The Future of Government
Karl Schroeder (Moderator)
- sort of wish-washy person, go along with whatever seems to work, as long as people don’t screw up.
- extremely suspicious about easy solutions and sympathetic to leaders
- studied in school, political consultant, and have done several startups
- Ada Palmer
- Upcoming novel dealing with future politics comes out in May.
- Teaches history at University of Chicago.
- Do a lot of research into weird, semi-forgotten modes of government.
- Charlie Stross
- “occasionally” touched on politics in writing.
- new trilogy coming out next year: starts with dark state, comparing political systems in different timelines where history has diverged.
- Karl: Two topics for Today.
- We’re still coasting on government technologies developed in the late 1700s: voting, representative government. And yet, we’re rapidly outpacing it.
- What is the future of legitimacy and authority of government?
- Are we running on totally outdated systems? Will they last for all time?
- Joe: There are two groups of people push/pull tension: the governors and the governed.
- Charlie: I have sympathy for Joe’s point of view, but it’s totally wrong. It’s the POV of someone from the US, the dominant global power of the day. But let us look at Greece… a greek state in crisis. externally imposed austerity, that are very cruel. people dying of agony in hospitals because the hospitals can’t afford medicines. They’re forced into this essentially by the German banks and ultimately the German government. The German government has to come up with a rhetoric to support austerity when it is in fact due to internal politics of the German government, because they can’t afford to have people defect to the democratic socialist party. Which is tied into the corporate influence on the government.
- Bradford: the genius of the american constitution didn’t want to answer any questions, they just wanted to create the form of the argument that could be used to answer questions later. the movement today about what the original intent of the founder was…it doesn’t make sense, but they didn’t intend anything, other than to give a framework for conversation, not to dictate the answers.
- Ada: Lots of examples of government structures remaining the same but changing purpose: the Roman Senate first governs a city, then a state, then an empire, then functioning as an appendage of the emperor. and when the empire falls, Rome still has a senate for another 500 years. The Roman Senate function keeps changing, but the same structure is repurposed for the needs of each new geopolitical entity. Rather than having a revolution that replaces existing structures, we may have non-revolutions that change the purpose without changing the structure at all.
- Are new mechanisms for governing going to evolve?
- Ada: A new interesting one is the European Union that was originally proposed (not the one we got). The original proposal was a dynamic, self-destroying, self-replacing system that would evolve as the decades passed, and as new member countries joined. It was one of the first government systems intended from the start to be temporary and self-replacing.
- Charlie: We’re mostly talking about the post-enlightenment governments so far. What about the dark enlightenment? It’s what happens when libertarians discover monarchism. We may be going through a constrained period of rapid development, a curve leveling off. Like what has happened with airlines: no new innovations since 1970.
- proponents of dark enlightenment think we’re going to go backwards to a monarchy. our 300 year history of democratic experiment is really brief in our total history.
- Karl: The system we’re under, started by the greeks, is that you can fight and win, but you can’t win for all time. What we’re starting to see if the erosion of those principles: groups that do want to win for all time.
- Q: Governments are just about economic systems or political systems. They do a lot of stuff, boring, but essential stuff. Can you comment on how the role of government is changing?