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Institutions Part 1
If you haven’t already read about what panocracy is, please read A New Hope which lays out the basics of the kind of panocracy we’re talking about here.
“All human societies are characterised by more or less complex and overlapping networks of regular social interactions and practices. Whether economic, political or cultural, such repeated interactions require agreed and predictable rules – ways of doing things; such sets of rules constitute institutions” - Adrian Leftwich, IPPG Briefing Paper No. One
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This time we're going to start our look at institutions – the bedrock of any society and culture. To understand what has happened to our own institutions over the past few decades and how they might have been different under a panocracy, we need to understand what an institution is and how they have been evolved under representational democratic systems. Firstly, we'll have a quick look at how the structure of the system is part of the problem.
An institution is, as Leftwich says, a set of rules but it's a set of rules that needs physical resources in order to exist. So we think of, for example, an education system as rules for who you teach, what you teach and how you teach it plus teachers, students, schools, support staff and administrators.
Institutions can therefore be influenced by the granting or withholding of money or political power. Private and public institutions rely on handouts from funding sources like government, commerce and charitable foundations. This way are networks of influence built and the paymasters, who generally hail from the credentialed and elite classes, have come to exert a disproportionate level of control. Opportunities are rife for commercial and ideological bias.
Of all the problems that seem to beset our society, the sheer inanity and incompetence of those institutions we used to believe in and trust demands our attention. In the UK through 2020 we were admonished by our government in a costly advertising campaign to 'Protect the NHS' - when we had thought that all that tax money had been spent so that the NHS would protect us. Even road signs displayed the mantra. During that period my local hospital was so bereft of patients that the staff watched Netflix movies to pass the time (according to a member of staff on duty during that period).
It sometimes seems that our institutions have come to behave like spoilt children. Their headlong rushes into the latest social fads are typical of juvenile behaviour, vying with each other for attention (and pocket money) and blaming their problems on anyone but themselves. This is understandable under the assumption that they are effectively run by ‘big kids’. Fortunately, the citizenry - like most mums and dads – see through these ersatz protests but buy the ice cream anyway just for the sake of a quiet life. Pester power does get instant gratification and peace but how many of us parents eventually admit that caving in to avoid a tantrum maybe wasn't such a good thing in the longer term?
We might ask why these venerable and trustworthy bodies – established and successful for decades or even centuries – became ineffective and deceitful over a short time. We in Britain, and others round the world, used to trust the BBC for its fairness in reporting, to see a doctor when we felt unwell, to see our children given a relevant education. What went wrong? There are many reasons and we look at just a couple here.
“As the Tory party and its supporters raised their champagne flutes to the collapse of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour (in the 2019 General Election) and its hard-left agenda, their hearts were kept down by fear that this victory was superficial. Beneath the surface, a far more important war had already been lost – to Signore Gramsci’s ruthless disciples.” - Marc Sidwell (The Long March Through The Institutions)
Gramsci was an Italian socialist and journalist imprisoned by Mussolini. Disappointed by the failure of the Marxist revolution to get traction in Europe, Gramsci developed his ideas of 'cultural hegemony' while in prison. His intention was to enable the glorious revolution - and getting socialist memes into the institutions: academia, media and the arts, was the route he came up with. His writings reached the English speaking world only in the 1950s but the ideas they espouse have been gaining ground since then.
In their panic to forestall criticism of their rapidly declining performance, institutional movers and shapers eagerly and uncritically snarfed up the first new ideology they came across. It happened to be Gramsci's cultural hegemony which had been insinuating itself into the ivory towers of academia for years. They could blame their difficulties on the culture that had fed and clothed them. They simply had to learn a new set of manipulative skills in order to move and shape their institutional culture to encourage 'progressive' opinion and suppress dissent. Another term for this is totalitarianism and it's given the credentialed classes unprecedented power over our lives.
