AGM procedure: Get involved, have your say!

Following the public Anticipating 2040 event on October 3rd, the Transhumanist Party will be holding its first Party Day on Sunday October 4th, which will include presentations, discussion, and the formalities of our first Annual General Meeting. We will be posting a registration page for the Party Day shortly.

It is our intention to use each Party Day as a stepping stone to the next, making the event better each year and using it as a vehicle to develop the party. Certain aspects of the AGM are determined by the requirements of our Party Constitution, meaning that there are certain rules which we must follow. Within those broad constraints, however, we intend to keep things as simple and flexible as possible, for the time being at least. To that end, here are a few brief details about how voting in the AGM will work:

1. TPUK members only, & importance of the members’ email list

Although guests and journalists are welcome at the Party Day, the event is primarily for TPUK party members, and only full party members are eligible to participate in voting. Most of the logistics of voting and other AGM issues, and any announcements, will be handled via the email list which all members are invited to when they join the party. If you are not a member but would like to join in time to have some say in policy and other matters this year, you can do so here.

2. Voting cards, and voting online / in absentia

In order to differentiate between voting and non-voting attendees at AGM, party members will be given voting cards where they can record their response for all votes tabled for the day (and hand the card back by the day’s end, to be counted). Unfortunately we cannot ensure a high degree of (or perhaps any) online access to the event this year, so the use of voting cards allows non-attending party members to vote aswell. This will be done via the members’ mailing list, with all party members having the option of filling in a virtual voting card, online.

3. Before voting cards: Proposing policy, representatives, and other motions

AGM voting will cover a number of issues. Primarily, it will tell us which initial policies are to be put forward for official endorsement by the party. It will also involve voting for members’ representatives on the National Executive Committee and any other motions proposed by party members and approved by the NEC, such as possible amendments to the party constitution.

Obviously it will take time to discuss and consider such issues, and even if we were foolish enough to think that people could digest all the relevant information and vote on the same day, that would still leave those not attending out in the cold. Additionally, it will clearly take time for party members and supporters to work up policy ideas and any other proposals for submission. The key dates defining this process are given below.

4. Important dates and deadlines

We are now at the end of July, with the Party Day a little over two months away. The deadline for all proposals (including policy proposals, potential Party Officers and members’ representative candidate names, and anything else) is Monday August 31st. Virtual voting cards will be issued via the members’ email list on Sunday September 27th. Voting will be open from that point, until the close of Party Day proceedings one week later, on Sunday October 4th.

Further details will be posted in the members’ email list and in other TPUK forums over the coming weeks. If you have any questions or feel that you may have missed something important, the best place to raise a question is in the Transhumanist Party members’ email list. If you’re really stuck and don’t know how to find the list or join the party, then please don’t hesitate to email contact@transhumanistparty.org.uk!

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AGM procedure: Get involved, have your say!

Don’t mistake elections for political change!

I felt moved to write this post after seeing an article about the futility of Transhumanists standing in elections. As it happens I have already written a chapter addressing questions of strategy for the developing Transhumanist Party, but thought I’d lay out the essentials of my vision for the Party’s future here.

Some commentators seem to believe that there are only two ways to develop political influence in Western societies. The first is to influence decision makers through policy institutes, and the other is to become decision makers by winning elections. Six months ago we considered these two routes with regard to UK politics, and decided to pursue both simultaneously. Thus, Transpolitica and other friendly think tanks would explore the near-term possibilities of influencing established parties, while we would also establish the Transhumanist Party with a view to direct influence in 15-25 years time. I have said on a number of occasions that I expect Transhumanist Party influence to be negligible for at least ten years, but that groups like Transpolitica could potentially achieve real results in that same time frame.

