Alexandra Devon responds


I really appreciate receiving a well-reasoned and respectful critique of my article. Some of the points you make regarding the possibility of abuse of power in the consensus model are well taken. However, I think you may have misinterpreted my intentions in writing the article. I was not primarily interested in contrasting democratic and consensus styles of operating, but rather in comparing good and bad process. I was also not trying to put forward the view that consensus works in (or is appropriate for) all situations (some people might, but I'm not one of them). The type of group I was directing my comments at primarily was the small group, the type which can fit into a living room.

My main concern in writing the article was to discuss how social change collectives could be places where people are nurtured and empowered to do the work they came together to do. If people are able to do this through means other than consensus then I'm happy to hear it. Obviously, people need to develop ways of working with each other which suit their needs but, far from driving people out of political action, consensus has for many people - women, quieter people, etc. - been an extremely validating experience, one which made them feel that their voice mattered. The over-all goal, whether pursued through consensus or democratic methods of operating, is to equalize power, or at least to put the less vocal and experienced individuals at a better advantage.

Alexandra Devon

Published in Kick It Over! #18 and in the Connexions Digest Volume 12, Number 1.