Clubs and other Collectives (and the Welsh Incident)

I’d like to explore a few important concepts like government, constitutions, democracy, etc. They are embedded in the fabric of Indian society. Taking a clear-eyed view of their genesis, nature, function, modes of failure, and implementation can be intellectually rewarding but more importantly it can help in creating the good society. I’ll start with something seemingly unrelated — clubs.[1]

Consider an average workplace lunch club. We will call it the “Wednesday Lunch Club.” A bunch of coworkers[2] — five in our club — go out to lunch every Wednesday. Where? The restaurant is decided by a simple majority rule vote. If three out of the five members agree on Chinese food, then a Chinese restaurant it is that Wednesday. The two that wanted Indian food have to go along with the group decision. It’s not that they hate Chinese food but on that particular day they preferred Indian food. So they incurred a loss in terms of not being as satisfied with lunch as they would have been if the WLC had gone for Indian food.

Models

That’s a simple story. But if one examines it carefully, in detail and in very small steps, it can be instructive. It’s a very small elephant but it’s still significant. Slowly walking around the small elephant, examining its features carefully, making sure we are on firm ground each step of the process, and integrating different bits of what we learn gives us an understanding of the big elephants we encounter in real life. The small elephant is a model. Continue reading