[Noisebridge-discuss] You and your pretty little Consensus Process too.

jim jim at well.com
Tue Feb 8 16:05:19 UTC 2011

On Mon, 2011-02-07 at 23:29 -0800, Molly Bee wrote:
> I've never seen "consensus" in action without compromise.
> Although consensus is treating the ultimate goal of "perfection" as a
> verb rather than a noun, I don't see a perfect outcome for all parties
> involved as a viable outcome. In fact, outside of one person, you
> immediately start compromising. (yes, yes, and inside of one person
> it's too dark to read. (By the way, I want to make sure you know that
> Aspberger's is a form of autism, not a hygiene issue)). 
JS: i tho't it was a kind of sandwich. 
> I fear that there does !exist a non-compromised result from a
> consensus process with limited possible outcomes (e.g.: /yes/
> or /no/). Gratuitous Example: Abraham, Briza, Cameron, Dormouse, and
> Evillyn all want to "do" lunch at a restaurant together (it MUST BE
> THE SAME restaurant, they all vehemently agree). Abraham is a Jain
> fruititarian; Briza (a neo-Wiccan) is a pure carnivore; Cameron is a
> Jewslim and keeps both Kosher and Halal (as well as having a wheat
> allergy and an aversion to tomatoes, celery, corn, and peanuts...
> though tree nuts are okay as long as they don't touch each other on
> his plate); Dormouse (a recovering Jack Mormon, not that it matters)
> is lactose belligerent, is trying to limit his sugar due to a threat
> of Type 2 diabetes running rampant in his prodigious family, and
> avoids legumes and dark green leafy veggies with a high nitrogen level
> just in case that pain in his leg is the early onset of gout; and of
> course Evillyn, the agnostic cowgirl punk rocker, finds it difficult
> to eat at all, not in front of people, at least, and when she feels so
> sick that she absolutely must eat, she prefers to devour a carrot in
> slow motion, dipping it into a mound of sugar in the palm of her hand.
> So these five all go out to find a place to eat together, but as
> circumstance would have it, they are all in Toadsuck Texas, and their
> only choices are Seafood World, Ye Olde Frozen Yogurt Joint, or Tongue
> in Cheek, a shabby establishment run by two lesbian Italian women who
> serve prosciutto over everything, house rules. Clearly, the only
> choice they can all agree on, in a perfect world with all possible
> options, in a place like San Francisco far away from the muted
> hullabaloo of Toadsuck, is lunch from an outdoor fountain dispensary
> of fresh UNICORN STALLION RAINBOW URINE! But where to find such a
> delicacy?! And is urine, then, willingly given, a proper foodstuff for
> a devout Jain? And is it meat enough to feed a carnivore? Is it
> blessed by both a Rabbi and an Imam? Does it have a low glycemic
> index? What is the caloric value? And what if everyone except Dormouse
> suddenly said fuckit, let's get fro-yo. Should the others gorge on
> frozen yogurt tasties while Dormouse sullenly sulks, skulking in the
> doorway? And what kind of meal is that anyway... 
JS: c'mon, molly. consensus doesn't solve all problems, and 
nothing solves dilemmas. consensus is a process that lets 
someone stop group decision if the decision will negatively 
impact their interests. the idea is for everyone to consider 
the problem and come to some solution, which may or may not 
be a compromise or outright concession from either side. 
    in practice, i've seen people use consensus frivolously, 
which is a pita and unexcellent, but it happens. respecting 
the process means berating the frivole (or frivola) until 
he or she gives up, that or giving up at least temporarily 
or bribing the frivol{e,a} in some way. 
> What Would Jesus Eat?!
JS: assburger, of course. 
> So I've watched the "consensus process" unfold in many a hippie
> hideout, and I'm pretty much disenchanted with Utopian politics in
> general. In the end, there is always someone scamming the system,
> taking without giving, and the others need to lay out goundrules for
> the community as a whole, else they inevitably disband, seeking their
> Utopia of Uno Mismo, each for the non-compromise of his/her/ver own
> self.
JS: as with any other process, it's the humans that are 
the problem. 
Myself, i've grown to dislike ideals except as a reference, 
not to be taken literally or much seriously. as you describe 
things, believing utopia is achievable seems part of the 
problem. of course people will scam the system, any system. 
> ciao bambinos,
> Molly
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