A fault within our democratic government is the withholding of information about the inner deliberations of bureaucratic parts of government: the place where most governing actually occurs. FOIA provides a method of making public certain types of information but it is based on paper-based record keeping. The requests have to be specific, and the responding documents answer the specific request after redacting information that is not relevant or falls into some exemption.
In this electronic information age, we should be able to immediate publish all information about internal deliberation with automated redaction of certain information. At the very least, such release can be automatic on a schedule such as a small number of years. Eventually, all information exchanged within bureaucracies concerning all aspects of government should be public. Sufficient justification for this release of information is that this is a government of the people.
We accept a republic type of government where we grant representatives and bureaucrats some private deliberation in order to address immediate governing goal. My point is that this should be a temporary grant of secrecy, but I don’t see this being discussed very much outside of narrow FOIA requests. There should be no need for FOIA processes for events that occurred in prior administrations or legislative terms. All information should be available for any one to see.
Recently, I have been interested in reading revisionist history, where people are challenging established interpretations of history with new evidence or with new challenges to old evidence. While I may not be persuaded of revisionist theories, I am gaining doubts about established history. The stories I’ve accepted since childhood are losing credibility. I suspect this is a combination of being in my 6th decade of life and I know more about what humans actually do, or at least I have observed with some surprise how I respond to tasks that involve me.
Like many people, I am trying to make sense of recent social-political events in my country. It appears we are in a period of major upheaval in the established norm.
Until recently, there was a picture of the world that some deride as globalism. It is the cosmopolitan model of culture concentrated in cities with diverse populations sharing a common culture, a new culture that combines the component cultures, and yet ends up in nearly identical results all over the globe. In earlier posts, I described this as some kind of innate hive nature of humans, an inherited trait only exposed when city life becomes dominant. This hive-nature of humanity explains the common traits of cities all over the world.
The problem with the hive theory is that it appears things are falling apart. There are many stories of groups striving to segregate into groups of safe spaces that exclude other groups or that have some autonomy of governance. While some of the segregation follows historical patterns such as segregation by national origin, religion, or race, much of the more vocal discussions are very confusing with terms such as intersectionality, or coalitions of repressed groups that share share little in common other than some claim of being repressed.
An example is the LGBT (plus other letters) that supposes a common community of gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and transexuals. Clearly such a grouping expects some type of common recognition, perhaps as being in conflict with the normal heterosexuals. Being asexual, I have no real authority to describe this group, but I have a hard time understand how each of these groups can see any fellowship with the others. For example, my intuition is that a male-to-female transexual desires most to be accepted as a normal heterosexual female and one that does not go out of her way to share fellowship with gays or lesbians. Similarly, each of the other elements are fundamentally separated.
The other confusing grouping is the people of color, a term that appears to include the entire planet excluding people who have northwestern ancestors. Being of the population excluded, I can’t speak for them, but I can imagine the individuals will identify within narrower definitions, such as distinguishing Kenyans from Guyanese and both of these from Jamaicans.
There appears to be a rebirth of a sense of community based on shared appearances, cultures, and other identities. The growth of cosmopolitan cities have permitted populations to assemble into a sufficient density to begin to have culturally distinct neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are adopting rudimentary self-governments that reflect ancestral governments and these are increasingly autonomous of the official municipal, state, or national government.
Part of the current stresses on our society is the emergence of self-governing governments of self-segregating populations. I assume that this trend can continue while coexisting within larger cosmopolitan urban centers. I assume this because the alternative of complete take-over of cities by a mono-culture would result in a global collapse.
I may be wrong, but modern cities can exist under only under a globally consistent mono-culture of cosmopolitanism.
What is happening now is a transformation of the concept of cosmopolitanism. The earlier definition was cultures equally accessible to all yet without no obligation on anyone to obey. The traditional image of the cosmopolitan person is one who is highly educated, wealthy, and well-traveled. I think these traits are still necessary for this concept and this excludes a growing majority of the city’s population. Most people can not monetarily or intellectually afford to be this kind of cosmopolitan and yet they remain inhabitants of city.
An attractive alternative to the cosmopolitan non-committal consumption of all cultures is to commit to a very specific culture and devote ones energies to preserve, to promote, and to advance that specific culture without regard to any others.
