No provision for "confederation" in Constitution

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Diderot Mirabeau
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No provision for "confederation" in Constitution

Post by Diderot Mirabeau »

The new overarching name contains among other things the word "Confederation".

As most of you will undoubtedly be aware "confederation" implies a certain form of arrangement with regard to power-sharing and delegation of sovereignty between independent governments.

I do not believe that the new name was chosen to imply that the sims of Neufreistadt and Colonia Nova were to be autonomous, self-governed entities, which only exercise shared sovereignty in a delimited set of pre-specified areas of policy and government services. Furthermore, it would I believe be a pity to have the result of a naming competition put restrictions on our choice of arrangement to govern the relations between the current sim and our future sim.

Since a confederation is in the strictest sense of the word a loose collaboration of autonomous governments in a well defined area only I personally believe that this form of government is not suitable for the relations between Neufreistadt and Colonia Nova. The issue was discussed in the proposal team and at the time it was the judgement that the existing government entities were well able to scale to encompass a constituency of two sims - possibly with the addition of a local government official, who is to adapt and enforce the local covenant restrictions put in place by the guild.

It has previously been discussed briefly that the citizens of the Colonia Nova sim should have "special representation" in the RA. I do not believe this is necessary. We have a system of government on the basis of a shared sense of community and there is no point in establishing artificial barriers and distinctions between citizens living in one sim or the other before they (possibly) arise out of natural circumstances arising due to the unique conditions of each environment.

The Constitution in its present form does not have any provision for delimiting the areas of governmental sovereignty to only a limited area of the sim(s) forming our collective community. Neither does it have any provision for allowing the RA or any other branch of government to delegate part of its decisionmaking authority to a collective government in a confederal arrangement.

My solution to the above is to propose that Neualtenburg and Colonia Nova enter into the "Confederation of Democratic Simulators" as a coherent entity and sovereign territory with one government but that we establish a founding treaty for the C.D.S. that will allow it to act as a sort of commonwealth organisation between any democratic simulators in Second Life that desire to participate in peaceful cooperation in areas where there is a well-defined benefit for doing so. For example, it would be possible to co-fund the development of voting systems, land mapping systems, to speak with one voice vis a vis Linden Labs and their support for groups and so on.

To summarise it is my opinion that we should establish the Democratic Republic of Neufreistadt and Colonia Nova as a coherent entity with one government and use the C.D.S. entity as a vessel to facilitate collaboration with some of the other interesting experiments in democratic self-governance in Second Life.

I think that this discussion needs to be taken up at some point in the Representative Assembly or a similar forum, but I'd like it to first be discussed by the population at large. Preferably, the topic should not be settled until we have a full RA sitting since it is an issue of some importance for our future.

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Dianne
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Post by Dianne »

There are many issues here, but I think in sum I agree with your assertion that the Confederation name is perhaps inappropriate, but disagree with your general approach to the inclusion of Colonia Nova into Neufreistadt as a single entity.

Judging by the popularity of the various name choices that contain words like "Federation" and "Confederation" and the discussion among the people that took place during the naming process, I believe that the majority of the people seem to envision exactly this kind of state.

That each sim as it joins us would be somewhat a separate entity with it's own internal organisation, but that would also send representatives to the "capital" of Neufriestadt to participate and be represented in the government.

Personally I like Claude's idea of decentralising the Guild and (I would further argue), taking it's power down to the level of a sort of municipal or single sim authority. Each individual sim then would have it's own Guild that would handle the practical matters of sim management and by agreeing to N'stadt law and sending a representative to the RA or Senate be a part of the Federation.

They would not be seperate "governments" per se, working together as a Federation, but more like provinces or protectorates (not sure about the right word there), that were autonomous in their own affairs yet participating in the greater assembly.

If we include Collonia Nova in as a single entity, what of the next sim or the next? The size is sure to get unwieldy at some point. How can the Guild effectively manage the resources and buildings of multiple sims with different themes? Surely the people that live there must have some direct control over their own affairs. What of sims that are added that are not contiguous with ours, and what of sims that are already established, but with to join with us to enjoy the benefits of government?

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Patroklus Murakami
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Post by Patroklus Murakami »

Well there's definitely a case for 'local government' in the sense that the Guild could have local chapters and a fair degree of autonomy with relation to builds, theme and events.

But I don't think we can infer that the majority of citizens favour some 'federal' or 'confederal' arrangement on the basis of the name vote. They simply weren't asked that question!

Like Diderot I'm uneasy about the choice of an over-arching name that uses the word 'Confederation'. It seems to me that it potentially short circuits a discussion we would need to have if we wanted a confederal (or federal) form of government. We certainly should not head down that road just because it's our new name!

The other branches of government (RA and SC) are perfectly scaleable and work better the larger we get. With one sim we need a larger proportion of the population to provide members of the government. The CDS name should be nothing more than the overall name for the sims that are part of the representative democracy begun in Neualtenburg (now Neufreistadt).

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Gwyneth Llewelyn
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Post by Gwyneth Llewelyn »

Yes, actually, a "federation"/"confederation" of several micro-states with 30 inhabitants sounds a bit... over the top :)

Personally, I had suggested the name "Republic of Second Life" ;) exactly because of that reason. Although there are RL "federations" with a few hundred thousand people, well, these are exceptions, and there certainly are no "federations" of micro-governments of 60 people (ie. assuming 30 in N'stadt and 30 in Colonia Nova... :) ).

Still, the choice has been made, and we have to live with it.

People interested in looking at the CSDF group forums (hint, hint, *shameless plug*, wink, wink) can see the broad sketches for a different model in the very long transaction logs, where suggestions are been made on how to get due representation from local sims at the RA level, [i:2lajkf1p]without[/i:2lajkf1p] the mess of a separate "government".