There is a third way forward however, and it is the direction I believe the Transhumanist Party should be most heavily invested in (in the UK at least). Before explaining what I have in mind, first I would like to briefly lay out my own view of electioneering (from the Anticipating 2025 chapter mentioned above):

When it comes to traditional political party activity, we can see the most scope for modest medium-term success in nations where parliaments are elected by a proportional representation system, such as Germany. The examples of movements like the Pirate Party, Syriza and Podemos make this clear, whereas in “first past the post” systems (such as in the UK) it can easily take twenty five years to become the third party, even with radical and unexpected success. To my mind, traditional political attempts in the United States and Russia are little more than publicity drives (which is most certainly a thing of value in itself) because the systems in those nations allow for no real third-party influence. In effective single-party states like China there is no real potential for an independent political party at all.

Clearly, I do not believe that we are going to win the hearts and minds of the British electorate with an explicitly Transhumanist message any time soon (or in fact ever). Alexander Karran has noted that in his own electoral campaign the problem wasn’t so much people opposing Transhumanism, as not knowing or even remotely caring what it is. Of course we Transhumanists know that the big issues are going to come crashing into people’s lives whether they care or not, and part of our mission is to increase understanding of the issues, but at the same time we must ask ourselves a question:

How do we solve the problem of an uncaring electorate?

The Transhumanist Party exists for a reason, and it isn’t just to promote ideas like longevity. Our reason for existence is to help build a new societal model that can make the most of massive impending technological change. We may not be able to make any difference, but we must try, just in case it turns out that we could have made the difference between a society which thrives on the new technological opportunities, and one which descends into a downward spiral of missed opportunities, fearful knee-jerk reactions, and authoritarian control. Given that challenge, we cannot simply shrug and accept people’s lack of understanding as an insurmountable obstacle. Instead, we have to think like Transhumanists, and treat the situation as a problem to be solved by technical means.

We expect technological change to continue accelerating, and almost certainly spill over into massively disruptive societal change. We’re seeing some of that change and disruption already. It may be the case that as people feel that change and disruption more and more viscerally, then they become dramatically more open to our message. We must remain engaged via traditional democratic channels in case that happens. But at the same time, we should not be pinning our hopes on such eventualities, and should instead be focussing on direct action which we think is much more likely to make a positive difference regardless of public opinion. Political parties can be powerful organisations regardless of their ability to win elections, and we live in an age where societal problems can be solved by powerful organisations regardless of whether they so much as dip a toe in electoral waters.

In addition to a traditional political platform, then, we also need to encourage the establishment of a technological platform. A gateway for technological solutions to societal problems, composed of tools developed privately and publicly, and officially recognised by the government as a valid way for communities to make their own decisions and manage their own resources.

True Technocracy, or, the Big Society for real.

You may have heard the terms “Technocracy”, or “the Big Society”. Technocracy can refer to either a historical U.S. movement to bring an engineering approach to politics, or more recently to the kind of ‘technical’ governance applied to economic crises in European nations such as Italy. The Big Society is a term invented by UK Conservative Party strategists which was basically a cynical ploy to make dramatic social funding cuts sound like a good thing, by painting a romantic picture of communities rallying around to solve communal problems (the reality, of course, being the evaporation of government funding and communities being left to fend for themselves with only cute rhetoric to pay the bills).

What if we were to take these ideas seriously? What if we could engineer a situation in which our local communities were not simply ruled by specialist ‘technocrats’ or abandoned to a mythical Big Society, but instead given the opportunity and support to manage their own affairs using the best technological solutions available? Of course some things (such as defense) would still need to be organised on a national level, but we now live in an age where a lot of issues could be addressed by local communities directly, in a decentralised and highly democratic manner. By championing and working toward the creation of that new system we would naturally be aligning ourselves against the old system, bureaucratic 19th Century politics, and indeed the entirety of party politics. Our goal would be to build a system of direct local governance that makes party politics redundant, spelling the effective end of all parties including our own, and which effectively ends the age of the political class as we have understood it for the last three hundred years.

That could never work… could it?