Such a trend toward rediscovering and recommitting to ancestral cultures may be inevitable due to the automation of jobs that originally drove the creation of cities. In particular, the rapid automation and economic changes has eliminated the possibility of a lifelong career for many people. Many people do not have any prospect of a career path that can lead to a retirement end-state. They may find jobs, but those jobs will be short lived and any savings would be lost during periods of unemployment.
While there is a need to solve the problem of providing monetary replacement for people’s income, there is a bigger problem of replacing a career or a pension-providing employer. I suspect many people will fill the gap left by lack of career opportunities by creating permanent roles within a local community. Such roles are possible through the revitalization of specific cultures. These cultures will rediscover traditional roles and they will discriminate among their eligible members to fill those roles. These roles will replace the earlier concept of careers as personal identity. However, such roles require that the underlying culture reassert itself as an exclusive one.
The cultural segregation within cities likely will result in miniature nations within cities with some form of immigration borders in terms of residency and employment eligibility. I can see this becoming an increasing demand from the existing governments. This is where something must change, and certainly in the US.
The US government is currently modeled around a concept of homogeneous government for all. The nation’s laws are supreme over state’s laws and the nation’s laws sets the equality goals on the states. The state’s pass these conditions onto cities while adding additional constraints. These constraints include the prohibition of discrimination in housing and employment, and the requirement for democratically elected officials from the entire territory. There is no room for culturally segregated neighborhoods and jobs, and there is no opportunity for separate government for each culture.
As we are seeing today, there are communities with sufficient population to demand some level of autonomy over a substantial territory. These are communities that can assemble a local force that can resist interference by municipal or state government. Of course, the larger government has the upper hand in terms of being able to muster force, but I don’t see it being permissible to assert that force.
At some point there will be some attempt at forceful assertion of power over one of these culturally segregated neighborhoods, if this hasn’t happened already. This will force the entire country to face its options, neither of which include continuing to operate as we have until now. Either we will have to adapt to a fragmentation of government with locally exclusionary customs, or we’ll have to continually force these communities to comply with our traditional notions of equality and democracy.
If we choose to use force to preserve the traditional ideals of US governance, we may have to use it repeatedly and with increasing brutality. We may be able to preserve our traditional ideals without becoming an authoritarian state, but this seems very unlikely.
The tendency to re-segregate into isolated cultures is driven by a need for individuals to have a purpose or function in the society. Modern technology is quickly eliminating the options for fulfilling these needs for an increasing number of people. The jobs that remain require qualifications that most people can not meet, as exemplified by jobs that require IQs above 110 where 100 is average: the average is unqualified.
Specialized roles within segregated communities provide an obvious source of function for average and below average individuals. Individuals will aspire to such roles, and demand the opening more roles and elevating the status of those roles. Such multiplication and elevation of roles can occur with stronger enforcement of discrimination of eligibility and residence.
The end condition will be cities divided into tribal territories in the near term, and then territorial disputes due to differential population growth of neighboring tribes.
Cities may retain a cosmopolitan nature in term of representing a wide variety of cultures and being able to exchange with other cities. The internal character of the city will become very different from what we have known in recent past. The future city will resemble the globe in the 15th century.
This brings me back to the point of revisiting interpretations of history and having access to bureaucratic documents. In particular, I’m thinking about the entire nature of the colonial periods where wealthy countries colonized territories of foreign cultures.
In general, I have an overall negative view of colonial period. This is partly due to the story of USA’s start as a successful rebellion from a colonial status, giving the concept of colonial rule as something inherently worthy of rebelling against. The US experience is not representative because the culture and peoples in the rebellion were closely related to the colonial power of England. Other cultures make better samples where the culture being under colonial rule was much different from the ruling class and the ruling class amounted to a small minority. It is that model I’m thinking about.
Clearly, colonial rule over unrelated cultures had many examples of cruel and inhumane treatment of those being ruled. Many of the examples such as Spanish colonial powers over central and south america, occurred in an era that was very morally different than today. More recent examples of colonial rule include the British Empire of the 19th century and some examples from US colonies. Both also had examples of abuse but there was more respect for the intelligence and self determination of the people ruled. Perhaps modern examples of colonial rules would be even more civilized and moral.
