Decision Making Matrix

"Historians will have to face the fact that natural selection determined the evolution of cultures in the same manner as it did that of species." - Konrad Lorenz

"The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim." - Sun Tzu

"Act quickly, think slowly." - Germaine Greer

 


 

"Lord give me the courge to change the things I can,
The serenity to accept the things I can't,
And the wisdom to know the difference."

This is call the Serenity Prayer and there was a time when I would have dismissed it as trite. Mostly due to my conversion to aethism, but also because I did not think it relavent. Then a very simple thought occured to me, it has three parts but it's usually referred to as the "Serenity Prayer". It's not called the Courage Prayer and it's not called the Wisdom Prayer. You can even drop the "Lord" bit and it still works.

Most commonly associated with alcohol and drug rehabilitation, the intent of this prayer is to help teach people about their own emotional world. As a form of witness consciousness, it provides the person with an all purpose tool that allows them to see thier interactions in life. It's the Swiss army knife of emotional work that helps create a buffer between the stimulus of the environment and the immediate response we all too often accept as normal.

My intent with this section is to provide a similar tool, not for an individual, but for a group, in order that it can witness it's own decision making processes. For me personally these observations came about after having my ego obliterrated when involved in a political decision making process. It's hard for an aetheist to say but, "thank God" my ego was obliterrated (this will only make sense later on).

With the attacks on the U.S. in 2001, the world was being prepared for war. After Afghanistan, the U.S. turned it's attention to Iraq, trying to convince us that Saddam had to go, and George W. was going to do it. This to me seemed stupid. I was a member of the Australian Greens and in March 2003 I attended a protest of over 450,000 people in Sydney. At the time I had taken to getting around on roller blades, fun, but in this instance usefull, because unlike bike / car or foot, I was able to quickly get around and through the throng of people and I saw the full area of the protest at it's peak. I knew the gathering was this large because of simple methods used in ecological measurement. Sample various parts of the affected total area in terms of individuals per quandrant and apply the average to the total area affected.

I was witness to something I have never seen before. To get to the protest I had driven a car full of people past crowded bus stops because the buses themselves were already too full. Random people with half empty cars were stopping to offer lifts to others trying to get to the protest. Once there, I saw the lone police officers, fretting as a breakaway group decided to go in a different direction, a breakaway of several thousands spilling over the hastily constructed barricade. Even though the prime minister later dismissed the march as a "few radical protestors", I saw and spoke with people who would not have normally gone to a protest. Mums and dads with kids who had decided not to go to the beach that Sunday. The city streets were full of ordinary people wanting to voice opposition to this incredible idiocy. Like many other cities across the world that day, the public transport system had melted, the ability to control the crowd had evaporated and the CBD had ground to a halt.

Around this time, an analyst from Office of National Assessments resigned over the direction the Australian government was taking. Andrew Wilkie had written some of the intellegence material on Iraq and decided to blow the whistle on the fabrication taking place around the presence of weapons of mass destructions. He joined the Greens and wanted to run directly against the Prime Minister in his seat (district/burrough) of Bennelong. This is how I met Andrew, because at the time, I was the only other person willing to contest the seat for the Greens. With me as candidate we had no chance of winning, but with this high profile, ex-military whistle-blower we had an opportunity to get a message out through the mainstream media.

As a consolation price I became the campaign coordinator, well for the first 3 months anyway. The local Green group had exploded in size, increasing by an order of magnitude. We had volunteers from all political persuasions wanting to help in the campaign. Everyone got extremely excited and a palpable buzz had turned into a whirlwind of activity. Packed town halls were easy to secure as everyone wanted a piece of Andrew, as he went whirling around the country on his crusade.

For me however, this all ended as the core local group decided to change the campaign coordinator. With so many volunteers we had broken up the campaign into smaller working groups with specific tasks and functions and it was seen that I was not doing enough, not "leading" enough in these working groups. Everything had become super critical, everything was just too important and it had all become quite explosive. So they replaced me with someone who was doing more. I was dumped, and my life fell apart.

Driving off that night was a turning point, a critical moment in my life. I only made it three blocks before I had to pull over, unable to drive from the wracking sobs and convulsions. It was pure luck that a men's support group to which I belonged was also meeting that evening, having told them I wasn't going to turn up, I eventually did, walking in as they were quietly meditiating, squatting down on floor, one of them put their hand on my shoulder and I just cried for what seemed like an hour.

It took several days to recover, and several months to get back to any sense of normalcy. I still helped out in the campaign, but quietly from a distance, not really engaged, but simply observing the group. There is an incredible clarity which comes from this sort of life-changing moment. I saw the local political group getting really excited, and watching every one get carried away by this excitement. Most of the group thought we had a real shot, with labor party preferences, what if.... but we were never going to win, not that time around. Andrew got just over 16% of the vote which was half of what was needed to even have a shot. Bennelong eventually fell three years later to Maxine Mckew, an ex-journo who had covered the Wilkie campaign and was inspired by it. She joined the Australian Labor Party and eventually defeated a sitting prime minister for only the second time since federation. Andrew moved to Hobart, joined the Greens there, then left them, became an independent and sweaked into power in 2010 to sit on the cross benches during a hung parliament, earning his moment in the sun.

What I learnt in the days following my crisis has led to this work. My ego had been blasted with a shotgun of runaway emotional charge and petty bickering, my sense of self had become tattered and was, for a time, discarded. The great irony was that with my decision making apparatus destroyed, albeit temporarily, every decision became crystal clear for a time. It's like a camera filter has been lifted and you can see the image with more clarity. The ego or the 'self', is exactly that, a set of filters. The self is a process through which we make decisions. In making these decisions we evaluate, qualifiy and contextualise the information at hand and make sense of the world around us. With the self removed, the decision making is raw and unfiltered, it was somehow cleaner.

What I saw in the group were people being carried away by the emotion of excitement, the emotion of anger, and the emotion of fear. When I was a part of it, I did not see it, but when removed it was readily apparant. Simple emotions that people feel, affecting the individual because everything had become so critical. The unsaid proclamation "We are going to win!" was the emotional tail wagging the conceptual dog. And when the group was comprised of similar emotionally driven individuals, a sort of echo chamber had developed and this hidden wish was unconsciously transfered, bouncing around at a somatic level ..."We're going to win! We're going to win! We're going to win!". The group had become the emotion, because the emotion had found such fertile ground. No longer did we have to sit idle and helpless as the world turned down the wrong path towards more death and war, now we could actually DO SOMETHING!. In deference to the prayer above, we had for too long been familiar with the bit around having to accept the "serenity", now we could get on and do that "courage" bit. Of course "having to accept" was completely missing the point of the prayer.

Part of the clarity that came with my collapse was this insight, we tend to make decisions based on emotion as well as concept, but we only ever really acknowledge the later. It took a while to get there, several years in fact, but at the time I started writing about how groups make decisions. And I started from what I knew which was evolution.

Groups evolve. They adapt to the environment over generations. They try on new mutations and see if these new constructs work. A change that does not work is dicarded, when the change does work it is enfolded into the ongoing group. Richard Dawkins explains this process by invoking the concept of a "meme". A analog of it's biological twin, the gene, a meme is a "cultural gene", subject to the same laws of evolution, adaptation over time through mutation and selection.

A "group" however, can have different forms. A group of a few people makes a decision, but then so does a group of several hundred million. And here is a very simple observation, perhaps the size of the group affects the way a decision is to be made.

It's such a simple idea, that a simple parameter "size" could affect the optimal way to make a decision. In a small group, discussing the problem is easy, there are only N!2 (n-cominatorial, choose 2) network interactions or relationships to be had. If the group is actually just 2 people (a dyad), then it's a simple conversation to be had. Plot a point representing each person on a piece of paper and there is only one line connecting two points. Add another point and there are now three lines. Add a fourth person and there are six permuations, and so on. At twelve people there are now 66 cominations of 1 to 1 interactions. Eventually the group will reach a size where 1 to 1 decision making is just not possible. As a result the decision making system has to change.

Emotion also play a crucial part in how people make decisions, something I learnt first hand from my failed venture into politics. It is the amplitude or "volume" of the emotion, and not the specific emotion itself (fear, anger, greed, excitement). Any emotion can have an impact when it is loud enough. When emotions are heightened, then different factors come into play around making the decision. Take for instance a committee meeting of a local council deciding on what to do about public toilets in a park. Not really riveting stuff, and on the face of it, not something that should generate a huge amount of emotion. Sitting around and simply discussing the issue should do it. Coming to a level of concensus should be relatively easy.

Now consider a very different scenario, where a small platoon of men have been pinned down by gun fire and they have to work out how to destroy a the machine gun that's encamped on the hill they need to take. This situation is the extreme opposite of the public toilet policy making group, but they could have roughly the same size. What's different is the actual physical threat of death. The criticality is different.

Well it's not the crititcallity as such, but rather the perceived life and death crititcality that is different. Now back to the hypothetical group deciding on toilet placement, and imagine that other factors of internal poltics are at play. People trying to gain power over others, persuing their individual agenda, arranging trade off's, seeking allies, attacking enemies, gossip that turns ugly, "he said...", she said..." and even something as mundane as putting up a toilet can take on a Machiavellian atmosphere, as it all becomes highly charged and super critical. We've all been there, the small tedious group that get's bogged down and unworkable because everyone has percieved a relatively mundane act as something that is ultra important.

For the platoon taking the ridge, the commanding officer is in charge, everyone follows orders and they do what they are told, because that is what they have been trained to do. Well not quite, they follow orders because in a broader evolutionary sense this is the meme that works in a battlefield context. The military force that doesn't work this way is very quickly selected against. Some would therefore argue that the military model is the best, however it really only works well for actual life and death situations. When applied to larger groups and civic decision making it inevitably fails because the extreme power that comes with this form of decision making is unchecked. To this idea, Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Creighton (1887) wrote the oft repeated phrase, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

In a very large group of people, there needs to be ongoing debate around some issues, those that are not so "life and death". This debate happens in the context of an open and free press, where people are allowed to state their position and have it heard. Anyone can have an impact on the decision making that occurs. The reason for this debate is not just about preventing corruption, it is concerned with taking a very large group of people with you as you make the decision. With an authoritarian dictator, any coercion used will just lead to dissaffection by those that are forced to do the following.

