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Cathedral Bazaar



Politicians do not practice self-criticism because it is useless. In a discipline where lying is at the heart of what they do and the principal tool, they have no other option. However, what politicians do is to keep their options open as to their next political manoeuvre. Many good political moves originate in the realization that the previous one was an error. However, due to the nature of the political game, all these processes need to remain secret. Not doing so would expose politicians for what they truly are and this will spell the end of their jobs. The best process to accomplish this is to keep everybody in the dark, including all their supporters and staff and this needs a hierarchical structure where questions won't be answered.

People are different. Many of us simply do not practice self-criticism. We do it because we are lazy or have an invested ego or is too time consuming or we don't feel we are ready or are afraid to face our mistakes… or … or … or. There are many reasons for us not to analyze ourselves and we usually use them all. However, for those few who do practice self-criticism, for those few who manage to remain objective, they don't mind using other peoples' arguments and positions to help them along. Although the criticism is personal, the ideas used in this process seldom are. We seek advice, help, points of view, counselling and so on. But in order to do so, the best structure for us is a networked one.

More often than not, our best ideas originate from this process because they are enriched by the criticism originating in the network. Politicians, on the other hand, have nobody to turn to and thus their ideas are sterile, flat and un-imaginative. Sounds familiar?

Achieving perfection

Politicians are keen to explain to anybody that may want to listen that "politics is the art of the possible". They explain so because in this manner they are covered. If (or should we say when) things go wrong they already have a pre-made excuse enabling a clean getaway for them: "You see, it simply wasn't possible" they say (or another suitable variation in the same tone). Their modus operandi to seek perfection is to add laws and regulations since this is the only thing they know how to do. As a consequence of this process we end up with piles and piles and piles of dead letter law that essentially enables them to control our lives and do whatever they please. Seeking perfection in this manner is, of course, pointless. If the application of one law does not work a stack of other laws won't fix it. However, as their power resides in those laws, they need a system that will enable them to exercise this power. And the only viable system is a hierarchical one. Politicians order and everybody else obeys. There is an old German maxim that applies " warum einfach wenns kompliziert geht" which translates loosely as "why make it simple if we can make it complicated".

People think differently. When people are seeking perfection it is usually expressed as a quality of simplification. This is so because simple things work the best. Simple things are beautiful. We don't use simple things to enslave or control other people. Simple things are a work of art and science. Simple things that work make our lives easier. As such, perfection for regular people means removing as much superfluous and complex stuff as possible while retaining only the most useful core. As we are not concerned with the ultimate control or our fellow humans, we don't need a hierarchical structure. What we need is a system where we can test our solutions. A system that will tell us if it works and if it is simple enough. This system is a network because in a hierarchical system all answers are suspect because they are mandatory. We want things to work in reality. Politicians want things to work for them and screw reality.


Politicians have only two tools: deception and laws. They use both with considerable skill specializing in unexpected uses. The typical example are anti-terrorist draconian laws that originally targeted terrorists only but are now used to persecute everybody from drug dealers to small time thieves down to peaceful demonstrators. The laws remain the same but their use expanded widely. This use did so with politicians' winks and without them lifting a finger to countermand their ridiculous new uses. For it's all OK as long as control is increased. The only problem is, again, that in order for people not to throw them out, they need a structure that guarantees their control. And this structure must be hierarchical.

People think differently (what a surprise). People are born trouble-shooters who (within their means) actually try to fix things. By nature they are far more flexible than somebody that must adhere rigidly to statues and rules, even if they make those rules and even if it is all a sham. Basically the domain of the people is far larger than the microscopic domain of politicians. As such, people will make use of whatever tool there may be available and furthermore, they will think laterally and use those tools for unsuspected and unexpected solutions. But then again this implies discovering and having access to such tools and this means plenty of information coming in. And since people don't care where information comes from (as long as it is relevant) this necessarily implies that the best structure is a networked one because it provides maximum range.

Disturbed reality

By definition politicians lie. This means that by definition whatever comes out of their mouths is a disturbed or modified message. Politicians utter straight and correct messages only as a last resort and only if they have something to win. Otherwise, they will remain silent. The problem with this culture of distortion is that it must be enforced. The reality is that nobody believes politicians, yet, somehow, they remain in power. How is this possible? Simple, through a hierarchical system of enforcement. Without such a system politicians are doomed.

People naturally think in the opposite direction. Our brains are designed to recognize patterns of reality. We want to have a straight message. We want the truth. As such we need information to process, information that has not been tampered nor biased (as politicians do). The only guarantee we have that this information will at least have a chance to reach us, is if we are part of a network. If we are, it will be almost impossible for hierarchical organizations to control all the nodes in said network. As such, information, good information, will get through.

Communication issues

Politicians live in an isolated domain. They spend almost all their time dealing with "people issues" as filtered by their "support staff". They give "specific orders" to "specific aids" and they expect them to be executed to the letter. This necessarily implies that a very specific language is necessary. This (command and control) language only makes sense within their domain. It is for this reason that in all governments in the world a large set of "politically correct" phrases, sentences, words, acronyms and pseudo-words known as "bureaucratese" was developed. This language was specifically developed to interact with hierarchical structures the bureaucratic body is composed of. The problem with this language is that it colours the way in which politicians see the world. People are not people any longer, they are voters or electorate. There are no problems, there are issues. There is no truth; there are compromises and so on.

People on the other hand look at languages as communication tools. People usually don't have hierarchical structures at their disposal and even when they have them, they tend to be hierarchical networks. As such people value flexibility and fuzziness in their vocabularies. As long as the message gets through to its destination and it is understood, the language is irrelevant. This is important because different people have different languages and the easiest way to communicate with them is through the use of their languages. But if their languages are kept in isolation, communication is not possible. It is hence for the best interest of people not to remain in isolation and this necessarily leads to networked structures.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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