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26 Reddit comments about Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed:

u/rarely_beagle · 14 pointsr/mealtimevideos

I love reading and hearing about model cities. Here's some other media if you like this sort of stuff.


One of the most engrossing biographies I've ever read, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York is the story of a power hungry paperclip maximizer but instead of prioritizing paperclips over everything, Moses prioritizes wildly expensive highways. His fall, around the late 60s, lead to renewed interest in public transit and a counter-revolution articulated in Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Seeing Like a State A condemnation on the central planners infatuation with the top-down and observable over the bottom-up and functional.


Reports of the death of China's vacant cities may be [greatly exaggerated.](

Seeing Like A State: Book Review A fun review of the book mentioned above.


Every city planner has a plan until they get doused with a squatter's bucket of piss.

For those further interested in charter cities, see recently-ousted world bank chief economist Paul Romer's conversation on charter cities.

On Usonia, Flank Lloyd Wright's stab at an affordable model US town.

u/Pantagruelist · 11 pointsr/AskHistorians

I'm glad this was interesting! Foucault was pretty aware of religion and what was in the Bible, hence why my account is a bit inaccurate for the sake of simplicity. But Christianity actually plays a pretty prominent role in most of his books. In Sexuality, for example, he is especially interested in the "confession" and how it transforms from a religious idea to an everyday one. I'm not sure what my personal thoughts are on Foucault and whether or not I agree. But if you wanna give him a fair shake I recommend reading one of his books, maybe Discipline and Punishment, because my summary doesn't do him justice.

I'm an outsider to the field also (an enthusiast), but so was Foucault. And I'm doing research in an entirely unrelated field. That said, Foucault has been applied to many other fields. Some are obvious: Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies, Gay/Lesbian Studies, etc. But, here are a few examples of fairly recent books that either use him directly or gently draw on him:

The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics by Tania Murray Li: an interesting in-depth study on Indonesia

Only Hope: Coming of Age Under China’s One-Child Policy by Vanessa Fong: another study focusing on a particular state, this type how China's One-Child Policy shapes children and families. She probably draws more on Bourdieu than Foucault, but both are in there.

Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity by Ann Ferguson: for those in the education field, Ferguson analyzes how schools are part of the system creating and reinforcing the idea of the Black, male criminal. Note, it's not that schools perpetuate stereotypes, nor that school policies are discriminatory because of the image black males have in American society. She argues that schools CREATE this identity, straight from Foucault.

Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed by James C. Scott: This one is pretty well known (relative to the others) and it's a pretty fun read. He doesn't draw exclusively on Foucault, but it is a big part.

u/[deleted] · 11 pointsr/DebateaCommunist

Agricultural collectivism as seen in the USSR and PRC and so on has been an enormous failure, but that's not an indictment of "communism" as such as it is an indictment of dogmatic Stalinism. There are other regimes of land ownership that a communist society might employ. The article itself (let's assume it's entirely accurate) points to one:

>They agreed to break the law at the time by signing a secret agreement to divide the land, local People's Commune, into family plots.
Each plot was to be worked by an individual family who would turn over some of what they grew to the government and the collective whilst at the same time agreeing that they could keep the surplus for themselves.

Compare this to a passage from James Scott's Seeing Like A State, quoted in Kevin Carson's Communal Property, a Libertarian Analysis:

>Let us imagine a community in which families have usufruct rights to parcels of cropland during the main growing season. Only certain crops, however, may be planted, and every seven years the usufruct land
is distributed among resident families according to each family's size and its number of able-bodied adults. After the harvest of the main-season crop, all cropland reverts to common land where any family may glean,
graze their fowl and livestock, and even plant quickly maturing, dry-season crops. Rights to graze fowl and livestock on pasture-land held in common by the village is extended to all local families, but the number of animals that can be grazed is restricted according to family size, especially in dry years when forage isscarce.... Everyone has the right to gather firewood for normal family needs, and the village blacksmith and
baker are given larger allotments. No commercial sale from village woodlands is permitted.

>Trees that have been planted and any fruit they may bear are the property of the family who planted them, no matter where they are now growing.... Land is set aside for use or leasing out by widows with
children and dependents of conscripted males.... After a crop failure leading to a food shortage, many of these arrangements are readjusted. Better-off villagers are expected to assume some responsibility for poorer relatives—by sharing their land, by hiring them, or by simply feeding them. Should the shortage persist, a council composed of heads of families may inventory food supplies and begin daily rationing.