When deciding something like education policy or health policy, the decision making must take the population along with it, and to do this the "process" is more akin to that of concensus by simply majority. This approach is needed in order to keep the very large group with a sense of cohesion. That said, at the other end of the spectrum, with very small groups, I am reminded of my friend, a public servant, who has a humerous assesment of the politics that invades the non-critical decision making group, with his contra assement that "power corrupts and petty power corrupts absolutely."

Here are two factors that became clear to me following my personal 9/11 in politics. And they seem to work in slight opposition to each other. With smaller, more life and death (critical) groups the leadership model is best, however with much larger less critical groups there needs to be a broad community debate in order to successfully implement the decision. There are other factors that also affect the decision making process, but the two outlined seemed the most relevant when constructing this matrix below.

Humans are herd animals. We live in groups and like other herds, this brings a sense of security that comes from being part of a herd. A large herd, when faced with a threat, will be more likely to survive. In the simplisitic context of a battlefield, the larger force is more likely to win.

And technology also affects survival. The group with better technology will have the tools that help them to survive threat, supply food, shelter etc. Because there is a correllelation between technology and population size, it is difficult to disentangle these two factors, however they are both working in the same direction so it may not be necessary to separate security and technology as factors on population size.

Another factor that affects survival is a sense to which people feel they belong to the group. Solidarity forms when individuals of a group feel a kinship with others. This perceived relatedness impacts on behaviour as people can be more willing to act in the broader interests of the group, rather than their own self interest. This 'empathy' for the group will be different for different people, but in general part of the 'herd' meme is building a sense that the group is larger than the self and that this group is something worth protecting. It's an extremely bold claim, but alturism, or more precisely, 'percieved extended Kin-Selection', has been at the core of every battle in history, where a warrior has been convinced to protect (or advance) the interests of those people they feel closest to.

The other effect of population size is the simple increase in opinion spread that comes with any normal distribution. Consider as an example the height of invidivuals in a group. In a small group you will not necessarily get very tall or very short individuals. Most people will cluster around the average height for the group, this is indeed the very definiation of 'average' as it applies to a normal curve. Now consider a very large group of people with the same average height, what you will see is a larger curve which will both extend up in the middle (average) and also out to the sides, that is, there will be some expression of very tall and very short individuals (or more precisely, very tall and very short have a greater probability of being present). Put simply, in a larger group, you are more likely to get a very tall person or a very short person.

Frequencies and the normal distribution, change the population size and you get more 'extremes' (eg: height)

Now consider the exact same concept as it applies to a theoretical "left-wing" / "right-wing" spectrum of political opinion. This could be left/right or liberal/conservative or whatever metric you care to employ, it's just a simple linear spread of opinions expressed on a continuum. In a small group, simple probablitly will dictate that there are less extremes. In a very large group however, these extremes will have some expression in the population. And because people can make themselves heard, these opinions will inevitably be expressed.

With a larger population then, there has to be more effort placed into the idea of group cohesion or solidarity. People will readily feel they belong to a family, and are likely to have a parochial sense of where they belong in terms of a village, but with a large nation of millions of people, creating a sense of belonging becomes part of the apparatus of governship itself. An ethnocentric perspective is trumped by nationalism or fealty to a religion, and both of these may be surpassed by having a sense of global human identity. As previously discussed these concepts of belonging are associated with levels of consciousness, and not everyone is at the same level. The point is that more effort is required to cohere a larger group. Part of the method to acheive solidarity is derived from the mechanics of the decision making process being employed.

Over time, the decision making process is seen to evolve. The reason for this evolution comes from a basic feedback loop. A more successfull decision making process will result in more success for the group, and this causes the group to grow in size. But then popultion growth demands adaptation of the decision making process being used, because what works for the smaller group may not work for the larger group. As a population grows, you need a better process of making decisions in order that dissparate subgroups feel they still belong to the larger group. What follows is a mutation of the decision making process, and if successful, then the way is clear for the group to grow larger.

Population size (security and technology) along with group cohesion or solidarity are all fundamentally connected to the decision making process. As a whole system these factors will feedback on themselves. Population will create an explosive (positive) feedback loop and group cohesion will create a balancing (negative) feedback loop.

Through time, when veiwed as a whole system of group decision making, the output of the system (good decision making) is also the input to the system (size and security). Similarly the size and security of the group will require the evolution (mutation and selection) of the decision making processes being used.

A conceptualisation of the feedback loops that underpin the evolution of decision making methods.

In previous sections we delved into the advance of consciousness over time, observing how the dominant communication medium of either network or broadcast seems to be correlated with individual-focused or group-focused level of consciousness.

In this section what is presented is an original work that delves into the ontology of how we make decisions. The following matrix was never meant to be more than a simplistic pseudo-historical approach. It does not reference other work, even though with say "leadership", there are countless treatises. Within historical research itself there is even more which has been written. This matrix of decision making came about after a set of personally challenging events and to be honest, I have no idea where it came from, except to say that it has come from my unconscious ruminations around politics, history and evolution.

It certainly involves aspects of evolutionary theory (which I have studied) and only in hindsight can I see that it seems to reflect a 'comparitive' approach to history, but without the rigour of empircal correlational work. By way of a disclaimer, I have since learned that comparitive history rests on the idea that independent civilisations will develop in parralell ways. The characteristics of a 'leader' for instance will re-appear over time and across different cultures that were never actually connected. In ancient Aztec and Mayan civilisation, there existed a basic social structure that reflected the nobility in Europe or Asia, such that when 'nobility' is refererenced, it could be seen as a cross-cultural architype rather than as a Euro-centric reference point.

To an evolutionary biologist, comparitive history has the hallmarks of something called 'convergent evolution' where dissimilar ancestors would converge in terms of specific traits. The jaw strucuture of a big cat in Africa, or wolf in North America can have similar characteristics to that of a Thylacine (Australian marsupial preditor) even though their ancestral lineages are quite diverse. To study convergent evolution is to go beyond the species and how it changes, and rather to look at how the environment shapes a species. In comparitive history, the same process is at play, where the social parameters would bring about similarities in cultural structures. Yes it is simplistic, but my intention was never to be comprehensive, it is to provide a framework on which to get you thinking about the environment in which a group will make decisions.

 

A Matrix of Decision Making

What is being constructed here is a 3 x 3 grid, where the first cell pertains to that method of decision making when power is taken and responsibility is in the hands of one person. This category is called the Leader. Given that the whole field of 'Leadership' is incredibly complex, leadership here refers to that form of leadership which is more coercive rather than consensus driven, the context of it's use here is more closely related to the dictator.

 

The Leader

Power is taken  
One personThe Leader
(dictator)
  
    
    

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall - think of it, always." - Mohandas Gandhi

This is the most obvious decision making method and a good place to start because it is usually the first to come about in most situations. This is where one person stakes their position and says "ok, who is coming with me ?". Or stated in a more authoritarian way, "it's my way or the highway!"

Under pressure from a life and death situation, leadership is often viewed as the most pragmatic way forward when decisions need to be made. Consider the small group of fire-fighters that have to save people from a burning building. Their training will usually involve making sure that a command structure is in place to handle decisions that need to made on the fly. In simple terms, there is just no time to form a subcommittee and creatively work out the best way forward.

Vast libraries of literature exist when it comes to leadership, however like most concepts in this work the definition used is simple and hopefully commonly accepted. Leadership is a quality within a person that people can respond to in a given context, that they can resonate with, to such a degree that they are willing to follow that person.

A more contemporary interpretation of leadership would be to say that a good leader does not make decisions, they simply provide the group with all the information necessary so that the group can make the best descion possible. This is very different from "my way or the highway", but it does outlined the point that there are many interpretation of what makes a 'good' leader.

In communications theory, the leader is in a broadcast relationship with the individuals of the group, being one-to-many and with little real time feedback (beyond the anecdotal and statistical averages gleened from the canvasing of opinions). However it also has features of the network method of information exchange where the leader may respond to individual sentiments, and the individuals can resonate with what is being said by the leader. In a way there is a synthesis of the two communication methods when it works properly, or in a benevolent fashion.

This synthesis between broadcast and network communication happens because the group can also be understood as a single entity, where the group has a sort of 'self'. That is, the group has a process of self-organisation through which information is collated and decisions are made (being laws, rules, ethics or morals). So if the leader is a 'self' and the group has a 'self', then in this way we have a synchronous peer-to-peer network relationship between the leader and the group. A 1 on 1 (synchronous) conversation between leader and group, whilst at the same time there is a broadcast (asynchronous, one-to-many) relationship between the leader and the individuals in the group.

In terms environmental pressure, as the population increases, the extreme opinions in the group begin to emerge. This creates a problem for the leader and the simple solution is to be a better leader. Much of what is written about in understanding leadership pertains to the qualities of good and bad leadership. However with the leader who just takes control, the coercive leader, as the population continues to increase, and the demands on the leader continue to grow, eventually a group size is reached wherein this method of coercive leadership fundamentally compromised and unworkable.

One temporary fix is to increase the degree of anxiety within the population, ie: increase the percieved life and death criticality. When a group of people is under threat of imminent danger, they will generally put aside their differences and move towards a centrist position. This is a genuine phenomena that occurs when a natural disaster strikes a relatively cohered population. Not all groups are held together to the same degree and this degree of solidarity will have a direct impact on how well the population copes in a crisis. In 2011 when a tsunami stuck the east coast of Japan after a very large earthquake, the extremely cohered national consciousness of the Japanese citizenry came to the fore. However when hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, the relatively disparate cultural strata of the U.S. and specifically the different socio economic / cultural groups that formed New Orleans were relatively more fragmented, which may have been why there was a temporary collapse of civilisation for a time (looting and such). It's hard to fathom the difference between Japan and New Orleans, but perhaps at the heart of the different response is the relative ability to cohere to a centrist position.

