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May 27, 2019

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Comments Off on Party Leadership Elections are Undemocratic

Originally posted on Medium as Jago Couch AllhqFashion Women's Frosted Buckle Open Toe High-Heels Solid SandalsBelieved Womens Soft Fur Lined Warm Winter Boot Button Mid Calf Faux Suede Girlson Aug 22, 2015. It’s potentially confusing for me to criticize something as “undemocratic”, which is why I didn’t post it here, but the argument of the post is relevant to my recent posts so I now prefer to have it here to refer to.

We’ve all had our laugh at the Labour party’s leadership election, but it’s time to get serious.

“Internal party democracy” is deeply stupid. You could even say it is undemocratic.

The purpose of a party is to provide a choice — one among several — to voters in public elections.

If every party stands for “whatever its members say”, and each party’s membership is open, then there is no reason to expect the parties to differ from each other. No choice would be provided at the public elections.

Not only at the level of voting, but at the level of support (funding, campaigning), each individual can choose which party, if any, is theirs. But that choice can only be made sensibly if the citizen can tell what a party stands for, and what it is likely to stand for in future. To have value, a party has to stand for something specific and reasonably constant. This goal is not consistent with internal democracy.

The ideal organisational form for a party is for it to be run by a small self-selecting clique. That provides both consistency and the possibility of gradual adaptation to changing circumstances. A fixed constitution is not likely to work, and if it did work would completely freeze the party,WeenFashion Women's Pull-On Kitten-Heels Imitated Suede Solid Low-Top BootsWomen's Easy Street, Stunning Low Heel Pumps making it unable to adapt. Any other arrangement (including single-person control) will produce unpredictable changes in position, reducing the value of supporting the party.

Note I’m not arguing against parties having large membership, or against the membership having influence. I am arguing that ordinary potential party members have *greater* influence by being able to join a party with a consistent predictable position, than by having a vote that can be overwhelmed by random motivated entryists. Because membership in a party is and should be voluntary, it is a case where influence should be entirely exerted through the force of “exit”, rather than “voice”. It is better to be a member of a party that is controlled by a small self-selecting clique whose opinions you know and agree with, than to be a member of one which is controlled by a vote of thousands of members, including yourself.

The Labour Party organisation is attempting to be reasonable about choosing which new members should be able to vote, but it is impossible because there is no rationale for allowing any of them to vote at all. If it’s legitimate for a member to change the direction of a party, Jumping Unicorn Plant Women's Lightweight Mesh Tennis Sneakers Comfortable Running shoesWeenFashion Women's Round Closed Toe Low-top High-Heels Solid Flock Bootsthen it’s legitimate to join the party in order to change its direction.

This contradiction has been brought to a head by Labour’s introduction of very low subscription fees to join as a voting “supporter”, but charging more is not an absolute defence against hostile entryism. It just postpones things until there’s an election which is close enough, and for high enough stakes to make an attack viable. Of course, the internet makes organising such an attack as easy as creating a Xiaoyang Women's Slingback Pumps High Heels Peep Toe Sandals Dress Party Platform shoes.

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Things I need to get around to blogging about. Comments welcome.

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It’s a very common trope, on left and right, that the voters are being denied their influence and that democracy is on the decline.

I’m pretty sure the reverse is true: the Western democracies are becoming more democratic as the unprincipled exceptions and institutional arrangements that limited the influence of the voters are eroded.

In particular, the things that are pointed at as undemocratic, such as the attempt to remove Trump, and the failure to execute Brexit, are the second line of defence after democracy has blasted through the barriers that used to exist. Trump could not have made it to the presidential election a decade ago, and though there has always been a majority or close to for leaving the EU, only in 2016 did that become a possibility.

Meta: I’ve decided once again to try to put minor observations on the blog, rather than leaving them in twitter conversations. If you are using a feed reader and liked the old very-low-volume feed, switch to https://blog.anomalyuk.party/category/main/feed and I’ll keep “minis” like this out of the “main” category.

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Setting out YooPrettyz Double Strap Sandal Crystal Stud Slid Wedding Prom Party Sandal Rhinestone Low Heels the theory of Bioleninism, I found that we do not have a really precise definition. Spandrell set out the concept and discussion followed between those who “got it”. That means that they at least believed they had identified the essential features from the general description.

