Consensus for Antiwar Unity

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First, Consensus

My little dictionary
says authoritarian means favoring obedience to authority instead
of individual freedom. Actually to most of us, authoritarian means
favoring coercion in human relations and that’s what is opposite
of individual freedom. The only real authority is one who is “all-good”
and Jesus said none are good except God. Indeed, our one authority,
God, wants us to have individual freedom, so we’re being obedient
to true authority by supporting such freedom. The Bible is called
God’s Word and James called the Bible the perfect law of liberty.
And Jesus said his followers would not exercise dominion one over
another, but would serve each other in loving brotherhood [Mat.
20:25–28, Acts 2:44 etc.].

If we’re not
to dominate anyone, or exercise dominion, then we can’t have majority
rule, except for 100% majority rule. That’s called unanimous rule,
or consensus. Quakers figured that out over 350 years ago. I don’t
know when the Jesuits did, maybe even earlier. American juries have
used consensus since our founding. Numerous groups and some societies
have practiced it, including ancient Israel and apparently the early
Christians – also the early Anglo-Saxons and modern Japanese at
the local level and probably many Native American tribes, at least
in earlier times.

Consensus seems
to be gaining wider acceptance in recent years. According to Endenburg
and John Buck in an article on Sociocracy [their term for scientific
consensus], consensus has been studied by scientists, e.g. Prigogine
and Haken, in efforts to understand “self-organizing systems” and
their advantages. Some of the advantages the authors list for consensus
in all kinds of organizations [not just political ones] are:

  • Greater
    creativity and problem solving throughout a group or organization;
  • Win-win-win
    for investors, management, staff;
  • Faster adaptation;
  • Higher quality
    products and services;
  • Higher staff
    commitment to and identification with the organization;
  • Fewer, better
  • Less sick
  • Better safety
  • More awareness
    of costs;
  • Improved
    client orientation;
  • Very little
  • Program
  • Greater
    practice of leadership among peers;
  • Better organizational
    continuity when many volunteers are present;
  • Better support
    of fund raising.

Is it any wonder
that Jesus advised his followers to return to the practice of consensus,
i.e. non-dominion? If one is truly libertarian, i.e. non-authoritarian,
how can one condone majority rule? We have condoned it, because
consensus is widely unknown or poorly understood. Thus it has some
undeserved reputation for being impractical. With the recent scientific
improvements, consensus is found to have most of the above benefits
for most groups. By having groups divide into smaller groups of
15 or fewer members each, it’s much easier to achieve consensus.
By “double-linking” groups together and using efficient meeting
formats, consensus is much more effective and rewarding than other
kinds of decision-making. Consensus is the ultimate win-win method.
Emotionally mature people prefer win-win relationships instead of
win-lose [except maybe in entertainment or sport].

Then, Unity
– Progressives and Libertarians Unite!

I grew up conservative.
I supported the Vietnam War initially, because I thought it was
about stopping Godless Communism. When I was in Thailand during
that war, I met a fellow Air Force guy who had gone AWOL and had
come back to the base opposed to the war. He said the U.S. was in
Vietnam unjustly. I didn’t believe him, but I decided to look up
Vietnam history in an encyclopedia at the base library, just to
make sure he was wrong. Except that the encyclopedia confirmed what
he said. Wow!

So I became
a liberal [now they’re called progressive] and voted for McGovern
in ’72. Shortly thereafter a little zine [edited by Fred Woodworth]
called “The Match!” [“for light and heat”], persuaded me against
authoritarianism. The philosophy was called anarchism, meaning non-use
of coercion. In a Q&A booklet of his on anarchism, one question
was: Why not call the movement a more palatable term, like libertarianism?
Answer: Libertarians usually favor limited government, but governments
never stay limited for long. But I later came to favor the term
libertarian anyway, as I became more optimistic that government
could be kept limited [by improving on majority rule]. I was politically
inactive for many years, but an FDR liberal, Anton Chaitkin, persuaded
me by his book, Treason in America, that people need to be politically
active for the common good of the people, which is based on Jesus’
gospel of love of neighbors and enemies. I’ve been involved with
progressives against war since late 2002, after Bush first started
crafting excuses to avenge Saddam.

