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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Design and Totalitarianism

I got a comment back a few days ago regarding the Design that described it as totalitarian. I find that a bit odd as I can’t see how anyone can read the Design and come to that conclusion. 

First, in a totalitarian system the state has no limits and intervenes in both public and private lives of people. Here, I see, the first difference between totalitarianism and the Design. In the Design we make a distinction between the “people side” and the “technology side” of society. We then concentrate on the technological side and minimise what we have to say on the people side. We do talk about communities as the building blocks of society. We do talk about having a minimum of shared values such as a basic set of human rights, tolerance for different communities and the right to move between communities. We do talk about the government of such communicates based on direct democracy and for communities to link up with like minded communities regardless of geography (no nations). Beyond that, we don’t have anything else to say. We don’t interfere with people’s private lives. We don’t tell people how they should live their lives. We encourage and allow differences between communities and people can have different sets of morals so long as each community accepts the right of others to have their differences and remains within the basic human rights.  To me, that put the Design at almost the opposite end of the spectrum to totalitarianism.

Second, totalitarian systems tend to have a central, strong, leader. In the system proposed in the Design we have no one central leader. Instead we have a system of distributing and localising of power. Most people have the option to get involved in decision making where they live, in their own communities. Their competence and skill does limit their decision making options to technical areas they know about but combined with direct democracy for all the non-technical aspects of a society the Design probably comes closer to an ideal democracy then the current representative democracies we have today!

Thus, with its distribution of power, localisation of decision making and separation and non-interference with people’s private lives, to me, makes the Design far from totalitarianism. So, I wonder, how people can read the design and conclude otherwise?


  1. I have come to following conclusion: the difference between technocratic and socialistic/capitalistic systems in a nutshell is following: socialism and capitalism *in theory* do not set any limits to human behaviour. In ideal capitalism you can do anything you want as long as you possess money. In ideal socialism you can do anything you want as long as you are able to work. Technocracy, however, sets limits to human behaviour according to sustainability of physical and technical infrastructure. And this can be taken as totalitarian by those who compare it to ideal capitalism or socialism. However, in practice *all* societys need to set some limits to behaviour of people in the interests of social sustainability.

  2. yes, every society has its limits but calling it "totalitarianism" because technocracy actually defines those limits represents a misunderstand of the word "totalitarianism".

    On the difference between capitalism / socialism on the one hand and technocracy on the other, I would say both capitalism and socialism both represent a "people" based ideology where as technocracy concentrates on the technology and doesn't concentrate so much on people.


  3. The Design is "totalitarian" with the Earth is the dictator. We have to obey the Earth, hence there are limits that impose sustainability.

  4. Nature is a harsh mistress, I think we r learning that the hard way!

  5. Also, remember that as we are learning today, economy trumps other forms of decision-making and enforcement. Since Technocracy is, at its core, a new kind of economy, folks are expressing fear that they'll be confined by the new economy's rules.