(Bcc: some colleagues) 1/22/2001, Richard N Hutchinson wrote to social-movements: > And whether "effective decentralized counter-measures" are possible to the end of totally wiping out hierarchy remains an open question. Yes, this is the open question, and it's an important one. Your intuition and experience tells you that hierarchy is efficient, and that it may be necessary. My intuition and experience leads me to suspect that decentralization is actually more efficient, besides providing political advantages. At the same time, I fear you may be right. Instead of trying to 'prove' one case or the other, permit me to suggest that we examine the problem together, and see what we can learn. > ...large complex societies evolve specialized bodies to make things work. (Increasing size leads to increasing differentiation.) Yes, specialization and differentiation are necessary and desirable - in any society. And by the way, societies have had these things for thousands of years (blacksmiths, millers, tillers, priests), not just in modern complex societies. And every ecosystem is characterized by specialization and differentiation, and yet it is not hierarchical. I think this point is neutral with respect to answering our question. Specialization and differentiation can play their role in either a hierarchical or a decentralized context. > We egalitarians don't like hierarchy and stratification, but most of us also don't like inefficiency at levels that prevent social functioning. This seems to be the trade-off. If hierarchies are indeed more efficient, then we have a hard choice to make - between self-rule and efficiency. But _is hierarchy more efficient? And _is decentralization inefficient? Is your judgement here more than intuitive? What is the evidence? In "Small is Beautiful", the author talks about his experience in the British coal industry, and his observations speak to an inherent _inefficiency in large organizations. Let's take the example of a highway department. In our societies today, the goal of highway building is actually a function of increasing petroleum consumption - an important part of maintaining economic growth. Because of this, highway departments are given all kinds of authority to override local interests. One could have the same highway department, with the same staff, and it could be constrained to follow local preferences when laying out routes. I don't see why a 'specialized agency' requires hierarchical decision making. --------------------------- 1/23/2001, Vigdor Schreibman wrote to rkm: > You make it look so very natural, Richard, to secure and maintain a non-hierarchical society but our present situation was driven by massive pressures of population and complexities of technology, molded into deeply embedded ideologies and religions unknown to the primitive world of egalitarian hunter gatherers. These historical pressures must now be resisted and turned back but this cannot be done without recognizing the profound differences in the setting for an egalitarian existence and discovering methods which might in our situation. > Your text does not define the setting accurately nor the essential strategy. It will not be credible, as a consequence, I fear. Dear Vigdor, Many thanks for reviewing the Manifesto, and I'm glad you found so much to agree with. I'm also glad that I 'made it look natural'... the purpose of that section was not to prove anything, but simply to open people's minds to _considering the feasibility of decentralization. No I did not define the setting sufficiently, and I hope we can fix that. Your help is appreciated. You make the assumption, above, that hierarchy was 'driven by massive pressures of population and complexities of technology'. I question this assumption. Let me give an anecdotal historical example. I don't recall exactly when or where this was, but there was a time and a place when everyone had their own milling wheel, and they'd grind their own grain. It was an efficient little device, and did the job just fine. Then the lord of the manor built himself a water-driven mill, went around and smashed everyone's little wheel, and decreed that all grain must be milled, for a price, at his mill. This had nothing to do with efficiency, or with complexity - it was simply a case of coercively-enforced centralization and monopolization of the means of production. The 'efficiency' involved was only the efficiency with which centralization facilitated exploitation. Similarly, when Safeway decides to capture a new grocery market, it comes in and sells things at a loss until the local competition crumbles. Perhaps a big grocery chain can offer a few pennies off per pound, but that little increment of efficiency is not needed by society - much more benefit goes to the central operator than to the community by this kind of centralization. If you do an overall calculation, including for example lower wages and smaller staff in large supermarkets, compared to many small shops, the community suffers a net economic loss by admitting large operators. Similary, it is not the complexity of international trade that brought about the WTO. The WTO was created in order to facilitate centralized control, not to serve any legitimate societal need. The question we are investigating is of critical importance to our future. I invite people to help shed light on the problem. rkm http://cyberjournal.org .