The problem is that when there is a genuine crisis, the resilience has to already be there. However political forces will often create the appearance of a crisis in order to temporarily rally support to their short term policies. This has become a sort of crying wolf politics and it's been going on for a while now. This is not a new concept, make a people afraid, offer then safety if they follow you, and they will be easier to manipulate {Georing}. This quick fix method of group cohesion is compounded by an economic demand of commercial media where it uses a short term news cycle to make people pay attention, all so they can sell advertising space {Chomsky}.

The best way to get someone's attention is to make them anxious or afraid about something. However this tactic may have long term negative consequences. A potential problem may be that sustained fear could reduce the resilience of the group over the long term. In an individual, there is an analogy that shows this long term negative effect. During a fight-or-flight adrenal response there is also a heightened cortisol release. In the short term there is a massive mobilisation of resources in the body, however this comes at a cost of a longer-term degradation to the immune system. A society that is constantly being attenuated to feel fear may suffer the longer term effect of a degraded sense of group cohesion, or it could lead to an overly conservative approach that fails at innovation and creativity and becomes stagnant.

In terms of consciousness, the leader could also be viewed as an avatar the next stage of consciousness whilst the rest of the population for the most part are in an earlier stage. For example, the leader acts as an egotistic individual (C|P) in order to take the control of the earlier developed animist tribe (B|O). In it's basic and primitive form this is really about one person who takes control often for a very selfish reason. But the leader may also expose themselves to the suffering of the group, and this is what drives the creation of empathy. The creation of empathy is when the 'early adopting' leader (in the egotistical C|P stage) becomes the avatar for absolutionist (D|Q) consciousness. Put simply, the leader learns empathy and decides to also stand up for those who cannot protect themselves.

Over time, the pressures of population will increase and the leader that takes control will just not be able to hold the group together for very long. Most often the coercive leader will become a malevolent dictator in order to enforce their will, eventually to face revolt and be replaced by what is usually another coercive leader.

But very occasionally the leader will realise that a benevolent approach has the best long term outcome. Once secure in their role, the leader who becomes benevolent will often survive longer. There is but one more problem they face, which is that they will ultimately die, and with this comes a desire that their leadership position, with all of the advantages it contains, should be inherited by their offspring. If they can get this transition right then next cell in the matrix arises, where power is assigned.

 

The Monarch

Power is takenPower is Assigned 
One personThe Leader
(dictator)
The Monarch
(hereditary rule)
 
    
    

"A multitude of rulers is not a good thing. Let there be one ruler, one king." - Herodotus

"I will to my lord be true and faithful, and love all which he loves and shun all which he shuns." - Anglo Saxon oath of Fealty

"To bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, so that the strong should not harm the weak." - Hammurabi's Code; Prologue

When power is assigned, it is best to build the belief in the group that something bigger than the group is assigning this power, ie: God. Viewed simplistically, it is tantamount to duping the population, but when this assignment by something greater is done successfully, then the Monarch emerges. It is called the Monarch here, but it could equally be called Lord, Kink, Emporer, Caliph (Islam), Ajaw (Maya), Tlatoani (Aztec), Pharaoh (Egypt) and it is typically a family of leaders where the head position is transferred through the generations and where any other positions are assignment by the head.

To say the population is 'duped' is perhaps unfair because there are other memes associated with Monarchy which help with this process of transferring power to one's offspring. Hereditary rule is usually coupled with memetic structures like honour, virtue or the chivalric code. Here the right to rule is only in place because those who are not in the leadership class are seen as benefiting from the peace and protection afforded by the ruler. In a modern day context, feudalism seems like a protection racket, the lord will protect his subjects in return for the subjects fealty (and economic effort).

To use a biological reference point, at best it would be a form of mutalism (of which parasitism is one form). In a world riven by coercive leaders, warlords and despots however, this mutualism would appear as a novel mutation because it co-develops with the formation of empathy. A person with the a slight economic advantage will see those around him that are suffering and is driven to protect them. It's fits in with the absolutionist stage of consciousness because it imposes a greater will that has caused any inequality to exist in the first place. By stating "it is seen as God's will that some people are born to rule others and are born to follow", a person is able to ameliorate the internal discomfort that comes with seeing other people suffer.

The slight economic edge of the leader then feds into an explosive feedback look, because with the fealty and servitude of others this economic advantage can be increased, creating more people willing to seek protection and relative security.

To justify the suffering of others, a rationalisation develops that infers that a greater power caused it all. There are those that 'have' and those that 'have not', and it is God's will that has made it this way. It is also then God's will that those with the power should protect those without. These memes of honour and the chivalric code describe the advancements of the D|Q stage of Absolutionist thinking where there exists a simple world of good and evil, right and wrong, and of course 'we' are on the side of doing good and righting wrongs.

To hear muslim speak is to hear this approach of "God's will' in action. Where everthing that is about to happen, has to be suffixed with the phrase "Insha'Allah" which means "god willing (hopefully)". "With the money raised we intend to feed the poor, Insha'Allah" or "In our war against the unbeliever there will be many victories, Insha'Allah". Of course you wouldn't put it to mundane things, like going to the toilet... otherwise it would sound like "I am going to the toilet, God willing", hopeing on the success of the functions therein. It has nothing to do with how much fibre I eat. Nope! it's all God's fault.

In feudal times, compassion for the peasantry also has to be justified in light of the status quo being sustained, and so the external source (God) becomes the absolute reference point that is used to allow this incongruence to continue. The monarch will surmise that those who are suffering do so because that is their lot in life, as defined by God's will, and "I must do all I can to help these less fortunate". That is, do everything except cede power to them and give up control of that economic edge.

With the assignment of power comes the ability to build a set of rules that people can adhere to. This requires the transmission of rules down through time, and eventually they appear as those laws that seem to transcend the individual because they apply to the group. The very act of transmitting these laws from one to many is an act of broadcasting information. Over time the laws themselves become the source of power, simply because it can be said that "...it is written". So that if you want to argue a position, then all the proponent need do is say "It's is written...". This is the D|Q Absolutionist memetic structure in full flight.

Another way to view this development is through the lens of evolution. As a mutating meme, this idea of protection and feality would have surpassed the more simplistic "do what I say" that comes from simple coercive leadership. The monarch, who's power is assigned from on high, has an advantage over the simple coercive leader because they are able to better cohere the group. The associated stage of consciousness is about the group solidarity, and the monarch provides a focal point for this cohesion. The individual members will cede a portion of their autonomy in order to gain the advantage of protection. Overall the feudal system is seen as ok by it's participants because well, "that's just the way it is". Eventually it does not even matter if he is a good king or a bad king, the point is that he is the king and "long live the king".

The massive economic advantage that comes from this positive feedback loop of fealty and security will inevitably lead to a class system. Within any feudal court there develops a culture of constant jostling for position. What starts as a marketplace of chivalic duty eventually descends into cheating, all the while making sure that you do not get caught cheating.

Success in hereditary rule leads to population growth, and population growth continues to put pressure on the system of decision making. In a fully developed feudal court there are just too many claiments to the throne, duels, assinations and wars of succession may become more common (a point worth testing empirically) and eventually the stability of the whole system becomes compromised as those very people who should be recipients of security become less and less secure. Revolts happen next and economic activity ingeneral starts to suffer.

Eventually out of this environment comes the realisation that a single ruler is actually irrelevant, what's needed is stability of governence. From the environment that is a feudal court, with all it's deception and intrigue, there eventually comes the conspiracy of nobles.

But the 'feudal court' is just one historical context where this sort of environment is depicted. It also occured in the agora of ancient Greece, the Roman senate or pretty much an contemporary republic or democracy. When you have only one leader either by court manourverings (feudalism) or as a result of the simple majority vote (modern democracy) then by virtue of the mathematics involved over time, you have a emergence of two party rule. This is known as Duvergers Law, and it's the reason why the single leader concept will fail as the system of decision making becomes too big. A prime example of this being The War of the Roses in England which was a factional conflict within the house of Plantagenet.

In any environment where politically motivated people have gathered, be they feudal lords, members of parliament or organised crime bosses, you will have meetings held in secret, conspiracys will form and the factions will dominate. In a western democracy, we just call this a caucus, but it's essentially the same thing.

It whatever context you find it, this is nothing more than an Oligarchy, and it occurs when a subset of like minded people just simply take power for themselves.

 

The Oligarch

Power is taken  
One personThe Leader
(dictator)
The Monarch
(hereditary rule)
 
SubsetThe Oligarch
(conspiracy)
  
    

"Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made." - Otto von Bismark

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public." - Adam Smith

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

The first identification of decision making through multiple representation occurs when a subset of the entire population effectively conspire to take power. Oligarchic states have their origins in tribal cultures where, for example, a council of elders will work to determine the best course of action for the group, this may typically describe the animist (B|O) level of consciousness where the relatively stable group or village is finally safe from the dangers of the wilderness because they can understand the cycles of nature and they can know when to plant, what to harvest and how to protect. This wisdom gets transmitted down through the generations through a stable subgroup of the whole population who learn the stories and unwritten laws which pass this information on.

This stability brings prosperity and with it an increasing population. As individuals venture into the personal journey of the C|P egotistical consciousness, the oligarchy may need to get tougher in order to maintain the system. But the pressures of population growth don't stop, and the extremes of opinion start to emerge as the tails of the normal (bell) curve expand. The village turns into a city and then a state, and even though there will be leaders who come and go, there will also be subsets of the population that conspire to control how the state is to be run.

