I’m not a technical philosopher. I’m not a politician. I’m a coder. I deal with data and decision making processes and I work in small empowered teams usually in a bottom up organisational culture. The relevant buzzword – for what it’s worth – is “agile”. Things seem to work better in bottom up agile structures.
It only recently occurred to me that this observation about my professional life matches exactly my observations about politics. I felt a bit daft, if I’m honest, because the reason is the same in both cases: decisions are best left to the people directly involved.
In societies prices coordinate the whole. In groups of a few thousand at most, as in a corporation, hierarchical leadership structures coordinate. Both are mechanisms that to bring together the work of smaller groups, but it is small groups that get stuff done.
So how does this apply to the present controversy over EU membership? Well it’s frankly rather obvious:
The EU does not let decisions get made by the people directly involved. It preempts all their decisions centrally where most of the useful information – explicit and certainly implicit – is simply absent. It needn’t have been that way. It could have kept it’s activities to a minimum, met once a decade to update it’s tiny rule book and left us all alone – and still met it’s goal of preventing conflict and knocking down trade barriers (doing exactly nothing at all is perhaps the best method of facilitating trade).
Instead the EU represents top down leadership facilitated by a massive bureaucracy and complex impenetrable processes. I sympathise with their outright rejection of democracy because there is no way they could actually listen to voters on that scale. They have to ignore voters to give themselves a shot at making the right decisions. They are not – in a limited practical sense – wrong to do so, the problem is that the whole edifice is misconceived. As a libertarian I believe- and frankly it seems rather obvious – that decisions are made by the right people when made outside of political systems and by the wrong people when made inside political systems. This is because when small groups do stuff together it rarely involves either a national issue of any kind nor coercing people into agreement.
Coercion, in particular, is simply less important for successful cooperation than most people think. It is also a lot less nice than most people seem to appreciate. It amazes me that IT professionals, in particular, seem predisposed to vote for policies and constitutional arrangements that make use of coercion . If someone came into your office and told you that you MUST use Node.js, then however much you like Node.js you would question whether it was his job to make that decision. In politics there is a lot more at stake than broken code. The quality of decisions matters more in politics than in coding, yet coders seem willing to assume the role of a interfering suffocating chief architect.
For these reasons we should be moving more and more aspects of life outside of the scope of politics not moving more and more aspects of life into the control of a remote opinionated elite. The EU is a step in exactly the wrong direction. The EU, literally, could not be more wrong.
If you work in an agile team then you know this explicitly and you regularly push back on external interference. It’s time to apply your agile thinking to the rest of your life and start pushing back on June 23rd.