Carson goes on to say that:

>The village commune model traced its origins, in the oldest areas of civilization, back to the beginning of the agricultural revolution, when humans first began to raise crops in permanent village settlements. Before that time, the dominant social grouping was the semi-nomadic hunter-gather group. As hunter-gatherers experimented with saving a portion of the grain they'd gathered, they became increasingly tied to permanent settlements.

> In the areas where communal tenure reemerged in Dark Age Europe, after the collapse of Roman power, the village commune had its origin in the settlement of barbarian tribes. (Even in Europe, the village commune was actually the reemergence of a social unit which had previously been partly suppressed, first by the Roman Republic in Italy and later by the Empire in its areas of conquest). In both cases, the hunter-gather group or the clan was a mobile or semi-mobile social unit based on
common kinship relations. So the village commune commonly had its origins in a group of settlers who saw themselves as members of the same clan and sharing a common ancestry, who broke the land
for a new agricultural settlement by their common efforts. It was not, as the modern town, a group of atomized individuals who simply happened to live in the same geographic area and had to negotiate the
organization of basic public services and utilities in some manner or other.

Now, consider the following examples, two real, one hypthetical:

One: I lived for a time in Boulder County, Colorado. In an attempt to keep suburban sprawl (Denver) out, the county owns a lot of farmland, which it leases to local tenants for $100/acre/year (which is enormously cheap). You don't own the land and have to abide by certain restrictions, but you are free to farm it however you like. I worked for an elderly couple who grew organic raspberries on 5 acres, for sale at the farmer's market. Next door there was a five acre plot that was run by a CSA whose members all participated in the working of the land. We can imagine other ways to work farmland of this kind, based on different sorts of collectives-- CSAs, communes, families. But I can't imagine an "individual" trying to be a farmer on more land than a tiny garden.

Example two: A friend of mine recently bought into a land trust in the mountains nearby. The trust consists of 380 acres, which is divided into 12 5 acre plots; the remaining 320 acres form a common which is cooperatively managed by the land trust council (consisting of one representative from each of the individual plots). Buying in doesn't buy you ownership of "your" five acres; it buys you a 99 year lease. At the end of this time, the council will decide whether and how to reapportion the land.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Example three, hypothetical: In a given community, all land is understood to be either owned in common or not owned at all, but is under management of the community as a whole. This management takes the form of regular distribution/redistribution of the land between smaller units. These units may be families (of any shape and structure), collectives or communes, religious communities, small businesses, homesteaders, or whatever. They have a right to live on their (however many) acres as they please provided they follow certain environmental guidelines agreed on by the community. Common land, including common buildings, would be managed by the community after a manner of its choosing. Land redistribution and matters of "taxation"-- or what individual units owe to the whole-- can be decided by the community as they see fit.

This is a model of communal land ownership which has nothing to do with that found in Stalinist theory and practice, and much more resembles the "agro-industrial federation" proposed by Proudhon. It also resembles communal land ownership systems found in traditional tribe and village societies throughout the globe, including ancestral European societies. That includes the traditional village mir or obschina in Russia which was destroyed by "collectivization" exactly as and by the same process through which communal land ownership systems practiced by indigenous people in the United States were destroyed and land transferred to enormous land-owning corporations (such as timber, mining, railroad, ranching, and agricultural interests).

Returning to the example of Xiaoging, three things jump out at me:

First, the villagers did not restore "individual ownership" of the means of production. They restored family ownership of agricultural land. What is a family, in this context? A small collective (or commune) of people who share a common identity, a common living space; who work together and regularly participate in "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs"-type interactions. What if the definition of "family" could be extended beyond the two-parent unit or whatever it actually is in Xiaoging?

Second, the villagers redistributed the land owned by the "collective" themselves, through a basically democratic process. They got together and decided which families got what land. That's great! I wish we could do that with land owned by Weyerhaueser. But I am going to suggest that the villagers descendants 100 years from now may wish that their ancestors had built in a mechanism for regularly reconvening-- every 7, 20, or 50 years; whatever-- to reapportion land based on need. And in fact, without knowing it, they may have-- the next time a land tenure crisis turns up, the precedent set in 1978 may provide a solution.