The circle of elders, the oligarchs of ancient Greece city states are two more overt structures of when power is taken by a subgroup. But there are also many occurrences of when the subset conspire in a more secretive fashion. The various religions of the world have a strong oligarchic influence, where the ruling elite, the patriarchs and their conclaves direct and fashion a lot of the way the organisational structure is implemented. Professional organisation also emerge where simple guilds become increasingly successful through there ability to organise and control the work that is undertaken, ultimately realising that they can manipulate the market to their benefit.

The Free Masons may just be an organisation designed to penetrate and influence the more overt governing structures of a nation state. Most people are not aware of this point of etiquette, but the head mason in Britain is the only person who does not have to bow to the monarch. The modern day interpretation of such organisation is the trade union who collectively organise and also pursue a political agenda, some of which is overt and some of which not so transparent.

To an outsider the oligarchy seems to be a conspiracy, where due process is not observed. However the external witness is just that, external. They are not able to see the processes that occur within the closed ("smoke filed") room. But if you were on the inside then you would see all maner of trandition and process that occurs to help the decision making process run smoothly. The problem is that it is not transparent to broader population that mush follow the edicts of the oligarhcy.

The oligarchy can also take the form of purely hidden structures whose main purpose is to corrupt decision making processes and extract as much as it can from the general population. Organised crime is essentially a subset of the population seizing power in order to accumulate wealth. What is interesting is that like every other form of decision making, the same basic principles are essentially cross cultural. The mafia, the Yakusa, the Triads, call them whatever you like but organised crime is still just a subset of the general population acting to 'take power' and control.

Whilst the oligarchy is the conspiracy of a subset of the population, within the subset itself you will usually see a hierarchy or a leadership method of control within the group. As a general rule, when the oligarchy is more noble in it's purpose then it tends to a more structured process in how it operates. What might be tradition in earlier cultures may be constitution in later efforts. In the more nefarious forms of conspiratorial control however, the rules are dominated by the coercive strength of the individual.

Again we can see an harmonic with the previously mentioned transition from the Dictator to the Monarchical forms of decision making, where in order to have the intergenerational transmission of power, the rules and processes need to be codified in some way. When the feudal lords seized control of the English state, they set up a parliament and they eventually gained control of the money and formed a standing army from that revenue. This all set about an attempt to codify the rules through which power was to be expressed. The feudal court eventually gave way to the modern day court, where it is "written" and as such that power is assigned, only this time, ...to the subgroup.

 

The Court and Jury

Power is takenPower is Assigned 
One personThe Leader
(dictator)
The Monarch
(hereditary rule)
 
SubsetThe Oligarch
(conspiracy)
The Court & Jury 
    

"The main foundations of every state, new states as well as ancient or composite ones, are good laws and good arms you cannot have good laws without good arms, and where there are good arms, good laws inevitably follow." - Niccolo Machiavelli

"No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, or in any other way destroyed, except by the lawful judgment of his peers." - The Magna Carta

The Magna Carta, written in England, 1215, is a truly profound document, being the first to codify laws in an attempt to constrain a monarch. It is one of several documents that over time have led to the formation of the modern state. It ultimately led to decision making based on the rule of law. However it began because the nobles and bishops of the day, the oligarchs, wanted to make sure the monarch would agree to the unwritten framework of the court. The nobility were trying to cover themselves from a future tyrant and so they conspired to write it down. It's simple enough to understand, but the very act of recording how to make a decision has the effect of empowering the decision making processes being used.

It could be argued that in classical times, Egypt, Persia, Assyria, Greece, Rome etc, all had version of recording what was to be done and how it was to be done. The first recording of history that also includes the laws and teachings of a people exists in the Jewish Torah. This document transformed a people because it was a relatively stable recording that could be transferred down through time. It superseded the simple storytelling of verbally transmitted history, even though it still contained these stories, but they were intended to be a teaching aid for future generations and with this came the rule of law. What the Magna Carta did was transform this idea into a new age, where in it became law. In a bibilical sense, because it was written, it was as if written in stone.

The modern state venerates these documents because they encapsulate the transformation into a way of making decisions that can be agreed upon through time. In the contemporary sense the process of becoming accepted into the subset of the population that can interpret these laws is one based on a kind of meritocracy, even if initially this 'merit' was really just wealth and being able to read and write. It is still a subset of the population that is interpreting and defining the methods of making decisions, but by virtue of the fact that it is more stable over time, it transcends the often chaotic and easily manipulated simple oligarchy that precedes it.

But more than the hidden oligarchy, the laws invited transparency. Only with the formal declaration of law did people feel that they could cede a portion of their autonomy to the state. This is because the laws of a state are the state.

With laws, the subset of the population that make decisions through an assignment of power is able to cope with a larger population, and the processes through which the decision are being made, when transparent, will allow for a far greater enrolment within this growing population. In simple terms, because the average member of a group can see the fairness of the process in making the decision, they will be more accepting of the outcome.

Some form of jury process did exist in ancient Athens where courts were made up of randomly selected groups of men and no judge. In some parts of Europe, the long standing tradition of having a selection of people from the local area group together to decide on crimes was eventually codified in England in the 12th century during the reign of Henry II. Over time the processes was codified into laws and procedures that made for more effective decision making. It was more effective because of it's transparent nature, even if the actual subject of the decision was held in-camera as is done in a modern sense.

The Jury is an important step forward in decision making and a large number of proceedures surround it's function. The process of jury formation is highly codified and referred to as "Voir dire" (to tell the truth). It is the open and transparent process of jury formation in conjunction with the closed process of the jury itself which interesting. Here the covert conspiracy of the oligarchical system is tempered somewhat and made to appear fair.

The court and the jury together sit at the heart of our 3 x 3 matrix of decision making, and it reflects a fine balance between all the other methods presented. However it is in effect limited in scope where it deals with the assignment of guilt or innocence of a person being tried for a crime. It may be that it only works as well as it does because the members of the jury do not have a vested interest in the outcome of the trial, and any tampering of the jury is an attempt to subvert this systemic independence. Yes, it can be corrupted by adding an incentive or disincentive through illicit means, but in theory it works because there is no connection between defendant and juror or the prosecutor and the juror.

The jury is not used for decision making more generally (apart from a constitutional convention approach) because in the broader sphere of a feudal court, the subset of the population making decision will have a vested interest in the outcome of the decisions. This same problem keeps propping up throughout history, where the desires of a smaller group of the population, be that a single individual or a family, or a conspiracy of individuals will tend to want to corrupt the decision making process at a larger sphere of decision making. What starts out as a principled motivation to make 'good' decisions, ends up as pragmatic motivation to obtain or hold onto power.

This happens in essence because one persons "good" judgement is another persons "bad" judgement. Judgement itself is subjective. In my unsuccessful involvoment with politics, I saw this subjectivity being played out, magnified and manipulated by the emotions that people were feeling. I only got to see it so cleary because of the fragmentation of my own self, seeing my own subjectivity for what it was. Emotions are only ever subjective, but we pretend that the decisions based on emotions are somehow objective. This illusion of the self, that has already been explained, and which is expanded upon in the next two sections, sits at the core of where group decion making can go horribly and terribly wrong.

Like the Blind Lady Justice, we attempt to reduce the effect of emotion in decision making. We codify laws around how to make decisions, and for a while these laws work, but their very success means the environment itself will change and therefore the codified laws will need to change. But the emotion is always there, just waiting for it's chance to surface, the emotial subjective opinionated tail that wags the conceptual objective factual dog. People can be swayed by fear mongering by a leader, the one who also calmly asserts that all we need to is follow their every whim withoug objection. People can be inspired by the leader that cries their position with a genuine real emotional charge of rightousness, ...or the leader that just fakes this moral highground. Like the arms race between lying and the detection of lying, politicians will adapt to the changing environment in order to make the most of it.

It's always tempting to return to the leader, particularly if that leader has prooved themselves by what they do as well as what they say. It's always tempting to absolve that part of personal autonomy in favour of someone you can trust. Every now and then a person will emerge that is genuine and who is the real deal. But here is the difference between a genuince change agent and a would be machiavellian usurper, the genuine change agent does not want power, and as if by pattern, these leaders tend to have a military background.

In the military the the perceived life and death criticality actually matches the life and death nature of war. With all the same trappings that came about with Monachy and Feudalism, the memes of honour permeate any successful military. Power then is taught in a congruent environment. But so often with despots and warlords it just goes wrong, which makes the very few exceptions stand out all the more. Where feudalism and the nobility within its own exuberance, the military agent of change, a this transitional agent, very rarely emerges to challenge the idea that power should be assigned because it is written down somewhere. This is where we get military leaders like Cromwell, Napoleaon and Washington.

The higher order transitional agent is very rare and they appear in the rise of civilisations like beacons, usually because they are from a military background. Oliver Cromwell (England, 1600s), George Washington (U.S, 1700s), Napoleon (France, early 1800's) were all to some extent transitional agents from a military background. They are not wholly exempt of malevolent acts, and much controversy still exists even after hundreds of years of debate, but they are undoubtedly change agents.

Not all change agents are purely militaristic in their background, other avatars for change could be said to include Ghandi, Martin-Luther King Jr and even Nelson Mandela, which are discussed later in this section. The most interesting models to look at are George Washington and Nelson Mandela, Washington because he used military power to advance a system of decision making that was egalitarian, pluralistic and beyond the confines of a colonial monarch, and Mandela because he started in violence but transformed into a peaceful purpose. They did not want to have the power for themselves, because the idea of democratic freedom was much more important.

In Greek, 'demos' means 'the people of the community' and 'kratos' is roughly translated as 'power to decide'. The transition that is begun by these revolutionaries, that is ultimately picked up upon in the wider consciousness of the population is one of power that is agreed upon. A manifestion of this concept happens in the formal democratic process to elect a leader.

 

The President

Power is takenPower is AssignedPower is Agreed Upon
One personThe Leader
(dictator)
The Monarch
(hereditary rule)
The President
SubsetThe Oligarch
(conspiracy)
The Court & Jury 
    

"The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there" - James Buchanan

"I learned that a great leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they donít want to do and like it" - Harry S Truman

The President is a system of decision making where a single person is accepted as a leader through a democratic process of the people. Here the major memes at work include a sense that all people in the group (now called citizens) are equal in their status within that group, and that the rights and privileges of being a citizen come with it a responsibility to act for the benefit of that group.

