Constructive Criticism

When confronted with the overtly dysfunctional mechanisms and incompetent, inertia-laden intricacies of our proliferating global governments and bureaucracies, there are two primary or at least convenient categories of negative critical response on a spectrum perhaps arbitrarily anchored at either end by indifference or rebellion.

Indifference is to submit to the systemic failures by means of ignorance or apathy; where the complexity and endemic failures have become so overwhelming as to appear beyond salvation, most people just dig in and get on with what little they can do to provide for themselves or their families – this is the “it’s someone else’s problem” school of thought.  Bureaucracies are wasteful and inefficient, everyone working in one knows it but very few people stand up to say anything about it because the channels and vectors of communications, the hierarchies of control and power create selection mechanisms which only allow (for the most part) neutered, sterile ideas and suggestions to percolate up to the top level where the most overtly consequential decisions, directives and policies are constructed.  If it damages your own earning potential and career advancement to point out the clear and present incompetencies apparent within the system which provides you with the resources to continue to house and feed yourself, why would you (at least publicly) question the system as it exists ?

Rebellion is an understandable response to injustice or other inequity but there may exist a certain lack of maturity in any strategy which asserts that tearing down what exists will necessarily create the opportunity for something better to emerge.  (There always exist historical exceptions and the extremities of dictatorship or oppression probably generate rebellion as something of an inevitability).  Attempting to stand against a political system or legal structure can at times be admirable but if successful can just as easily create a vacuum into which some other, potentially worse gaggle of senior bureaucrats or politicians insert themselves.  Rebellion is largely of the “it’s my problem” species of thought and suffers under the perennial paradox of inverse self-definition: when we stand against a particular system or idea, we become defined by that system and as though in a gestalt figure-ground dichotomy, we are bound by the assumptions and axioms that we do not agree with simply by the fact of disagreeing with them, of acknowledging their existence and of orienting ourselves and our ideas in respect to them.  Rebellion is always already at some level (in most cases) pre-emptively ineffective.  Being defined as against something else irreversibly binds you to it and you end up being swallowed by the immensity and complexity of your antagonist.

gestalt 1

Positive critical response to the proliferating global incompetencies of our shared administrative, economic and political systems is always going to have to be based in pragmatic realism.  The systems and structures which do exist are likely in some manner to continue existing and will also in numerous ways seek to defend their ongoing structures and hierarchies so there is no sense in which a frontal assault will ever achieve anything beyond being starved of resources and effective communication.  More simply put: to attempt to alter the way the world works, you need to use intelligence, education, innovation and creativity because these are the things that the inefficient bureaucratic world already uses, such that they can be tweaked, massaged or manipulated in beneficial ways.

The challenge lies in finding ways to influence global systems of organisation without being fundamentally indoctrinated by them; to improve without being blind-sided.  Organisational systems beyond a certain level of complexity tend to exhibit effective self-defence mechanisms, arguably in some manner as a consequence of the many thousands of individual people who engage in those systems (i.e. as a macroscopic reflection of individual psychological and narrative continuity and self-preservation) but perhaps also as some form of emergent complexity and inevitable homeostatic coherence.  If it is apparent that the systems of bureaucracy and administration are failing the question tends to become: how can we restructure a system without creating catastrophic failure within it ?  Further, what strategies can be applied to uplift our global systems of governance and organisation to fundamentally transform these systems away from the mad rush towards profit, competition and resource extraction which has now globally metastasised and is quite probably of very little long term benefit for any of us ?

There is a certain measure of parochial denialism in regards to the appropriateness and effectiveness of our current global administrations, organisations and bureaucracies and this is largely a measure of the self-satisfaction of those who, having worked their way to the top of these various organisational and political food chains, are the least likely to question the axioms and assumptions from which their own personal advantage is conferred.  The Business As Usual of competitive corporate and international friction has not recently arrived at a moment of collective existential crisis but we do continue to collectively skate on this rather thin ice as though nothing could possibly go wrong and as though the delicate fragility of our global systems might not just buckle under the pressure of any significant external weight; not least when they can barely manage to support their own ballooning internal complexity and administrative inertia.

This is fundamentally our shared problem,

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