Wednesday, June 30, 2010

there's a strange exhilaration in such total detestation; it's so pure, so strong!

For anyone who doesn't live on the Second Life grid, this next may be hard to understand, but there actually are people who are clamoring for a representative democracy to be enshrined as the ruling body of SL at large.

At least, I think that's what they're asking for--sometimes, it's hard to tell. They seem to want something significantly beyond what we have, with Linden Labs at the top of any diagram, because they own the place. They seem to think by and large that, simply because of their place on the grid, the grid should be democratic in nature.

There are a few problems with that, which Honor McMillan has ably taken on in a recent blog post, but I just wanted to clarify one section of the point.

Think democracy. Democracy as we know it, on a daily average level, in the US, say. (For those of you not in the US--you're generally better off, so just read along with your typical bemused smile.) Just for argument. If you really want the type of democracy the US has--and the Lindens, for some brain-dead reason of their own, decided to go along with you--you would have:

* Representatives for the furs
* Representatives for babyfurs
* Representatives for the dragons
* Representatives for the cultured furs
* Representatives for the neko population
* Representatives for the Caledonian Catgirl Brigade (because really, they ARE their own thing)
* Representatives for the fur herms (and boy, are THEY their own category)

and everyone else. And that's just one flavor of non-humans. What about:

* Representatives for porcelain dolls
* Representatives for fetish dolls
* Representatives for Rubberdolls (and there'd have to be at least seven people for that one community, because otherwise, there's no one to break a tie vote if they ALL start screaming at each other)
* Representatives for dark RP communities (and would they then split into one--or more--for each of those communities?)
* Representatives for the demons
* Representatives for the vampires (and those would have to split again into at least three different groups by my count also)
* Representatives for werewolves
* Representatives for weres in general
* Representatives for constructs
* Representatives for Avarians (and again, would that be one voice to speak for all of them, or a multitude to speak for every type?)
* Representatives for historical RP communities
* Estate representatives (and would it be one per sim, or one per sim chain owner?)

And past that:

* child community reps
* adult community reps
* "Adult" community (for yes, there is a difference!) reps

And that's not even all of them, there's more out there that I'm not even remembering off the top of my head. But we're not done. What about:

* Christians
* Pagans
* Satanists
* Jews
* Muslims
* Buddhists
* Quakers
* Hindus

and more. And then there's:

* Russians
* Brazilians
* English
* Australians
* Americans
* Canadians
* French
* Mexicans
* Spaniards
* Scots
* Koreans
* Yugoslavians
* Hungarians
* Japanese

and more; Second Life is incredibly diverse. Plus we can toss in:

* Republicans
* Democrats
* Labor Party members
* Liberals
* Conservatives
* Anarchists

Who else would fit into there?

And beyond anything else, would we need space for the extreme fetishes, the extreme belief systems, because if there's one thing I've learned about SL, it's that extreme thinking fits right in. How would we bring all these diverse interests together?

Not only that, but can you seriously tell me that a devout Muslim can sit next to a full-on dominant in leather with a girl in slave chains and red silks at his feet on one side, and a hermaphroditic demon Mistress with a fully pierced, spiked, and dripping exposed member on the other?

Or how about that self-same slave girl in red silks sitting next to a Femdom advocate who cannot conceive of any other lifestyle than weak men submitting to her will? Hells, sit her next to a Gorean male. Can they get along long enough to even vote on an issue, whatever that issue is?

And folks on SL, by and large, they're a mouthy bunch where their particular whatever is concerned. How do you get all these people to agree on a location to meet, yet alone the topics of the day? Beach people, proper Victorians, casual strollers, winter skiiers, mermaids, sea monsters, Westerners in boots and cowboy hats...and what about the dress code? Long skirts, short skirts, amount of cleavage appropriate? Can anyone show up in a veil and not cause controversy? If it's PG land that would leave out the serious fetishists anyway...

Of course, all of this is beside the point. That point being--it's still Linden Labs' playground. We just play there. It's our right to say whether we play there or not, and to a limited extent, how we choose to play--but we can't stand up and 'vote' that the swing set is taken away and replaced with a bakery, f'rinstance. Because we don't own the place.

We just hang out and swing. People really need to understand that, once and for all.

(All right; next up, Operation Squeegee!)


Lalo Telling said...

It is, of course, a preposterous proposal, and the ways in which it's preposterous are many... but, as the phrase goes, "consider the source".

We just hang out and swing.

Truer words about SL are rarely spoken so concisely... and as we all know, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing."

Rhianon Jameson said...

Indeed, the proposal is almost refreshing in its naivete. Almost.

Emilly Orr said...

Mr. Telling,

And a good turn of phrase in return.

But it still baffles me that this call is raised on the grid--and off--at all. Philip Rosedale did not return to Philip Linden to be the president of SL. He returned to be the pro tem CEO of Linden Labs.

SL is the product; why don't people get that?

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Jameson,

"Almost", yes. I agree. And it obviously is coming from someone who truly hasn't thought things through on any level.

Prokofy said...

Silly stuff as usual. All those diverse groups come down to one thing:

o directly own land ("rent a simulator from Linden lab")


o don't directly own land ("don't rent a simulator from Linden Lab")

end of story.

Representative democracy in liberal democratic states like the U.S. or the UK are not based on socialistic (or fascistic) identity politics like "furries over here, Neko Caledonian cats over there".

It's based on geography and population. In SL, I propose, to get started having a constituent assembly, to have only landowners. Those who have other interest groups who want to organize on the basis of Marxist identity politics or fascistic corporativist politics (like CDS ultimately turned out to be) are welcome to do so but I'd ignore them. Land ownership is a good simple way to be inclusive of pretty much anybody with a stake in SL.

Technocommunists *hate* representative democracy because it runs straight against their own illegitimate power base which is essentially the power of weaponry -- code. Not consent of the government and not stake (land).

So that's why they try to ridicule it and claim democracy will dissolve into a million interest groups or try to pillory the small holders concept as greedy land barons blah blah. I'm for ignoring them and start an assembly with landowners. No renters, estate mangers, etc. Must own 512 mainland or more, or be original and full owner of a private island or homestead. That way all the CDS/Islamic caliphate loafers and hangers-on would have to confront the fact that they are all tenants to one landlord anyway, whatever their silly structures on top of that.

One landowners organizer on their various single issues, then they can negotiate with others like no-payment-on-file sandboxers or Xstreet-only-merchants or whatever constituencies make sense for a parliament of such parties.

I don't worry about how you "can't" have democracy in a company town. People in the colony of America said that too, until there was a tea party. And so on. No such thing as "can't" when it comes to more power to the people and their legitimate interests againt tyrants.

Emilly Orr said...


I agree with your layout, but I don't agree with your conclusion. I tracked this the way it did not because I'm ridiculing the concept of representative democracy--I'm not. But representative democracy, in my opinion, only works when there are real-world stakes. While there may be ancillary stakes (emotional, mental, psychological) on the grid, and economic stakes for merchants and landowners, the breakdown still returns to: this is the net.

And there is little representative democracy, if our existence starts and ends virtually. As virtual citizens, we can have input; but the decisions are not up to us. We aren't shareholders, though granted, we are paying in.

The tea party concept? Wouldn't work. Because ultimately, if rebellion is declared, Linden Labs can point us to the door and pull the plug. And believe me, rebellions have happened in the past, most notably during the OpenSpace debacle. Dame CoyoteAngel Dimsum set all her sims on fire, and left them that way for weeks.

And nothing changed. Nothing will, unless the Lindens decide on their own to change things. We can have influence; but what we cannot have, what we do not have, is sway.