Transhumanists talk about things like Technological Singularity all the time, but often forget to stop and think about the massive social disruption such ideas imply. Political parties haven’t existed forever, and to imagine their day will never pass is simply myopic. The big question we must ask ourselves here is what alternative forms of governance will be enabled by an explosion of technological possibilities over the coming decades. Such a wave of change is inevitable, barring disaster on the scale of a nuclear war or total environmental meltdown. Given such levels of change, the real issue is not whether local communities can manage their affairs with the latest tools better and more flexibly than an antiquated central government can, but whether we as a nation are able to muster an orderly transition to a new governance framework before it is too late… and a very disorderly transition sweeps over us all.

I envisage a kind of governmental network spanning the UK, ensuring that certain standards and common procedures are followed, but generally letting the regions use the latest technologies to create a true Big Society in their own preferred way, making decisions that reflect local desires in ways that a national parliament never could. Most of our policies will inevitably focus on the benefits of specific technologies (such as automation-backed Universal Basic Income, and NHS genetic screening leading to longevity treatments), but our party’s focus as an organisation would be on creating a platform through which people could use those technologies to manage their lives and communities without referring to central government or political parties most of the time. We would obviously not create the platform out of whole cloth, but instead work to draw together collaborators of many different types who are already developing all sorts of technological tools that people need to hear about.

The final step, however, brings us back to electoral politics. Any platform that truly gives people the power to manage their own affairs will be proscribed by government if the technology intrudes upon governmental authority. Aswell as helping to build the platform, and helping people understand how they can use it to directly make things better for themselves, it would be our task to arrange legal sanction for this new way of doing things. To return to our original two routes, we could do that by winning elections and rubber-stamping the new model ourselves, and/or influencing other parties to do the same. If establishment politicians can see that the world is changing and that they have a choice between making history and being left in its dustbin, I believe they will come to help us simply so as to not be left behind.

Elections are not political change, so much as gateways toward it under ideal circumstances. Those ideal conditions are rare indeed, and with accelerating technology we have the opportunity to make real change happen directly.

Don’t judge the future by the standards of the past. Join the Transhumanist Party!

Don’t mistake elections for political change!

Working toward a new paradigm

This is an update on progress from the Transhumanist Party, but not a dry technical report. Instead, this is the first in what I intend to be a new style of message, combining news of our activity with the bigger picture of the world situation. After all, we have not created a political party as a hobby or an exercise in vanity, but out of a deep dissatisfaction with the state of things and a thirst for change.

1. Volunteer teams now active

To start with practical matters: The party now has a “backbone” of volunteer teams starting to develop, and they are engaged in the first step of assessing what they need to do, and how they need to do it. All of our teams are organising their initial goals around our first Party Day in October (more on that below). If you would like to help the party at this stage, you can do so by volunteering (send an email to contact@transhumanistparty.org.uk letting us know your interests & skills), or by joining and/or donating.

2. Anticipating 2040, Party Day 2015, and voting for policy @ AGM.

It has been decided that most of our activity will now be geared toward a special weekend event on October 3rd-4th. On Saturday 3rd we are involved with the organisation of Anticipating 2040: A roadmap to sustainable abundance? This is a public, one-day conference focussed on themes central to the aims of the Transhumanist Party. The following day will be an event for party members and invited guests only, and will include a part of the day devoted to our first Annual General Meeting.

More details will follow soon, but at this stage it is important to note a crucial feature of the planned event. The TPUK constitution requires that official party policy must be presented in the form of proposals to be voted on by the membership at AGM. Provision will be made for absentee voting and online attendance by party members where at all possible.

For now, all you need to know is that details of the proposal process will be announced inside the next month, so if you have any thoughts on what Transhumanist Party policy should be then you are strongly encouraged to start making some notes and discussing them with other supporters. If your ideas are submitted and supported in AGM voting then they will become official party policy. If you don’t submit anything, then your ideas will remain nothing more than that as far as the party is concerned. We hope you will choose to get involved.

3. Ten years on: New paradigm required!

I would like to end by taking a step back to look at the bigger picture, and think about what we as a party stand for. In order to do that, I’d like to reflect on a little personal history.

