Cadence Theas, Candidate for the 21st RA
I believe a political platform, a campaign position, should be based on realities and real expectations of who we are and what we can accomplish, and not a lot of promises or convincing arguments that a candidate cannot or will not keep. This means both recognizing our strengths, but as well, being willing to see our weaknesses. I will address both in my campaign position.
1) WHERE ARE WE NOW?
We have always been a highly opinionated group of people with many different, often conflicting, positions on most issues in CDS from the use of full bright to what kind of democracy are we? More recently, especially if you read the forums, it is evident that we are becoming an increasingly polarized community with a large, and perhaps intimidated silent majority. I do not mean two camps, although some would want to characterize it that way, rather, we are dichotomizing every issue forgetting that the variables that allow us to answer are much more complex than the reductionist answers we give, and reflect our own complexity as a community.
All the calls for civility have fallen on pretty deaf ears—we can only hope that the like-counter reintroduces civility into our forum and discussions—and we end up preaching to the converted instead of educating and empowering citizens to think in creative ways. I don’t think this is going to change much under the current discussion format. Our ideas of how we envision CDS are too entrenched to be swayed by political rhetoric and even less so by the acrimony that the forum has become. We may, hopefully, become more polite, but the polarization is still there.
I think CDS is at a truly crucial crossroads at this moment. It is facing a possible, and to my way of thinking, unfortunate change of paradigm from the social and political experiment it began as and which still holds to the present to something more commercial, legislatively rigid, and socially conservative and intolerant, where the very soul and primary objective of CDS is annulled. I will talk about what these mean in a moment.
When I mention a realistic campaign position, I refer to: a) the recognition of this polarization; b) the need to not to hide it (especially in campaign promises) or sweep it aside with words of sweetness and light only to have it appear again and again with acrimony and venom in the forum or in IMs or in CDS chat; c) the need to talk about it openly and publically, and address the ideological breaches this represents; and d) the long task of negotiating the differences instead of taking absolutist and intransigent stands which will lead CDS nowhere.
The crossroads is either to have a CDS that we love, or a CDS that we hate.
However…there is a third choice, a CDS that we can live with precisely because it has been negotiated, socially, culturally, and with political maturity and commitment.
• This third choice—negotiated co-living—is the goal I would like CDS to reach.
2) HOW DO WE MEASURE A SUCCESSFUL CDS?
Some of the candidates think of success in terms of the number of green dots, where quantity trumps quality. As long as we have lots of green dots, it doesn’t matter if we dread who we might find here or what they might say to us. I do not regard this as successful.
Others think that a strict adherence to and interpretation of the law is an indicator of a successful CDS. But this suggests that society and law, and the legal context of our social and cultural being are immutable and we are locked in a static society and move in predictable directions. Although the law is important, by itself I do not regard this as successful.
Others want to turn CDS into Main Street Disney World where everything is tidy, organized, orderly, overtly Western and Judeo-Christian, where we are all beautiful Teutonic gods and goddesses. Very pretty, but hardly real. I do not regard this as successful.
Still others see CDS as a business, and that we should follow a strictly business model in our dealings with each other, be they social or political. Although solvency is a reality we have to work with, by itself I do not regard this as successful.
Real societies are gritty with rough edges, there is always a social and cultural tension under the surface and a hope that our sense of social sanction and social solidarity is sufficiently strong so as to keep the extremes positions in check. Societies are also highly creative at finding their own way through crises and often without the help of law, rather with the social negotiations that are part of all of our daily interactions. This is the type of social context—a community with a sufficiently strong sense of identity, social sanction and solidarity—that I would like to see in CDS.
We can take this idea even further. CDS is based on real life insofar as it is a construction of a virtual real life, and it is an opportunity to develop something so unique that it can serve as an example for the real life we return to every time we turn off our computer. Instead of bringing all the worst real life practices to CDS (greed, arrogance, meanness, etc.), let’s export our CDS best methods for co-living and social solidarity to real life. We have a significant and revolutionary opportunity here that we are letting slide through our fingers.
• This social aspect—identity, sanction and solidarity—is a successful CDS and one that I would work towards.
3) WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO TO GET THERE?
What is social about CDS? CDS is a social and political experiment in a virtual setting. It is NOT a commercial venture, nor is it a microcosm of any one place, culture or society. Any attempt at making it a cultural mirror of a strictly western or Global North social setting is restricting the potential richness that SL people can offer when they discover CDS. Just as our CDS society does not represent any one society in particular, nor does our political system. Nor do our cultural values and cultural expression. For CDS to be successful it is truly necessary to recognize that we cannot model our society on any one society in particular which would imply extraneous inclusion/exclusion criteria which in turn would be beneath the social aspect and experiment of CDS. It means we all have to give up certain fetishes that we bring from our real life home cultures in an effort to be as plural a society as possible. We have to move the common denominator from strictly Global North definitions of what a society is so as to include, authentically, peoples from other parts of the world—all ethnicities, genders, cultures, religions, etc.
