between the general consensus view, and that of consent.
We can represent the difference thus: one is a case of “everyone says yes,” and the other “no one says no.”

 Let us dwell for a moment on this important concept. The consensus decision involves equality: it is the principle 1 vote = 1 vote. This is the method we use today in our Western democracies seeking what is called a majority consensus (51% of votes). This is a binary pattern of “for” or “against.” It is an aggregation of individual preferences, a bit silly without allowing for differences in strength of preference or conviction.

Sometimes we have simple preferences, while at other times, we are strongly opposed to a proposal as presented, or one of its implications.

Consent will generally involve consideration for the requirements to the decision: decisions will be made through firm opinion and reasoned objections will face priority over simple preferences. In trying to resolve these conditions, the final decisions will satisfy a much larger number of participants, and will also be better. It is also the only known way to successfully achieve unanimity 

For example, if we are three friends and we must choose between two containers of ice cream, if two of us prefer vanilla but the third is allergic, we will choose other so that everyone can eat. The firm argued objection will carry more weight than the aggregate preferences.
Understanding these natural phenomena is now a key to better decide as a group. However, they have two main limitations: the need to communicate effectively and the time required to make decisions.

Do we know exactly why these modes of organizations that seem so natural are not found in large numbers?

With our current democracies, it is assumed that everyone has or can participate in decisions as if they were equal to everyone else!
This is a big mistake. Imagine a chess game where your opponent could see the whole board, and on your side, you can see only a part. Even if you have an incredible intelligence, and are more talented than him, you will definitely lose this game: you cannot effectively analyze the best move to play because you do not see all the parts of the board.

The need to have enough useful information related to a decision is the first thing that pushed humanity to function in pyramidal structures, i.e , with a hierarchy, a leader who decides what is best for us. 

With the growth of major cities it became impossible for every member of our community to have sufficient knowledge of what was happening.  In order to make a decision within a large organization, one needs enough general information. And the only way to allow someone to have this information is through the “centralization of information”:  information passes  to a higher level, and this in turn does the same, until the information arrives at the “head” of the organization, which has privileged access .

It’s called the panopticon: schematically, if you’re at the bottom of a mountain, you can see a small shrub near you but not what there is on the other side of the mountain. If you are at the top of the mountain, you will see the entirety of the mountain, but not the details.
You know more than the boss about what is happening in your business, but you know less than he or she does concerning what happens in other sectors.

Thus, we understand the concept of “information field” is an essential element for making good decisions, and that, without any skill. By virtue of having more information, you can make a better decision whatever your intelligence, your experience or your talent on the subject.

In a small group , we can easily share all relevant information , and thus move towards greater equity decision . But in a large organization , it was impossible and unimaginable until now.

You will then respond: “Yes, you could still share the information! It was enough to re-share the same way in the other direction!”

Again, it’s hard to understand a fundamental element: the time factor. When deciding something, we still have a limited time to make this decision.

If you are a general and an army is in front of you attacking, you will not take the time to share with all members of your army useful information and cheerfully discuss what seems wiser. You have a limited time to make the decision more just to avoid getting slaughtered.

The time required for the decision depends on the decision to make, and when we realize that we have a limited time to make a decision, it also includes the ability to share real -time information that will give us precious time to arrive at the best decision all together.

These are key elements to understand:
 
- You cannot make a decision unless you collectively share enough information related to the decision.
- The way you make a decision depends on the time you have to make it.

It is follows that having sufficient information and time are necessary to decide effectively. In turn improved decision making begins the instant everyone has information.

We often say, “Human beings are selfish and they only think about themselves in the end, and that’s the problem.”

The human being is not an exploitive, selfish monster, as Marx explained to us. Although his contribution to the mechanisms of capitalism is more precious, even prophetic, his comprehension of human nature is most ridiculous and devoid of real analysis of the context that can bring these human behaviors.

This is the system that pushes us to be individualistic, and there is evidence to certify:

” Anthropologists stress that the practice of what might be called palaver is exercised
in a normative context where political individualism is absent ( Terray [ 1987 -
89 ] Abeles [2003 ] ) . “

Do you realize the significance of this simple sentence? A context where political individualism is absent? But if human beings are fundamentally individualistic then how can there be so many societies where political individualism does not exist?

But especially the most basic question: in what parameters is political individualism absent?

