Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Autolysis and Blowback

Political and corporate elites must compete with rivals and threats to their power, as they have throughout history. In the Cold War, everything became a weapon towards these ends, even art. As the nation state expands into byzantine bureaucracies and ensuring accountability becomes more difficult, there can be two approaches.

The simplistic and easy one is the knee-jerk one, relying solely on brute force and entrenching corruption instead of trying to combat it. The problems are over time, you treat the symptoms (instead of the causes) of your problem. For example, if you shoot whoever says the trains are late, it does not make them run on time (as opposed to improving infrastructure). Media censorship tends to have that effect.

The alternative is try to fix things, even a superficial effort. It has the benefits of channeling that rage into your political foes, but also could make you a lightning rod for their efforts. A drawback with both approaches, however, is the top down structure. It can be very hard for a leader to make decisions when they are not directly positioned there. Perhaps a savvy elite would aim to relocalize a good deal of the decision making, while they just sit back and relax?

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