AboutGroups

Groups of people are fascinating, mysterious, wonderful, occasionally dangerous.

Some wonderful things simply cannot be accomplished by single humans, but require a group to cooperate. How do we encourage “good” groups to form, and discourage “bad” groups from forming?

Related: AreGroupsReal CollectiveSpeech AboutVoting CategoryDecisionMaking TheInnerRing SelfOrganizing

HiveSpeech

When people write papers, they often make allusions to famous saying by Einstein, or things said in Shakespeare, and so on. This serves to frame the paper, and point to a higher purpose or principle.

When communities write, they can say, “This is CollectiveSpeech.”

Another thing we’re doing here on CommunityWiki, borrowed from other communities (forget which ones,) is to include original quotations from our initial dialogs, and work them into the rework. Perhaps we should call this practice, CommunityQuoting?. (See the PageMaintainerSeries for examples, in particular: PageMaintainer quotes SamRose, PageMaintainerAuthority quotes SamRose, BayleShanks, PageMaintainerAnalysis quotes SamRose, AlexSchroeder, and KeithHopper.)

HiveSpeech would be the speech of the Internet. I am envisioning something that quotes not just famous people, and not just community members, but people from all over the Internet, who are working on some issue, or have something relevant to say.

I see this in my (LionKimbro) mind as contributing to InterCommunityCooperation, and the development of the HiveMind. It is not uncommon for some small poster on some famous person’s blog to contribute a critical insight. Is this not worthy of quoting and connecting?

JaronLanier was afraid of DigitalMaoism, citing WikiPedia’s combining of voices into a single conglomerate. This is quite different, though, because individual voices are named. Actually, in the case of CollectiveSpeech, it would be an organization that is referenced, but the organization tracks back to the individuals and their decision making process.

The effect of this is to see quotes from all sorts of people in the exposition of an idea.

RealCommunity

Seattle is hardly anything like a “community.” Why then is it called such, in the local papers? “The Seattle community decided…” it reads. I don’t think that language should be applied in the political sphere of the EcosystemOfNetworks. The only respect that Seattle is like a community, is that there are people in it.

I read in our local rag, TheStranger, an article about how domestic violence perps (we’re talking minor infringments here) who were called in by 911, were being separated by the government for years, over the wishes of both woman and man. The prosecution kept speaking about how “the community” looks at such cases. But we’re not talking about a community. We’re talking about paid prosecutors, defendants, and a few other court assigned people. This is not “a community,” nor is it “the community of Seattle,” which probably doesn’t exist.

In a real community, people who knew the couple, had known them for years, and were part of the rule making bodies and so on, would hear about the situation, talk about it, and then decide what to do. Most likely, if it were just “he slapped me,” they would talk about it, tell him (their friend,) “you can’t be doing this,” issue some kind of short-term separation (if the situation warranted it,) make sure that their finances will work out, and take all the various things into consideration. If she’s due to have a baby shortly, they can say, “Oh, your 2 week separation won’t be in effect, when your wife is in labor, and your baby arrives. We look forward to your happy future together.”

There is space for law to give way to dialog and deliberation. I see this as a big part of the DemocracyOfGroups: Actually enabling societies to self-police, make their own rules, and so on.

People do not belong to communities in our present lives here, at least in Seattle. Perhaps the courts can approximate: “Are there families, and family friends here, who know and love both of you?” They can have those family members and friends swear: “I know and love both of these people.” Then they can have them deliberate, and come upon an answer, within some set of tools that the government makes available. Is there a church that these people belong to? Then let the church decide that question, at their next congregation, within the tools and parameters made available.

It may be that the question of “Where do we collect powers?” may be a question that it actually is important for people in general to think about, beyond: “There are three branches of government.” Right now, we in the US see ourselves federally, the ImaginedCommunity of the USA. States take up very little space in our minds, – mostly our minds are attentive to the federal government. This is something I’d like to understand better, and start to disassemble, for reassembly into a different shape.