• CDS is not a melting pot, rather it is, or can be, a showpiece for a functional and creative diversity. It is essential that we protect this in our social relations, and in our laws and politics.
4) POLITICS ARE PERSONAL!
To think that politics are about everyone else is naïve, all of our political statements are based on what we think CDS should be, what we would like it to be. And we tend to defend them at any cost, often to the detriment of the rest. To a large extent, each election is a referendum for the future and who we, each one as an individual, think can best serve each of our visions of the future of CDS. This election in particular of the 21st RA is especially critical because of the coincidence of the increasing polarization of the CDS population and the important decisions that must be made, especially the development of a new sim, and the reevaluation of the chancellor’s powers.
We should be careful of veiled dis-accreditations of standing members of government and/or candidates because of politically-motivated interpretations of the constitution and institutionality of CDS, or true misunderstandings of the different government or non-government institutions here. CDS needs to be flexible and creative because the politically active membership is just a small part of the whole membership, although the door is always open for new participation. People who run or hold office should be evaluated on the merit of their actions, on the inclusionary (not just invitational) basis of their decisions, and to what extent they represent a common good based on plurality. Although politics is personal, the politicians cannot be so in the exercise of their office. The question you need to ask of the candidates and standing officials is to what extent do you feel listened to?
All of the ideas I have contributed to CDS to date, proposals that have been submitted to the RA, are all based on giving people the social and informal spaces to speak and to be listened to when the formal spaces do not work. The politics that I think should be personal are represented in the personal commitment of whoever is elected to listen to the constituents, all of the constituents, and to not pre-judge them or characterize them in the forum or IMs or chat. That is not listening.
• Although I do not always say things that people want to hear, I do listen and I am approachable. That is my personal commitment as a candidate and as a representative if elected.
5) WHAT WILL I DO IN THE 21st RA?
I think the original spirit of CDS as a virtual social, cultural and political experience needs to be recovered. The foundation of this is the idea of co-living with neighbors, friends, acquaintances, and others of different social and cultural distances. There is or should be an element of the “benefit of the doubt” until the other demonstrates bad faith. We are too quick to lash out. The RA should begin to take a more proactive stance on community relations, promote activities and spaces that invite people to express themselves without fear of reprisal, but also spaces and activities that teach tolerance, pluralism, equity, gender-neutral public discourse, and other qualities that define us as modern pluralist societies.
I would work towards:
• Creativity. Creativity is a fundamental virtue of human society, and we should engender creativity at every possible juncture. This means rethinking what has been our policy toward creativity, opening up the opportunities and spaces for creative expression.
• Pluralism. Everyone has a voice, but we need to be aware that there are traditional gender, ethnic and national hegemonies that are present even here. Persons who represent traditional hegemonies should make an effort to protect those social and cultural perspectives that are not well represented.
• Co-living. This is the idea that is behind all of my thinking about CDS, and it is one of the more difficult things to achieve here. All of our efforts, both elected officials and citizens, should be oriented toward making the CDS experience one that people want to be a part of. The first step is one of tolerance of difference. The second is dialogue, especially intercultural dialogue under the umbrella concept of tolerance.
• Sim development. What does expansion mean? I would love to see more sims, but not at the huge social cost that the LA sim reform has caused. Adding sims just to fill them up, or to bring in additional monies is never the answer unless, we first manage to come together as a community. We are an organic community going through a rather difficult moment, not simply a list of people who pay tier every month. If the LA reform produced such acrimony, accusations, and character assassinations in the forum and in IM after two years of discussion and argument, what would a new sim produce right now? I am all for new sims, but only if we can approach it in a mature manner recognizing that we all need to give and take in what has to be a CDS-wide consultation process. I will insist in a popular consultation process, and the negotiation of final results in any sim development initiative.
• Public space. Our public space is full of self-promoting billboards for CDS and very little space for the creative expression I mentioned above. I think that there should be many more opportunities and spaces for public expression. I have proposed a democracy wall or people’s park to the 20th RA, but there are so many other venues and other forms of expression that could be developed as part of our public landscape.
• Political reform. I think that the current definition of the chancellor’s power is too broad, and gives the person a power far beyond what any one person should hold in CDS. The system of checks and balances are also not very effective. The RA should initiative the steps toward a change in the constitution to rationalize the power of the chancellor, and/or establish citizen mechanisms to provide oversight to the chancellor’s actions.
LET’S KEEP CDS REAL, LET’S KEEP IT SOCIAL
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- Cadence Theas
- I need a hobby
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