[discuss] What is MSism?

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Sun Mar 30 14:01:03 UTC 2014


-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at 1net.org [mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org] On Behalf
Of 'Andrew Sullivan'
Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2014 3:00 AM
To: discuss at 1net.org
Subject: Re: [discuss] What is MSism?

On Sat, Mar 29, 2014 at 10:07:06AM -0700, michael gurstein wrote:

> [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.

It's fun to point and laugh in lieu of an actual argument.  I don't think
there's anything magical at all in claiming that "the public interest" is an
emergent property.  It is in fact a well-understood property of groups that
they do not have the kind of unity of intention that individuals do (if this
is unfamiliar, you can probably start with Arrow's paradox).  Therefore, you
can't _ask_ "a public"
what its views are: there's nobody (we might say, "no _body_") to ask.

[MG>] I thought that that was precisely the point of the 1000 years or so of
increasingly responsible and democratic governance from the Magna Carta on.

Instead, all you can do is look at the messy results of various expressions
of views and try to synthesize the public interest.

[MG>] Ah yes, having the powerful and well-connected "synthesizing the
public interest"... wasn't that what the various wars of the 20th
century--hot and cold--were meant to overthrow

> 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.

It sounds like your complaint is that, whatever "MSism" is, it doesn't
perfectly capture the interests of everyone, and therefore it is an
inadequate system.  But no system, ever, meets your test.  Suppose we had a
perfect system of direct democracy in which every person could participate
reliably, even if they didn't have connectivity to the Internet.  That
system would _also_ not support the well-being of the board public which
would include the poor, the marginalized, and the non-user.  This is because
many such marginalized &c. simply wouldn't have the information they'd need
to make decisions in their own
interest: the very factors that marginalize them keep them from having that
information.  By what mechanism -- magical, perhaps? -- do you suppose those
whose interests are, ex hypothesi, not represented in this discussion will
somehow become informed enough to be able to defend those interests?  Does
this mechanism prevent the crypto-neo-liberals from using advertising and
other such tactics to influence those parties?

[MG>] So are suggesting that we replace democratic governance with all its
faults but where there are some forms of accountability and some means of
the broad citizenry to make their interests known for some form of
governance by what... the technocrats, the technocrats+the plutocrats... who
or what precisely...

> [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 "stakeholder"?

I have no idea, but if you are suggesting that the opinion of someone who
can't understand a Wikipedia article should nevertheless be an important
factor in the way the Internet runs, I beg to differ.  I do not think that
we should strive for an Internet governance model that attempts to cater to
every opinion, no matter how ill-informed.  

[MG>] As I'm sure you are aware, I have been suggesting that the notions and
models of MSism while being presented for use within the fairly narrow and
technical (as undertaken for example by the IEFT) framework of Internet
Governance what is really being pushed is MSism as a means for governance in
rather broader areas of policy making within Internet Governance and much

You are right to worry that a system that is completely unresponsive to any
interests outside those of the participants risks becoming illegitimate.
The answer to that, however, need not be direct democracy or anything of
that sort.  It might just be a mechanism by which additional interests can
introduce themselves without a lot of procedural friction.  I think that is,
for instance, something the IETF is pretty good at, and I've yet to see an
argument that the alternative you appear to be pushing doesn't subject the
Internet to misinfomed mob rule.

[MG>] I certainly have never argued for "Direct Democracy" and as I've said
repeatedly I have no problem with the IETF (based on my very limited
knowledge on how it operates) but I do have a very great problem when the
experience with the practices of decision making in quite narrow and highly
technical areas is purported and promoted as being directly applicable to
areas of decision very much outside of that scope.



Best regards,


Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com

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