Another spin on this: In Santa Cruz, someone started a tradition called “1st night.” It is the most amazing new years festival I have ever seen in my life.

Here in Seattle, new years is terribly boring: There are just fireworks. It saddens me that this excites my family.

When I was in 1st night, there was an amazingly creative display from the public. It was like wiki. People wore costumes, people played music. There were instruments everywhere, you just pick one up, and start playing with others. People would drum in the streets for hours. There was a parade, you could just step in and join. There was a giant star made of wishes; You wrote a wish on some pieces of paper they had, and put it on the stars. Tons of bands. I think you had to sign up a couple of weeks in advance, if you wanted to play something. It was beautiful, and it worked. I ran into current friends and old friends at first night, regularly. Amidst the 1,000s of people, I ran into old friends. Amazing. People talking everywhere, people dancing, out in the middle of the street, and on the sidewalk, and on the displays, and so on. This points more in the direction of real community.

How tragic, that in Seattle, which should have something 1,000x more awesome, just has fireworks.

I am convinced that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and that the quest for perfect security is the enemy of the public health.

Apologies for the rant; I’m undergoing something of a personal transformation at the moment. I’ve held these thoughts for a while now, but they’re now clicking with several other ideas in interesting ways for me immediately. I’m starting to see a coherent picture of action and implementation.

SocialSelfRealization

Perhaps the thing to do is not to convince the scientific community to see the things people are just doing & realizing, but rather, to develop a self-awareness in society of the mechanical / solid power of its own reasoning process.

In fact, looking at the development of science, from Des Cartes, describing the Cartesian method, and the awareness of science and shaping of science into its own power and ways, – perhaps that is the model for the social awakening.

There wasn’t a “Science” before there was “Science.” (Capital S.) Rather, it was people collecting data, trying out arguments for one another, coming up with wild theories, trying each others stuff out, all the proto-scientific stuff. After scientists realized, “Wait, we’re doing these practices,” and started to realize it, the institutionalizing began, and so on, and so forth – WhatIsScience ? – until, “Wow, that’s science, that’s the body of science.”

It may be that something similar will happen out of this new proto-scientific space.

To give some form to it, I’ll drop down some major inquiries, working in this space:

That is, there’s an enormous, mass reasoning process going on, and– these efforts are not contradicting one another. In fact, in many ways, these groups are directly dovetailing nicely into place with theorists in the other groups.

The space is not “scientific,” in the traditional way, and yet there is a rhyme and reason to it.

So I can perceive that there may be a basic structure at work here, (likely rooted in science, I think, even, going on my personal “spear-point” theory, which would require a different conversation,) and that when we figure out it’s shape, something like the self-recognition of scientists that, “We’re doing Science, and this is how, and this is what it is, and here’s what it’s showing us,” may well crystallize out.

Maybe we’ll call it “techno-socio-mental processing,” or something? (Some people fear to associate technology with humanity, but, as far as I can tell, we are all living technology; We are living instances of technology.)

Dunno, but the picture’s becoming clearer to me.

FearOfGroups

There is a prevailing attitude in individualistic America (the only country I believe I can speak for) that is anti-group.

Fear of mobs, and just groups in general, is pretty much everywhere. Proposing groups as solutions to problems gets almost (but not quite) the same sort of reaction, as proposing communism (which is legitimately denied, to my eyes.)

I don’t think “groups” deserves that treatment, and if we’re going to solve any of the problems of reductionism at the society-level, we’re going to have to overcome our fear of groups.

Much of the fear is justified, of course, and that needs to be addressed. Assuming that is done, what can we say?

After thinking about it for a while, I came up with the following:

The definition of “daemon” that I understand and mean, is in the Greek sense, of, “Something capable of great good, or great evil.”

When people organize into a group, they become powerful. Thus, they become a daemon, capable of great good, or great evil.

What I think is happening here, is that people are fearing that, saying, “We can’t do anything right, especially as a group,” and then going: “Ergo, it’s best for us all to be individuals.”

