The inevitable slide of institutions into conservatism
well this is an interesting perspective.....I am a founder of a new church denomination. we were having an executive meeting today... again I brought up the question of how do we prevent our church from becoming like the ones we left. We have struggled with that question. As good as our intents are right now what is to prevent stuff in the future...there are somethings we can add to by-laws and others we can't. To look at it from the perspective that once something becomes institutionalized it will slide into conservatism brings a whole different way of approaching things. Thanks
My own thinking over decades has been in support of decentralization of governance. It might be because I come from a technology background where we were deliberately creating decentralized redundant networks such that no single entity could be targeted or controlled.
Far too many governments seek to dismantle any decentralization, with a large variety of regularly incompatible claims of why they are doing that.
I really like the "Pay Your Rent" concept, but I am not putting all of what I consider to be back-payments in one place. We need decentralization, both for ourselves and to ensure that those doing great work don't become targets for governments/industry/churches/etc.
This has me thinking a lot about motive: where money and policy dictate not just the success and safety of for-profit/not-for-profit institutions, but how money and policy even validate the existence of these very constructs. I wondered out loud yesterday if church at a grassroots level - no money, no leadership, just show up - is ever really possible because ego gets in the way. No one is willing to take the risk to try things a different way because, most people can’t reimagine what they can’t see or haven’t experienced. And so, we get stuck in these stupid circles of knowing some kind of change is needed, but we’re not willing to either vote or invest.
Great post, as always, thank you. This made me think about Ethan Zuckerman's recentish book called Mistrust, where he gets into how people have not necessarily lost faith in each other, but we have lost faith in democracy and institutions that now don't work for the many (obviously they never worked for specific groups). He sees this as a global problem that transcends right and left. The question he grapples with is whether social movements should choose reform within existing institutions or dismantlement (eg. police reform vs defund/abolition). The AFN is a timely example! The grassroots activists have tried to reclaim it (Pam Palmater, Russ Diabo) but couldn't - now what? 'Reconciliation' writ large seems to be tinkering, not delivering meaningful change. Now what? Etc. Anyway, while zuckerman writes from an american academic perspective, and about liberal democracy, he is globally informed and interested in exactly that question of how do we get from now to that better place over there? What tools, what strategies, do we use now to build our social movements? So, that's the book collision your post brought me to - the other side of the elite capture of institutions is our abandonment of them, and the dangerous vacuum that opens up when we pull them down. We need to figure out how to do it without the extreme right, the strongmen, the law and order people and the vigilantes sliding into the vacuum (trump-like). So he has some ways to help think through the problem.