I have not studied the histories of colonialism much, but what little I’ve encountered emphasized mostly the bad aspects of cruelty, corruption, and mismanagement. I am suspicious that there many positive developments within colonial rule but most of these examples are less interesting aspects of keeping the peace, directing improvements in civil infrastructure, and developing more stable governments. These are events that were probably richly documented at the time as a direct consequence of competent governance. Because these outcomes were generally not controversial nor celebrated, there was no attempt to preserve records documenting these good consequences of colonial rule.
As usual, I’m just free-thinking and just conjecturing that there was more good outcomes from colonial rule than we learn about today. The good may not outweigh the bad, but it is not clear that the bad would be repeated in modern examples.
I’m discussing colonialism here in order to suggest it may offer a model for how to solve the coming conflict within cities as neighborhoods begin to break into isolated territories with semi-autonomous rule by reinvigorated or reinvented exclusive cultures. The rule of the city may end up resembling colonial rule in past centuries. Instead of a distant foreign state administrating local governors of some colony, the city will administer its own colonial government. The key point is that the approach to government will be colonial in the sense that the local neighborhoods will be given relative autonomy to keep their cultures, but with individually negotiated agreements about how the community and city will cooperate and address grievances.
In my imagination, this colonial ruling class within the city will probably not be ethnically exclusive since the rulers are not supplied by a foreign power (a possibility that I’ll ignore for this discussion). What I see instead is that the city bureaucrats governing the tribes within the city will be drawn from those tribes through merit. Similarly, the cities will elect from this governing class representatives in higher levels of government.
I am basing the model on how the current economy is selecting the best qualified across the entire population. Here I’m referring to the commercial economy as a whole, and the high-tech economy in particular. The qualified candidates come from all cultures and races but they share competency from rare traits of being able to master very specialized skills. I contrast this from how current governments are staffed. I anticipate that the current large technical giants will eventually usurp the governing roles from government itself as we evolve into a dedomenocracy.
Near complete automation is a characteristic of a dedomenocracy. This means that most people will not have jobs relevant to the macro economy or to the city as a whole. There will be a population and that population will experience life very different from what we’re living, although I think we’re currently seeing hints of what that will look like. I can see people reorganizing themselves into tribes with territories in order to invent roles that are available only to their local members. These roles will be exclusionary toward outsiders because the different communities will differentiate their cultures to the extent that only insiders can qualify.
I am basing this discussion as an incremental extrapolation from current trends. Increased automation and machine intelligence will enable ever more automation and making it possible for people to build smaller more culturally exclusive neighborhoods and territories.
I anticipate that there will always be a need for highly trained technical specialists to improve the technology and algorithms, and to manage the automation. Based on current trends, these jobs will demand ever higher skill levels that require increasingly rare capabilities to learn and to use reliably competently. As the demands of the jobs get higher, there will be a smaller portion of the population who can do the work.
In order for this to sustain access to exceptional talent in the future, there is a need to maintain a very large population base, where there will be increasingly large majority who will never be qualified for macro-economically relevant work. Assuming that we solve the problem of how to afford maintaining this population, there will still be a need to foster stable healthy communities that do not devolve into cultures of poverty or despair. The large population is needed to provide the rare best and brightest, and the best and brightest need to come from communities with a strong sense of purpose and meaning.
Permitting the development of isolated distinct cultures can provide the meaning and well-being of the population, allowing the population to maintain the numbers necessary to produce the occasionally qualified person to staff the remaining high level jobs within the colonial style government.
This discussion hinges on the question of whether a colonial approach to government can work in a modern age. I am assuming that colonial government can succeed in competent administration with positive outcomes for the governed population. While there will remain possibilities for abuses and corruptions that we observed in the past, I think that these may be more easily recognized and managed with modern communications (social media) technologies and with data-analytic and machine-intelligence technologies specifically designed to optimize the benefit of the entire system. That optimization will include consideration of future supply of the needed talents to keep everything running.
The problem is that I think we lost most of the records of good deeds done by past periods of colonial experiments. These were decisions and rulings that provided benefits with no controversy or with no special recognition. In modern terms, these departments never did anything to merit a FOIA request specific enough to expose these actions. The actions then became lost to history so that most of what remains is all the bad things that happened during colonial rule, leaving us with an immediate detestation of the thought that such a model may be helpful in the future.