In order to broaden the discussion of the concept beyond those who immediately siezed on it, it is necessary to spell out exactly what the essential features are.

My proposed definition

  • Bioleninism describes the practices of an organisation
  • Members are preferentially selected for positions of power if they are members of social subgroups which have natural disadvantages
  • The preferential selection is overt, not covert Katy Perry Womens The Jo PumpOwaheson Classic Canvas Slip-On Lightweight Driving shoes Soft Penny Loafers Men Women Pink Pig Hog Face
  • The members who are selected for positions of power on this basis are more reliably loyal to the organisation in its existing form than would be the case if they were selected purely on the basis of ability, because they would not expect to achieve similar status if the organisation were to be replaced or reformed.

The last point is Forever Long Size 33-43 Women High Heel Sandals Ankle Strap Rivet Peep Toe Thick Heels Sandals of a year ago. Surely an organisation that systematically selected the less able would suffer as a result and fail? The idea is that the extra loyalty that those selected have will compensate the organisation for their lesser effectiveness.

That eerily echoes an argument I put forward in 2012 Yorkie Puppy Dog Floral Women's Lightweight Mesh Tennis Sneakers Hunting Gym shoesNike Men's Air Max Fusionas a defence of hereditary aristocracy:

The reason for the important people having hereditary peerages is that, when it comes to any kind of power, loyalty is more important than exceptional ability. That’s not to say that incompetence is OK, but if your system of government depends on having people of exceptional ability, then it’s broken. Instead take the most competent people from the pool of those brought up to privilege and loyalty, and if they’re not good enough to, say, run a car company, the solution is not to have a government car company. The Victorian meritocratic civil service was exceptionally effective, but it was a step down the wrong road. The motto of the civil service should be “Good Enough for Government Work” (what’s that in Latin?)

Is aristocratic government then bioleninist? That depends on the part of my proposed definition which remains vague: the “social subgroups which have natural disadvantages”. I left that vague because it has been vague, or treated inconsistently, New Arrival Genuine Leather shoes Open Toe Women Platform SandalsWomen Sandals Flock peep Toe high Heels Platform shoes Buckle Pink Party Promin the discussions since November 2017. We won’t have a precise definition of bioleninism until we can pin down the concept of “naturally disadvantaged subgroups” more coherently.

Spandrell started out by describing what made the 20th Century communist regimes internally strong:
When Communism took over Russia and China, those were still very poor, semi-traditional societies. Plenty of semi-starved peasants around. So you could run a Leninist party just on class resentments. “Never forget class-struggle”, Mao liked to say. “Never forget you used to be a serf and you’re not one now thanks to me”, he meant.

In this arrangement, the peasant’s low status is not a natural thing, it is merely a social convention. But because it is such a widespread and long-standing social convention, the peasant can reasonably expect it to return if the regime falls. Therefore loyalty.

Bioleninism, in contrast, occurs in societies where the established norm is meritocracy:
If you live in a free society, and your status is determined by your natural performance; then it follows that to build a cohesive Leninist ruling class you need to recruit those who have natural low-status.My Little Nest Women's Top Handle Satchel Handbag Flamingo Ladies PU Leather Shoulder Bag Crossbody BagAmoonyFashion Women's Buckle High-Heels PU Assorted color Sandals, BUTLT005664

The term “Biological Leninism” implies that “natural low status” means actual biological disadvantage, such as womens’ lesser physical strength or some ethnic groups’ lower average intelligence. But there is also mention of “naturally repulsive” groups. Are transexuals really “naturally repulsive”, or is that a social convention? I’m not sure. This seems to be the blurry edge of the definition.

So, let me restate my definition with five points rather than four

  1. Bioleninism describes the practices of an organisation
  2. It depends on a cultural presumption that high ability is a natural qualification for positions of power
  3. Members are preferentially selected for positions of power if they are members of disadvantaged social subgroups, which by (2) means groups of lower average ability
  4. The preferential selection is overt, not covertYDN Women Classic Mid Heel Pumps Pointy Toe Slip on Formal Stilettos Office shoes 10 (Nude)colord Dabbing Skeleton Dab Skull Slip On Canvas Upper Sneakers Canvas shoes for Women Casual
  5. The members who are selected for positions of power on this basis are more reliably loyal to the organisation in its existing form than would be the case if they were selected purely on the basis of ability, because they would not expect to achieve similar status if the organisation were to be replaced or reformed.

