Sociocracy uses a circle governance structure. Circles are both a basic form and a practical concept that keeps evolving. We can see the deep values we place on the basic form in a poem called Circles by Hafiz, a Twelfth Century Persian poet. The poem contains a number of lyric sentiments such as “All the hemispheres in heaven.. stitching themselves together Into the Great Circle inside of You.” and “The warrior Wisely sits in a circle With other men Gathering the strength to unmask Himself,…”
This spiritual almost worshipful image of the circle contrasts with the evolution of one technical form of circle: the wheel. This evolution provides a metaphor for the way humans sit in a circle, another form of circle has evolved. The modern wheel was invented somewhere around 3500BC in Mesopotamia, basically modern day Iraq. Starting from simply a row of logs lined up together to form rollers for a sledge, the wheel evolved from solid wood, to the spoked wheels invented by the Egyptians, to wheels with an iron rim that helped conquer the West by moving Conestoga wagons, to pneumatic tires for Model-T Fords that fell apart within 2000 miles, to the 70,000 mile tires that traffic rides on today.
In a similar way circles of people performing governance functions have evolved. They range from weaponstakes from old Anglo-Saxon times where the local farmers would meet with their weapons at a local road intersection to decide whether to go to war. Those in favor would raise their weapons and cheer. In contrast, the Council of Europe is a modern day form of a governing circle: a beautiful meeting hall with nested circles of padded chairs with sophisticated electronic equipment.
Yet another form of circle is the feedback loop. Self-regulating mechanisms have been known since ancient times. But this universal concept didn’t have a name until the 1860s when it was recognized in mechanics as a form returns to its earlier position. The word “feedback” was not coined until around 1912 when electronics researchers discovered that coupling the audio output signal into an input circuit would cause a self-reinforcing loop that sounded like a squeal or howl. Today, in sociocracy, the idea of feedback loops has been combined with circles as a way of self-regulating a governance system. It’s a truly new idea.