Monday, April 12, 2010

On the Collective

A friend's recent blog post (linked by permission, be advised the blog deals with BDSM and is NSFW), included the belief statement, "I do not believe that anything has ever been achieved or maintained by consensus." I disagree. 

First of all, I want to say that I respect his opinion and belief on this. He absolutely lives his beliefs, and his personal responsibility is the very relevant result of not believing in the value of consensus. He is the head of his House, and as far as I can tell, he is good at being a Patriarch and he truly values being good at it. I understand some of where he is coming from in his perspective, life experience, training, etc. and firmly support his right to have his beliefs and live his chosen lifestyle.

That said, I think his statement would be more accurate to say, "I do not believe anything I value has ever been achieved or maintained by consensus." I personally have been a part of multiple projects and creations that were both achieved and maintained by consensus. A short list: 
1. The three plays (series of monologues) about gender that were co-created by a partner and myself with significant content co-creation from the cast. My creative partner and I were absolutely working on consensus with each other AND able to incorporate input from the cast. 
2. My Dark Moon Circle, which has been meeting for going on three years now. We co-create our rituals based on consensus, and furthermore, we have effectively and informally divvied up various roles based on talent and availability, since some of us have more demanding professional and family lives than others. 
3. My community household, which has been bumping along for almost four years now. I cannot pretend it has been smooth going, but that has been because we HAVE been working on consensus and we typically have very opinionated and independently-minded individuals in the community. It takes a good bit of maintenance, but it has been worthwhile and valuable to me and others.

My friend, however, does not tend to choose these kinds of projects because he does not share in these values. He values hierarchy and being the one in charge (or at least having the most competent person) at the top of the hierarchy, and so his belief system necessarily negates the value of creating by consensus. 

I believe he has full rights to believe that hierarchy is better than consensus (especially since hierarchy necessarily implies better-than judgments), but that does not mean that consensus never gets anything done. It just doesn't get anything done that he personally values, thinks is of value, or chooses to participate in. Just because he chooses to opt out of consensus processes does not mean that they are ineffective for everyone and for all projects. 

1 comment:

anastasia said...

It seems we all enjoy our contrived little worlds.