Ten years ago today, terrorists killed fifty two people in London, wounding and traumatising many more. I live in London, and was sitting on a tube train when the first blasts occurred that morning. I was among around two thousand people evacuated from the trains and encouraged to catch buses to our destinations instead (at this stage we had not been told of the terrorist attack, but many of us had our suspicions). My workplace was in Tavistock Square, and I arrived moments after the notorious suicide attack on the bus there. Suffice to say that it was a day that I and many others will never forget.

The decade since has shown us a thing or two about the society we live in. It is most emphatically not a rational place, geared toward intelligently engineering a better future for ourselves and our loved ones. It is, in other words, not the world Transhumanists want to live in. We could still build that world, but sitting back and allowing things to run their course will not take us to the destination we desire.

For example, Islamists are still among us, with a large number of young Muslims having recently left the UK to fight for Islamic State. We are constantly told that these people are themselves victims, and that they should be excused, helped to return safely, re-educated at the State’s expense. It is apparently impolite to note that these are the explicit supporters of a murderous, theocratic, totalitarian ideology who have demonstrated an ability to follow through on their words with action. After ten years, we should have learned that ignoring and apologising for totalitarians in our midst is utterly unacceptable. Anyone who is serious about a triumphant Transhumanist worldview must understand that militant theocracy is its antithesis, and such a thing can never be ignored for the sake of being politically correct.

The other half of this equation is equally instructive, however. The very reason we even have this problem (of homegrown Islamic terrorism, and of other, innocent people who consequently feel persecuted for simply being Muslim in Britain) is the track record of governments who will not flinch at creating suffering for profit. We invade other countries despite a complete absence of appropriate evidence or rationale, thus creating opposition abroad and at home, because it serves the interests of certain industries. Our governing class (including all the major parties) has a common philosophy of governing for the benefit of vested economic interests, rather than the needs and desires of the British people. In short, these are governments that will drop bombs and dismantle social support without blinking if it will make a profit for their most influential friends.

This is not a rational society. It is not one governed by people who have some vision for making things better for as many people as possible. Even the most idealistic of contemporary politicians lacks true vision or determination to make deep, positive change happen. Over the last ten years we have started to see where their philosophy will take us, and it is not a place where any Transhumanist should want to go.

Transhumanists want to build a better world, geared toward more noble ideals than mere profit, constant attacks on less powerful countries, or the appeasement of authoritarian theocrats for the sake of appearing tolerant. We want a world in which such things will come to seem hopelessly antiquated, and we will work toward exactly that.

Working toward a new paradigm

TPUK official registration and logo

EDIT: Voting by full party members is now closed. You can see our new logo above!

This week we received good news: That the Transhumanist Party is now officially registered in the UK. Along with that good news, however, we were also notified that our proposed logos were not compatible with Electoral Commission rules. The “+” in “h+” contravenes a rule against ticks or crosses in UK party symbols. The issue is an interesting one, since h+ is the most common shorthand for Transhumanism.

TPUK party members will soon have an opportunity to vote for a single, new symbol to be submitted to the Electoral Commission. Voting will be between three options, as follows:

All three options will be based on the earlier hexagonal design, which has proved popular and eye-catching. The first two will be variants of well-known Transhumanist themes; some kind of h+ (or >h) version which avoids actually having a separate + symbol, and a ring of eight outward-pointing arrows (like the original WTA logo, indicating limitless exploration).

The third option is to be worked up by the open Transhumanist community (i.e. by anyone who wants to get involved, party member or not), and voted on in the TPUK facebook group. Whichever community-made symbol is voted most popular there will be incorporated into the third option for formal voting by the party membership.

The open design competition and facebook voting will close on July 1st. Formal voting for the final party emblem will close three weeks later, on July 22nd. You do not need to be a UK national or resident to join the Transhumanist Party.

TPUK official registration and logo

The last political party

This is an update on progress from the Transhumanist Party in the UK, focussing on the question of policy. Another post on recent practical developments can be found here.

