Consensus is not a new idea. Variations of consensus have been tested and proven around the world and through time.
On the American continent non-hierarchical societies have existed for hundreds of years. Before 1600, five nations – the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca – formed the Haudenosaunee Confederation, which works on a consensual basis and is still in existence today.
There are also many examples of successful and stable utopian communes using consensus decision making such as the Christian Herrnhuter settlement 1741-1760 and the production commune Boimondeau in France 1941-1972.
Christiania, an autonomous district in the city of Copenhagen has been self-governed by its inhabitants since 1971.
Within the co-operative movement many housing co-ops and social enterprises use consensus successfully: prominent examples include Green City, a wholefood wholesaler based in Scotland; and Radical Routes, a network of housing co-ops and workers’ co-ops in the UK.
The business meetings of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) use consensus to integrate the insights of each individual, arriving at the best possible approximation of the Truth.
Political and social activists such as many anarchists and others working for peace, the environment and social justice commonly regard consensus to be essential to their work. They believe that the methods for achieving change need to match their goals and visions of a free, nonviolent, egalitarian society. In protests around the world many mass actions and protest camps involving several thousand people have been organised and carried out using consensus, including the 1999 ‘Battle of Seattle’ World Trade Organisation protest, the 2005 G8 summit protests in Scotland and the Camps for Climate Action in the UK, Germany, Australia, Netherlands and other countries.