But…

Here is the challenge: That is a group decision. We have, “hook line and sinker,” taken in this conclusion, as a mob. There’s very little thinking involved: This is something that we just gobble up when we’re young, and accept: “Don’t make groups. Don’t be part of something. Live only for yourself. When we do that, everything will just balance out for us. When we’re all busy trying to take advantage of each other, it’ll all cancel out, and nobody will be taken advantage of.

But just because we’ve made this group decision, it doesn’t mean that it was the right one, or that we’ve saved ourselves from the daemon fact, the fact of great power in groups. We’ve just turned into a world where, by God, people are taking advantage of one another, and everyone’s suffering for it.

I’m not sure we’ve really solved anything.

I think that the future lies in discarding the doctrine of: “Don’t join groups. Don’t give anything of yourself to a group, a greater good.”

I think we need to re-access groups. We need to start asking, very specifically, “What groups are good? What groups are bad? What should we do, as a group? How do we understand groups? How do we work with them? How do we dissolve them, and how do we form them?” The essential thing I have here isn’t these particular questions (just pulled off the top of my head,) the essential thing here is the attitude of asking these questions, rather than just saying: “Don’t be a joiner. Don’t join groups. Fear groups larger than, say, 20. Have as few meetings as possible, for as brief as possible, as disconnected and as delegated as possible.”

Perhaps this should be: ReimaginingGroups?, or something. See also: DemocracyOfGroups

CommanderVsJudge

Thoughts regarding two roles in understanding hierarchy:

1. The role of a “commander” (someone who determines what is to be done.)

2. The role of “judge” or “adjudicator.”

I realized that much of what I find attractive in hierarchy is not so much command, (since there’s no point in accepting orders towards ends you don’t believe in,) as it is the possibility of people working together economically, to realize dreams that they share in common.

In the non-hierarchical situation, when people have a conflict about how to work, the question often arises: “Who’s to say?” If there’s a manager or boss, it’s very economical: The conflict is resolved by the authority, the decisions of which the two have already agreed to accept.

That is, two (or more) people, encountering conflict, go to a shared trusted source, who then makes the decision.

This makes it possible for work to proceed very quickly.

That is, hierarchy can exist for horizontal reasons, (people being able to work together quickly) rather than vertical reasons (people being controlled.)

There are other roles in a social organism besides “judge” and “commander” ; I am just particularly zooming in on this case.

I’ve been told that the British colonies who seceded from the British Empire had bad experiences with a single all-powerful ruler. (“The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” – “Declaration of Independence” by Thomas Jefferson)

Part of their “grand experiment” was trying to set up a system without any single human as the ultimate authority. Some say the 3 branches of government which form that balance of power were based on Isaiah 33:22 (judge, lawgiver, king).

Many people find it inspirational to hear about leaders who found an alternative to the "shouting orders but not helping" system.

HierarchyTheory

My appeal to anarchists is to change from being anarchists to being … I don’t know: dream-life-archists (to include both the aspiring and the preserving.) The shape of the goal remains mainly the same: The dream of myriad diverse communities and societies and hermit caves and saner versions of the present main stream form (need a term for what we are like today – perhaps MetaCities? or something like that) the globe over. What is taken out is the blanket opposition to hierarchy.

The anarchist’s challenge to the concept of hierarchy is utterly legitimate and undeniable, and that challenge needs a serious answer.

Hence, I think that the ideas that back new forms of society needs to include particular answers to the anarchist’s challenges, and I would call those answers, “Hierarchy Theory.”

  • It needs schools of ideas about how to sever the worst of what we have seen from hierarchy in the last 5,000 years, and how to develop the best.
  • It cannot be a blanket appreciation of hierarchy, it must distinguish between positive and negative traits of hierarchy.
  • It should connect with theories of history, and it should honor all people in all positions of hierarchy.
  • It needs to answer questions about inspiration, shared dreams, and sharing dreams.
  • The theory should not be total: It should be merely an aspect of a larger theory of dreams & life & society.