Two kinds of policy

I have already briefly mentioned the question of Transhumanist Party policy elsewhere (see this blog post, and this book chapter for more detailed analysis), where the bottom line was that Transhumanist Party policy in the UK is not decided by one person, unilaterally. Instead, policy is developed by the party membership as a whole, and votes to confirm official party policy are held at our Annual General Meeting. We believe that this is necessary in a modern, ethical, democratic organisation. Of course we can make educated guesses about the likely broad strokes (Universal Basic Income, more funding for science, evidence-based policy, defense of augmentation rights and so on), but the point here is that we are building a serious organisation, and if you want to help determine its platform then you should get involved now.

Such slow, ethical, democratic foundation-building doesn’t make for snappy headlines, however, and despite being necessary does not really reflect the radical nature of the Transhumanist program. After all, we stand for nothing less than total transformation of the human condition and society. As it happens, there is another way of thinking about Transhumanist Party policy which goes to the heart of who we are and what we stand for.

A new platform, and the last political party

Traditional political processes are obsolete, at best. They are quite simply unfit for dealing with the challenges of the 21st Century. More to the point, our political systems are often corrupt, and set up with all the wrong motivational incentives. In short, the system is broken, and the need for an alternative is becoming increasingly urgent. Of course others can see that too, but Transhumanists are particularly well-placed to see the bigger historical picture: That our civilization can no longer be well managed by political parties and other systems developed in Seventeenth Century Britain. It’s high time for a new evolutionary step.

Transhumanists are as a rule wary of traditional party politics, and rightly so. We look forward rather than back, and seek direct technical solutions rather than to get dragged into the more pointless rituals of contemporary society where we can help it. After all, we want to solve the big problems, not merely “play the game”. The Transhumanist Party is no different, and that’s why we should think not just in terms of specific policies decided upon at AGM, but the bigger and more revolutionary picture that they fit into.

That idea, essentially the context all of our policies fit within, is to switch society over to using new tools to make its decisions and allocate its resources in the most intelligent and compassionate manner possible. To create a new platform not just in the sense of a policy platform, but also a technological platform through which all decisions which could be made directly by citizens, human experts and software, would be. Our more specific policies (and those of other parties who are on the right side of History, collaborating with us in this effort) would shape the nature of that platform. I hope that non-governmental organisations will join the effort too, both charitable and business-oriented, to help us build a powerful and uniquely modern platform for decentralised governance of the UK, and technological empowerment of its citizens.

The eventual goal would be to entirely phase out the current political system, which has been a powerful engine in our civilizational development, but which has now led us to the brink of financial, ecological, and military disaster. Over time we would attempt to use Transhumanist Party influence to sanction the decentralization of government, having its functions transferred to more modern, rational institutions where appropriate. Eventually the entire traditional political class could be dismantled or at least radically transformed, and political parties abolished… including, of course, the Transhumanist Party.

This desire for the Transhumanist Party to make itself and all other parties obsolete to pave the way toward a better, more rational mode of governance is why I refer to it as the last political party. A vote for the Transhumanist Party is a vote to end pointless, circular, tribal and exploitative patterns of “governance”, and inaugurate a new political age to complement the new era of technological possibility unfolding across our culture.

The last political party

Volunteering, local groups, & TP web presence

This is an update on progress from the Transhumanist Party in the UK, focussing on practical developments. Another post on questions of policy can be found here.

1. Volunteering: Get involved!

We are calling for volunteers to help get the party set up; both full party members and more general supporters can volunteer. If you would like to see the Transhumanist Party succeed, then please consider what you could do to help. Basically there are four ways you could be helpful, listed below, and if you would like to talk about any of them then please do email us: contact@transhumanistparty.org.uk

  • Join a core departmental team
  • TPUK is organised around six departments; Party Secretary’s Office, Treasury, PR & Campaigns, IT dept, Fundraising, Nominations & Liaison. We are currently looking for 4-6 volunteers per department, in order to spread the workload and maintain momentum. Some of these volunteer positions would involve the volunteer taking a seat on the National Executive Committee. By being a member of one of these teams you would be at the heart of party operations at the national level.

