increasingly of the opinion that nobody has ever been "in charge"


in a world where events happen for unsatisfying, complicated, and highly context-dependent reasons, how can anyone be in charge of anything? especially when the people who think they are at the top of a hierarchy know the least and so have the worst ability to realize their ill-informed goals and can only do so through a highly mediated process of delegation to more informed lower levels. lower levels who are constantly tasked with pointless, counter-productive, or impossible projects

@deluge totally! I think it's also important to recognize how systems and non-human objects themselves have a kind of agentic capacity: they are able to act and cause effects without anyone guiding, directing, or controlling them -- a fact that had always been true, but which is becoming more and more undeniably obvious in the age of thingd like computer algorithms, machine learning, climate change, etc. The problem is: people find it hard to wrap their heads around this because we've been taught to view human beings as the centre of the universe, and the only thing that has any kind of agency or free will. So people immediately assume that there must be some kind of evil genius behind the scenes controlling and directing these self-perpetuating systems towards some particular end (hence the turn toward conspiratorial thinking). But that just isn't the case.

@athousandgateaux in a previous draft of the post, i was comparing how revolutionaries and conspiracy theorists alike have this misguided sense that somebody is "in charge", that there is power to seize that is wielded by a person. i completely agree that if the world is ruled, it is ruled by these alien and inhuman autonomous rule machines of law, bureaucracy, military, and corporate forms, and this has only accelerated with computerization.

@athousandgateaux and to get even more cynical, those inhuman machines are not external to us but instead manifestations of our own small acts of participation and acquiescence thoroughly embedded into patterns and dynamics of everyday life

not to mention desires... individual desires for control, for order, for punishment, for "fairness" and "justice". all fuel for the rule machines.

@deluge @athousandgateaux@ni.hil.
I appreciate this phrasing and largely agree. adding a sort of counter point/angle:

certain types of systems are created with an intention (or structure or affordance) for top-down control, or at least assymetries of power.

seizing it might not entirely fix the problem, but I think imagining that it’s just a chaotic and self-perpetuating system of beuorocracies and rules, purely emergent, without anyone guiding it, might miss that these systems are also made, expanded and perpetuated by people, and the inverse is also possible. or in other words, even if there is no single moment (revolutionary thinking) or single person (conspiratorial thinking), perhaps it’s useful to remember that these systems can still change over time and be influenced, in gradual and non-linear ways

@deluge when I wrote above, I didn’t see your other reply where you basically said this, about our participation and desires

@deluge @athousandgateaux your idea seems very convincing to me. i would see those "in charge" basically as fulfilling *functions*, defined and evolving by, what you call the "rule machine". I like the name, since it erases personal aspects and emphasizes social mechanisms.

@deluge @athousandgateaux i'm not sure though, if it makes anything better: to see the problems we're facing caused by western societies as *structural*, and not caused by people, who we can call "evil" and we could fight against, on one hand makes me feel more peacefully against human beings, especially those "in charge". but this perspective also weakens my hope for improvements and change, since the problems, or better their cause gets much bigger and more holistic… :/

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