Small Groups

The People’s Front Of Judea

Jesus was pretty astute, coming from a line of kings and all that. He had twelve disciples because he knew if he had any more than that they would split into factions and start fighting.  For our purposes, though, twelve is just a maximum we set. Below are some things to consider when deciding on the size of group you want. 

Each recipient receives money directly from their own sponsors and is not dependent on any third party to hand out money to them. This is a necessary feature of the system because it ensures that no-one has automatic leadership status, i.e. no-one gets to influence the group solely by virtue of being the manager and distributor of funds. If someone’s good at some skill that’s needed, they can teach others and lead the way with that particular skill. Control (government) is kept at the individual level, and dependency, which is a human characteristic, is given voluntarily, not imposed by force or default.

Co-operation

In reality, for our recipients to make a change for the better, they need to cooperate with their neighbors. That’s how humans thrive. By working together, they can achieve far more than if each is just working away at their own problems. Shared problems can be solved by shared solutions, and this is what the group fund is for. We provide a mechanism for our recipients to cooperate on a joint venture of any size, whereby they can pool financial resources without having to become part of a large collective. They don’t have to use the tools we provide, but they are there if they want to. 

Group Size

  • Small groups: good for getting things done, and lots of other purposes.
  • Large groups: good for entertainment but not so good (and even downright dangerous) for anything else.

Large groups for other than entertainment end in wars because no-one in the group has a grasp of the whole picture; not even the ones who rule the groups do. We get lost in large groups, and another mind takes over; a largely unconscious mind. It’s not just countries; corporations ‘compete’ with each other ruthlessly—so much so that their mindset is entirely overrun by the “fight or flight” reflex (fear) [todo] and they cannot think at all. Everything that’s not an asset is a threat. Friends are non-existent because they will stab you in the back at the first real opportunity and smile and say it’s just business. With this mind, large corporations and governments must create war, there’s no other outcome.

In contrast, in entertainment, we have a large group of people with e.g. a singer leading them all. A good front-man can lead many thousands of people into a blissful mass experience by encouraging; holding everyone together (the true meaning of entertain) and supporting them. It’s an easy job, though, lots of people are able to do it with varying degrees of success and the best ones get the most people. Unlike the political or military leader, all you need to do is to ensure joy. When the leader only leads in what he’s good at and is not a ruler, it all works fine. (Until someone throws up….)

Research

There may be some studies on the efficacy of small groups. A good researcher would find this stuff interesting. I’m not a good researcher, but gut feelings, if correct, should have some evidence out there somewhere, otherwise, they could be wrong. An unwilling researcher is not much use. Here are some starting points.

Bob Podolsky – Titania Project

excerpted from Anarchast Ep.239 Bob Podolsky: Ethics and the … – YouTube 

Short version in case you don’t have time to watch: 8 is optimal for the kind of group we’re discussing. When they need something that 8 can’t do, groups can cooperate. (but make sure they keep the money until it’s time to pay for something!)

The truth is always simple, but checking it can get really complicated.

More Research Needed…

Additionally, these will be useful references for further research into group and network size. (all links saved as pdfs below):

Memory Transmission in Small Groups and Large Networks – An Agent-Based Model – could add some insight into advantages and disadvantages of various group or network sizes.  -no pdf **Abstract only, try library and uni**.  But here’s an article about the paper, from the APS site: Information Is Contagious Among Social Connections.

“[R]ecent work has argued that those within our social networks (e.g., friends, family) exert influence that is both more pervasive and more complex than previously thought. The people you surround yourself with influence everything from smoking to the clothes you wear to your life expectancy to the number of children you decide to have. The current project seeks to investigate how these influences occur, and proposes an investigation of the flow of information between individuals to understand social influences.”

from the project page in the Stony Brook Uni’s site. 

Control freaks fund these studies (with our money!) in order to understand how to control us, but it follows that we can also learn from the studies to find ways to control our own lives. 

Free Thought vs. Social Conformity has some insights into the causes of group inertia and how psychopaths use it to gain control of the group’s energy.

http://phys.org/news/2009-01-brain-mechanisms-social-conformity.html – a study which shows that social conformity is hard-wired in our brains. It makes sense to design our systems to take that into account and ensure that our sponsorships don’t help to introduce new mechanisms of control to the people we are intending to help.