The answer lies in the concept of synergy, we can do more together than the sum of what can be done separately. A tribe of hunter-gatherers will be able to drive a huge mammoth work together and provide meat in abundance for all, where the individual acting alone could never do so.

 

The problem is that we do not understand that if we can act synergistically then what we produce together is strictly greater than the sum ofwhat can be produced separately, and if we always allocate equitably the fruits of this collective work, then self-interest and public interestcoincide.

In other words, your interest is to help the group or community, because the more it will earn, the more you earn in return. This is not true in our society today for two reasons: synergy is ignored, and there is an inequitable distribution of wealth. If you give to your country, you will only make the rich richer and the poor continue to be poor.

 

Mutual support, sharing and love of one’s neighbor are erased when we are placed us in an environment where protecting the interests of those we love means confronting others. If man is placed in an environment where helping others benefits everyone, including his family, then all are much better off.

You may say, “But in this case, humanity would have chosen to be less effective in establishing the pyramid scheme? It does not make sense!”

Of course, we have continued to evolve. A small group is more effective in conducting its affairs horizontally, but this ability is lost in large numbers. The synergy of a horizontal system is impossible without holopticism. The pyramid scheme makes sense for one simple reason: quantity may outweigh quality.

 

When a small group of 50 people working more effectively in a horizontal system is faced with an army of 5,000 individuals with a great leader, even if the small group deploys more intelligence proportionate to the number of individuals, it cannot resist the “strength in numbers”.

The pyramid scheme therefore made ​​sense in a world where information could not be shared with all instantly. But the question that remains is whether this is still the case today.

“But how to create a world where giving to the community will save at all?”

The solution to our problem lies in how we make our decisions, in the analysis of the decision with the consent of all and of the structure [organization?], in the understanding of the concept of information field, and the parameters of the synergy.

 

Because in reality all these elements are not or little studied and remain completely unknown to the general public. We never tried to understand these mechanisms and discoveries are very recent.

In addition, the use of large-scale internet brings the possibility to have equal access to relevant information in very large structures is also a new element historically. Without this tool, it is impossible to have a fair [understanding?] about the possibility of participating in general decisions.
It is these elements that are key to understanding the great challenges of the 21st century.

Even when we look to the past, discussions and debate about how we make decisions collectively are very numerous, and have led us to other voting methods, and exciting proposition that is deliberative democracy, too often ignored.

It is natural anyway that we redirect our attention to the traditional ways of making decisions on a larger scale, thanks to new technology that will bring us something we had lost large numbers: the holopticism.

 

Just because humans love their neighbor and love to be effective. These modes can be more effective and are also are used in many large companies that tend to reduce levels of the hierarchy, or remove them, as in the open-source movement and new forms of rebellion or social movements worldwide. The examples are endless.

The structure of these modes of decision making called unanimously palaver apparent consensus decision or decision to consent of all, is not really understood or applied on a large scale . Specialists discovered just this unexplored continent and it remains totally unknown to the general public.

More broadly, these implications are equally ignored. They bring to the work of researchers in collective intelligence: living architecture, holopticism, gift economy, self-learning …
Researchers who themselves have failed to understand the structure of the natural decision in a small group: the differences between consensus and consent.

 

We have a new ability, another way to decide, with a lot of success than those methods used in our political system, but this time spread out in businesses, communities, etc. 

These functions allow us to adapt, learn from our mistakes, and evolve our operations . The rules governing the 15M movement or Occupy in their beginnings are different from those that govern today. The very fact of having to take into account what is important for each shoot to evolve.

The characteristics of a large-scale system that will seek the consent of all will involve other elements that are inter -dependent. Just as we cannot decide without the consent of all holopticism, we cannot accept what is essential for everyone by refusing to evolve, as it can effectively decide the consent of all in a centralized system, etc. 

If you must share generally the true solution of a fair system radically different from the existing it will mention five characteristics:

 

Research the consent of all: the most common operation in the history of mankind which is by far the most effective, and which suppresses political individualism.
 The need to seek maximum holopticism: the total transparency in real -time, minimum, information related to decisions that affect you, which cannot be ruled out a search with the consent of all, greatly reducing corruption and manipulations.
 An evolving system as we change, the world changes, and that future generations do not have to be limited by our vision today .
 A living architecture that allows everyone to go assist and participate in various locations to form multiple experiences, and a natural authority to put in place, which varies from one individual to another depending on what we are doing .
 A decentralization required for each master is what concerns having the last word which does not look at the others, while the other to decide when the decision affects.

