“Tradition Nine states: ‘A.A., as such, ought never to be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.’ . . .
. . .
What we really mean, of course, is that A.A. can never have an organized direction or government. . . .
. . . It [Alcoholics Anonymous] does not at any point conform to the pattern of a government. Neither its General Service Conference, its General Service Board, nor the humblest group committee can issue a single directive to an A.A. member and make it stick, let alone hand out any punishment. . . . Groups have tried to expel members, but the banished have come back to sit in the meeting place, saying, ‘This is life for us; you can’t keep us out.’ . . . An A.A. may take advice or suggestions from more experienced members, but he surely will not take orders. . . .
One would think that A.A.’s Headquarters and General Service Conference would be exceptions. Surely the people there would have to have some authority. But long ago Trustees and staff members alike found they could do no more than make suggestions, and very mild ones at that. . . . We recognize that we cannot dictate to fellow members, individually or collectively.
. . . Great suffering and great love are A.A.’s disciplinarians; we have no others.”
[Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1957), 118-20]