The method of decision making where a leader is agreed apon, has a "process" at it's core that can be adaptive over time to the changing demands of the world. It does not do away with the previous forms of leadership, it rather augments them. The laws about how society should function are still "written" somewhere, but they are not 'writ in stone'. They set out a process by which decision making can be transferred through generations by the will of the people.

As a system process, democracy offers the periodic election of the leader. Through this process we get the real feedback mechanism between the leader and the group. Again we are looking at a network communication between the President and this rarefied concept of the group, whilst still containing a broadcast communication between the President and the individual people within the group.

The true benefit of the Presidential decision making process is that it is relatively stable over time, largely because of this periodic feedback mechanism in the form of an election. And when this feedback mechanism is transparent, when it is seen as fair, then the process itself will enrol a larger number of people into the decision making process. This is where it supersedes the monarchy, because it is seen as based on equality and an explicit and well defined constitutional process. However when it is not transparent or seen as fair, when the vote is corrupted or even if the process is undermined by large donations from interested third parties, then the cracks begin to appear again within the democratic structure.

Success means growth and a growing population will put more demands on decision making processes. The process will mutate and adjust to it's environment. In a very large population, it cannot be expected that one leader can do all the work, and to rely on a beurocratic heirarchy without the mechanism of democractic feedback is to invite corruption. In short, the leader needs help.

Like the transformation between monarch and president, what is needed is a process of relatively frequent feedback from the general population that will keep the structures of decision making more stable over time. Again we see how feedback, that can often seem chaotic, will actually result in stability over a longer period of time. Here then is another koan, where ...there needs to be a regular perturbation to the system in order to keep it stable.

This process of a regular perturbation to the system in one instance, came about in 16th century England when writs were sent out to feudal lords and bishops, commanding that they meet to talk, or "parley". Initially they were only being summoned to pay taxes from their estates in order to help maintain the kings army, but the inducement to come was one of sharing the decision making around. The model itself proved pretty successful, and it is from this process that we get the word Parliament.

 

Parliament & Representative Democracy

Power is takenPower is AssignedPower is Agreed Upon
One personThe Leader
(dictator)
The Monarch
(hereditary rule)
The President
SubsetThe Oligarch
(conspiracy)
The Court & JuryParliament &
Representative Democracy
    

"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." - Winston Churchill

A very early recorded instance of a representative system occurred in ancient Athens, where an assembly called the 'boule' was made up of 500 males who were randomly selected by lot, in a way this is fundamentally similar to the jury. It is interesting to note that it worked in ancient Athens, but this random selection technique has not been used since. Did the Athenians know something about probability that we don't? However it could be argued that the modern day poll is just another form of the representative system.

More recently, in 16th century England, the feudal system evolved through successive steps to limit the power of the Monarch, and Parliament emerged as a memetic construct that would transform the process of decision making, ultimately put the oligarchy's firmly in the drivers seat. The original parliaments were essentially regular meetings of an oligarchic construct (feudal lords and clergy), which became more codified over time such that the regular perturbation to the system of decision making, through meeting in parliament, did not replace the previous process, it augmented these previous structures.

Again this brought stability and with it success and with that an increasing population. The tail ends of opinion again begin to emerge and dissent and corruption of the process inevitably hurl the society through time on a trajectory that leads to the representative parliament. In the reign of Edward I the process started with the ability for a commoner to petition the parliament, where the grievance of ordinary people could be heard, and sometimes even acted on. This had the effect of enrolling more of the general population into the decision making process. There is now the impression that a person could work within the system to affect change, and there wasn't the need to revolt and send people to the guillotine.

As the number of petitions increased, they became increasingly ignored by the Monarch. In the 12th, 13th and 14th century the parliament of England was a counter point to the unilateral decision making authority of the crown. However following on from the Magna Carta, the nobles gained an increasingly stronger grip on the reins of financial power, through the raising of taxes. And so for financially based matters the monarch would send out writs to the lower ranked knights and burgesses as well as the higher ranked lords and bishops. The inclusion of the representatives from distinct geographical boroughs is important because here there is the origin of a electoral process that is generated from the ranks of the "common man", and which is the origin of the modern democratic state. But the lower ranked "commons" (knights and burgesses) were called in when taxes were needed, a sort of 'buy in' to the decision making process, but then dismissed when the matters of revenue had been dealt with. Yet their involvement did result in an increased sense within the general population that they had more of a say.

The commons and the lords in England met separately for the first time in 1341, and the advantage to the monarch for using the parliament was that it meant they could raise taxes whilst keeping the level of discontent to a level that could be managed. In general the system worked and over the next few hundred years the traditions, structures and institutions of the modern parliament began to emerge. Positions like the Speaker of the House, the Lord Great Chamberlain, the premise in which they met, and the processes by which bills are enacted began to become embedded into the culture over time.

It was also a time of massive political upheaval as the parliament wrested control away from the Monarch. It was a during civil war, when the 'Rump Parliament' was set up by Oliver Cromwell between 1649 and 1653. During this time no monarch was on the throne, and it delivered a powerful message to later monarchs, which was that the parliament could exist with or without a monarch. The traditions from this period are a story in it's own right, and a reflection of this reality that Parliament could sit independently of the monarch are played out in the ceremony at the convocation of each new parliament. Here the monarchs representative has the door to parliament slammed in his face by the house of commons, and upon which he knocks three times with the black rod. The whole of the civil war in England and the centuries of advancement are crystallised in traditions such as this, and these traditions themselves help to build group cohesion over time.

These traditions, this story-telling over time, took a while to emerge. In effect the "emotional" component that impacts on the formation of the democracy is catered for by these long standing traditions. When the traditions are absent, as with a newly formed democracy often imposed on a developing country, there may be no subsequent agreement and attunement in the general population. The people feel that they do not belong to the process. Without an emotional buy in, the process of democracy can be unstable and fragile. Often it is the corruption of individuals who feel no vested interest in the group decision making process that leads to a slow erosion of the state. The individual feels that this system is largely irrelevant to their daily life and they might as well just look after number one and get the most they can by perverting the process of democratic decision making.

Democracy is associated with the E|R stage of consciousness, but when the bulk of the populus are still at the C|P stage of consciousness, then the democratic process is systemically inept due to wide spread graft and corruption. That is, people within government structures, who are still in the selfish C|P stage of consciousness will be corrupt, or act only in the interests of their immediate family (graft) because they may not have been through the group cohesion that comes with the generation of empathy towards the nation state (ethnocentricity and nationalism), which emerges out of D|Q consciousness. Without the counterbalance of honorific memes from D|Q, democracy in developing nations is doomed to failure.

Feudalism has been given a very bad reputation by the E|R and F|S stages of consciousness. These more contemporary ways of seeing the world will deprecate the whole concept of a class system. But for a person suffering in a world of egotistical and violent warlords, having a protector is desirable. Warlords, organised crime syndicates, and even street gangs are representations of the early D|Q level of consciousness. As the group fights off other groups and protects their own members so long as they conform to the rules laid down by the one in charge. Every now and then, this feudal approach can create a benevolent overlord. Someone who is compassionate and has a strong sense of empathy, such that they want to protect the poor and the weak. Our modern democratic state is built of this very foundation of protecting "poor huddled masses" and the sense that those who are willing should be given every freedom and liberty to excel in life and contribute to the common good.

Often when looking at attempts to establish the institutions of a modern parliamentary democracy in developing countries, it is these traditions of compassion (honour, integrity, chivalry) that are missing. When democracy is thrust onto a culture, it often does not fit because the stage of consciousness that democracy enshrines is not concordant with the stage the people are at. When the country has not gone through the required steps along the road of consciousness raising, for the most part there is not the substrate of understanding within the population to encompass what it means to be a democratic state. Some emergent democratic states will survive, and certainly it is education that can move this process along more than anything else. But if they have mineral resources, and particularly if they have mineral resources close to the surface, the will often revert back to a warlord stage (C|P) that was never really advanced through to larger group cohesion (D|Q). There is often too much desire for personal wealth that drives the malevolent warlord.

The point here is that a society needs to self organise. In much the same way that a child growing up must lay the foundations of later consciousness by experiencing and living through earlier levels of consciousness. This is a pyramid structure, and to expand up, you must first expand out.

Of course the modern democratic state has it's own set of problems. The most notable is that there are still dictators and oligarchs, ...they just wear a suit. There is still a tendency within some individuals to seek to control the process of decision making with an attitude of "we know better than the general population". The voting process itself has problems, not least of which is outright fraud. But assuming you have that covered, there are also strongarm tactics to make people vote the way you want, something that is overcome somewhat by a secret ballot, but never really eliminated.

Then the voting system itself has problems, specifically the idea of electing one person to represent a geographical area. In the 16th century, before the internet, television, radio, the telephone, modern postal system and long distance telegraph, before all these advances in communication technology, the idea of having a single representative fitted neatly into the feudal model of governance. But as society changed the way it made decisions, it also created a new environment into which society then had to adapt. The best adaptation to the new environment created by the modern parliament is the caucus. This is where a group of like minded representatives form an external association to the parliament and decide to vote as a block. They work out their position before the parliament sits, that is, they make a decision in private, before then coming to the parliament to vote on it.

The problem with the caucus is that the decision making process is once again in private. The party caucus in power is now just one oligarchy up against a competing oligarchy, the end result being that the decision making process is not transparent. There is feedback in the form of media commentary and there are polls and there is the election every few years, but essentially the public is led to expect that most decisions are already pre-decided before they even get to the parliament, and the parliamentry process itself is effectively just a rubber stamp. To be fair, and in general, this approach has worked up to this point, however the communication medium is changing and the older memes are struggling to survive, the end result of which is that we are now in a perpetual election mode.

