freeman structure law (?)

[note: i could be misinterpreting both jo and david here – well.. i could be misinterpreting everything/all-the-pages/et-al.. but do want to point it these may not be jo’s/david’s bend]

from Jo Freeman’s wikipedia page:

The most widely known is The Tyranny of Structurelessnesswhich argued ..

there is no such thing as a structureless group; power is simply disguised and hidden when structure is unacknowledged.

from David Graeber‘s insight/share of Jo Freeman’s the tyranny of structurelessness in his (utopia of rules) bureaucracy:

As activists sometimes put it: in most circumstances, if you bring together a crowd of people, that crowd will, as a group, behave less intelligently, and less creatively, than any single member of the crowd is likely to do if on their own. Activist decision-making process is, instead, designed to make that crowd smarter and more imaginative than any individual participant. It is indeed possible to do this, but it takes a lot of work. And.. 

the larger the group, the more formal mechanisms have to be put in place.

i’m thinking this is formal enough to go as large as we want w/o compromising our most important energy source: the energy of 7bn alive people – a ginorm/small formal mech put in place for 7bn people from the get go

bot ist art ist entire cleanerest

perhaps what we’re missing.. (failing to get back/to) is an undisturbed ecosystem‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

wengrow/graeber top down law: ‘There is no reason to believe that small-scale groups are especially likely to be egalitarian, or that large ones must necessarily have kings, presidents, or bureaucracies. These are just prejudices stated as facts.. there is absolutely no evidence that top-down structures of rule are the necessary consequence of large-scale organization.’

The single most important essay in this whole activist tradition is called “The Tyranny of Structurelessness,”170 written in the 1970s by Jo Freeman, about organizational crises that occurred in early feminist consciousness-raising circles when those groups began to attain a certain size. Freeman observed that such groups always started out with a kind of rough-and-ready anarchism, an assumption that there was no need for any formal, parliamentary rules-of-order type mechanisms at all. People would just sit down in a sisterly manner and work things out. And this was, indeed, what happened at first. However, as soon as the groups grew to over, say, twenty people, informal cliques invariably began to emerge, and small groups of friends or allies began controlling information, setting agendas, and wielding power in all sorts of subtle ways. Freeman proposed a number of different formal mechanisms that might be employed to counteract this effect, but for present purposes, the specifics don’t really matter. Suffice it to say that what is now referred to as “formal consensus process” largely emerges from the crisis Freeman described, and the debate her intervention set off. What I do want to bring attention to is that almost everyone who is not emerging from an explicitly anti-authoritarian position—and no insignificant number even of those who are—..

completely misread Freeman’s essay, and interpret it not as a plea for formal mechanisms to ensure equality, but as a plea for more transparent hierarchy.

so perhaps formal ish mech.. (that Jo and/or others haven’t yet seen).. would be one that’s simple enough for all of us.. one that focuses on self-talk as data… so that the small can remain ginorm small no matter how many people.. even beyond 7 bill..

ie: redefine decision making.. disengage from consensus

freeman ness
perhaps mech simple enough wasn’t yet imagined… to fit in mind/rationale/practicality of interpretive labor…. but now it is… now we can… which means we don’t have to continue compromising/misunderstanding/misconceiving.. smaller-size/intent issues because of larger-size/agenda issues

more formal versions on same principles … always compromise all of us ness
has to reain… antifragile/stigmergic/rhizomatic/et-al


lord of the flies, tragedy of the commons, run amok ness.. usually assumed if no assumed/prescribed/top-down/et-al structure.


richard barlett‘s take on hierarchy and jo’s structure less ness [] – more on his page

More than just an abstract semantic debate for word nerds, I believe that this fascination with “hierarchy” and “non-hierarchy” is a major problem. Focussing on “hierarchy” doesn’t just miss the point, it creates cover for extremely toxic behaviour..t

thinking graeber & wengrow back and forth law and art/ists vs bot/ists ness

jo freeman: ‘Contrary to what we would like to believe, there is no such thing as a structureless group. Any group of people of whatever nature that comes together for any length of time for any purpose will inevitably structure itself in some fashion. The structure may be flexible; it may vary over time; it may evenly or unevenly distribute tasks, power and resources over the members of the group. But it will be formed regardless of the abilities, personalities, or intentions of the people involved..“This means that to strive for a structureless group is as useful, and as deceptive, as to aim at an “objective” news story, “value-free” social science, or a “free” economy. ..Thus structurelessness becomes a way of masking power, (…) usually most strongly advocated by those who are the most powerful (whether they are conscious of their power or not). As long as the structure of the group is informal, the rules of how decisions are made are known only to a few and awareness of power is limited to those who know the rules. Those who do not know the rules and are not chosen for initiation must remain in confusion, or suffer from paranoid delusions that something is happening of which they are not quite aware.’

freeman structure law et al

Freeman uses the word “structureless”, which is specific to the context of her 1960’s feminism. Today, you could swap “structureless” for “non-hierarchical” and get a very accurate diagnosis of a sickness that afflicts nearly every group that rejects hierarchical structures.

I think words like “non-hierarchical”, “self-managing” and “horizontal” are kind of vague codes, pointing to our intention to create healthy power relations. In the past, when I said “Enspiral is a non-hierarchical organisation”, what I really meant was “Enspiral is a non-coercive organisation”. That’s the important piece, we’re trying to work without coercion..t

coercion et al

perhaps what we need most is a mech to facil a non hierarchical listening to every voice everyday..  ie: tech as it could be (we’ve still got that hierarchical form of listening to each human.. everyday)


@RichDecibels @EmmaBurnell_ @SimonFParker @beingMicahWhite more like a complete misunderstanding of the same text every would-be leader always mis-quotes. Did you actually READ Jo Freeman’s argument? All the way to the end? She is about how

using structure to ensure leadership DOESN’T emerge.

She says it very explicitly.

Original Tweet:

@RichDecibles Replying to @davidgraeber @EmmaBurnell_ and 2 others If you want to read my article and critique it, I’m down for that.

see the rich‘s pages for mine

not about no structure.. but about who’s crafting it (has to be everybody) and when (has to be ongoing)

hier archy ness et al


rethinking cities