Such a system is possible and it would permit us to proceed step by step in solving our problems, never stop evolving in itself: a constitution,for example, written all together (it is quite possible when we understand the mechanisms of these decision-making processes); it will bebetter, and written in a more limited in time! It will be reviewed regularly under similar conditions so that the following generations are masters of their society, and not governed by the laws that previous generations have seen best in conditions so very different.

Concrete action

Most important is that such a system can and should be applied today, among ourselves, with our own internal economy, and testing these methods to prove their superior efficiency.

We can organize ourselves today by showing the world that the human being is not what some would have us believe.

The Occupy movement and the Indignatos strive to rediscover such approaches often without realizing it, because it is indeed a natural function of people who have now have acquired the power to share real-time information on a large scale.
 
These movements are too centralized and need to share their experiences and complete decision making, test methods comparable decision-making very large scale to provide more concrete alternatives to the people , and learn to accept a new form of leadership while continuing to deny the static hierarchy, ie refuse a great leader : we can be in the same group all leaders on specific functions, for a specified period.

But they never fail to evolve and they are only just beginning! We naively believe that we can have everything overnight, for a mass mobilization, even hope in the persistence of individuals who overcome their difficulties by relying on their own strength, determination, and lifelong learning.

Then there is the response, “Okay, even if this system is possible and we can make better decisions together and have synergy and a better world , anyway , we do not have the power to establish it! “

Again, we often think of a miraculous process, everyone should be aware and act, or a major campaign of mass communication should change everything in itself. And if that does not work it is just that people are too stupid.

This is another big mistake. First, not everyone can be a full-time or even part time activist today. Many of us have responsibilities and cannot engage in a difficult struggle while providing for their families. The degree of conviction varies among people, or they have other priorities.

It is also for these reasons that we must offer concrete alternatives to people, respecting those who cannot invest as much as we in thischange.

For example, we can create a system within the system, using our own money, and if we collectively manage our resources effectively, we will gain strength every day, starting to now. As a linux system is more efficient than windows system, a horizontal well managed system ismore efficient than a pyramid scheme in the Internet era.

There are many means to act, working practically, evolving and progressing every day. The creation of a small group of trusted colleaguescan change things enormously, especially by adopting similar horizontal operations that allow them to combine very easily and very effectively.

Our role is to learn to work together in all fairness, actually, today. We should be closer to the people, with specific objectives and recognizing our successes as our failures.

The establishment of a small horizontal movement will connect with others, and here tools that are related to networking are very important. We need to facilitate links between people who understand this global perspective, and allow them to all be in direct contact with each other, while continuing to develop our specific projects and assistance.

Many tools exist today: Mumble , PADS, crowd -funding , collaborative platforms …

Wherever you are and whoever you are, a great and important task awaits you . We do not ask you simply to “talk around you,” there will be no leader , we do not draw lots for a great leader either! Together we make the decisions that affect us all, and we help each other while allowing complete freedom for everyone.

However, starting from scratch to learn these methods is difficult and can result in errors: a from a spokesman acquiring too much power to a misunderstanding of the difference between equality and equity decision, between consensus and consent, between methods that work and those that don’t, not to mention making changes based on the parameters of the decision to take, etc. 

Your mission, should you accept it, is to make contact the self-managed groups around you and connect with others. To accept differences and understand others. Adopt effective strategies on the ground, enact systemic, concrete alternatives : free currencies , food self -sufficiency, a culture of commitment, etc. .

We must learn from each other and adopt methods that allow us to grow every day.

And we well remember an important element; if we cannot agree amongst ourselves in a fair system today, how can we hope to do throughout the world?

This system exists. And you can test it today in your own groups and especially improve since it is ultimately a proposal that everyone should own, and which is scalable. We can all help each other and decide together the world in which we live and immediately develop strategies to take back what is rightfully ours and become stronger every day until that time.

Horizontalism was born naturally in our society and we have not yet precisely defined it. It is time that everyone appropriates and applies this model.

If you need any help , contact the mailing list: http://lists.occupy.net/lists/subscribe/espoirhorizontal

One french book called “Horizontal hope” exists where you can see detailed proposals for comprehensive methods and learn more about these. It seeks translators, ”Horizontal Hope” available free at: http://www.horizontality.org/espoirhorizontal/

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  1. Pingback: The Internet, collective decision-making, and peer democracy | PDX Currency Corporation

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