There is also a very slow and subtle erosion happening, because people have come to expect that the only good decision is a quick decision. The illusion generated by the closed caucus is that all decisions are quick to make, this is because the deliberation itself is never seen. Add to this a media cycle fueled by policy anouncements and spin-doctor coached politicians, and it appears that no deliberation happens at all. The voting public are never exposed to the whole notion that it is possible to be undecided for a time as you take in new information. Deliberation is seen as weakness, and the opposing oligarchy will pound you in the media by exposing "division" in your party if you take the time to deliberate. The party that deliberates is viewed to be weak and ineffectual. To really emphasis this point, it is basically saying that to deliberate is "BAD". But deliberation is exactly the skill required when making a decision.

"When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?" - John Maynard Keynes

Most people do not even consider the deliberation process as being of any consequence at all. Thinking about something, taking in new information is, in and of itself, something to be deprecated. The core problem is that the political apparatchik is doing two things in caucus when they should be doing only one. They are making decisions about governance, but the are also making decisions about how to get re-elected. Given that both these motivations are in operation, it could be argued that the caucus process itself represents a fundamental and systemic conflict of interest.

This is exactly the point we are at now within a modern democratic process. The media (asynchronous broadcast communication) do their best to offer deliberation on topics and issues, but unless the media is a public broadcaster, they are really driven by selling advertising space, which means they need to grab and hold peoples attention, such that there is a constant process of tapping into peoples fundamental fears about the world and exaggerating them in order to get their attention. Shock jocks that are constantly saying the sky is falling, add to a constant barrage of broadcast communication loaded with sex and violence that has the purpose of manipulating primitive emotional triggers in the human brain. It has become an adrenalin and cortisol fuelled surge of

"PAY ATTENTION!!!   PAY ATTENTION!!!   PAY ATTENTION!!!"

But people are turning off, the asynchronous broadcast message of fear has been hammering away at peoples psyche for so long now, that the individual has had to build up an immunity to it. With this political immune system in place people are just not paying attention. Politicians for the most part are just spinning the truth, reframing it so that it can be seen as more palatable, or even just plain lying. It's become a drab monotone, where the accomplished master politician is able to take up a lot of air time without actually saying anything at all apart from the five second sound bites that they spent rehearsing with their publicists that morning. The process is not transparent, the media are making people afraid and the spin doctors from both sides are waging a war for the moral low ground.

Obviously, when it comes to how groups make decision, we are not out of the egoic woods yet. The population keeps growing, cities give way to states that become nations which form part of global experience of reality. There are always groups within groups, ever jostling for position. And in the internationalisation of decision making there is a gaping hole that is not possible to fill with a representative system. The people themselves want to directly influence the decision being made. This is the next tier of decision making where there is a 'buy in' by all the people into the decision making process. This is consensus, and to understand it, it is better to work backwards across the table, starting with the electoral process of the referendum.

 

Referendum / Direct Democracy

Power is takenPower is AssignedPower is Agreed Upon
One personThe Leader
(dictator)
The Monarch
(hereditary rule)
The President
SubsetThe Oligarch
(conspiracy)
The Court & JuryParliament &
Representative Democracy
Everyone
(concensus)
  Referendum / Direct Democracy
( & ??? )

"Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion." - Franklin Pierce

"Nothing is more obstinate than a fashionable consensus." - Margaret Thatcher

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a moulder of consensus." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Consensus is a process that seeks the consent of all involved in the decision making process, but not necessarily their agreement. So there is a distinction between 'consent' and 'agreement'. When a person in the group can not consent to the outcome of the decision making process then consensus is said to be blocked. Often misunderstood with a 50% majority vote, consensus differs because it has another category on top of the 'yes' and 'no' vote. In consensus there is a "yes" vote, a "no - but I can live with it" vote (a consent vote); and a "no - and I can't live with it" or a "blocking" or "veto" vote. Really then two factors need to be met, the yes vote has to greater than 50% to pass, and the blocking vote has to be lower than a set threshold (typically say 10%). So a consensus approach is typically measured by the size of the blocking vote.

Image: A depiction of the consensus threshold

The consensus threshold

This truer form of consensus is rare, and it's probably easier to understand first by looking at a simple referendum. In unpacking this yes/consent/block system the whole of the consensus layer of decision making from the matrix can be understood, because wether you like it or not, a blocking system is always available, (as will become apparent later).

The referendum or plebiscite process is, on the surface, a fairly straight forward affair. A substantive motion is created, usually as a yes/no proposition, and every eligible voter is able to cast a ballot on the decision. There is a period of time in which debate can occur, and in which vested interests can campaign.

Direct democracy, of which ancient Athens could be regarded as an example, is where the citizenry is directly involved in the decision making process, effectively attempting to circumvent the tendency to form oligarchic groupings of "like minded" persons. Whatever the forum, there always tends to be one end of the spectrum where power is grabbed by the hands of the few, be that a leader or an oligarchy, versus the other end of the spectrum where everyone wants to have their say and be involved in the process.

The referendum, and it's various alternate forms, initiatives and recall decisions based on the petition process, all sound pretty simple, straightforward and fair, but it also has a few problems. The first problem is that direct democracy really only works best on a highly motivated and relatively small population. The process of running a referendum in a large nation state is a massive undertaking from a legal and financial perspective, and it becomes unworkable in paper form when you consider the number of bills that are passed through a parliament.

Reductionism is a tendency to reduce information from the whole to it's constituent parts, and it also presents a unique challenge to consensus. In California, the test-tube of the referendum approach, it has become too easy to lower taxes in one vote and then increase government spending in another vote. They can be presented as different things but they are two sides to the same coin. Budgets are very complex beasts to manage and also where the seat of power resides, but they may be just too complex for a referendum approach to be able to manage.

The question that is put in the referendum is also subject to manipulation, where the substantive motion is posed in a way that will bias the outcome. Also a problem is the general understanding of the issue, where critics can argue that the common citizen is just not informed enough to be able to make the decision and simplistic, yet less confusing and highly popular arguments will win the day. This same approach can be used to make horrendous decisions through the use of propaganda, where on the surface it would seem like a popular decision, when in fact it is a highly manipulative process or demagogy that appeals to baser fears, prejudices, vanities and basically fails to properly manage expectations in the general population.

Stepping back, a divide exists between the idea of a decision made through a meritocracy (professional opinion) and the decision made through popular opinion. With a popular vote you can get a positive feedback loop where talking about an issue will encourage more debate such that the output of the system becomes the input to the system and it amplifies and explodes the idea outward. With a meritocracy there can be debate where the information expressed (output) also becomes and input to the system, but in this case it has a balancing effect that moves towards homeostasis and a quagmire of inaction as nothing gets done, because there are always counter-valanced arguments. In strict engineering terms we have a positive feedback system and a negative feedback system that are both in operation concurrently such that you then get a basic non-linear or dynamical system occurring. This is from Chaos Theory, or more correctly, non-linear dynamical systems theory, and it is just part of what is taken up in the next section.

Looking at the referendum, there are valid arguments both for and against the idea of direct democracy, however for the most part it can work quite well on a small scale, that is, when a small group of people are affected and these same people are actively involved in the decision making process. When it comes to very large decisions that need to be made, what if the decision could be made electronically. The idea of using technology to augment the referendum approach has not yet been fully realised, that is because in its current form there are a few basic and largely unsolvable problems. These problems however are solved with the secret ballot using physical papers and a ballot box.

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AN ASIDE ON ELECTRONIC BALLOTS

The first problem of electronic ballots is just one of generational change, where speaking generally, the older the person the less adept and proficient the person is with technology, which creates a barrier to using that technology. But this will eventually fade away, in much the same way the general literacy is required for the paper ballot system to work properly.

The second problem is one of trust, and it is far more difficult to overcome. There is, to date, no electronic system that can honestly say that it has these characteristics. It should have the following characteristics:

If you critically examine any electronic voting system today, you will see that one or more of these conditions are not met.

The paper ballot and the ballot box have a superior edge because of what is called an "air gap". This term comes from information technology and refers to when a server or computer is separated from the network via an actual gap such that there is absolutely no way for information to pass from the computer to the network. With the physical ballot box you have a voter who receives their ballot whilst being marked off a roll, they fill this ballot out in secrecy, fold it and place it in the ballot box so that they remain anonymous. The electronic equivalent to this does not exist, because every process has a basic flaw in how the data is stored and transmitted.

To relate this flaw in electronic voting to the physical ballot box and paper method, it would be like having another person (the one saying "trust me") taking the ballot from the voter, going out into another room, returning and putting the ballot into the box. You can never be really sure the process is not being tampered with. With a physical ballot box system the voter themselves physically transcends this air gap and ensures the viability of the system.

When the ballot box is opened, all the papers within are effectively anonymous, and the counting is done whilst being witnessed by scrutineers. The process and functions played by the returning officer, the ballot counters and the scrutineers should receive more credit than they currently get. The scrutineers are appointed by candidates and have a very limited but extremely important role to play. They check the number of people who took a ballot paper and that the same number of ballots have been counted. The scrutineer also ensures that each ballot is assigned appropriately and that any disputes are escalated to a higher level of the returning officer structure. Like the voter crossing the floor to put their folder paper in the box, the other cornerstone of the modern physical system is where the scrutineers watch the ballot counting, but are strictly forbidden from touching ballots.

The only electronic voting process that has any merit might involve quantum encryption technology. Unfortunately it does not exist yet, but is probably not far off. In a standard encryption the information is held as effectively binary data (0 or 1). With a quantum packet, the data can be 0, 1 or in a superstate of 0/1, which is something that even the best physicists have a problem understanding. The upshot of this however means that when a packet of data is transmitted and then read, the reading of the packet will fundamentally alter that packet so that you know it has been read. If you are the second person to read it, then it will be obvious that the data has already been intercepted.

