Participatory and hierarchic governance

We all subordinate ourselves to, and participate in, groups. These may be states or other institutions at various scales: families, workplaces, corporations, education. In the context of a world in which “Absolutely everything is changing all the time,” at a recent Harvard Berkman centre seminar, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, (read his blog) President Emeritus of the IBM Technology Academy and visiting/adjunct professor at MIT and Imperial College, argues, for a mixed mode of social control in which participatory governance models and hierarchical governance models share the challenge of institutional survival in a social darwinian market environment where, “… you make mistakes you die”. The essence of the argument depends on one, metaphorised, aspect of darwinism: sexual reproduction; hierarchical governance can be crossed with participatory governance to yield a more robust hybrid. But, in the end, it appears that participatory modes of governance are only useful insofar as they produce innovation which enables adaptation for domination.

Simultaneously scary, inspiring, useful and banal, this is an excellent example of a totalising hegemonism, which only a representative of the really big and powerful can pull off. As he says, “Once you drink the Kool-Aid you understand this”.

Continue reading “Participatory and hierarchic governance”