Daily Archives: February 28, 2007

The Scientific Tension

Although I’ve weighed against too much professional bureaucracy, I don’t want this to be an attack on intellectuals in general. I think if we’re going to adapt to this century, we’re going to have to listen to scientists. The tension becomes even more, um, tense, when I consider that I want very much to listen to the scientists, but I don’t want them telling me what to do. One could posit a resolution of this tension in making scientists be descriptive of our problems rather than prescriptive of solutions. However, I don’t think the dichotomy between descriptive and prescriptive is as clear-cut as one may think. Moreover, my penchant for the wisdom of crowds I doubt extends to science, which often has very specific knowledge. I think, somehow, that the answer may lie in education of the public, so that scientists are not magicians, waving facts they culled from who-knows-where.

Postmodern Federalism

Forgive me if I have been ignoring current issues. I’m trying very hard to look far into the future that it is becoming difficult to see what is right in front of me. In fact, I’m feeling myself start to withdraw from this world and enter a world of abstraction. As much as I hate abstraction, theory is useful and I’m trying to do more forest thinking, as opposed to tree thinking. I’m trying to see how liberty can survive in the “long term,” for this century, that is.

Hypothesis: With the growth of population, the modern world needed professional bureaucracies to deal with increasingly complex issues. In the postmodern world, the complexities of issues have outstripped even the abilities of a professional bureaucracy. Hence, the need for a new federalism, perhaps. We also need to figure out how to harness the wisdom of crowds.

I’m still unsure about the ways this new decentralization of power will take place. I’ve been thinking about the radical ways in which the internet can create communities that are not geographically-based. I’m not sure what implications this has.

In any case, even without our current crises, our democracy is slowly dying and the body politic is becoming corrupt. The lack of agency, the lack of participation, along with the growth of the professional bureaucracy, is a threat to the continuation of liberty.

Any thoughts?