[governance] FW: TP: city government exercising policy on Google Applications / consumer rights / Consumer Protection Act / trial period

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Thu Jul 14 23:45:37 EDT 2011


You seem to be referring to something you call "the mere user who is also
governed to some extent by CIRA" and then go on to give a (sort of)
definition as someone who is "encountering .ca domains and affected by the
TLD policy" without specifying what you mean by "encountering" (seeing an
email cross one's screen, buy a widget from an entity with a .ca domain???)
or affected by the TLD policy (and here I really can't think of an

I guess I have no idea of who "the mere user who is also governed to some
extent by CIRA" might be and why you would consider them to be "governed"
even to some extent by CIRA. I live in Canada have a couple of domains
(non-.ca) and don't really encounter .ca from one day to the next let alone
be "governed" by it to any extent that I can see. 

It seems to me that unless you can justify that statement the rest of your
argument falls away.

(BTW I'm a candidate for the CIRA Board not a current member.)

(Mere user) Mike

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Lehto [mailto:lehto.paul at gmail.com] 
Sent: Thursday, July 14, 2011 5:58 PM
To: michael gurstein; Kerry Brown
Cc: governance at lists.cpsr.org
Subject: Re: [governance] FW: TP: city government exercising policy on
Google Applications / consumer rights / Consumer Protection Act / trial

On 7/14/11, michael gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com> wrote:
> in my limited
> observation [CIRA] would seem to me by most conventional standards to 
> be at least reasonably "democratic".

I'm published in the area of political theorists of democracy, so perhaps
I'm not clear.  Here's something I hope is ultra-succinct relatively
speaking, and shows why I'm not off base.

The very definition of democracy in modern times is rule by the people
(self-government), based on one person/one vote and universal suffrage (all
adults voting).

The very definition of aristocracy, as Montesquieu (one of the most famous
political theorists of the world since the 1700s, a Frenchman) wrote, is
rule by less than all the people.  (I.e. Rule by some fraction of all the
people, especially rule by an elite.)

Now Mike, when you point to a subset of the people affected by CIRA (domain
registrants) and note that they can be voting members if they wish, but
ignore the mere user who is also governed to some extent by CIRA, and then
call that exclusion "reasonably democratic", you're really saying that a
largish aristocracy is "reasonably democratic."

But no user encountering .ca domains and affected by the TLD policy but who
can not vote on policy like domain registrants or on directors like Mike
Gurstein or Kerry Brown would ever call a structure like CIRA "reasonably
democratic."  (Not if they took the subject of CIRA's authority seriously,
yet couldn't vote on it.)  Such a person would say they have no vote,
complain they are disfranchised using their own words for that, and note
somehow that they are basically ruled by domain registrants and CIRA who do
have votes and say.  CIRA and these domain registrant members are the
superiors of internet users (who have no say) and this aspect is not
"reasonably democratic."

There's lots of room and even necessity for compromise in the vast majority
of political issues, but not on the most fundamental issues like democracy
(or not), or freedom (or not) or whether or not you or I should have a vote
on things affecting us.

It's a simple definitional reality:  Because aristocracies by definition are
rule by less than all the people affected by laws, if you take the
fundamental parts of democracy like who can vote on a piecemeal basis, and
thereby give the vote to less than all the people, you have, by definition
the very essence of aristocracy, not democracy.

To call this piecemeal aristocratic outcome "reasonably democratic" because
some affected can vote (registrants) and some affected can not vote (users)
is to put way too kind a gloss on the undemocratic and aristocratic nature
of any system that allows one big or small class to vote, and denies another
big class, like internet users, the right to vote.  That's the CIRA model.

All the happy talk about multistakeholderism hides the ugly realities of
denying voices and votes to classes of people, while often giving voices and
votes even to some non-humans and non-voters, like corporations.

The purpose of the Truman quote, and the purpose of *Truman's* invocation of
Hitler, is to show that we do not want efficiency unless we agree on the
process's end result or goal.  If the train is headed down the wrong track,
no rational person wants efficiency!  That efficiency just sends us faster
and further down the wrong track.

Nothing personal, as I said before, was intended by any of my comments.  But
Kerry Brown has taken offense nevertheless.  I am sorry he has done so.  But
I do not think there is any way out of a conclusion that CIRA is a form of
aristocracy, not democracy, and because I believe that Kerry Brown believes
in democracy, but probably never went through analysis like the above, the
implication that the restructuring of CIRA in the way it is, is causing him
to be participating in a form of non-democratic corporate governance is not
just a charge that has a certain sting to it, but an unavoidable conclusion
once one knows the basic difference between aristocracy as being rule by
less than all the people....

Paul Lehto, J.D.

P.S. I fully understand the distinction you try to make with ex officio
members. If you re-read my message, I recall clearly intending to draft that
message to say these ex officio members had an enhanced "voice" or right to
be "heard" -- which they do have by speaking at meetings and being
recognized much more so than an average audience member.  I did not say or
mean to imply that ex officio members had a formal vote, by definition they
do not.  I was pointing to yet another difference in relative political
power, not on the level of actual votes since ex officio members don't have
them, but on the level of who has access to time at meetings to get their
ideas out, if they wish to do so.  Clearly, ex officio members have a
privileged status with respect to that.  That is basically why they are ex
officio to begin with -- to hear from them based on prior experience,
status, etc.  So, while I think a careful reading of my text would be clear,
I do see how one could mistakenly conclude that I misunderstood the role of
ex officio board members.

I was appointed in the past as parliamentarian for an annual bar association
business meeting attended by most of the Supreme Court and in which many of
the states' best lawyers argued over various motions and measures.  I only
mention that to hopefully put to rest any inference that I don't completely
understand what an ex officio member is, they are common in bar association
membership organizations in various states.

Paul R Lehto, J.D.
P.O. Box 1
Ishpeming, MI  49849
lehto.paul at gmail.com
906-204-4026 (cell)

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