Third, the villagers continued to supply agricultural products to the state and the collective. Of course, they had no other choice-- and in a similar manner, village communes in Western Europe and Russia supplied regular crops to feudal lords, the church, and the tsarist state. These types of organizations are layered parasitically over the collective, but there may be a way to return their better features-- the feature of a collective which can redistribute the products of agriculture as needed-- while democratizing them and eliminating the element of coercion. I don't have a good example of how this might work. What is needed is a mechanism to distribute the agricultural surplus from the country and to get industrial tools to the farmers. The freed market is one such mechanism; voluntary cooperatives are another; local production of tools via 3D printers is another. My point is that the villagers can, under capitalism, act as atomized individuals, but in a postcapitalist society they will be better served by continuing various projects in common, such as maintaining schools, libraries, and other public buildings on their common land.

u/werttrew · 11 pointsr/slatestarcodex

A really detailed analysis of the most common 4-digit pin numbers. More than 10 percent of all passwords are 1234.


This four-square graph plants Slatestarcodex in the realm of “insightful/serious” and places Reddit at “boring/trolling.” So, where does that place a subreddit devoted to SSC, then?


At the recommendation of several people in this sub, I bought James C. Scott’s Seeing Like the State and wow, it is indeed fantastic.

A good review by J Bradford Delong here

Some highlights for me so far:

u/EvanHarper · 9 pointsr/worldnews

I love how your proposed solution to urban poverty in Brazil starts with "literally bulldoze all of their homes."

Yeah. That'll work.

u/trollunit · 9 pointsr/CanadaPolitics

Besides the usual books a history/political science student will read, a few really got my attention. On my bookshelf, I currently have:

u/nikrdc · 8 pointsr/Anarcho_Capitalism

Read as much as you have to to do well in the class, and never stop reading because you disagree. Only stop reading because you are bored/unimpressed.

You should absolutely read "Seeing Like a State". The author is an anarchist, though he doesn't believe anarcho-capitalism is a valid form of anarchism. Despite his dislike for ancaps, his book is valuable to us. He dismantles the state down to the very essence that leads it to act in the overbearing and destructive way that it does.

u/SoftandChewy · 7 pointsr/samharris

Here's a worthwhile section to excerpt, in anticipation of those who may feel inclined to write off the writer as some right-wing conservative:

>Let me conclude by returning to the theme I led with: in this highly-polarized political moment, it is generally assumed that if someone is pushing back against a popular left-leaning narrative, or espousing an inconvenient view for the left, then they are de facto aligned with the right, intentionally or not. Beauchamp’s rebuttal attempt provides a great example of this fundamentalist thinking: highlighting systemic political bias or threats to free speech on campus will help the right – regardless of one’s intentions –and so, apparently, we should not talk about these issues (except, perhaps, to deny they are a big deal).
>I am deeply familiar with this “logic”: as a Muslim scholar who, until recently, worked exclusively on national security and foreign policy issues, it was regularly *suggested* to me that criticism of the “War on Terror” – especially by “people like me” — provided cover or ammunition for al-Qaeda, ISIS and their sympathizers. In the view of these critics (mostly on the right), I was aiding and abetting “the enemy,” intentionally or not.
>There was even an article published in the National Security Law Journal which argued that I, and academics like me (by which the author seemed to mean: Muslim, left-leaning, and politically “radical”) should be viewed as enemies of the state — and could legitimately be targeted by national security and law enforcement agencies. This article was eventually retracted, and its author forced to resign from his position at West Point (as described in the Washington Post here). But suffice it to say, I *get* the kind of narrative Beauchamp is trying to spin here, and I reject it whole-cloth.
>I challenge U.S. national security and foreign policy precisely to render it more effective, efficient and beneficent – because I actually have “skin in the game” with regards to how the military is deployed. I relentlessly criticize bad research on Trump and his supporters because it is important for the opposition to be clear-eyed and level-headed about why he won – to help ensure it does not happen again. A similar type of motivation undergirds my critique of Beauchamp and Yglesias:
>It does not help the left or academics to respond to distortions and exaggerations on the right by denying that there is any significant problem. It is especially damaging for “wonks” or academics to dress up these kinds of political narratives (essentially, propaganda) as social research – even more so if this “research” suffers from glaring errors or shortcomings like the essays criticized here.
>Such a strategy is self-defeating because it is the left, those in humanities and social sciences, those from historically marginalized and disenfranchised groups, and those who seek to give voice to these perspectives or to help these populations, who stand to lose the most if the credibility of social research is further eroded due to perceived partisanship.
>I get why many on the left, especially at elite universities and media outlets, would rather just say “nothing to see here,” than to confront these realities. But it will not do, for all of us to simply close ranks and insist “there is no problem, we will make no changes.” Because there is a problem — and change is coming to institutions of higher learning, one way or another.