A complementary picture of our downfall – one that doesn't require an ideological agenda - is that the West’s economic decline following bad policy-making caused its elites – most people in the political and credentialed classes - to lose faith in its institutions, and to try to patch them up by appeals to safetyism. I saw the beginnings of safetyism in my industrial workplace nearly 4 decades ago – when it was still, at least on the surface, about safety. When I visited again 20 years later, office workers were required to don safety boots and goggles to walk the 20 metres from the car park to the office block.
Having ingratiated itself within our industrial landscape safetyism has expanded its aims. It has become a broad church and has been usurped by those with a naïve political agenda. For example, the concept of decolonisation is pressed into the service of promoting a 'safer' and more 'equitable' environment. That such an approach results in - and indeed requires - the demonisation of large segments of the population – in this case the natives – seems to have been lost on the nuevos imperialistas many of whom are natives themselves. The net effect is more deterioration and decay as each institution struggles to fulfil its primary purpose weighed down by the overheads of ever increasing 'safety policy'.
Perhaps both stories make up part of the truth but whatever it is, the credentialed classes who control our institutions have allowed themselves to be misled by their own propaganda promoting the (undeliverable) benefits: 'an end to poverty', 'equality for all', 'world peace', ... while dismissing the harms. These harms have begun to show up and include the fallout from hasty and inappropriate health interventions, economic recession, inflation, strikes and consequential poverty – all leading to ill health, shorter lifespans and a generally shittier existence for all. The harms are well-documented here on substack and across the internet and they're the opposite of what these deluded idiots thought they had ordered.
So that's the bad news. My intention in these substack articles is to examine ways round the problems we face. So here's how things might have been different under a panocracy.
As panocracy dispenses with politicians, the opportunities for fiscal control by the few are closed down and replaced by fiscal control by the many.
One argument against our panocracy could be that it would see the creation of many quangos (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations). These bodies, like the Care Quality Commission in the UK, or the Centre for Disease Control in the USA, would administer and manage aspects of our society just as they do at present. The difference would be that such organisations would be directly answerable to the citizenry and not to the middle men we call politicians or 'regulators'. So, for example, if there were a central bank (like the Fed or the Bank of England) which was charged with controlling inflation then its board would be on the line if they failed to do so. Such organisations would be answerable to specific remits determined by RFCs that were thrashed out by interested citizens (which necessarily includes all the specialists and experts) and subsequently approved by everyone. Of course, the citizenry might alternatively decide that a central bank was unnecessary ...
The budgets and performance of any quangos would thus be in the direct control of the panocracy and we can be sure they would be carefully scrutinised by those who might not like how much was being wasted! The point is that every aspect of the policies and operations of public institutions would be open for discussion and no longer decided behind closed doors by anonymous individuals of unknown ability (that we can infer is usually low) and political bias (that we can infer is usually high).
You might point out that, for example, not many people are interested in the minutiae of bank regulation or interest rate fixing. People are however mightily interested in how much they pay for their mortgage. Also there are many more informed and savvy people out here than the small, unrepresentative sample of 'experts' who are currently consulted on issues like interest rates. Their opinions are not heard at the moment and it's time they were.
Let me remind you that a panocracy is not government by opinion poll. We've seen how that led to an echo chamber of political suggestion, media amplification and public fear and hysteria over Covid19. Panocracy naturally operates on longer timescales and any positive feedback loops, such as those we currently see in social and news media and which drive hysteria, are restrained by the RFC system. RFCs are where informed and interested people scrutinise and debate in the cold light of day, and not in the crazy psychosis of tomorrow's headlines or viral tweets.
Representative democracy has come to mean the belief by the elite that the population are idiots - or deplorables as Ms Clinton put it with unintended honesty. This belief allows the elites to feel virtuous in their power grab. Having systematically enfeebled the institutions of education, health and government, they have realised their own vision like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Panocracy is the only peaceful way we're ever going to get back our cherished societies and culture.
Next time we're going to have a look at a specific institution – the UK's Royal Mail to see how it's changed over the years from a service that was so good it was emulated throughout the world into what we have today.
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