Thus, in answering questions about hierarchy, there will be appeals to the heart that take form in the larger theory.

LionsCriticismOfAnarchism

While immensely grateful for the history of anarchism to this date, I basically see no further progress in anarchism by its present name.

The two major criticisms I’m moved by right now as I write this are:

  • Failure to be capable of formation in the material world, due to rejection of hierarchy.
  • Failure to appreciate dreams and inspiration.

The second may seem strange to anarchists, because, anarchism itself is a noble dream. But it is a dream of separate people who don’t share dreams.

Nothing terrifies anarchists more than people collectively persuing a shared dream; They immediately demand, “Who manipulated the people into doing this?” To demonstrate the evil, they ask, “What are the sacrifices that people are making to realize a shared dream – don’t you see how wrong that is? Don’t you think it is unfair that the person on the left sacrificed 143 units, but the person on the right sacrificed 243 units?” And then they insist, “Each person should be persuing their own dream.”

The value-system then becomes a cult of impression: “Look at how much this one individual did all by themselves,” and disdain for collective efforts, leaders and followers alike.

CommunityAndSociety

Historically, Anarchism (social anarchism) and the left in general has persued community. “Individuals” and “Community, community, COMMUNITY,” the endless virtue.

I think individuals and community are of crucial importance, but I note a missing actor: society.

I wish that people, rather than working to make just new communities, and new community living patterns, furthered their field of view to include societies, new societies, development of new societies.

It was the EcosystemOfNetworks model that really made it clear to me, that we’ve been missing out on societies.

The way “society” is treated today in anarchist thinking is to just tack on “federation.” So you make a bunch of encapsulated communities, and then you just tack “oh, we’ll federate,” on top of that, and there you have it. But I’m not convinced that really works – I think if we’re more intentional in our explorations of society formation, then we’ll get much more amazing, powerful, scalable, fair, generous, and beautiful results.

This is not the full extent of what I’m thinking about, but I think it’s the critical point right now.

OpenSourceSociety

I want to make a full page on this at some point, but I am increasingly coming to a position that I call “open source society.” I suspect one day I’ll have a new name for it, because “open source” is a name that will come and go, with respect to a social movement. The idea is more about owning your culture, owning your way of life. I look more to MatthewFox?, who developed CreationSpirituality?, more than, say, RichardStallman or LinusTorvalds? or EricRaymond for inspiration.

One way I say it, somewhat fecitiously, is: “I wish there were 1,000 cults in Seattle, with at least 1,000 persons in each one.” I would say “new societies,” but people will scream, “cults!” Main stream society is presently (almost always) hostile to new forms developing within it, and assigns the label “cult” in order to destroy new forms. The danger to new social forms is not politicians, wealthy capitalists, or religious leaders, but rather, by far, ourselves, our family, our neighbors, and the Onion’s “man on the street.” The goal is to get the conversation past “is it a cult or not,” – that is, does it have a leader (yes – it’s required, if you’re making a new thing,) does it speak in new language (yes, of course, and we understand exactly why as wiki practicioners and theorists,) does it attract participants (of course,) does it make new clothes and wear funny hats (new meanings = new artworks: yes) and enguage in strange rituals (often) 1 – all of which all new societies will do – but rather the much more important question of: “are they harmful? what’s bad about cults, and does this given group do those bad things?”

Part of this vision includes a new contract with the mainstream.

Presently, the contracts are between the individual and the main stream: Government, yes, but further: manners, communication pathways (which are changing right now,) entertainment, and advertising. We don’t think of them as “contracts,” but you can say things about them, and we enforce them, and we hold in our heads a body of agreements about them. Where we differ, we largely differ slightly, not dramatically.

What I envision is a three-part-ite agreement:

Between the main stream, the new society, and the individual.

Another way of saying what I mean by “Open Source Society,” is “MetaSociety?” or “MetaReligion?.” A society about societies, a religion about religions. (The “religious copernican revolution,” wherein all religions are like planets orbitting the one sun, articulated by RudolfChristophEucken?.) We can’t live on the sun, we can only live on a planet and receive the suns rays. Planets are not “better” than other planets, though one or another may be more to our liking.

