The relationship between democracy and DAOs? The topic popped up in conversations on Anticapture last week, when a community member asked, “Can DAOs be seen as the most advanced example of democracy.” We found this topic to be very challenging in our internal sharing. To solve this problem, DAOrayaki community members compiled this article, hoping to explore democracy as a DAO in a decentralized way to see if we can draw some kind of core inspiration !
Democracy and DAOs
How to define the word democracy? The standard definition sees democracy as a myth and a romantically pursued ideal that allows us to imagine a government that is governed by and shared by all. The DAO is connected by the people, and it is community-centric, enabling better self-governance for everyone. Another key feature of democracy arises in representative government, where for efficiency and other reasons we can entrust others to speak on our behalf. Ideally, this gives everyone a voice. DAOs put power in the hands of individuals and provide individual autonomy for better collective action.
What role do majority and minority rules play in democratic systems’ efforts to reach consensus? In a DAO, we don’t have to all agree. By design, DAOs allow freedom, such as leaving without agreement (called an anger exit), or creating a new fork. We should negotiate, not just pursue consensus.
How has the concept of democracy changed over time? How did it evolve into what we are today? Perhaps the DAO is a political and ideological tool juxtaposed with democracy, rather than simply being understood as democracy. A wise person will see tension and conflict in the current DAO, which is different from the romanticized concept of democracy.
The Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich is the author of Tools of Conviviality, which we use as a deconstruction of industry – a place where people believe that tools guarantee liberty and Towards a Society of Collective Action—Reflections. Perhaps we can reassess democracy as a tool that may impose a romantic ontological oppression. What does the DAO say about this? How can DAOs iterate and improve democratic design?
Blockchain, DAOs and Governance
When thinking about blockchain technology and how it relates to governance, there are several angles. First, the multi-signature treasury represents one person, one vote (except from a quorum perspective). Coin voting is often attached to multisig to include chaebols and oligarchs, who may pin each other down. Moloch DAO is a good reference, they use weighted governance, which can be chaebol-style or based on donated equity or funds to gain governance rights.
Parpolity  (nested representation) was the inspiration for the early Moloch DAO, where smaller groups could make autonomous decisions for larger groups, which transformed the perception of participatory politics.
What is the difference between a philosopher and a poet? Is there something to stop a non-Web3 system from acting like a DAO? If a DAO one day covers millions of people, it may face the same problems (like corruption) as other entities. We may try to build more decision-making cores that are somewhat autonomous, each making decisions at the local level on issues that affect the locality. Communication tools allow cross-local communities to be built around the world. Parpolity has multiple layers of representation, and smaller groups can send representatives to speak to larger groups.
Direct action and hyperlocalism
Direct action is reflected in the DAO’s new tools and its trustless execution. We don’t need to agree on all decisions and ask everyone because decisions don’t affect them the same way. Local groups making local decisions can relieve pressure on upper organizations, which can be called upon to deal with issues that affect everyone at any time. By distributing decisions to smaller groups, we can have different configurations of our decision flow, but scale is not the whole story. DAOs can accommodate organizations of different sizes, priorities, values, and perspectives.
Some might say that democracy is inherently oppressive and patriarchal. The majority oppresses the minority and is representative of patriarchal culture. Oppression is characterized by action over thinking, competition and warfare, hierarchical power, unchecked growth, domination of others, and appropriation of resources. DAOs offer us hope as an alternative at the structural level, towards a model of motherhood. The DAO is more about inclusion, participation, cooperation, mutual understanding and respect, and is a decidedly non-patriarchal approach.
Can this be achieved in the larger DAO ecosystem? Representative democracy still facilitates quicker decision-making and tilts it to the top, but it threatens the formation of techno-democracy, especially for high-tech and financial people in the cryptosphere. Such mechanisms run counter to the ideals promised by the original DAO by ruthlessly imposing the interests of the majority on weaker subgroups. How should we build an organic system that motivates people not to hurt each other? Does it have to be stable hegemony to bring order?
When power shifts, conflict ensues. We should advocate for change so that it happens intentionally and in a quiet way. The DAO provides us with an acknowledgement of this important interdependence. Let’s remember the Gardens within the Walls and the Forest of Goodhart ). In a pot of boiling water, the group dreaming together slowly formed tiny bubbles, seemingly refusing to stand still. Does this make us naive and more vulnerable? We must have a stable environment in which to think about design and design with this depravity in mind.
