[discuss] What is MSism?

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Sat Mar 29 17:07:06 UTC 2014


-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at 1net.org [mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org] On Behalf
Of 'Andrew Sullivan'
Sent: Friday, March 28, 2014 12:50 PM
To: discuss at 1net.org
Subject: Re: [discuss] What is MSism?

On Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 12:29:11PM -0700, michael gurstein wrote:
> Well, I discussed this at some length in my blogpost 
> <http://t.co/EU8F1LgUn6>

In my reading, you refer to this but do not actually offer what I asked for,
which was "an example of something that is a policy, is not like the sorts
of policies developed by (say) RIRs or ICANN in terms of its significance
mentioned above, and which would not be amenable to any multi-stakeholder
approach to 'the tussle'".  In that passage, "the significance mentioned
above" was the one in your message.  And I suspect this may be because of
this tendency we've all been observing (as you do in your post) to slide
right over the details of a particular methodology and talk in abstract
terms about "MSism".

[MG>] sorry Andrew, I really can't figure out what it is you are after
here... too many subjunctive clauses :)

I get that you think that some (any?) multistakeholder model is really
disguise for a takeover by neoliberalism.  Leaving aside whether
neoliberalism is itself a bad thing (which is not quite relevant to this
part of the discussion), I'm not convinced by what you say in your blog
post.  For instance, you claim, "[T]here is no one in the process
('stakeholder') with the task of representing the 'public interest'."  But
in my view, that's a category mistake: the whole point of at least some
kinds of multi-stakeholder approach is that "the public interest" is
supposed to be the emergent union interest of the various groups working
together.  In other words, there's no "public" outside the collection of
stakeholders, and so looking for "the stakeholder" whose stake is "the
public interest" is like looking for the hair that will one day make me
bald.  Baldness is a state of (lack of) hair, and the public is the
collection of the interested parties.

[MG>] Yes and thank you for so clearly articulating my position.  The
magical process by which the one (public interest) somehow mystically
emerges from the concatenation of the many (competing private interests)
intrigues as does much magic which of course gains its aura by misdirection
of attention.  

Of course, nothing of the kind would or will result -- certainly not an
outcome that in any manner supports the well-being of the broad public which
would include the non-"stakeholder", the poor, the marginalized, the
non-user... As they say.. "devil takes the hindmost... What you are
suggesting seems to me to be governance by the powerful and well-connected
in the interests of the powerful and well-connected (unless of course, these
folks have against all likelihood suddenly developed a strong streak of
altruism and commitment to the public good...

This is why some of us were so uneasy at the beginning of the 1net
discussions with the "representational multi-stakeholder" approach that
seemed to be being adopted.  I am uneasy with it because I'm not even a
little sure whether I'm a member of "the technical community", "Internet
users", "business", "civil society" (whatever that is -- "the public
interest"?  I dunno), "dog lovers", "online consumers", "outraged
anti-bankers", or even "Americans" or "Canadians".  What about "speakers of
a language other than English"?  "As a second language"?  The potential for
set-theoretic disaster abounds.  For this reason, I dislike the kinds of
categories that IGF put me into, or that I find myself having to select when
I go to an ICANN meeting.

[MG>] If you are uneasy can you imagine how someone who couldn't figure out
what the term "set-theoretic" meant if their life depended on it might feel
in attempting to navigate themselves into being an active and effective

In my view, those categories do more harm than good, though I recognize that
they have certain procedural value and would be interested in understanding
the organizational trade-off.

So, if your complaint is that there are lots of kinds of interests who are
not amenable to this kind of categorization, I agree; that doesn't make a
process built around such participation automatically less
"multi-stakeholder".  And if your complaint is that there seem to be people
whose interests are not somehow being represented, I also probably agree,
though I don't think that requires personal representation (I do not speak
or use Arabic, but in lots of internationalization discussions I am able to
raise issues from the Arabic script because I understand the issues well
enough to do so, and I think they're important).

[MG>] -Okay, so we are agreeing... welcome to the camp of MS-skeptics :)

I really think that this entire conversation would be much more useful if we
talked about specific examples of a process we find good or bad, and
specific deficiencies or advantages of each for the kind of cases we're
talking about.

[MG>] The problem with that is that every time I point to an example (as
I've done several times in my blog) the immediate response is--"well that
isn't really MS", or "well there were special circumstances" or "we were
just piloting the process, trust us things will get better...


Best regards,

Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com

discuss mailing list
discuss at 1net.org

More information about the discuss mailing list