But even an incredibly complex system using quantum technology may still fall short of the mark because it will still be perceived in the minds of the voters as being a non-transparent thing and they have to "trust" that the person telling them it is ok is someone that can be trusted. To be fair, the physical ballot box still has parties saying "trust me", namely the electoral officials counting the ballot, however in this situation the physical actions of the people doing the counting are overseen by scrutineers with a pre-stated interest in the election and it is the tension of interests from multiple scrutineers which means no one party (electoral official or scrutineer) is left having to say "trust me".

There is no electronic equivalent to the physical system, and there never will be because in electronics there is no embodied sense of being able to see if someone is lying. Humans have an extraordinary capacity to detect lying, because humans also have the capacity to lie. The whole structure that underpins the formation of society in general is the product of a long period of an evolutionary arms race around lying and the detection of lying. Taking this structure into the digital domain is essentially going to make one person blind to the other, because the massive amounts of data in facial and somatic information is lost. Which leads back to the first point where no matter how hard you try, people will not trust electronic voting, and if they do, then they shouldn't.

The only way around it is to do away with the secret ballot. If every voter were able to see how their vote had been lodged and could verify this at any time, then the problem goes away. However another set of problems then arise, which are to do with coercion, intimidation, bribes and corruption ...which would be even worse.

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With the French Revolution came the first modern day interpretation of the secret ballot. Australia began using a secret ballot system in some of it's elections from the 1850's onward. The U.K. only changed in 1872, and the U.S. in 1892 when Grover Cleveland was the first U.S. president to be elected using a secret ballot process. Before this very significant change, the democratic process was riddled with corruption and intimidation.

Some processes of electoral secrecy existed in ancient times. Ancient Athens used secrecy at the core of it's ostracism process, where in order to forestall the disruptive effect of strong rivals, people (citizens) were given the chance to place the name of someone to be ostracised onto a broken piece of clay (called an ostraka). If enough ostraka were counted (amounts are contradicted) then the "winner" would be ostracised for 10 years. This was a very early interpretation of direct democracy even though it is often compared with a judicial process, but for the most part there has always been a basic requirement that each person in the decision making process must stand up and state what there position is at some point. Having rules that define this approach is the next cell in our matrix to examine.

 

The Meeting Process

Power is takenPower is AssignedPower is Agreed Upon
One personThe Leader
(dictator)
The Monarch
(hereditary rule)
The President
SubsetThe Oligarch
(conspiracy)
The Court & JuryParliament &
Representative Democracy
Everyone
(concensus)
 The Meeting Process
( & ??? )
Referendum / Direct Democracy
( & ??? )

"An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry." - Thomas Jefferson

"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." - Dwight D Eisenhower

The meeting, like the Referendum, is a method of decision making that has not been fully explored, but it speaks to the processes by which we resolve differences. To a limited extent we do this all the time at work and in other forums. It is where the best decision to be reached involves the input from a number of sources and the deliberation is achieved through a series of processes. Power is assigned in that it comes from an agreement of the whole group, who have also agreed to follow the rules of the meeting.

The rules that govern how to conduct a meeting could consist of, electing a chair, choosing a minute taker (secretary), accepting the minutes of the previous meeting, forming an agenda where each item has a proponent and a seconder, followed by an allotment of time to discuss for and against, and finally a voting on the substantive issue. It may not seem profound, but the rules by which we agree to conduct ourselves are fundamental to the process of making all decisions. Power comes from everyone agreeing on the process being adopted. There can still be disagreement, but the decision ultimately rests on the face to face (embodied) actions and reactions of all that are assembled. The problem however is that it really only works with small groups.

As discussed previously, the meeting only works with a small group because it is possible for the human brain to take in (mostly unconsciously) the various inputs from 2 to 12 other people without much effort. With increasing numbers in the meeting, there is an exponential increase in dyadic possibilities. Usually the meeting process breaks down at high numbers and you need progressively more and more complex rules in order to maintain a semblance of function. In a parliament, which is essentially a meeting, the whole chamber needs to adhere to a strict set of protocols if anything is to be achieved at all, even if it is only rubberstamping the decisions already made in caucus, which once again, is another meeting process that is held in secret (out of public view).

Population size is again intrinsic as a determinant of the decision making method. In the consensus process, the real benefit is that by having everyone's input, then you have a larger "buy in" by those affected with regards the outcome of the decision that is being made. However the crucial role of consensus decision making is not because people agree, it's the process for what happens when people do not agree.

Most meeting structures will work on a simple majority of 50% +1 vote resulting in the substantive item being carried. However this simple majority can leave up to 50% -1 person being disenfranchised. As a result some consensus approaches work on attempting to attain a higher percentage being anywhere from a two thirds majority (67%) all the way to 100%. But even if we take a percentage of 90%, there may still be some people who may end up feeling left out or disenfranchised. Usually this may not be a problem, if the individuals themselves are still able to feel like they belong to the group in general.

This attempt to instil a sense of belonging in individuals is really the goal of consensus decision making. This is because consensus is actually a process of decision making which must include listening to dissenting opinions and making sure that the proponent in the minority has been heard and fairly represented. This listening can only really happen in a meeting, where as the referendum is more subject to the advertising budget of the proponents and any particular bias within the media.

The meeting and the referendum go wrong when the dissenting voice is not able to be heard. Sometimes this will happen because the dissenting voice is not coming from a logical place, but rather from an emotional frame of reference... even though they are not aware of this difference. This distinction between a logical/conceptual point of view (which is more objective), versus an emotional (more subjective) point of view, is critical in understanding how people and groups make decisions. The two forms of organisation of experience emotional/subjective vs. conceptual/objective is discussed more in the next section as it forms the bases of the dynamical system that underpins the self.

The antithesis is where a dissenting voice is rational and conceptual, but the rest of the group has been carried away on a positive feedback system of agreement called "ochlocracy" or mob rule, which is almost exclusively driven by an emotional state that is highly subjective.

But even without emotion in the drivers seat, another form of poor decision making can occur in meetings, and is understood as "groupthink". Coined by Irving Janis after observations on US foreign policy decision since the 1930's and culminating in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Groupthink is more common in very tightly cohered groups, where it is the cohesive nature of the group itself that actively dissuades contrary points of view, causing a headlong rush to agree without proper deliberation.

So the consensus approach, which attempts to cohere the group, may in the case of very small groups, go too far and end up causing very poor decision making, because very few alternate options have been adequately explored. In dynamical system terms, this is another positive feedback loop that can rapidly accelerate in one direction, and that may end up being fatal.

Of course, consensus decision making, with it's process of listening to dissent has been with us for as long as we have been grouping together. From the pre-historical village to the modern board of directors, it has always been part of the makeup of how we make decisions. The real problems arise with consensus decision making when the population expands to such a degree that it means there will always be a few individuals on the extreme fringe of the bell curve, who cannot, and will not agree. Where the decision being made is literally something they cannot live with.

 

Rebel

Power is takenPower is AssignedPower is Agreed Upon
One personThe Leader
(dictator)
The Monarch
(hereditary rule)
The President
SubsetThe Oligarch
(conspiracy)
The Court & JuryParliament &
Representative Democracy
Everyone
(concensus)
Rebel
(Freedom Fighter / Terrorist)
The Meeting Process
( & ??? )
Referendum / Direct Democracy
( & ??? )

"Those who excel in virtue have the best right of all to rebel, but then they are of all men the least inclined to do so." - Aristotle

The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy. - Sun Tzu

The only answer for some individuals who cannot agree with the decision is unilateral action to undermine the entire structure on which the decision is predicated. Consensus is about having general agreement, but when it is not achieved, when the dissenting voice is constantly not heard or subjected to domination by the majority you get the rebel. Here power is 'taken' by virtue of the fact that it is denied to the status quo and consensus is shown to be non-existent as a new reality around the decision emerges.

The 'rebel' category of decision making is placed as part of the consensus level because it is the application of that power which is affected. To understand this, it's necessary to first understand the strength of consensus (meetings and referenda) is really about the act of listening to all stakeholders, responding to their concerns and working inclusively towards an outcome. A decision can only be implemented if the people it affects agree to undertake the action that result from the decision. A 'rebel' then is someone who simply denies to act in the 'agreed' way, and instead works to a contrary end. The 'motivation' of the rebel is really what needs to be unpacked when it occurs, but a simple context independent hypothesis is that the disenfranchised feel like they have not been heard. When making a decision as part of a group, it is being heard, of being listened to, that brings about a sense of inclusion in the process. Consensus then, is about the process of decision making itself and being heard more specifically.

If listening is important, then the implications for either a broadcast or network communication medium dominance is relevant. In a broadcast medium the main game for the leader is to reinforce the idea that they are always listening to the people (even when they don't). Polls are a primary rough measure and focus groups can flesh out the detail. From this emerges the sanitized message, which is needed in order to prevent stepping outside of the mainstream thought bubble. Left to run it's course, a broadcast dominated world will lead to sycophantic politicians, guided not by policy but polling, and with a message manipulated by emotionally driven journalism as they desperately scramble for the middle ground. In a network structure, the decision making process is a product of the propagation of ideas through the network. Nodes in this network structure will emerge (as network theory suggests they do) and the leader then is an emergent property of the network.

Rebel, freedom fighter, separatists, revolutionary, vigilante, militant, guerrilla, terrorist, it has existed throughout history in many forms. The only distinction worth making is the means by which they achieve their goals, most often violent, and in some very rare cases non-violent. But the cause is the same, an individual or small group of people will basically start to work, in a unilateral way that is outside of the process by which 'agreement' was reached.

History is littered with examples of violent rebellion, and any valence (good/bad) judgement around them has to be suspended in order to understand how this is the denial of consensus which is being 'forced' or 'taken'. Whether the resistance movements in the second world war, or the Zionist bombing of the King David hotel in 1946, or the airplane hijackings by Islamists that followed, the Irish Republican Army, the Tamil Tigers, the Fretilin, or any number of other groups that exist today. Going back in time there is the National Socialist usurping of power in Germany and before that in Italy, the communist revolutions of the early 20th century. The American Civil War, the French Revolution, the English Civil War... and so on back into antiquity. It is from the study of these conflicts, and the valence judgements that surround them, that the truism is born where the history books are written by the victor, where for instance the freedom fighters of the American Revolution were 'good' but the 'terrorists' of Islamic jihad are 'bad' even though it is fundamentally the same concept operating with regards to decision making, i.e.: the denial of consensus.