Curiously enough, around here in Portugal, there [i:2lajkf1p]are[/i:2lajkf1p] some local authorities for uh "communities" (local town halls) with just 426 citizens, and they have the same level of local autonomy as, say, the City of Lisbon (which boasts 564,657 citizens). But that is a historical exception, since those 426 guys are in a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic[/url:2lajkf1p] ;) (still, that island is about 168 sims in size.)

Then again, N'stadt [i:2lajkf1p]is[/i:2lajkf1p] an island in the middle of the SL ocean...

The point is that, while I could understand that one day we would have a "confederation" of, say, Caledon, Dreamland, Alliez, and N'stadt & others, each with several dozens of sims and hundreds of inhabitants — thus following Diderot's suggestion — it seems rather pointless to have a "confederation of two sims" with a few dozen inhabitants...

Ah well. We're always looking too far into the future, I guess.

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Claude Desmoulins
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And so the electoral fray is joined...:)

Post by Claude Desmoulins »

Between my post (an immodest proposal) and the CSDF meeting logs the first real issue of the campaign has emerged. The DPU and CSDF present distinct visions for a future federal system. I have only read the CSDF transcripts, so correct me if I summarize incorrectly.

1. Federalism

The CSDF supports a centralized system keeping most of the decision making at the central government level. The DPU supports a more decentralized model, with significant power remaining at the sim level.

Gwyn critiques the necessity of a local government for a sim with 30 residents. I would respond with some thoughts.

Although we often model on RL, we don't have to. Gwyn notes that a government for 30 people in RL would seem silly. However, this is not RL. One of the things I think is generally less than ideal with RL government is the relatively large constituencies. Even though I live in what many people would consider a small city, the smallest constituency of which I'm a part has over 4000 members. I've met precisely one member of my elected city government once. The difficulty we've had in Neufreistadt with getting large groups together suggests that direct democracy is not an automatic choice even for a small group. So how big ought our constituencies be?

There is also an organizational theory (I'm sorry it was a long time ago, so I can't find a citation) that talks about "cells" in large groups. It argues that the largest group in which everyone can know everyone else ( a cell) is about 30ish. If a group grows larger than this, it breaks into subgroups, each under this 30 something limit. Larger group cohesion happens because people are members of more than one "cell" in the larger group, creating interfaces between the subgroups. I doubt that any sim we would add would be denser than the present one. This would keep the population of any sim “unicellularâ€

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Post by Patroklus Murakami »

Claude, you're right that we're likely to present different visions of the way forward at the next election. But I think you're setting up a false and misleading impression by your "DPU=federalised, CSDF=centralised" dichotomy. I would prefer to say that "DPU=lots of politicians, CSDF=scaleable government" :)

The arguments you've put foward in favour of federal government have not convinced me. For example, you point out that while "government for 30 people in RL would seem silly. However, this is not RL." Maybe not, but that doesn't mean that government for 30 people in SL is not equally silly! Why not government for 20 people, or 10? One of the advantages of expansion to a second sim and expansion of the population is that [i:2d9xlc1f]a smaller percentage of the populace need to be politicians[/i:2d9xlc1f]. Why would we want to create structures that will require more citizens to hold office? As Gwyn rightly pointed out at the recent CSDF meeting, we have trouble getting five to meet regularly as it is!

The same problem applies to the proposal for a bicameral legislature. It's superficially attractive and it mirrors the Senate/House relationships that many will be familiar with. But it requires more of us to become politicians than may be desirable and it adds an extra layer of complexity and bureaucracy, an unnecessary layer in my opinion. The question of a bicameral system raises a lot of questions for me. Here are a few of them:

[list:2d9xlc1f]What would be the respective powers of the second chamber and the RA?
What would happen if the two chambers were in dispute over a piece of legislation?
What would the procedure be for passing of new legislation?
Would there be one reading of bills in both houses, two, three?[/list:u:2d9xlc1f]

One thing I think we need to keep constantly in mind is that we are a small community of 30 people currently. Yes, we need to keep an eye to expansion and consider whether our systems are scaleable but we also need to keep it simple so that we don't collapse under the weight of the structures we set up to govern ourselves.

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Post by Claude Desmoulins »

I think the crucial querstion is, "How large can we grow before local government truly ceases to be local?" We don't know because we're the only real democratic experiment in SL and we haven't grown yet. What I don't want to get lost in the growth process is the sense of our community as a 'neighborhood' I worry that even at 128K m2 and fiftyish citizens, we may lose that. My proposal to keep some authority at the sim level is in part about that maintenance of small communities.

As per the percentage of citizens required to be involved in the political system, it really is nearly a wash between the two proposals on the table except in the very short term. The very fact that either of these proposals are on the table is a sign that we are all thinking toward a medium to long term future where our system covers a handful of sims and perhaps 100 or 200 citizens.

I am torn in my thinking regarding the current RA. I like the faction system as it now stands, and feel the requirements for simultaneous ranking of faction members and for platforms contribute a great deal to the issue driven nature of our political life. On the other hand I am troubled by the exclusion from the legislative branch of those who don't want to involve themselves in the operations of a faction.

My discomfort with the CSDF proposal to add sim reps to the RA turns back to a centralization issue. The CSDF proposal keeps sim reps always in a minority, for one thing. Another part of it is my wanting Colonia Nova to be more than just Neufreistadt West, where Fachwerken and Lederhosen give way to insulae and togas. I believe allowing subunits some autonomy -- letting them find their own ways to solve problems -- will create a diversity which will strengthen rather than weaken us.

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