Holacracy and DAOs
If DAOs are adopted on a larger scale, we might imagine that everything will act in principle and be fair? A culture is distinguished from the benefits of the principles embedded in the culture. We might focus on maintaining a limited group, operating as a DAO, ensuring that playing by the rules is beneficial to each individual. This reminds us of the mechanics of Game B, because in this experiment voluntary giving is encouraged, collaboration It can bring benefits both individually and collectively. It is the mental models of people in organizations like Holocracy and the DAO that bring about all this. Currently, more and more people are learning the mechanics of Game B. People are more willing to adopt these principles because they can be free from fear of being violated. The problem is not the process, the technology or the system, but the motivation within us all.
Can DAO/web3/decentralization serve as a new “one world” theory and as a generally accepted social layer for various organizations? Our dream is not to replicate the “One World” structure, which is the romance of democracy that we must be careful to avoid. Pluroversal (meaning multiverse) is not designed for one world, but many worlds. Not a single narrative, but a chorus of different voices. Not a single set of tools, but the freedom to leverage those tools for localized applications. Our current world lacks this spirit of diversity, but perhaps DAOs can facilitate a shift in our perspective.
(Annotation: Holacracy, translated as holacracy, a revolutionary form of organization that forms decentralized governance through self-organizing groups, meaning national governance, and is intended to adapt to an increasingly complex social environment.)
One of the reasons we got a monopoly monoculture is that this scale pays off so much. Why do we always come back to the question of scale? Because economies of scale have clear economic returns, ambition returns, and power returns! Large companies pursue returns to scale because of economic incentives. Executives are trained to maximize their own ambitions and returns to power. There are many powerful incentives for monolithic structures that encourage scale and unbounded growth, and there are many incentives to focus only on scale and growth and ignore defense. It is imperative that we find viable and sustainable ways to make work at scale.
We can’t be so concerned about scale that we lose the ability to coordinate solutions to common problems, but we also need to be careful not to let scale be weaponized by those who want to use it for their own personal gain. Many of the incentives to scale up run counter to our values. How do we find ways to create more opportunities for scale? How do we ensure scale is not exploited by careerists?
If we first consider designing mechanisms for the community, is there any value in consciously limiting size in DAO system design? What mechanisms can be devised so that smaller communities can collaborate without ending up being the bigger giants they are trying to avoid? Democracy is conceived as a relational tool, yet it turns out to be at odds with our coordination efforts. The DAO, as an example of a critique of romanticizing democracy, is an action-based framework that embraces another theory. This highly transparent political system based on the sharing of resources by a few people has greatly promoted decision-making. The DAO embodies a critical stance on the world. It enables individuals to think and act differently, rethink political direction, which affects every aspect of our lives.
Let’s think about internal contradictions! What do we do when there is conflict within our own ranks? How do we resolve disputes in DAOs? We’re still learning, and at the community level, this issue can come up in different forms. The biggest challenge is getting official actions or officials to avoid them as much as possible, but this is sometimes unavoidable, especially when the community expands to a certain size. We have many tools and strategies, but it is unlikely that one tool will replace the need for direct human cooperation. Tools can reduce the need for traditional political avenues of attack by eliminating the need for us to trust each other. But in the end, some conflicts still have to be resolved through human-to-human relationships. Would we want to eliminate this direct communication channel? Letting all relationships be purely mechanical mediation may not be our ideal.
The essence of DAOs is a political and philosophical structure, so we have to look for answers from historically similar social structures. It is easy to overlook the historical evolution of similar cooperative structures that once existed because they feel the need to start from scratch, but this also causes the process to reproduce previous problems. We need the entire DAO community to share the work! However, there is so much to learn and the learning load is getting heavier. How can we limit bureaucracy through cooperation? How big of a structure is needed? Who will stand up to answer these questions?
- Tools of Conviviality:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tools_for_Conviviality
- Parpolity :https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Aaron_Swartz_on_the_Parpolity_System
- Goodhart’s Forest: https://spengrah.mirror.xyz/3rogxz8MYh5SEIdCCzUXWY7eiKAs63QSgsPh-AfIRyk