Having played
on both sides of several political fences, my strong sense is that
progressives and libertarians share a lot of the same basic anti-authoritarian
sentiments. I have a sense that they have great potential for cooperation
and would have a lot to gain by doing so.

What to
Unite on

would seem to be our best basis for cooperation. I think progressives
and libertarians can cooperate most effectively by adopting consensus
rule. In fact, logically, consensus should be a defining trait of
both groups. Both should support it, because it’s most consistent
with and would most effectively support our basic non-authoritarian

Other Issues

Crime – Both
groups seem to be greatly opposed to criminalizing anything but
murder, extreme abuse and major theft. Both seem to oppose the abusiveness
of modern prisons and would favor restitution over imprisonment,
except for dangerously compulsive abusers or murderers.

Regulation – This covers taxes, infrastructure, property rights,
environment, education, social security, abortion etc. Progressives
and libertarians tend to be opposed on these issues, but, because
both groups tend to be non-authoritarian, it should not be too hard
for both to be able to come to agreement on taxes and the things
taxes pay for. Both should be able to see that compulsory taxes
are coercive, i.e. authoritarian, and that the only just “taxes”
are voluntary. When taxes are agreed on in any group, community,
or region, by unanimous rule [consensus], libertarians should have
no objection to them. This is the kind of “taxes” ancient Israel
used under God’s direction. And it’s what Jesus implicitly advised.

Abortion would
be somewhat of a sticking point, except that both groups generally
favor not criminalizing most human behaviors. I imagine most libertarians
would consider it impractical to criminalize abortion, except maybe
for doctors who perform partial-birth abortions and maybe very late-term

Both groups
would seem to oppose compulsory military service and favor war only
for genuine self-defense. Troops who object to war should not be
required to participate, even if they previously signed a contract.
Both, progressives and libertarians, might agree that long-term
war, beyond a few weeks, would have to be proven necessary in a
high court of law before funding and declaration could be continued
[if it’s declared on an emergency basis in the first place]. Both
would likely want an end to covert military operations and experiments.

seem to be panicking over environmental doomsday hype, but I’d hope
that they are somewhat skeptical of much of the supposed threat
of global warming [and cooling] since the Pentagon and big oil are
behind much of the research. The neocons appear to be coralling
the public by this hype into supporting [down the road] further
exploiting of other countries and increasing U.S. military strength
to supply our “needs” in the face of increasing competition over
diminishing resources. Hopefully, both of our groups may come to
agree that science [like medicine] needs to be drastically revised
to decouple it from government and big business manipulation. [The
CO2 greenhouse gas theory seems to be based largely on the unexpected
discovery in the 60s of high heat on Venus under its CO2 atmosphere.
There is much better evidence that the heat there is caused by its
young age, not by its atmosphere trapping sunlight. It’s also known
that earth was much warmer a thousand years ago when the Vikings
had colonized southern Greenland, which is now frozen over. There
was no high CO2 then to make it so warm before the freeze. The heating
and cooling of the earth very likely comes from outside the earth,
not from CO2 gas in the air. The military seems to have considerable
ability to manipulate weather etc. via HAARP, chemtrails etc., but
doesn’t seem to be involved much in global warming or cooling as

With so much
in common and so much influence to gain from unity, isn’t it time
for progressives and libertarians to unite? And if they can unite,
what label could they call themselves? Anyway, let’s do it!

23, 2005

Kinder [send him mail] is
a Peace & Justice activist. His website is
article is from a new book, The
World Needs Miracles: The Bible & Peace,
compiled by Lloyd Kinder with other articles contributed by Libertarian
& Progressive writers from and elsewhere. A
second volume is expected in November.

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