Discover more from Panocracy
The panocracy, as described in these substack articles, is one man's response to the pessimism that burdens the western milieu at the moment. I've perhaps been too prescriptive in what I've written already but the road to recovery has to start somewhere!
Last time I promised you a section that restates some of what we're trying to achieve. We're going to look at a couple of betes-noires this time to see how they will fare under the panocracy. It's our beat to examine a cure rather than to indulge in lengthy diatribes against the status quo but any cure will have to show that it's better than the disease – the panocracy, when it's properly constituted, must be tried out in practice and its performance compared in a fair and unbiased way against the alternatives.
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Panocracy isn't an ideology; it's a system for getting good outcomes. It doesn't prescribe a particular solution like monarchy, communism, oligarchy or whatever; it's simply there to find out what people need and want and to make sure they get it. As with representative democracy, panocracy can produce many variants of social, economic or cultural outcomes but it's designed to be more successful than representative democracy (or other political systems) in getting the best and avoiding the worst.
Panocracy is a participative system of government. In contrast to the current epidemic of loneliness and disillusion with politics and its negative consequences, citizens are free to and will feel encouraged to engage in the processes that affect their lives. This will help to give their lives meaning and leave them less susceptible to psychological manipulation by political ideologues and their propagandists. Instead of being the passive punchball for state propaganda, the citizen can become the active decider of his or her own fate.
Panocracy recognises that our society is made of individuals with their own failings, desires and objectives. What's good for the farmer is not good for the cross-country skier and no one-size-fits-all system can make it so. It's therefore all about finding the balance - the invisible hand – which pulls us all in the directions that are best for all of us.
“Who pays the piper calls the tune” – proverb
Representative democracies have never really got to grips with elites. This is unsurprising as many elites concern themselves closely with political matters – aside from party bosses, members of parliament, senators, congressmen and their huge entourages of acolytes we have big business, big charity, big financial and big tech bosses, cultural and religious leaders. All of these savvy operators share a common aim: to influence public policy to their own advantage.
The elites are a particular problem in modern life. They operate in a shadowy and highly privileged society that is rarely under public scrutiny. We'd all do the same if we found ourselves in a similar position and so we can all understand what they get up to. Some of them genuinely believe they know what's best for the rest of us while others are simply sharp operators out to feather their own nests. We all know ordinary people like this but the elites are different in that they have acquired power and influence. The biases which colour every individual's judgement seem to be especially pronounced in the elite who have no skin in the games ordinary people are forced to play. How can someone who travels by private jet and gets a free pass through immigration understand what it's like to queue at airport security?
Another problem is that those high up in a hierarchy often miss the warnings dispensed by those further down simply because they're not expressed forcefully enough (the term power distance was coined for this phenomenon by Geerte Hofstede. Speaking truth to power is hard and it's often spoken too softly or in such a way that it can be ignored. For example, poor communication was implicated in several air crashes which were unusually frequent in Korean Airlines flights. Korean cultural norms of deferential speech made it difficult for aircrew to raise problems with the captain and this meant the pilots were missing critical information. (They fixed the problem by making everyone speak English and drop their deferential behaviour while on the flight deck.)
The panocracy won't dispense with elites and some of them might be able, via their celebrity, wealth or cunning, to continue to exercise some political influence but this will be enormously reduced from the present simply because there will be fewer channels for doing so. With a loss of power comes a reduction in power distance. The generals will at last have to heed warnings from the trenches. If nothing else, we won't have to endure so much of the cringeworthy virtue signalling we've seen recently.
“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” - Voltaire
With few exceptions, the mass media have been complicit in bringing our democracies to their current sorry pass. Some of the disinformation promoted by mainstream online and print media has been down to the capture of these institutions by proselytised groups. Many of those ideologues had their conversions in academic arts courses where toxic and irrational memes were allowed to take root by weak administrations. Others learned in the school of realpolitik where elite ownership determines who keeps their job. As a consequence, journalism has become lazy and indifferent. It's easier to avoid career limiting moves by simply doing what is expected of you.
A recent Gallup poll reported the loss of confidence of Americans in their mass media. The percentage of people with a 'great deal' or 'quite a lot' of 'confidence' in the TV news fell from 46% to 11% and in newspapers 31% to 16% over the past 30 years. It's going to be hard or maybe even impossible under the current political system to restore faith in these discredited institutions.
In principle, the panocracy could introduce laws to hold the media to account but that would be a dangerous road to take and it wouldn't be necessary, especially given the lack of trust of the people. Much of the media's coercive power at the moment lies in its ability to promote or otherwise the interests of politicians, big business or vested interest groups. As Donald Trump and his followers discovered, the media are perfectly capable of publishing false stories and disinformation if the political dogma of their owners, employees or pressure groups requires it. In modern journalism, the truth pays no debts.
After the June 2010 elections in Belgium the New Flemish Alliance and Socialist Party - the largest two groups - failed to form a government for 541 days. That Belgium continued to produce and export cars, chemicals, food, … beer without societal or economic collapse suggests that a working government is less essential than its advocates would have us believe. It's unsurprising that we don't hear more in the media about this kind of thing as it's not the kind of thing they'd want to catch on (it's happened elsewhere too). What would the newspapers write about if there were no figureheads to sling mud at; no aspiring leaders to promote; no President or Prime Minister to defame?
In short, the media would have to operate in an environment which would lack many of the current scapegoats. Doubtless they'd find new ones but they wouldn't be the entire population. Who knows? People might be able to own up to their opinions without fear of public pillory or the Twitter mob; we might again be able to think what we like and say what we think.
Lastly, a note about citations
Modern writing, especially online, is full of citations. Presumably modern writers hope to embellish their pieces with the gloss of 'expert authority' – not that such a thing ever existed in journalism any more than it does in bricklaying. It's an idea gleaned from the perceived success of the hard sciences where references support a line of reasoning or provide experimental evidence. Hyperlinks were invented at CERN for the very purpose of providing citations in a web-based scientific publishing environment.
Outside of science, technology, engineering or medicine (STEM) I don't think citations are much use. In STEM articles they point the reader to results which support (and sometimes refute) the author's thesis – like a mathematical proof or the results of a related study. Citations in non-STEM topics (like here) are simply playground level support for the author's claims. They have no value as it's usually easy to find as many citations that refute the claim as those which support it. Opposing citations are rarely quoted in non-STEM articles.
In politics and economics, reality, as revealed by honest trial, is the only credible authority. Does a policy actually have the intended effects? Does it have unintended, negative consequences? How do we ensure that failures aren't covered up so as not to repeat them?
We'll look at how the panocracy can deal with questions like these in future posts.
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