Order does not equal Hierarchy

Even in anarchy, some order and organization must prevail, because same as order doesn’t equal hierarchy, anarchy does not equal chaos.

These are the categories in which Immanuel Kant classified societal ways of order:

A Law And Freedom without Violence (Anarchy)
B Law And Violence without Freedom (Despotism)
C Violence without Freedom And Law (Barbarism)
D Violence with Freedom And Law (Republic)

(Source: Wikipedia)

If new ways of Democracy are to be developed, they ought to be discussed, and actions must be prioritized. This discussion at the current moment, has the advantage and disadvantage that can take place anywhere, between anyone of us.

The main objective should be opening our minds, not in a psychodelic way, but in an imaginative way. Let’s suppose we are slaves in the XVIII Century in the United States of America (yes, the land of the free….!!). Could we conceive another status than the current one? What would have happened if by that time, slaves would have had the option to get in contact between all (or at least great part) of them?

Today, what should not happen is that there wouldn’t be any discussion of any kind, and that we kept on maintaining the status-quo.

How does this relate to recent spontaneous movements of anger (15-M in Spain, Arab spring, Syntagma square)?

Little, very little, for although they could be at the beginning of a new era in democracies around the world, so far they are just mere expression of people being fed up, but any strategy is long ahead from these actions. The question is then: are there any chances to build up strategies collectively? Is that feasible?

I don’t really know the answer, but that is, in my opinion the only way to achieve a different approach than the historic and already known one: from the base of society (meaning by “base” all of its citizens, not in social, political or economical terms of a pyramid).

If debate and assemblies are to take place, even then, they should be either organized, or absolutely spontaneous. In this case, a “happy medium” would end up to be a “hybrid medium”.

As I could see, – and as everyone interested could have read – during the 15-M demonstrations in Madrid, any of these happened and what actually took place, was a kind of same existing Democracy at a smaller scale, where a bunch of issues where stated in a platform, and some “organizers” were trying to conduct debates. It seems now, the movement lost its momentum and cannot find the steps to achieve its objectives.

Avant-garde movements in Architecture and Arts in general, are very used to deal with the “unknown” which is not completely unknown. Although in most of cases, the final result is not clear from the start, architects and artists do know what the drivers and forces of their work are, so the emphasis is placed more in the means than in the ends. The ends will be unveiled along the process and will be a consequence, not the cause.

We should apply these approaches to our own society. If it works in Art, why wouldn’t it work for the social body? Why cannot we revert all these centuries of obedience, and leave a new horizontal structure appear? Of course, there are interests for this not to happen, but it’s not because of being impossible to achieve.

We must therefore differentiate between Society as a totality and any other social partial organization. Ways to implement norms, strategies and aims are completely different in a supposed Democracy (where the majority (and not “all” the people), decides who, what for and how, will run the matters of a country, state or city), than in a company, where decision making (exception made of truly horizontal organizations) is developed by a hierarchical structure.

In Spain there’s a saying: “En Castilla, nadie es más que nadie” (In Castilla, nobody is more than anybody). However, this expression is nowadays considerably far from reality. Even in Castilla.


4 Responses to “Order does not equal Hierarchy”

  1. i am impressed with your abilities to break down key factors in the structure of societal movements. well laid out…

    we must be on the same train of thought, as i find myself pondering the strange structures we’ve built for ourselves, as a society, and notice grave incongruities in the stated goals versus outcomes. hierarchy is a matter of definition, but the top down, structure mirrored by corporate structuring, is obviously a central motivating factor driving current “democratic” governance policies.

    i’ve been toying with the idea of localized governance, where the ultimate power will reside within the neighborhoods. i envision citizens communicating with locally elected members of their immediate community through the use of a local broadband networks hosting community posts and discussion boards, along with the ability to put forward motions and vote in weekly or bi-weekly referendums on said motions.

    but the current incarnation, which i drew on a napkin at a bar, seems to necessarily require a hierarchical structure to prevent the local “nodes” from overwhelming amounts of decisions.

    the nodes i came up with were fednode, statenode, citynode, and localnode, the the central idea behind it is that nodes serve as public forum, policy decision making tool, and community organization asset, but more importantly, includes software to distribute and filter policy debate to the nodes that actually have a stake in the policy being considered… a program which could selectively flag policy debate on a national scale, and allow all nodes with stakeholders in said debate have their say and a part in the “boards” determination, for example.

    in such a system, power would naturally shift to the local nodes, because policy of national leadership inevitably affects a large potion of the population. but so, too, would the amount of decisions required of each citizen. each localnode may find itself with thousands of votes per week.

    reminds me of plato’s ‘republic’, which i read so long ago…

    so the problem of hierarchy rears it’s head. the nodes must be separated by jurisdictional lines to prevent overload, meaning the filter must consider the jurisdictions of each node when selecting which nodes to join in the board. this inevitably leads to structures of inequality (or as my friend yelled out at the bar, “it doesn’t make a fucking difference! you think they won’t corrupt your fucking nodes, too!”). i argued that once we remove the politicians between us and the policy development, corruption would be illogical in such public spheres ( or, “you can’t get away with it ’cause the nodes are fucking watching!”).

    but, in truth, he was right.

    how would you approach the problem of vertical drift of power in model like this?

    sorry about the long reply…i look forward to more posts…

    • Hi,

      Much appreciated for your concepts. I’m really flattered. But honestly, I’m the one impressed with your blog and your comment. You don’t have to apologize at all.

      I must admit that I’m having greater satisfactions each day, thanks to “encounters” like this one. Sorry for my English, since as you might have realized already, it’s not my native language. But it’s substantial to me to communicate in it (I prefer the risk of my own translation, rather than that of the Google translator… :))

      Let me first tell you that I’ve been discussing all these issues just with myself for a long time, and although at some point, some “solutions” or as you put it “approaches” look neatly laid out, I’m refraining myself to frame an answer. There are too many dynamic factors these days, changing so fast, that need to be thoroughly analized and taken into account when planning a new strategy.

      So far, I take there are a few things quite clear to me, but more from the side of a diagnostics than being definite solutions:

      – Democracy does not need a refresh or an upgrade. It simply needs to be created for the first time.
      – While a first true Democracy is being developed, there are measures that must be included as a matter of urgency:
      – means to revoke politicians when putting aside the mandate they’ve been given;
      – direct voting, change the electoral system (too many countries apply the D’Hondt system that benefits the major parties);
      – use of technology to allow more referendums to take place in vital issues that were not considered in platforms when elections were held (like a war, a crisis management, changing Consitution, and so on…).

      I would like to keep on exchange thoughts with you. I’ve already suscribed to your blog too.

    • BTW, if you are referring to the classification at the beginning of the post, it’s not mine but Kant’s… :).

      • awesome… i look forward to future discussions. your english is great, and i hope mine doesn’t get too complex. sometimes i write without restraint or plan, and the logic of my thoughts lost in onslaught…

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