u/Phanes7 · 6 pointsr/CapitalismVSocialism

If I was going to provide someone with a list of books that best expressed my current thinking on the Political Economy these would be my top ones:

  1. The Law - While over a century old this books stands as the perfect intro to the ideas of Classical Liberalism. When you understand the core message of this book you understand why people oppose so many aspects of government action.
  2. Seeing Like A State - The idea that society can be rebuilt from the top down is well demolished in this dense but important read. The concept of Legibility was a game changer for my brain.
  3. Stubborn Attachments - This books presents a compelling philosophical argument for the importance of economic growth. It's hard to overstate how important getting the balance of economic growth vs other considerations actually is.
  4. The Breakdown of Nations - A classic text on why the trend toward "bigger" isn't a good thing. While various nits can be picked with this book I think its general thesis is holding up well in our increasingly bifurcated age.
  5. The Joy of Freedom - Lots of books, many objectively better, could have gone here but this book was my personal pivot point which sent me away from Socialism and towards capitalism. This introduction to "Libertarian Capitalism" is a bit dated now but it was powerful.

    There are, of course many more books that could go on this list. But the above list is a good sampling of my personal philosophy of political economy. It is not meant as a list of books to change your mind but simply as a list of books that are descriptive of my current belief that we should be orientated towards high (sustainable) economic growth & more decentralization.

    Some honorable mentions:

    As a self proclaimed "Libertarian Crunchy Con" I have to add The Quest for Community & Crunchy Cons

    The book The Fourth Economy fundamentally changed my professional direction in life.

    Anti-Fragile was another book full of mind blowing ideas and shifted my approach to many things.

    The End of Jobs is a great combination of The Fourth Economy & Anti-Fragile (among other concepts) into a more real-world useful set of ideas.

    Markets Not Capitalism is a powerful reminder that it is not Capitalism per se that is important but the transformational power of markets that need be unleashed.

    You will note that I left out pure economic books, this was on purpose. There are tons of good intro to econ type books and any non-trained economist should read a bunch from a bunch of different perspectives. With that said I am currently working my way through the book Choice and if it stays as good as it has started that will probably get added to my core list.

    So many more I could I list like The Left, The Right, & The State or The Problem of Political Authority and on it goes...
    I am still looking for a "manifesto" of sorts for the broad movement towards decentralization (I have a few possibilities on my 'to read list') so if you know of any that might fit that description let me know.
u/Goatf00t · 6 pointsr/neoliberal
u/BarnabyCajones · 6 pointsr/slatestarcodex

> it would be that I don't trust a woman's brothers and/or father to be all that good at supporting her right to bodily autonomy

I think this is the right critique for you, as a feminist.

The cultures we are talking about here don't see individuals as the fundamental unit of society. They see families in that role. (You could actually think about the metaphor "head of the family" as suggesting the family as an organic body and whole, in fact).

Now, on the one hand, I think that means you're probably missing the mark about men sympathizing with each other, because a person thinking of themselves as a man, with class solidarity with other men, requires a kind of individualist notion about identity that is, in my experience, absolutely alien to people for whom the family is the fundamental unit. They're not a man - they're a father, say. It's their daughter, not a woman. Those are the identities.

If you're sharply committed to Enlightenment notions about individual rights and autonomy, this notion of family and familial obligation and duty are incompatible.

I do think the original observations about the steelmanning of honor culture, above, though, do get at something really crucial in this broader conversation.

Honor culture largely operates at a very local, individually adjudicated level. It's hyper sensitive to the particularities and nuances of individual contexts and relationships and histories. In this sense, it's of a piece with much of the kinds of local, pre-rational social organization that James C. Scott's Seeing Like a State discusses as exactly the kind of rules that are invisible to states, that centralizing states try to sweep away.

And a lot of the infractions (especially sexual harassment) we're talking about here also operate at very, very local levels, with innuendo and ambiguity and uncertain norms and expectations and he-said-she-said situations cropping up. And it's all very fluid and uncertain. Whatever its other flaws, the localness and particularness of honor culture is operating at the same general social level as these infractions.

