Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Deliberating Deliberative Democracy

(And awful alliteration is always acceptable, apparently)

Well, my deliberative democracy post turned up a comment that I don't feel like reposting. The gist of it was that I don't understand what it's all about, I'd like it if I tried it, and I shouldn't be cynical.

You ever have a facilitated group discussion in college? Y'know, where the goal is to come to a consensus, and everyone is supposed to come away happy that they were heard? DD is an extension of this sort of thing.

It seems fantastic to those who see it as a way to bring people together, rather than divide them...the problem is, we don't all want to be brought together. Sometimes, people don't want to be meddled with. Sometimes, people want to be an outspoken minority, rather than a silent dissension within the majority.

The sad thing is that people actually believe that everyone will eventually feel the system is fantastic. The commenter included links to his blog posts. In one of them, he talked about a "World Cafe" event. He felt that people didn't understand the extent of the goals. He figured they would support the extensive, far-reaching goals he did...and he's probably right, in a way. As long as the changes come over time, the pot will slowly come to a boil without anyone noticing. He wanted to get rid of the "adversarial nature" of the Australian Parliament. Y'know, stuff like debating ideas and realizing that some ideas are in direct competition, and they cannot be equally viable.

He also threw out terms like "constructive exploration" and "inclusion" as being separate from groupthink. These are groupthink. Inclusion, especially, tends to indicate that the group will all think as a group, rather than individuals. And constructive exploration sounds a lot like the sort of stuff we've allowed to invade public schools...we don't get to point out the negatives, because that's not "constructive."

Call me cynical if you like. I've been in these discussions before, and as a conservative in a college setting, I've had a good taste of what it's like being the minority opinion which is almost immediately dismissed. I've also had a taste of being the one subtly guiding the group. It's not hard to encourage your ideas at the expense of diversity of opinion. Hell, groups are so dead-set on reaching a consensus that they'll "understand" a lot of things if you can convince them that it's the majority opinion.

Yeah, I'll stick with a government that has competing ideas, rather than consensus. You know what they say: You know you're wrong when everyone agrees with you.


Hammer said...

I like it when my government is fighting amongst itself..less damage that way

Drew said...

Well said, Hammer.