something I wish I were educated about is how to efficiently make decisions in an actually democratic way. speaking from my own naivete, it seems there's a tension between quick but oppressive decision making versus slow but inclusive decision making. i've seen this play out badly in my own lefty organizing experience. but i obviously can't be the only person to feel this and worry about it.

if time is not an issue, more thinking, deliberating, talking, etc is (almost?) always better. but then there are cases where immediate action is needed. sometimes a group cannot even come to agreement quickly about whether the situation is urgent or not, let alone decide how to act.

but that introduces a bias towards inaction, which is itself a choice and one that the entire group might not support in hindsight.

just to be clear, I'm talking about a context here in which you can assume the people involved have already done some of the work to deprogram themselves from capitalism. there are lots of people who haven't done that, and they bring a false sense of urgency about everything into the room. there are ways to deal with that. i'm talking about a group where that's mostly been dealt with. there are situations that actually are urgent, actually do require quick action, to get there.

@walruslifestyle This was an issue that I always felt was a bit suspicious about the Occupy movement, the whole focus on "consensus"... consensus seeking, when understood as an abolute, is poison. It becomes trivial for a deliberate bad-actor to sabotage decision-making, and even a well-intentioned but ideologically purist participant can completely gridlock a project.
A lot of successful orgs distinguish "simple majority" decisions from higher-stakes "qualified majority" ones. Seems sensible.

@walruslifestyle The issue I have with "qualified majority" systems though is that they introduce some percentage of the group that counts as "qualified" at all scales, even if the org starts out quite small and later grows quite large. Surely qualified majority voting can't maintain the same ratio with the same legitimacy between a group of 10 or a group of 200?
Makes me feel that qualified-majority voting with a log-scaling factor might help, a bit.

@walruslifestyle ..but even that is a very broad-strokes, technocratic answer to the bigger question, which is "does this system let us work together, and prevent us stepping over the minority groups we owe a duty of care and deference towards".
And QMV is still all about the _majority_.
To actually ensure that minority groups get protected you have to identify them, and set up system that let them put the brakes on, without giving them an unlimited veto either.
Shit's hard.

@walruslifestyle I think there's probably a truth in here that we're all running from, which is something like "any system you set up today is definitely going to be outmoded within a generation or two and abused for oppression, so just get over it and focus on ways of making the inevitable oppressions easier to break out of later instead of trying to make oppression impossible".
And if we think like that, do our decision-making systems start looking different? What changes?

@cathal hmm yeah that's an interesting point. i think you're right that if any codified system is around too long, bad actors will find holes to ooze through. maybe the system, whatever it turns out to be, must change regularly, and that's built in from the beginning.


@cathal i had Occupy in mind when I wrote all that because I was involved in it, and no joke the group I was in spent *months* deliberating over whether or not to eject a bad actor who was abusing people directly. no one even disputed he was abusive, but when it came to acting there was always someone who objected.

when it was all said and done, it turned out he was an informant for the city police. so besides the abuse, he was exactly the kind of bad actor who should have been ejected.

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