It seems like all these discussions about getting the state involved about harassment flounder on these issues. No one can really say very clearly what behavior is or is not line crossing, because it's so sensitive to the woman, and her culture, and her history, and her expectations, and how she responds. It's so sensitive to the shared history of the individuals interacting, and how they read each other, too. And meanwhile, the state is very dumb, and very, very powerful. We have a lot of rules to bind the state's hands because it's so powerful and so dumb, such a blunt instrument. A lot of people have complained about the way "innocent until proven guilty" is such an incredibly high bar when it comes to questions of sexual misconduct that it just functionally let's almost all abusers get off the hook unless they are astonishingly egregious. But there's good reason for that - state power has to be used very, very judiciously.

And because women are all so very different from each other, with so many different traditions and cultures and temperaments and expectations and preferences, and because these matters are of the most intimate nature, it's not clear that the quest for more explicit and easily understood and enforced universal rules of the sort that Enlightenment states prefer will ever be completed.

Of course, honor culture historically has also been incredibly violent, and has a nasty habit of spiraling off into Hatfield-McCoy types of vendettas as punishment is met by retaliation is met by retaliation is met by...

Given all that, I think this is why, in the past, as a kind of middle ground, the centralized state didn't play much of a role in these questions, and instead people often navigated their love lifes by participating in voluntary organizations like churches (that don't have access to the monopoly on force that states have) that could make much, much greater and more invasive demands on them and could also filter bad actors out, and that could also rely more heavily on local knowledge and context for adjudicating conflict and setting norms. By being voluntary, people who were unhappy with them could leave. Also by being voluntary, they could make much deeper demands of their members to live up to pro-social ideals, solving a bunch of coordination problems. And, by claiming a kind of communal authority for dispute resolution, they could prevent escalation to violence, a la honor culture.

But none of that is compatible with more atomization, and a focus on loose ties and individual rights, with people freed from those kinds of invasive voluntary communities. It's not compatible with people moving all the time, and not wanting to lock themselves into a smaller, bordered communities.

u/t3nk3n · 6 pointsr/Libertarian

Legible in this context means 'able to be brought under the control the state'. This has the full definition and theoretical model in which it plays a role. It also has a few examples you're looking for. Well sort of, you're definition of a state is wrong. But that's not relevant, I can still provide an example: the Berbers

u/moto123456789 · 4 pointsr/left_urbanism

Seeing Like a State by James C Scott

A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey

u/Krackor · 3 pointsr/MarketAnarchism

What I really want to get at is the fact that "government" is not an all-or-nothing deal. There are many actions and interactions that are heavily influenced by the superstition of "government", and there are plenty more that are relatively untouched by that superstition. When you look at a map created by someone who believes in nation-states, it will look like it's all-government, but that image is an illusion that is part-and-parcel of the superstition. By talking about "the territory controlled by governments", you're still seeing like a state.

Once you start seeing "government" as a mental phenomenon rather than a geographical phenomenon, the false reality of the nation-state map fades away. You start seeing things in terms of Jeffrey Tuckerisms, where the simple act of pouring milk into your cereal bowl is a beautiful act of anarchy, despite it happening within a region painted all one color on the map.

u/raisondecalcul · 2 pointsr/sorceryofthespectacle

Yes, that would be amazing! But, the whole problem is that any kind of "certification" of such people is bound to fail in two ways: it will end up certifying inauthentic people, and it will end up failing to certify authentic people. This is because the "eyes of the State" cannot see the crucial factor which is Dao but can only see aspects which can be lineared/imaged ("thou shalt not worship graven images" = "the Dao that can be spoken is not the eternal Dao"). In other words, false positives and false negatives in the certification process—which is already the problem we have, prevasively, with people certiified as psychiatrists and therapists.

The thing about regalia is that it really doesn't matter which mythic figure you dress up as—as I mentioned, a "mythic human" figure such as Wizard or Alchemist is really your best bet for reaching someone in a psychotic mode. The reason is that real trick not dressing up as a mythic figure, but dressing down to prevent the accumulation of projected archetypes upon one's person by the psychotic individual. In other words, authenticity or appearing as a unique, mundane individual is the key to being able to reach someone trapped in an altered state. The donning of cold-blooded attire like white lab coats, business suits, or scrubs only serves to evoke the archetypes of the medical establishment: the alienating/ed psychiatrist, the sadistic surgeon, or Nurse Ratched. The real trick is appearing to the suffering individual as a self-actualized human—this is whom the psychotic naturally trust, and you can't fake that. Furthermore, those attempting to be authentic individuals must not use this power to support a system of imprisonment and abuse of the psychologically disenfranchised—this is why you don't see many authentic people (dressed as themselves) in psychiatric institutions. The best ones usually simply refuse to participate. And the even bester ones sometimes go "into the Death Star" to do their best on the inside—and these are the ones who can most benefit from the thought of Regalia.

