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Consent-based parliamentary authority
blaisepascal
Does anyone know of a parliamentary authority for consent-based organizations?

I'm trying to put together some suggestions for how an organization can decide to make decisions. This would include a set of rules of order (a parliamentary authority) to follow.

If we decide to go with majority rule, I can suggest Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised as a parliamentary authority.

If we decide to go with consent, what can I suggest? What do OWS groups use?

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I might not be understanding consent-based correctly, but I'll take a stab at this anyway.

I'm a Quaker, and the Quaker method of conducting business is not about voting, but rather about obtaining consensus. Usually this works pretty well because even on contentious issues there's enough time and not such a deep personal connection to the issue that one's health and safety is affected by the outcome of a Meeting's decision. Sometimes it doesn't.

In the cases when consensus can't be obtained through simple discussion the matter will generally be tabled for a time (generally until the next Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business) so that all involved can reflect upon the issue at hand and come back with fresh minds and insight, divine and otherwise. This can continue for as long as time allows and is believed will be useful in aiding the Meeting in coming to the right decision.

Sometimes that won't work. If there are only a small number of holdouts but the vast majority of a Meeting are united on a decision and the issue is pressing those with the differing view may offer to "stand aside". This is not to be confused with consciously changing their opinion to support the rest of the Meeting, but rather a show of deference to both sides that they are indeed following the spirit of the Quaker process of seeking divine inspiration on issues brought before them.

Yet every now and then there will be an especially contentious issue when even this won't work, because a Meeting is close to evenly divided, the issue is rather heated and personal, those involved believe their source of inspiration is true, considered, and devout, and that a decision must be rendered by the Meeting with no further delay. Unfortunately in cases like this Meetings have split. My meeting has done this from time to time, from what I understand of its history every 20 years or so something like that has happened, the two most recent having been regarding gay rights and feminism (both won in the affirmative and it shaped our Meeting into being a very leftist one and some of the others in the area to being notably more conservative).

As far as the procedure to get through a CfB meeting, it's a combination of a regular meeting, except obviously not silent. There are periods of silence interspersed - both at the beginning and end, and during the middle if those present feel necessary. It follows an informal RRO but I think most feel it would be unQuakerly to use a strict interpretation of parliamentary procedure. This only works because of the common bond of faith.

I think you're understanding it correctly. But it makes me believe no one has come close to a RRO-type guide for consent.

Between LJ and G+, I've gotten two responses, both detailing how they've seen consent-based organizations work (or not work) in their experience, but there are differences, and no one has stated a written set of guidelines like RRO.

I guess I'll have to wing it then.

In the case of Quaker tradition, it's not something that can be condensed into an RRO style. The way it's learned is through Quaker worship, introspection, and the study of what Quakers before us have had revealed to them. For instance, the New York Yearly Meeting publishes a book called Faith and Practice which covers aspects of this, along with all other aspects of what people believe. It does not speak for our faith like something like the Book of Mormon does for them. But it represents consensus that the NYYM has. Other yearly meetings have similar texts, and it is updated every 10-15 years or so.

Like I said, the only reason I think this works is because it is a faith that the people who practice it are committed to making it work in the name of something divine (not merely a cause greater than themselves), and I think when it breaks down it's because people have abandoned their faith to some degree. I'm not really convinced it could work for secular groups.

I got my rules for consensus meetings from Starhawk's "Truth or Dare". The chapters toward the end are all about group processes.

She also suggests that consensus only works with small groups.

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