  • Local party organisations / national network
  • We are currently planning a two-day event on the 3rd-4th of October, in London and with online-accessible elements. The first day of the event (the “Anticipating 2040” conference) will be open to the public, and the second open to party members and special guests. The decision as to whether the second day will act as our first AGM (or whether that will follow separately, later) is due to be made on July 2nd. As we work toward that event this summer, the plan is to encourage the growth of local party networks and visit local groups as they develop. The first such group – Leeds Transhumanist Party – is now on Facebook. You could be of great assistance by joining (or in most cases, creating!) your own local TP group and letting us know about it, as soon as possible.

  • Join the party and/or donate
  • As always, we need both members, and resources in order to get anything done. If you are not already a member, please do consider joining. Don’t forget that you don’t need to be a UK citizen or resident to join the party, and that you can donate without joining if you prefer. We are working on a dedicated sign-up system on our own website, but for the moment have our join page being managed by the good people at Transpolitica.

  • Get creative!
  • If you can see another way you can help that isn’t described above, then you don’t need our permission to just go ahead and make things happen (as long as your actions don’t contravene the party constitution or generally bring the party into disrepute). If you have an idea then please do feel encouraged to run with it, or get in touch if you have any questions or concerns.

    2. Navigating the TP web presence

    Some people have naturally been confused by the proliferation of Transhumanist Party groups, websites, and associated organisations on the internet. To a certain extent that’s a natural consequence of two dozen new national groups exploding into existence in a few short months, complicated by their relationships with various groups and forums which aren’t strictly speaking part of the Transhumanist Party. I would like to try to help make things clearer though, so here’s a very quick guide to the essentials, from a UK perspective (just a placeholder until someone can develop a more comprehensive “map” of this new movement):

  • Transhumanist Party (Global)
    http://transhumanistpartyglobal.org
  • Also known as TPG; this organisation is basically a hub, connecting the various national-level Transhumanist Party groups, plus some emerging partner organisations and affiliated initiatives. The website is a wiki, edited by movement members from around the world. The TPG site is not the domain of any one national-level group, and it does not tell any of those groups what to do. Instead, it exists to help us all stay connected and aware of each others’ progress.

  • Transhumanist Party (TPUK)
    http://transhumanistparty.org.uk
  • For historical reasons (i.e. following the example of the US party), the UK party is simply known as (the) “Transhumanist Party”. Our main website is still at a very early stage of development, and dealing with that is now one of our top priorities (volunteers needed, see above!). Public discussion forums are hosted on this site, and the direct link to them is http://forums.transhumanistparty.org.uk.

  • TPUK Facebook group
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/uk.transhumanistparty/
  • Our facebook group is essentially a kind of public “shop window”, where party members, supporters, and those more casually interested can discuss issues relevant to transhumanism and the Transhumanist Party. Party updates are posted in the facebook group, but you won’t see any serious planning in there.

  • TPUK members-only email list
    http://groups.google.com/group/transhumanistpartyuk
  • Unlike our forums and facebook group, the members-only mailing list is for – you guessed it – TPUK party members only. The list URL is given above for the convenience of members, and all new joiners are invited to the list (and can ask to join after the fact), but anyone else requesting to join will not be allowed access. Access is restricted in order to ensure a good signal:noise ratio, and a certain level of demonstrated commitment from all involved in discussion.

    You’ll hear more from us soon, and we look forward to hearing from you soon, too!

    Volunteering, local groups, & TP web presence

    Holacracy and the Transhumanist Party

    EDIT: The post below raised some questions, and apparently some minor misunderstandings which I would like to briefly address. If you haven’t read the post below already, I would recommend doing so before reading the note which follows at its end.

    Holacracy and the Transhumanist Party

    The Transhumanist Party represents a new branch of the Transhumanist movement, and as such is now taking the first steps in a long journey. Here at the beginning, we have the opportunity to consider how our movement will be organised, and what kind of character we want it to develop. We have a lot to think about, and work toward.