The rare exceptions to the violent mode of insurgency are the non-violent examples. Usually history has shown that non-violent change is slower to take hold, but far more effective and longer lasting. Here the actions being undertaken are still largely within the existing legal structure of the status quo, but these actions are also strongly at odds with it. It is a more finely balanced thing, and it encapsulates both the amplification feedback structures "spreading the message" and balancing feedback structures of not breaking the more fundamental conventions of civility (i.e.: being non violent) that seem to mix in such a way as to create change. Where the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa had violent beginnings, it only became successful after it had embraced non-violent methods. There is also the civil rights movement in the USA, the independence movement in India and even as far back as the early Christian movement which had it's embryonic stage in ancient Judea. The one consistent feature of non-violent change, where consensus is denied, is that there is usually a profoundly avatar like leader involved. Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther-King Jr, Mohandas Ghandi and Jesus Christ respectively.

Being a rebel can have real and positive outcomes. The voice of dissent is actually quite rare and two commonly cited experiments from psychology demonstrate this. In the popularly coined 'Milgram' study, the subject being tested was not aware they were being tested when they were told to apply electric shocks to an acting confederate who would answer questions incorrectly. An incredible 65% (in the original study) inflicted the most extreme shock possible, and by ramping up the 'authority' of the person in charge, this figure would be even higher, even though the actors receiving the 'shock' would sometimes feign death or unconsciousness. But not everyone would play along with the authority's instructions, a few people would rebel and simply refuse to continue the experiment. Being a rebel is sometimes required, and having an internally resilient moral compass is too valuable an asset to loose in evolutionary terms.

Another bit of research, the Stanford Prison Study, saw subjects delegated to the role of either prisoner or guard whilst being observed in a prison like environment. At the start of the study, the abuse was non-existent, but over the course of a few days more and more abuse was inflicted on the prisoners by the guards. The study was meant to last for 14 days, and the head researcher Robert Limbardo, also gradually succumbed into the 'normalisation' of the abuse being perpetrated. It wasn't until his then partner, Christina Maslach came back to campus, after being away for the first 6 days of the experiment that she managed to convince Limbardo to close the experiment down. It is in being a rebel that you can stand up to authority and simply say 'no', sometimes it is absolutely required to do so, and it often means being able to see things from a different perspective.

But the rebellion category of decision making has a very dark side as well. It can degenerate into a explosive feedback loop of violence. Retribution that feeds into more atrocities that feed into more violence. There is some simple advice for those in power when rebellion happens, and it's really very simple, listen to the rebels. There is also some very simple advice for rebels protesting against the dominant power, which is to use non-violent methods as it will be more effective in the long run.

 

So Which System of Decision Making is the Best?

If it occurs to you that one system of decision making is is better than another then you may not have had the experience of witnessing that was hoped for. I contend that they all have a place. It really depends on the nature of the decision to be made and the parameters that surround it.

When a team of fire-fighters need to save people from a burning building you have to have a strong, capable and very experienced leader, because the last thing you want to do is form a subcommittee for discussion of the possible options available, brainstorm up a list of possible actions, perform a cost-benefit analysis, relegate the actions to smaller sub groups ... it just won't work given the time criticality. On the other hand, a developing nation must have the attachment to the ideals and principles of the group that come with traditions and rules that are developed over time, codified, modified and passed down as laws. Then again, when the population is large and there are day to day decisions to be made that affect everyone, then an optimal strategy is to use representatives. However when the direction of your society is being changed, in a non-life and death way, such that these changes extend beyond a 4 year election cycle, then a referendum is better because it includes everyone from the outset, where through the media and water-cooler discourse at work, everyone can have their say and feel part of the discussion. Within smaller groups where a nuanced and difficult task is being worked on, it is better to involve as many minds as possible without being weighed down by the numbers involved. And sometimes you need to break ranks and say, "no!", and have the strength and resilience to do so.

Considering the broader picture, there are repeated references to the emotional context that surrounds decision making. What is surprising is that this emotional context is rarely examined as an entirely separate area of study. We know about kings, usurpers, assignations, laws and processes, but we never examine the emotional content that is the subtext to this story. In the leadership method when the dictator starts to loose their grip on a successively larger group of people, they will control with FEAR. When the chivalric code lays down the traditions that are meant to INSPIRE with notions of HONOUR and integrity the observer will feel a subtle WARMING that really has no word apart from that of feeling SAFE and more TRUSTING. In consensus there are extremes that include the RIGHTOUS ANGER expressed by the rebel as they insist on their point of view. Alternatively we can see the effect of not being heard or feeling DISENFRANCHISED, but when heard, then we feel BELONGING. When the experiences of tradition are acted out, by something as simple as the rapping of a black staff on a door to the parliament, we are held TRANSFIXED by the SOLOMNESS of the occasion, and feel that something greater is holding all this together. And when the strong orator speaks to the people and pronounces what it means to be a people united, a feeling of INSPIRATION will emerge, a feeling can be triggered now, merely through the stubs of a speech and the context in which they were spoken:

He stands on the steps in front of a million people and holds their aspirations of equality and justice when he proclaims "I have a dream!"

On the eve of total obliteration by the enemy, after a ruthless air battle that saw the entire nation running from black curtained buildings to huddle in bomb shelters these words filter across the radio static, "Never in the field of human endeavour..."

Or gathering near a stump, in a graveyard too full and a battlefield too close, the listeners stand through an hour long speech by one orator long forgotten, to be utterly devastated by 273 words that drive to the very heart of what nationhood means "Four score and seven years ago..."

What are you feeling now?

It is something that transcends a feeling state of an individual. It can only be felt within the context of a larger group. The tribe, the nation, all of humanity. It's all too bloody powerful, because it is a reflection of this larger self organised entity. When people first banded together and attempted to explain what it was, they invoked gods and later a single god. That feeling of being in the presence of something profound. In the modern context it is the feeling of nationalism. Between two people it's that part of the movie where through all adversity, the relationship survives, where trust dominates and safety is assured and that strong loving bond between people, that catharsis is expressed. Catharsis ...attached to the heart. The profound love that transcends words. Ironically it is this thing which cannot be described that is the focus of the final section in this work. No small thing, unpacking love.

But nationalism/catharsis etc, are also just feeling states like fear, anger, belonging, helplessness etc. Why is the feeling never discussed in terms of it's relevance to decision making? It's there all the time, but never overtly examined. It is used as a means to manipulate and it can also allow the group to grow larger, whilst still tolerating the fringe extremes causing dissent. Tapping into the feeling state is essential for the modern democratic process to work, but it can also go horribly wrong as this same feeling can be used to malevolent ends.

The role of emotion, by not being explicitly understood, often becomes the driving force in all our decision making. It is manipulation when the leader unites a people and attempts to drive them in a specific direction. When emotion is at the helm, then the direction can be anywhere. The longest cheer (5+ minutes) for a political speech relative to speech length followed a proclamation of just six words: "Eins kamph. Eins Reich. Eins Furher."

In politics the role of emotion is relegated to a back seat and never really talked about, it sort of acts like a skeleton in the closet, however in neuropsychology the role of emotion is understood more fully. Antonio Damasio talks about the role that emotion plays in decision making through his "somatic marker hypothesis" which suggests that logical and rational decision making is (quite necessarily) biased by emotions, such that emotions are required before you can have rational decision making. More specifically that emotional intelligence is required before rational decision becomes possible. What Damasio is alluding to is that a conceptual understanding of the world, like apples falling to the ground, has an organisation of experience that is conceptual (gravity), as well as having an experience that is emotional, where it feels right that apples fall to the ground. On the international space station however, an apple that gently floats across the room will 'feel' wrong somehow, that is until the mind has been able to organise the experience of micro gravity.

In philosophy and science, the group is trying to determine fact or the nature of veridical truth. In decision making the individual is confounding their emotional world with the objective world of the group. But to make this worse, this emotional world is being deliberatly manipulated by people who have evolved to do it incredibly well ...and they may not be entirely benevolent. What's more, we never talk about, nor deconstruct the emotional organisation of experience that underpins our decision making institutions.

When we enter into a public discourse that has the function of making decisions we all need to follow, we can be manipulated by other people convincing us that something better is possible. We can also fall into a sense of helplessness when other people don't see out point of view. In a counterpoint to the serentiy prayer at the beginning, we need to learn how to resist being manipulated, how to not fall into despair when helpless and how to know when either of these things are happening. This takes a certain amount of wisdom.

As previously discussed, within the individual there is a growth in consciousness from egoic/subsistence to witness/being. However this same fundamental transition also has to occur in the group when it comes to how they make decisions. The matrix of decision making presented has hopefully shown that there is not a one size fits all approach, but rather the parameters of the decision, such as the life and death criticality, the population size affected, and the role of cohesion and solidarity, must all be considered before choosing how to make the decision. Not wanting to abuse the often misused prefix "meta", but this is a genuine instance where it can be used, because this witnessing of the self is "meta-decision making", where the decision making must know itself (which is how the prefix "meta" should be used).

As often happens in successful psychotherapy, when the decision making apparatus of the individual can acknowledge or witness it's own self, then the shift to higher consciousness occurs. When the decision making apparatus of the group can acknowledge it's own emotional context then a similar profound shift occurs. What's required is a form of political psychotherapy, and the current cohort of media barons and their political lap dogs are not up to the task.

The next section tackles this head on by looking at the creation of the self in a radically different way, and how the self of an individual is part of the same system that occurs in couples (dyads) and the larger group.

NEXT - Choatic Self