The need for consensus

Finding how to better establish broad consensus is the solution to our current societal woes because it prevents what abusive power structures require in order to thrive, which is to divide us.

Division is what permits groups to be played against one-another. This serves as a distraction and energy trap, and allows centralized entities to outperform the majority of citizens despite the size disparity. If nearly everyone is able to find consensus, our size will far surpass any central authority and they will lose their outsized influence.

Consensus requires that people come together. It requires participants to not think they are better than any others. There are no “in” groups, just people. The one thing that we hold high above everything else is that we are here to work together to make life better for everyone.

This is where traditional political organizations have failed. Tribalism arises in disparate groups and is leveraged into bitterness and division.

In order to resolve our differences we should become subject matter experts of things we disagree with. We should challenge each other in a caring and blameless way. We should seek to learn the views of those that we disagree with in order to refine our own.

We have the most to learn from those that we disagree with. If we disagree with them, this means that we cannot imagine how they can have their viewpoints, which indicates there is something we do not understand. We must drive toward the center of this disagreement anticipating enlightening discovery. We must delight in discoveries about those we disagree with.

Finding consensus

A large group will find broad consensus nearly impossible.

Even just at a technical level, consensus doesn’t scale well to large groups, because communication network complexity increases with the square of the number of participants. This means as the group becomes large, it’s not possible for everyone to communicate with everyone else easily. Because of this, asymmetrical communication structures (like broadcast) are common.

Many people have come to realize that broadcast communication creates a huge power imbalance. If we are to avoid these imbalances, then we must communicate in smaller groups.

We might take a naive approach to defining what’s required for small groups to come to a consensus about some information:

  1. filter information using social trust
  2. come together purposefully to discuss important topics
  3. vote to establish a record of quorum
  4. (optionally established from the beginning) share the result of the group

If the result of the vote disagrees with what some participant thinks is true, then the participant should take it as a challenge. They must reexamine the reasons they disagree with the quorum, scrutinize and refine them, and either conclude that the quorum missed something important, or that they should change their view to match the group.

If they determine the quorum is wrong, then they should make plans to reconvene with a group (maybe the same one) and reconsider the topic. This will result in a new record of quorum, which may be the same as before, or may agree with the participant’s view.

If many people were to carry out this process on a topic, then there would be a broad sharing of opinion and ideas on it. It would be likely that some person would be exposed to new perspectives to consider.

It’s my hope that over time the quorum of independent groups will begin to converge around the truth.