    One such issue confronting us is whether to operate according to traditional managerial models (often characterised as hierarchical, sometimes accurately), or something more decentralised and agile such as Holacracy. Holacracy (see here and here for descriptions) is a recently popular form of Holarchy, which is to say a non-hierarchical, recursive organisational model structurally reminiscent of a hologram or fractal.

    What does that mean in plain English?

    Simply, that we must ask ourselves whether the Transhumanist Party should have traditional “bosses”, or a more experimental and communal style of decision making.

    The best answer to that question isn’t obvious. On the one hand, clear leadership, vision, and lines of responsibility are important – and that’s without even considering that certain traditional things like Party Officers are required by law in countries like the UK. On the other hand however, we do need to be flexible, resilient, innovative, and to strongly encourage grassroots initiative within the party. We can’t have a leaderless free-for-all, both as a matter of pragmatism and law, but we also cannot have micromanaging “party chiefs”, or everybody sitting back and waiting for permission or instructions. As is so often the way of things, we must find a way to strike an intelligent and practical balance.

    How do we balance leadership and flexibility?

    Here in the UK, the Transhumanist Party has settled on a solution. Basically, the party as a whole runs according to a constitution with features required by UK law and the necessities of clear leadership, but each of its six administrative departments operates as a semi-autonomous, Holacratic organisation.

    The first thing to note is that the party is required by law to have a traditional party constitution and Party Officers responsible for certain key functions, and we have found the development of that structure to be very useful. The constitution both makes it clear how we will fulfill our legal and financial obligations, and additionally draws the line within which activity may be legitimately considered to be on behalf of the Transhumanist Party. We have taken care to develop a constitution which balances a few simple core principles which define the party, a National Executive Committee to handle administrative matters (more on that in a moment), and a voting membership to develop party policy. This gives us a party that is well prepared against any disruption or “mission drift”, but which at the same time puts many traditional leadership decisions in the hands of its regular members rather than a small group or single leader.

    As innovative as this is, it still falls within the broad category of “traditional” management models. The constitution does, however, divide the party into six departments, each led by one of the Party Officers. That division of the workload is partly pragmatic, and partly required by law. Those Party Officers (along with elected members’ representatives and additional non-voting advisors) collectively form the National Executive Committee (NEC). The key thing to note here is that the six departments are effectively semi-autonomous organisations falling under the umbrella of the Transhumanist Party, each of which is required by the party constitution to maintain its own core operating document, and that’s where the possibility of Holacracy arises. That’s because Holacratic organisations avoid relying on a vague, hierarchical sense of authority, replacing it with a constitution which makes their operating procedures clear.

    The six departments, and “circles”

    The six departments are as follows: (1) Party Secretary’s office, (2) Treasury, (3) IT dept, (4) PR & Campaigns, (5) Fundraising, (6) Nominations & Liaison. At the moment these are just very small volunteer groups – single people in some cases – but we intend to make this framework the basis of all party activity as it grows and develops. Right from the outset we have been keen to encourage a high degree of grassroots initiative (“just do it!”), but are aware that all initiatives must eventually be the responsibility of one department or another, otherwise the party would be wide open to disruption by those acting in our name but who do not share our goals or values, or have our best interests at heart.

    The answer seems to be that each department operates as a Holacratic organisation, with its own constitution making it clear how that organisation operates. In a Holacratic organisation the emphasis is not on leaders issuing instructions, but rather on small, overlapping teams of volunteers (called “circles”) which have their members’ roles, goals, and responsibilities clearly defined. This means that volunteers know what is expected of them, but they don’t have to wait for permission or instructions to do anything. Instead they should simply get on with creatively exploring their role, secure in the knowledge that no boss will intervene unless they have broken the explicit, written rules of the circle.

    The closest thing each circle has to a boss is a “lead link”, which is one person tasked with ensuring a good flow of information and potential collaboration between the team and other circles, both within and between departments (not to mention other organisations outside the party). The lead link is the person within each circle who is primarily responsible for ensuring that the circle as a whole is acting in accord with the departmental constitution, just as each member of the circle is expected to operate in line with the written terms of their role.

