RE: Consensus: late blocks (TR Ruddick)
From: TR Ruddick (
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 16:41:14 -0700 (MST)
> [Original Message]
> From: Dave & Diane <coho [at]>
> Subject: [C-L]_ RE: Consensus: late blocks (TR Ruddick)
> I agree that it's wrong-headed terminology and wonder what terminology 
> you would use to replace it.
> --Diane Simpson

> From: Ann Zabaldo <zabaldo [at]>
> Subject: Re: [C-L]_ RE: Consensus: late blocks (TR Ruddick)
> Hi Diane and others --
> I really like CT Butler's thinking on this whole "blocking" thing -- he
> maintains that on the path to consensus an individual may "withhold
> but only the group can decide if it is "blocked."  This still indicates
> process comes to a standstill, however.  And in my understanding of
> consensus process this is just one of many places in the path where the
> conversation starts again.

I don't think there's a term to be used.  You either have consensus, or you

If you don't, you must work to achieve it, find agreeable alternatives, or
experience a schism.

If the majority is allowed to tell the minority that they are "blocking"
then we are down to majority rule.  In that case, just institute a voting
system and save time (and, concomitantly, reach less satisfactory decisions
and alienate the minority).

If disagreement is permitted to be called "blocking" then the majority is
also guilty of blocking, and should strongly consider changing their
opinions to remove their block.  Why should the principled minority be
forced to yield?  We all should have no problem recalling situations in
history when the minority was shown to be correct--continents DO drift,
Nixon WAS a crook, appeasing Hitler DIDN'T maintain peace, busing children
for racial balance DIMINISHED education in the inner cities.  Just because
there are more people in favor of a particular action doesn't make it a
good one, and just because that majority says "you're blocking consensus"
doesn't mean that the minority is at fault.

Of course, there can be mechanisms for dealing with contrarians,
unprincipled minorities, and absentees.  Those mechanisms don't violate the
spirit of participation, consideration, and minority interests that
consensus upholds.  Bottom line: If you allow yourself to play the blame
game of "you're blocking consensus" then you aren't working toward
consensus, you're bullying the dissenters.
____  _
  |  |_)             Thomas E. "TR" Ruddick
  |  | \             Nunquam Itum Agitabilum

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