Traditionally new society efforts are “totalizing” in objectives: they mean to completely subsume existence into the new form it is making. For example, Christianity and Islam are totalising – but so are the Bahai, who intend to wrap around and swallow up the world’s religions.

The efforts of the new societies are not to swallow up the world, but rather, to be servents to the rest of the world, to welcome and invite difference.

Here, the “main stream” (a word that is being stressed beyond its limits, and requires further analysis) is not just “all of humanity,” but also the meta-cities, a safety zone, a zone of transit for ways of life, for the preservation of the PassagesOfPerspective. New societies need the main stream, both to hold new societies accountable, but also to carry people who leave new societies – either because there is something wrong with the society, or because that individual’s dreams simply cannot be realized in that society, (like someone at a science school who should really be at law school, or vice versa,) or the individual ceases to hold the dream. A place that is a neutral zone between new dreams.

New societies should also serve the main stream (and each other,) in something like a gift exchange: If we’re not here for others, what are we here for?

This is a broad outline of how I see social evolution taking place.

A few small steps that start very close to “open source software” but look to me like they are steps in the direction of “open society” (“open source society”): open source electronics, Ohanda, and the way there is a dedicated place for suggesting and changing each Wikipedia policy -- leading to people talking, not only about some particular policy, but about the process of policy change in general – such as "avoid instruction creep".

ReductoAdCongregatio

I think we need a modern update to “Ad Hominum,” as a form of argument falacy.

It goes: “Ad Congregatio.”

I couldn’t find “group” in the latin-english dictionary, but I did find “society” (congregatio.)

I don’t know anything about Latin grammar, so maybe it should be AdCongregatum?, or something like that. (Someone with knowledge, please correct.)

Basically, “Ad Congregatio” (or “Ad Congregatium”) is a class of arguments of the form:

Such-and-such people are a group holding an idea, ergo, the idea is wrong.

For example, it is cloaked whenever people use the term GroupThink.

That is, “There are a group of people who think X,” combined with the implicit “X is wrong.”

The implication is that there is something somehow faulty with the architecture of the group. The implication is that they are somehow doing something wrong, or thinking or communicating in an erronious way.

What should you do, when someone makes a Reducto Ad Congregatio?

Ask to see the ideas.

“Yes, they are a group, but what do they say? And what do they do?” Are the ideas reasonable? Are they sound? Do they make sense? Are the actions positive or negative?

The person who is performing Reducto Ad Congregatio will not want to talk about ideas, – they will constantly try to draw attention back to: but they are a group! They will say: Look at how group-y they are! Look at how you can’t complain in their forums! Look at how whatever so-and-so says is immediately accepted like law! Don’t you see the mind-control? Don’t you see the evil?

Just bring it right back to: “OK, so – what are the ideas?

We need a maturity about groups and the PassagesOfPerspective.

If we believe that ideas aren’t just to float around, but to make things real, then we should expect people to assemble around them.

A different fallacy that i think people make about groups is to attribute an idea or action to the group as a whole when in fact only some of its members thought or did the thing, and when there is no formal procedure by which “the group” endorsed or did it over the objections of the dissenters (i.e. if the U.S. Congress passes an act, then “America” can be said do have done it/said it – but if a majority of congresspeople say they hold some belief, but others don’t, and no resolution was passed to settle the issue, then it shouldn’t be said that “America” holds that belief). – BayleShanks

Footnotes:

1. If you think the main stream does not enguage in ritual, witness Christmas, Easter, and Halloween, and the depth of feeling associated with each.

Define external redirect: CreationSpirituality MetaSociety MetaReligion LinusTorvalds CommunityQuoting AdCongregatum MatthewFox RudolfChristophEucken ReimaginingGroups MetaCities

EditNearLinks: PermaCulture RichardStallman OpenSource GroupThink EricRaymond

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