    A long journey ahead

    From now on, the Transhumanist Party will act as a Holacratic organisation in this fashion. Each department will maintain a public constitution which presents its operating rules, recognised circles, and the volunteer roles self-determined by those circles. People will be able to see what’s going on by reading each department’s constitution, and contact circles directly to get involved. Those six public documents aren’t ready yet, but as soon as they are links will be posted here and on the Transhumanist Party website.

    It is our hope that by doing things this way, we will be able to maintain a strong, coherent vision and goals, and yet still have a party built out of agile, innovative networks of teams ready to face the challenges of the 21st Century.

    Keep watching this blog for updates, to find out how our journey progresses!

    EDIT: A note on criticisms

    I’ve heard the suggestion that the organisational model proposed in this post is “pseudo-Holacratic” (which may or may not be a bad thing depending upon your view of Holacracy), and that it implies a lack of trust in volunteers. I do not believe that such criticism reveals any true problem, for the following reasons:

    1. Legal realities

    The simple fact is that political parties must operate within the legal framework of the countries that host them. In the UK, this means that certain functions are mandated, and the resultant core structure must to some extent be centralised and hierarchical. For this reason, no legally recognised UK political party can be run as a single, entirely Holacratic organisation of the most ideal type.

    In my personal opinion that’s actually a good thing, but my reasoning on that count is another topic for another day. Suffice to say that my personal preference is to balance competing extremes in most situations, rather than aim for solutions that embrace one principle so utterly that they completely reject other, equally important principles.

    2. True Holacracy and True Scotsmen

    There does appear to be some temptation for people to imagine that Holacracy is entirely non-Hierarchical, particularly in some hypothetical “pure” form. This is simply not true, since even the most avidly Holacratic enterprises invariably exist to work toward pre-existing high-level goals. Thus the a priori goal has effectively been set in a centralised manner, and it is only implementation of such goals that gets ‘farmed out’ to Holacratic circles within the organisation. Therefore, even the most “pure” form of Holacracy is effectively a kind of hybrid system rather than being entirely “flat” or “headless”.

    3. Loose decentralization, not dogma

    It must be stressed that TPUK will not be operating according to the dogma of any external organisation, so each of the party’s departments will only be “Holacratic” in the strictest sense to the extent that they choose to be, independently. More generally, the party encourages a kind of loose decentralization in which certain high-level goals are identified in accord with the Party Constitution, but then the various departments (and the groups within them) work toward those goals as they see fit. I have chosen to characterise this loose arrangement as ‘Holacratic’, and any disagreement anyone may have with that is their business.

    4. Trust and political practicalities

    Finally, the idea of having a Party Constitution and structure which does not offer total trust to new volunteers by default has been criticised as suggesting a state of intrinsic mistrust. It has been suggested that special mechanisms could be introduced to gauge levels of trust in certain volunteers, supporters or party members before entrusting them with the ability to change certain things within the organisation.

    On the face of it that sounds reasonable, but there are at least three issues to address, here. The first is that, ironically, the introduction of trust measurement only exaggerates the mistrust which some might imagine to currently exist. Secondly, it is another sad but simple political reality that activists cannot all be trusted immediately, because some of them may be hostile entryists or simply incompetent. Thirdly, we have enough safeguard against problematic behaviour within the Party Constitution itself, so any additional mechanisms are entirely up to the various departments and circles to decide upon as they see fit. In short, if something is allowed by the Constitution then people are welcome and trusted to do it. If people cannot act in accord with the Party Constitution, however, then they are simply not welcome within the party.

    5. Summary

    The bottom line is that we have practical realities to deal with, and the model proposed above is the most effective balance of traditional pragmatism and an idealistic “grass-roots” approach to organisation. As mentioned in the post proper, other Transhumanist Parties may not choose to follow the TPUK example, and that is entirely their business. The advantages and disadvantages of the approach we are taking should become clear soon enough.

    Holacracy and the Transhumanist Party