Unanimity Rule and Organizational Decision Making: A Simulation Model finds that large groups operating under unanimity rule are less sustainable because they are more likely to exceed their critical threshold of decision pressure than small groups.

Group discussion improves lie detection is a study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which concludes that we are much more likely to figure things out through discussion than if we just go around the table, let everyone make a statement, and then vote on what’s true or not. The advantage seems to come from talking it out, not just from averaging everyone’s individual guess together, as is the case with the increasingly common Delphi technique (PDF attached below), often used to manipulate a group into a preordained decision, thinking it was their own choice. Small groups minimize the potential for such manipulation. 

Participants in the study judged video clips of people speaking, and tried to determine whether they were lying or telling the truth. In some cases, they were allowed to discuss as a group and make a joint decision, in other cases, researchers had several people complete the task at once and turn in their individual answers without collaborating. Those groups who discussed it did consistently better than those who did not. That kind of group discussion becomes less practical as the group size increases.

Also as size increases, it becomes easier for someone to appear to be helping by “organizing” everyone and becoming the nexus of that group’s communication. They are then able to “summarize” individual inputs and obscure the real consensus. Ordinary individuals can be led to believe that they are in the minority when they are not. Such helpful people can also direct what is discussed and what is not, skewing the outcome towards their preferred one. (See the Delphi Technique PDF attached below for more on this.)

Dee Hock, Visa and Self-Organized Structures

Visa is an example of a self-organized company. Dee Hock has some interesting ideas about corporate structures and how they can be superseded. See The Trillion-Dollar Vision of Dee Hock
Stuff to follow up on…

Representative Democracy

For our groups to work together on a larger scale, for example, to pool resources for the restoration of an entire watershed, we need to provide mechanisms whereby they can do so without losing their control over their own projects. A group of 12 families can easily do ‘representative democracy’ by having one representative from each family attend group meetings. 

If you put me in charge of an entire country I would immediately look after my friends and family first. Regardless of the virtue of such tendencies, this is how things are. Wishing humans would be different doesn’t make it so, and designing systems based on high-falutin’ notions of how you think humans ought to be will always end in disaster. Our history is the story of how badly that has worked out. 

If we have a large valley project where 12 groups are collaborating to create a lake and extensive earthworks to turn arid land fertile, sending one representative from each group is unlikely to work well without ensuring that restrictions on those representatives are built into the system. 

Built in, not just written down! 

Just like our rulers, we are not at all interested in the expression of the will of the people. Unlike the rulers, when we design the systems we are interested in its implementation, The sponsors and recipients are the users of this system, and it is designed for them, not for anyone else. As designers of this system, that’s as far as our responsibility goes. What people do with that freedom is their own concern, not something to be enforced by us, We merely provide the opportunity.

It’s not enough that our system merely states that your representative should not act against your interests, it must be designed in a way that he can not. This is achieved by ensuring that money does not leave your control until the time comes to pay a contractor and that at that time, the transfer comes from your own group’s fund, where you have some control, and not from some mega-multi-group fund of which you’ve already relinquished control.

So, no matter what the project, no matter how big, there is no fund above the group fund. Contractors who do not want to accept e.g. 20 payments from 20 different customers (our groups), preferring to only accept one payment from a nominated ‘representative’ have simply excluded themselves from the bidding process. This does not present a scenario where the contractor has any more likelihood of not getting paid because each group has entered into the contract and is bound by it, The difference is that nobody can enter into the contract on behalf of all. 

Can not, in contrast to should not. You should not drive through someone’s garden without their permission. You can not drive through a stone statue. This is at the core of our design.  Our system may be used by many different people in different circumstances. The environment can alter the shape of the tree, but not its nature. That’s determined entirely in the seed. 

The above is not what our groups have to do, it’s what our system provides. The difference in our system is that users are not automatically subsumed into to some non-human collective entity. They are able to do so if they wish to or have to, as the tree will bend to the winds and make the most it can of where it finds itself.

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