[discuss] What kind of "governance" do you want? (was Re: What is MSism?)

'Andrew Sullivan' ajs at anvilwalrusden.com
Sun Mar 30 18:32:56 UTC 2014

On Sun, Mar 30, 2014 at 07:01:03AM -0700, michael gurstein wrote:
> [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.

Perhaps my problem is that I am not as sanguine about the results of
that 1000 years as you.  In the U.K., home of _habeas corpus_, that
same doctrine has been suspended effectively without limit and more or
less on the basis of the government's say so.  

In the United States, land of supposed free expression and small
government, massive intelligence gathering against the entire
population and without any terribly strong justification has become
the norm.  At the same time, transpotting and planespotting
enthusiasts are routinely harassed by (increasingly armoured) police
officers merely for taking photographs.  

In Canada, a supposedly populist government of self-styled
conservatives prorogues Parliament whenever the results appear to be
against their wishes, appoints Senators so corrupt that even Canadians
can't ignore it, and supports a leader who was ruled in contempt of
Parliament (and who certainly acts as though he holds Parliament and
indeed everyone other than those who agree with him in contempt).  All
this, and they co-operate (apparently enthusiastically) in the
data-gathering schemes of the US.

During the above developments, glorified bank managers in all these
countries rewarded themselves with frankly obscene bonuses regardless
of whether their firms went to the brink of bankruptcy or won a
lottery.  If certain news outlets are to be believed, there are people
in financial firms who have serious conversations about how hard it is
to get by on a salary of $10,000,000 per year.

I do not see that legal frameworks, without an interested and vigilant
citizenry, make a great deal of difference to good governance.  If
your complaint is against government by the powerful, for the
powerful, then I'm not sure your best target is "MSism".  I am
advocating a system in which the interested have a means to
participate directly.

> [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...

Whoever is interested.  That's indeed the point of at least the
multi-stakeholder systems that I'm interested in.  In this thread,
some others have suggested they feel the same, and so I think the
burden of proof is on you to show that the approach we are talking
about is inappropriate and results in worse outcomes than some
fuzzily-specified accountability model that you keep mentioning
without really nailing down.

> 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
> beyond.

Yes, you keep asserting that, but as yet I've been unable to discern
the argument -- either premises or conclusion -- that would lead me to
agree.  You're going to need rather more than just saying that broader
areas of policy are different than technical topics.  Why are they
different in this way?  Why is getting a lot of different interests
together to try to hash things out such a bad idea?  Supposing that
you wanted to design a system, what mechanism would you put in place
to get the kind of representation you want?  Would it just be
multi-lateral?  If so, say so.  I think I understand your criticisms,
but I'm not sure you're presenting a credible alternative to the thing
you're criticising.  I think that the existing worked examples of
multi-stakeholder governance are the best we've come up with for
running the Internet.  I'm having a hard time reconstructing your
argument about why that's wrong.

Best regards,


Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com

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