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

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Sun Mar 30 19:07:02 UTC 2014



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From: discuss-bounces at 1net.org [mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org] On Behalf
Of 'Andrew Sullivan'
Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2014 11:33 AM
To: discuss at 1net.org
Subject: [discuss] What kind of "governance" do you want? (was Re: What is


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>] I completely agree with the above and think that those observations
are a very good way to begin a constructive discussion on ways forward for
democratic governance.  However, having said this I'm not so convinced that
the US Ambassador and Under Secretary etc.  and the UK Minister Vaizey who,
addressing the Bali IGF, gave their total and unequivocal endorsement of
MSism (whatever they meant by that) would be equally starting from these
premises and insights. Rather I would have the feeling that their support is
more in the form of finding a methodology for continuing and deepening the
deep corruptions of which they are so evident beneficiaries and which folks
like you and I are increasingly disgusted with.



> [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.



[MG>] Okay governance by who has the money and time (in most cases this
means the financial back from mega-corporations) to show up...Have you taken
a close look at the effects of "Citizens United
nged-the-political-game.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0> " recently? Even deeply
flawed (accountable) democratic systems have better outcomes for the 99%
than ones controlled by plutocrats. 



> 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.


[MG>] As I keep saying I think the issue for the US Ambassador and the UK
Minister as examples, is not about simply "governing the Internet" (without
being clear precisely what that might mean) but rather in ensuring that
issues such as for example, taxation within "the cloud" when they come
charging onto policy agendas are done within a clear neo-liberal framework
i.e. ones where the foxes get to be (co-equal "stakeholders" in the
management of the henhouse) . 


As for proposing a system of governance (representation), I think starting
from traditional democratic structures and processes and then adding
capabilities (as for example technology enhancements) and adjustments so as
to reform the system's operations is probably the place to start.




Best regards,





Andrew Sullivan

 <mailto:ajs at anvilwalrusden.com> ajs at anvilwalrusden.com



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