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intentional communities without consensus  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I would guess that 97% of all intentional communities are governed by consensus.

Consensus is something that I think is natural.  If there are five of us and we're talking about what we want for dinner, usually within a couple of minutes we can come up with something that we all agree on.  Consensus.  It happens all the time.

Most modern marriages are based on consensus between two people.  Some of these examples of consensus are smoother than others.

An intentional community is a lot like being married to a whole bunch of people. 

Might one think of a retirement home as a type of ic?  There is no consensus.  There is probably a manager.  The manger gets paid to keep the owners happy.  This involves keeping the rooms filled which involves keeping the residents happy.  If a resident wants things to change, the resident must convince one person - not all of the residents.

I like to imagine that in a city like missoula (where I live) there could be a hundred intentional communities where each is run by a person.  If I meet the people running these communities, I should get a good idea of what their ic is like.  If they are a good and trustworthy person, then I would think that living there would be smooth and good.  I can then choose the ic that fits me best out of the hundred. 

I remember when I was 18 I spent the pea harvest working on the Tubbs Ranch.  $4.00 per hour, and a bunk and excellent food.  I liked it there.  There would be about 20 of us at the table for breakfast and dinner.  Lunches were brought to us in the field and it seems like there was about eight of us that would share a lunch.  I don't remember any quarrels about anything.  I guess in the end, old man tubbs made the decisions.  If you pissed off old man tubbs, you would get fired.  And, of course, when the work ended, you were let go. 

A different tack ....

ST:TNG

Are these fictional characters living in an ic on the USS Enterprise?  Picard is in charge.  And he is trusted.  Can a hierarchical system work when there is a trusted person running the show?


 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Hierarchical systems can work very well when there is a trusted person running the show.  That's how most of human government was for eons until fairly recently, with some exceptions.  It's when there *isn't* a trusted person running things that problems happen -- if King George had been a better king and a better person, he would never have lost the American colonies.

Of course, just because the first leader is a good one, doesn't necessarily mean his successors will be, also.

Kathleen
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Location: Oakland, CA
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I think there's a spectrum of hierarchicality (that might be a new word...hopefully its meaning is clear).

To me, an authoritarian system is like a monoculture for ideas.

It can be extremely productive if its favored member was chosen well, but it can go off the rails very badly unless a huge amount of effort (e.g., violence against bad leaders) is invested in maintaining its health. And it tends to require outside inputs just to stay put (Picard needs several planets of military-industrial complex behind him, for example, plus Starfleet Academy fostering obedience).

Consensus is way on the other end of the spectrum: sort of a wilderness, where a natural balance of power means most of the big players are mostly good at fending for themselves.

While it's not immune to going way out of balance, it can produce some even with no efforts to manage. It's too complex to fully understand, which can make it resistant to any sort of change, good or bad. And it can be self-sufficient in ways simpler systems would never think to attempt.

I think one of the great things about intentional communities is that they can range across the spectrum, from David Koresh to Crimethinc. It'll be interesting to see what works best.
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