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No Disenfranchisement of TS Members: A Leading English Theosophist Speaks Out

Oct 10, 2008 11:45 PM
by Pedro Oliveira

[Dr Edi Bilimoria, a leading member of the English Section of the TS,
has given me permission to post the message below which was sent to
the International Secretary of the TS at Adyar. PO]

Dear International Secretary,

Response to Proposed Amendment to Rule 10
In democratic countries such as England, India and America, the entire
population is given the chance to have its say in electing its
national leader - not just the Members of Parliament, or Senators, or

However in totalitarian regimes such as the former USSR (where all men
were supposed to be comrades/brothers, but others were deemed more
'comradely' than others) the National President was elected by the
Politburo - the policy-making committee of the former Communist party.
The equivalent situation now is the recent proposed amendment to Rule
10 which consitutes an attempt by a ruling elite to dis-empower and
disenfranchise the entire membership in an organization - the
Theosophical Society - founded on the pillars of freedom of thought
and speech, liberty, and the right of each individual to think and
exercise his own intelligence.
Whilst I am not opposed to Rules to ensure that no one holds office
for a completely indefinite period of time, I am deeply concerned by
the implications of the amendment to Rule 10, which, if implemented would:

1. seriously vitiate the core ethos of the Theosophical Society
concerning individual liberty and freedom of expression and voice,
thus encouraging apathy

2. deny members any real say in the election of its International
President and so encourage apathy

3. by allowing just the General Council Members the right to vote,
create the ideal conditions for campaigning for or against individual
candidates, lobbying, individual preference, cronyism and politics,
along with the exercise of hidden agendas and vested interests, all to
become a serious danger.  

For example this statement: "Each General Secretary shall thereafter
consult his Governing Body before casting his vote, BUT VOTE ACCORDING
TO HIS OWN JUDGEMENT" [my emphasis] is far more likely to produce a
vote according to the individual preference (or prejudice) of a
General Secretary than a vote that truly represents his consultations
with his Governing Body.

I regard the following statements in the proposed amendment as
judgmental and subjectively construed:

"Popular election by the full membership of a worldwide, multilingual
body is fraught with complications. Not least among those
complications is the fact that most of the voting membership will have
little or no knowledge of the candidates they are voting upon, and
hence their vote cannot be well-informed. The persons most likely to
have direct knowledge of and the most opportunity to become
well-informed about the candidates are members of the General Council.
They are likely also to be among the most experienced members of the

Comment: There are a large number of members of long standing who are
immensely well informed and well meaning, but who prefer not to become
involved in the administration and governance of the Society; hence
steer clear of committees, etc. and hold no official office. To impute
that they are not well-informed is both ill-informed and presumptuous.

Finally, the contents of a Rule say as much as its timing. Let us
pause and ask ourselves: would John Algeo and Betty Bland have put
forward this amendment "in the best interests of our Society" if John
Algeo had won the election? If our honest answer is 'no', then what is
this telling us? That this Rule amendment proposed so very soon after
the last election smacks more of vendetta by some, than action in the
best interests of our sacred Society. At the very least I would expect
that for an amendment of such magnitude, the best interests of our
Society would be better served by first consulting our membership by
way of some kind of Referendum, instead of the amendment being pushed
through quietly at high speed.

I strongly oppose this amendment to Rule 10, which, if implemented
would gravely disenfranchise our members.

With sincere wishes and regards.

Edi Bilimoria

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