The Fifth World

Consensus

Communities in the Fifth World almost universally use consensus to reach decisions. Generally, this means that each member can

  • support a motion,
  • oppose a motion, or
  • abstain.

Few communities require everyone to support a motion to do it, but they do require that at least no one oppose it. The cajoling and discussion that this process requires can take a very long time, but it generally results in better decisions than an individual leader or even majority rule could make.

Not everyone has the same influence on these decisions, of course, and this does create some informal power dynamics. These dynamics shift frequently as discussion moves from one topic to the next. The people most respected on the question of where to find boar typically don’t have that kind of influence when the question turns to where to find water. Most of the time, everyone will have a moment as the most respected person in the community, and plenty of time yielding to the advice of others. Usually elders have earned more respect than others, but even the youngest child can sway a commmunity’s decision with a good argument.