A discursive baseline is a minimal level of discussion that is sustained as a developmental reference. It is the "lump of clay" held by the discourse practitioner to which she gives shape, against which she judges the potential and progress of her work, and tests the need and efficacy of her tools. It has the following properties: (a) long lived, so the clay stays in the hands of the practitioner; (b) focused on the issue of an action norm that is potentially valid;1 and (c) public, because only those affected by an action can rightly validate it. These properties, plus any formal supports that are necessary to sustain them, comprise the discursive baseline. By "long-lived", I mean roughly a year or two. By "action norm", I mean a behavioural expectation such as a law, plan or policy that is proposed or otherwise raised as an issue, and that would ultimately be enforced. By "public", I mean we can all listen to the back and forth. Few such discursive baselines exist today;2 therefore the aim of this investigation is to learn whether they can be deliberately created.
The investigation begins with the issue of a model constitution as formalized in polls G/p/c and G/p/cR.3 Potentially suitable forums include the following:4 Ba Ch Co Cr De De Di ED Eu HR HL HU Hu Ju Li Me On PK Re Re So St St UK Vo Vo. For specific discussions, see the threads indexed in the G/p/c draft constitution at User:Pipe-1141-ZeleaCom#dLinks.
The investigation ends with the realization that informal techniques are probably going to require too much unaided effort.5 This prompts the idea of a self-reflector as a structural support for the baseline,6 which in turn leads to the next investigation, namely into public mirrors.7
- ^ Validity is tested by the discourse principle: "Just those action norms are valid to which all possibly affected persons could agree as participants in rational discourses." Jürgen Habermas. 1992. Between facts and norms: contributions to a discourse theory of law and democracy. Translated by William Rehg, 1996. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. p. 107.
Many long running discussions are fueled by the threat of an invalid norm being forced on its dissenters, and these cannot qualify as discursive baselines. Only those discussions (or parts of discussions) that are instead aimed at a mutually agreeable outcome may qualify.
- ^ One example of a discursive baseline is constitutional discussions. In some states and federations, these surface from time to time, scattered here and there across various forums. The conlawprof mailing list is notable here; in addition to US case law and jurisprudence, it continually raises the issue of the constitution itself and exposes it to critical light.
Counter examples are exchanges of scientific letters that focus on nature, not on action norms. Or popular discussions of the conflict in Afganistan that focus on executive issues such as the fact of engagement, or the timing of disengagement, outside of a normative context of policy, etc. Or popular discussions that focus on abortion laws and norms that are invalid by definition. And so forth.
- ^ Model norms have the interesting property of being unchanneled and uncaptured by authoritative institutions. Among and between the sovereign legislatures that channel the laws of society, and the sovereign executives and capital plants that channel its plans and designs, there exists a state of nature beyond all authority. It is here that model norms are situated. Model law in particular is more commonly known as "uniform law".
- ^ Topics are government, law, rights, society, philosophy and politics.
- ^ http://mail.zelea.com/list/votorola/2013-July/001783.html
- ^ With thanks to Stephen Konieczka for indicating the crucial problem of the baseline's extended boundaries. Private email from Stephen Konieczka to Michael Allan. July 23, 2013.
- ^ http://metagovernment.org/pipermail/start_metagovernment.org/2013-July/005627.html