So that takes out feudalism as a bioleninist system, and concentrates it on the modern era where some concept of equality is culturally established. I think that makes it a more useful classification.

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Responding to the WeiPoot Women's Pointed Closed Toe Spikes Stilettos Soft Material Solid Buckle Pumps-shoes is a useful way of clarifying the theory.

The essence of the theory is that a governing structure can gain stability by appointing to high positions members of groups with naturally lower performance, and that that process is advanced in current Western political systems.

“Natural” low performance is an especially controversial concept, but the criticism embraces it: “[women] are not contributing muscle to maintaining law and order to the same extent”

Whether the same applies to, say, homosexual or Punjabi firemen is debatable. I think the identification of sexually omnivorous firemen as the “wrong” kind of homosexual has a lot of merit.

As to Fulton County Sheriffs, a commenter who does not see Bioleninism as a force might well imagine they would “reconsider”, after the incident of a criminal overpowering a small female deputy and killing 3. A believer in the theory of Bioleninism would imagine the opposite. What’s the first link I see when I search “Fulton County Sheriff”? “WeiPoot Women's Open Toe High-Heels Soft Material Solid Buckle Sandals with Bowknot“!  . It’s as if effectiveness on the job is not the dominant factor in appointments…

Emphasising the fact that there are still ethnic and cultural minorities in low-status positions is effectively the inverse of the My Little Nest Women's Top Handle Satchel Handbag Flying Watercolor Butterfly Ladies PU Leather Shoulder Bag Crossbody Bag  : That there is a phenomenon that takes members of some groups and promotes them to positions of power does not imply that it does not leave other members of those groups behind — even a large majority of those members. Bioleninism is a theory about who is selected for positions of power; those not selected can easily remain with the lowest status of all.

The most interesting alternative view is that Bioleninism appears to be happening but is in fact fake: “If women succeed in taking over half the posts in the cabinet… this just means that the cabinet have changed their role to that of national mascots.” Owen Moll Women Pumps, Fashion Metal Belt Buckle Solid Shallow Pointed Toe Sandal shoesSkechers Sport Women's Conversations Charming Fashion SneakerWe are looking at Tokenism, not Bioleninism.

Tokenism is absolutely a real phenomenon. It is a different category of phenomenon than Bioleninism, however. Tokenism is in principle an individual motivation. “I am pretending to promote this token person so as to get the reputational benefits of doing so, but I don’t really want to give them any influence”. Bioleninism is an emergent tendency of a political system. A movement which promotes the naturally low-status succeeds because they have loyalty to the system without which they could not possibly achieve the same status. AmoonyFashion Womens Closed Round Toe Low Heels PU Short Plush Solid Boots with Tassels and Glass Diamond, Black, 7.5 B(M) USWeenFashion Women's Solid PU High Heels Open Toe Buckle Wedges-Sandals(One of the conditions that gives rise to the phenomenon of Bioleninism is that any rival movement appointing naturally high-status people tends to suffer from problems of lack of loyalty. Other things being equal, it is better to rely on high performers than low performers).

The significance of an emergent tendency, as opposed to an individual motivation, is that nobody needs to believe in or even understand Bioleninism for it to happen. The individual motivations that produce the Bioleninist outcome can be quite unrelated: they can be some theory of Justice, or even be exactly Tokenism. It is a feature of any large movement that pretending to believe something is effectively the same as believing it. The attempt to pretend to believe a thing is what Scott Alexander called “Kolmogorov Complicity”, and he explains why it fails.  . A tight conspiracy of people who trust each other can have a secret agenda and a public agenda. Wuixkas Cute Skulls Womens Lightweight Mesh Sneakers Funny Gym shoesAmoonyFashion Women's Spikes Stilettos Solid Buckle Peep Toe SandalsA movement that has to compete in the public square cannot sustain the distinction for very long. If you claim loudly and dishonestly to believe that it is just to appoint women to cabinet, you will be succeeded within your movement by people who are not in on the joke.

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