John Axtell (
Thu, 08 Mar 2001 19:12:40 -0800


While I seem to think I am a Republican, Bush may change that :) I value the
philosophy of Libertarians. Your example is a good one. Certainly having worked
with kids in Boy Scouts and other areas I am quite aware of how capable they
can be if adults get out of the way.

The point I am raising, and trying to get a grip on for my own applications, is

That girl certainly had to have some training from someone. My point is that
kind of skill is not just "gotten". The learning was by someone showing her
that "this" is the way to do it - Robert's Rules or whatever. So here we have
"influence", "guidance" or what would SV call it?

So what I am trying to say if you took 20 kids and put them into a room and
gave them no direction I would be quite surprised if they called a meeting to
order and followed Robert's Rules. So what is our role in "forcing" them into a
role. Will the next child just decide to do away with Robert's Rules or has the
"democracy" forced the next child to follow the Rules?

Just some rambling muddling.

Your statement about democracy being good in small groups certainly will give
me something to think about. The fact that I have lived my life in
organizations that were participatory dictatorships kind of makes me more
comfortable with that paradigm than a democratic one. But I keep searching to
find a model that produces results that I find more satisfactory than a
participatory dictatorship or a democratic model. The Republic model is
probably closer to the participatory dictatorship than the democratic model.

My recent personal experience with small democratic groups who organized a
"private" school funded with public money was not good. A small group of people
democratically took control of the organization and turned it into their
vision. If you did not like their vision that was simply too bad. I still
struggle with the impact a majority has on the rights of a minority.

Your Friend, John

"Walter Thiessen (Connweb)" wrote:

> John Axtell writes:
> "To contend that a bunch of kids have any concept of individual freedom and
> that they can somehow organize themselves into a functioning entity simply
> is unfounded."
> John, I'm a rabid Libertarian who happens to believe in the Sudbury model.
> Like you, I completely distrust democracy on a large scale. It virtually
> always undermines individual rights.
> Having said that, it's obvious to me that you've never been to a Sudbury
> meeting run by a six-year-old girl. I have. It was one of the most
> astonishing things I've ever seen. The agenda was handled flawlessly. The
> presiding six-year-old absolutely refused to allow anything to obstruct the
> group from addressing each issue, in turn, concisely and completely, then
> moving on. Any attempts to distract from the topic or fly off on a tangent
> were shot down within seconds. The entire meeting, which consisted of 5 or 6
> agenda items, was completed in 10 minutes flat. I challenge the most
> skilled, experienced meeting-leader to match that record.
> Most of the people at the meeting were under age 12. There were 3 adults, a
> couple of teenagers, and about a half-dozen younger ones, including the
> presiding officer. Each young person who spoke did so with an air of
> authority and self-assurance, like he/she had a right to be there and like
> he/she was exercising his/her rights. If it looks like a rose and smells
> like a rose, does the fact that it's juvenile mean that it's not a rose?
> The fact is that democracy is wonderfully adapted to small groups. The New
> England Town Meeting was testimony to that fact, until towns started growing
> to more than a few hundred people in size. There are some small villages in
> New England that still regularly practice the New England Town Meeting on a
> regular basis to conduct town business. These towns are normally lower taxed
> and more respectful of individual rights than their nearby sister cities and
> larger towns. New Hampshire in particular values its local Town Meetings for
> just this reason.
> Only when Democracy is practiced on a medium-to-large scale does it become a
> serious detriment to individual rights. At the smallest levels, its one of
> the most effective ways to protect those rights.
> Walt Thiessen
> Simsbury, CT

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