Thursday, February 23, 2023

The experts have spoken

The critic of the PMC defends designers, even if she doesn't "love" them. The critic of expertise defends experts. Rt'd by Jäger, who also rt's an Israeli sociologist hawking a symposium in Jerusalem. East or West? Fucking genius. New tags for Mirowski and Agnotology, because I've said it all before.

The last modernist utopias: Israel, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Noēma from The Berggruen Institute, and Neom: Salafist Star Trek. Star Trek was never a democracy, but they're the good guys. 

Noēma's art. I should add it to my collection of illustration, political fantasies and architectural kitsch. I'll add Daston and Galison, and Eric Heller.

Some fun I delayed having. "The Designer Economy" by Nils Gilman and Yakov Feygin, both previously here: making the case against small business (Feygin), and citizenship (Gilman).

Gilman and Feygin

In a design framework, economic policy focuses on constructing and reaching a specifically envisioned future. This is different from traditional industrial strategy: It doesn’t “pick winners,” but rather pushes government agencies to have a broad awareness of technological and economic trends in order to promote specific potentialities. In contrast to planned economies or developmental states, a Designer Economy’s primary focus is on a dynamically changing future, and it aims to produce tools to enable various actors in the economy to adapt to these changes in a matter that preserves the public’s preferences through iterative experimentation.

From the first link: to a planning paper put of by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Seriously.

The Joint Staff J7 supports the CICS and the Joint Warfighter through joint force development to advance the operational effectiveness of the current and future joint force.

This paper, written by the Deployable Training Division (DTD), helps inform both the joint warfighters and key functions within theJ7, notably lessons learned, doctrine, education, and future joint force development. In addition to this paper, the DTD has also developed an overarching Joint Operations Insights and Best Practices Paper and numerous other focus papers that share insights and best practices for various challenges observed at joint headquarters. All of these papers are unclassified for broad accessibility. I commend these papers for your reading. 

From the second link:  Charles F. Sabel, "Beyond Principal-Agent Governance: Experimentalist Organizations, Learning and Accountability" 


The success of LPF, like the success of similar populist movements that preceded it in Austria, France, Switzerland and elsewhere, raises grave questions about the legitimacy of democratic inputs to public decision making and the efficacy of public action however decided. At the very least these successes signal an impaired responsiveness of the democratic state to its electorate: a democratic deficit. Coming at a time of economic well being, shifts in party allegiance of a magnitude not seen since the 1920s are thus widely and rightly seen as extending beyond democratic criticism of this or that incumbent government into a protest against the way contemporary representative democracy works....

My central claim is that current debate over bottom-up and top- down governance reform—in disregard of the lessons of contemporary, practical success in collective problem solving—ignores important organizational innovations, without which the reallocation of control rights to civil society actors is unlikely to result in the social learning about the effective pursuit of the broad, imprecise goals—‘effective’ or ‘adequate’ education— implied by the turn to service-oriented solidarity. I argue further that these innovative, problem solving institutions, though not intrinsically democratic, can be configured in ways that address familiar problems in representative, deliberative, direct and associational democracy; and that, so configured, they are compatible with the Dutch tradition of sharing democratic sovereignty between parliament and extra parliamentary bodies. The core of the paper discusses the principles informing these new organizations; illustrates their operation as regulatory rule makes and providers of a new kind of public service; and speculatively defends their democratic aptitude in general and in the setting of consensual democracy characteristic of the Netherlands.

The third link is to John Dewey, The Public and its Problems

Gilman and Feygin, further in

Rejecting anti-government rhetoric and instead celebrating competent operators is thus a crucial first step. Managing a successful Designer Economy requires a cadre of experienced, entrepreneurial and independent government officials. Today, however, government service is difficult to enter due to a labyrinth of byzantine rules and processes. Moreover, public servants lack social prestige and are often underpaid relative to what they can earn in the private sector; a McKinsey partner earns much more than a congressional staffer or a Commerce Department GS-15. Many staffers are overworked, underpaid and can’t make ends meet in long-term government service. 

As a recent report by New America found, congressional staffers with specialist knowledge had virtually disappeared; most saw their posts as stepping stones to consulting and lobbying work. This prevents the government from benefiting from institutional knowledge, experimentation and “learning by doing,” which marks out the most successful industrial policy experiences. Increasing government pay in order to recruit and retain talent, therefore, must be central to the project of enabling the Designer Economy.

Government agencies also need explicit, legislated authority to do economic design work. The role of government in the era of the Design Economy is to coordinate between agencies, business and labor to find a consensus on specific futures and agreements on how to get to these goals. In an insightful interview with Ezra Klein, the Roosevelt Institute’s Felica Wong called these “coordination” problems. The federal government must be empowered to override blocking factions, particularly at the state and local levels. For example, the Department of Energy needs more authority to designate new, interstate transmission corridors and, if necessary, build and operate high-voltage inter-regional transmission lines. 

Government analysts need to be trained and empowered to collect and systematize new, granular micro-data on real production processes. Not only has the U.S. government become worse at monitoring and understanding what the real economy looks like and does at the detailed level required for effective design work to take place, it has also lost the ability to flexibly and rapidly make decisions. Streamlining decision-making will allow the government to do more than build or enable the private sector. Instead, it can become a bottleneck detective, finding ways to solve potential problems before they derail efforts to achieve desired goals. This means gathering and sharing information with interested parties — another coordination problem.

Twice they link to Ezra Klein.

A problem of our era is there’s too little utopian thinking, but one worthy exception is Aaron Bastani’s “Fully Automated Luxury Communism,” a leftist tract that puts the technologies in development right now — artificial intelligence, renewable energy, asteroid mining, plant-and cell-based meats, and genetic editing — at the center of a postwork, postscarcity vision.

“What if everything could change?” he asks. “What if, more than simply meeting the great challenges of our time — from climate change to inequality and aging — we went far beyond them, putting today’s problems behind us like we did before with large predators and, for the most part, illness? What if, rather than having no sense of a different future, we decided history hadn’t actually begun?”

Happy talk ordoliberalism? Mr Blandings build his dream state, and his dream body. Even Hollywood has a better understanding of dystopia. And the whole thing is described as a nationalist project, competing with foreign adversaries. Without citizenship? Make up your fucking minds.

Sabel and Joshua Cohen, the political philosopher from "Apple University"

"Global Democracy"


In this Article, we describe an emerging arena of global administration. We claim that this arena, not bounded by a state, raises accountability problems of a kind different from those addressed by conventional administrative law. And we argue that measures designed to address these problems will have potentially large implications for democratic theory and practice.

Our argument starts from the premise – stated here without nuance – that something new is happening politically beyond the borders of individual states and irreducible to their voluntary interactions. To distinguish these developments from what is commonly called "international law and politics," we use the term "global politics." The emergence of global politics is marked by a proliferation of political settings beyond domestic boundaries. This proliferation expands the range of relevant political actors, while shifting our understanding of political units and of relations among them: the emergence of human rights as limits on Westphalian sovereignty was a first step in this shift, but not the last.

"the emergence of human rights as limits on Westphalian sovereignty".  Human rights against democracy. And liberals complain about judicial review. 

Gilman was once a regular reader of this blog, and he followed me on twitter. Until he blocked me.

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