The CARE manifesto

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Diderot Mirabeau
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The CARE manifesto

Post by Diderot Mirabeau »

I just noticed that the CARE faction has published its manifesto and I had a chance to read it.

I must say my impression is that it is very well written and well thought out.

My first impression is that rather than outlining your positions on matters of policy you have put a lot of effort into describing a process to govern your party through which you hope to boost the contribution of the parts of our electorate, who have not been very outspoken in the forums.

It appears to me you hope to be able to get a process going by which a substantial number of citizens will be involved in policymaking on an ongoing basis.

This is a noble ambition - which I think you share with all the factions. Your approach however is the most detailed and ambitious I have seen so far on how to achieve such a purpose - surpassing even the CSDF as to the extent you will go to solicit opinions from the hitherto silent. If you can pull it off there is no doubt in your mind that your organisation will define the model for a version 2.0 on how factions should conduct policymaking in the CDS.

However, it seems to me only fair that if the innovative part of what you present to the electorate is really more the process by which to reach decisions than the actual decisions taken then you should also be judged more critically on the way you actually manage to implement these goals for your decisionmaking procedures. What I mean to say is that it will be fair to criticise the proposals you eventually advance no matter their content if they were not reached at by the extended, inclusive process of study groups and a large number of members actively discussing, contributing and embracing your final position.

It is certainly possible to differentiate the current factions on a scale regarding the extent to which they take extra measures so as to promote inclusion in the way they run their faction. My relatively unqualified impression is that on an axis of "promoting extra-inclusive processes" the factions are ranked in reverse order of DPU, SP, CSDF and CARE.

The DPU does not use its discussion forum and to my knowledge does not have publicly advertised in world meetings.

The Simplicity Party uses predominantly forum discussion to reach consensus and has an occasional in-world meeting when it is deemed to be more effective than the forum procedure.

The CSDF has regular pre-announced in-world meetings, which often take a long time. Guests are welcome and decisions are made in these meetings.

CARE has taken steps toward including a very large group of citizens in its membership and intends to utilise this to establish study groups, which will presumably work on an ongoing basis to draft, discuss and finalise inclusive legislative proposals inspired by the active expressions from a majority of the membership base. I presume that all these study groups will have pre-announced, open meetings with transparent decisionmaking procedures.

Now as I have stated in the above I think your vision for an inclusive process is very sympathetic and I will be happy if it turns out to be successful since it will show to be possible what all factions seek to achieve: An improved active participation by the electorate in formulating policy.

At the present time I have to say that as a Simplicity Party member I do not believe you will succeed in realising your ambitious, inclusive process. This is why:
- Your manifesto outlines a number of Study groups, which will be charged with developing policy. In order for these study groups to be [b:1etwzq6s]credible[/b:1etwzq6s] relative to your goal of inclusiveness they will necessarily have to include a substantial number of members. In order for the study groups to be [b:1etwzq6s]timely[/b:1etwzq6s] relative to the political agenda they will have to meet at a certain frequency - ideally once per week and sometimes even more. In order for your study groups to be [b:1etwzq6s]productive[/b:1etwzq6s] you need to find a mechanism by which you will reach decisions without getting mired up in endless debate.

All these requirements in my view point to the necessity of having a very large and very active membership base, which must be able to keep up continually a level of effort and contribution at a level similar to that exercised by the Sim Planning Committee.

I personally doubt that the electorate in the CDS at the moment is large enough to be able to provide you with 10 - 15 active members, who will be able to meet up every week and debate vigorously. There is a very real risk that as time goes by people will lose their enthusiasm about the process, which they maybe perceive to be a waste of time compared to posting in the forums, or that RL circumstances necessitate a change of priorities and schedule or that as the CARE platform develops a number of members will feel alienated from the positions taken by the party and will cease to feel it is worthwhile to spend a considerate effort of several hours every week to contribute positively to the debate.

We in the Simplicity Party have chosen a model based on the assumption that if a political issue motivates people sufficiently they will mobilise to make their voice heard and help shape policy. In cases other than these highly prioritised issues people will be largely satisfied to make a general decision to vote for one faction on the informed basis of having familiarised themselves with their platform.

Since as you know we favour a simplicity of procedure that is focused on effectively achieving a stated aim we have chosen to conduct most of our policy discussion in our forum - open to any member of our party and soon to be open for the community at large (you can say we have taken a leaf out of your notebook) - and only to stage resource consuming in-world meetings when they are the most effective in for example carrying out a vote or reaching out to the electorate.

We do not think that our procedure is less inclusive in principle than yours - since every citizen who cares enough about an issue can actually influence our policy. However, we believe that our choice of procedure is informed by the above insight that most citizens prefer on a daily basis to get on with their virtual lives rather than to all become political buffs.

May I in closing add another observation of mine in regard to your platform, which is to do with the culture of discourse. I notice you have written somewhere that you will favour "vigorous debate and exchange of opinions."

I think I have become familiar with what that means over the last few months of forum history.

I acknowledge that scrutinising each others position on the basis of one's own viewpoint has absolute merit in most circumstances at least up to a point.

However, I think that if you choose to pursue this principle to its fullest extent you risk missing out on another important dimension of what political discourse in the CDS has been about: Finding out what it takes to reach agreement across the board in order to establish a feeling of shared ownership of the decision finally taken.

This "finding out what it takes to reach agreement" form of discourse is not one where you challenge the other party's point of view on the basis of your logic but rather one where you listen and find out to which extent that can be accommodated in exchange for getting that other party's support for the final decision. It is not an adverserial form of debate but an inclusive and open form of conversation.

I think that if you truly want to succeed in achieving your goals of inclusion and co-operation that you accommodate for this kind of discourse alongside the "vigorous debate and exchange of opinions."

Finally, I have to make a point about considered decisionmaking. I believe it was Oni who not so long ago argued that making a decision to roll back the present monolith that is the Judiciary Act was a big decision that should not be made on the basis of a few days' discussion.

Well, I cannot help but observe that your platform contains a reference to the need to have a fair and stable judiciary. I am assuming that this is a reference to the complex monolith as described by the combined tomes of The Judiciary Act and the Ashcroft Code of Procedure.

If all of your members were to heed Oni's concern for only making big decisions on the basis of considered debate over a longer period I think they had better start reading now so as to be able to establish a consensus in your party about the exact definition of "fair and stable judiciary" before the next two weeks have passed and votes have to be passed.

Those are my observations as of now. I wish you good luck with your project and I hope that it will lead to an improved status for democracy in the CDS.

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Post by Beathan »

Ah Diderot -- ever reasonable -- you give CARE far too much credit. It is a process-oriented proposal, utterly lacking in any real substance, all over again. I look for rights and protections for equality among citizen, but I am blinded by the smoke and the light flashing from the mirrors.

I agree that we need to involve citizens. I further agree that these forums have not done so -- and that inworld meetings are useful. However, why do we need an elaborated process of titles and committees just to talk to each other as citizens? Why can't we just have scheduled public meetings? Those meetings work so well in New England that the Lindens use them to give the avatars the illusion of control. Surely, we can use them to give our citizens real control without ensnaring them in such a heavy process.


Let's keep things simple enough to be fair, substantive enough to be effective, and insightful enough to be good.
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