"Dressing as yourself" simply means not letting the uniform get you down. A few personal touches—a necklace, or a ring, or an eyebrow piercing—can undo the whole attire and subvert the uniform to the eyes of the psychotic person. This is because, ironically, it is our donning of impersonal, eternal symbols which marks us as unique individuals. More precisely, it is our mastery of the dialogue between us and these numinous symbols in our attire which identify us as such. The doctor who wears nothing but a lab coat, button-up shirt, black pants and shoes is owned by his uniform; but add an earring (for a man) or a non-cliche tattoo and you have someone who has subtly subverted the bland authority of the costume. Of course, these touches must be unique and authentic, freely-chosen—if perhaps inherently, slightly exaggerated—expressions of the individual. Thus, the best costume is not costume but the choosing of one's own attire, with an eye to its evocation of subtle intensities. In other words, regalia is in good taste.

I remember two pieces of regalia which flagged their owners as solid and concrete individuals despite their placement within an inhuman system: one nurse I met had a very interesting belt buckle—and was the only person who really listened to me for the whole month I was imprisoned. In another instance, a psychiatrist wore a stethoscope, which seemed somewhat humorous to me since, as a psychiatrist, he probably didn't really need it—and he ended up also being the most humanizing individual I met in the circumstances. Even the props of the medical establishment can be used as reassuring regalia, if détourned into a disruptive context.

Thus, the signal which is being sent is real a collusion with the subversion of the oppressive institution which is, for the imprisoned psychotic, everywhere present. A marker of distinction which separates out the surface of the individual from the oppressive monotony of fascist engagement which is the flatness of the surface imposed in his surroundings. This is why you do not see programs of regalia in psychotherapy: their very presence subverts or critiques the uniform, and the institution of a program of "official" regalia would also make it invalid as an individual form of expression.

This is why I don't think a certification of regalia-approved practioners would be very helpful: it is not very different from a certification of "authentic individuals" and this is not something that can be judged accurately by an institution or systematic process: only, perhaps, by other authentic individuals or those in a mode of perception particularly sensitive to inauthenticity (psychosis).

Thus, the ability to don regalia is a marker of a true shaman: the ability to, with the same costume, both banish and evoke the numinous archetypes which might be attracted to the surface of that individual. To say, "I am more" and "I am merely human" in the same gesture—this is what reassures people in the belly of the beast, and what instantly confirms you are on their side. In the way that Sophia is said to follow you to the deepest dungeon and then, lifting her metal helmet, suddenly appear and help you out, it is the people who take on this mythic role who must, to fulfill that role, most clearly assert their individual will to help and their rejection of the alterior intentions which have brought them to your presence.

u/salvadors · 2 pointsr/changemyview

> The action to document basic informations about every citizen is essential in my mind in order to properly manage the country

What about the countries where this information isn't kept (e.g. the UK, or most other common law countries)? Are they not properly managed?

It's certainly true that governments tend to want to create these sorts of databases, but that doesn't mean they're essential. Seeing Like A State even makes a compelling argument that such schemes tend to be largely detrimental as they always require squeezing a complex reality into an over-simplified structure.

u/kzielinski · 2 pointsr/australia

How does your Turing proposal differ from the Multifunction Pollis?

Generally planned cities have a track record of failing and being pluaged with social problems. How is this proposal particularly different from previous attempts to create a planned city?

In particular I would point to the rather detailed critisism of such schemes found in the work of James C Scott.

u/cassander · 2 pointsr/Economics

considering that none of those books appears to be about organization, management, or institutions, it seems I was right. It is perfectly possible to know a lot about policy without knowing about organizations, the field is criminally neglected in political science. Neustadt is the best example of this, a perennial favorite of undergrad political science, he utterly ignores institutional issues in his magnum opus on presidential leadership. he calls FDR a great leader of men, but ignores the fact that a far larger share of those men than any president since owed their jobs either to him personally or to programs identified with him, and the effect that had on their behavior, that he presided over institutions he was creating, not those created long ago by others.

I commend your reading, but it has little to do with the topics we're discussing. try reading this or this then getting back to me. the first is written by someone on the moderate right the second someone fairly far left. both are massively respected scholars.

u/theinevitable · 2 pointsr/rpg

If you're interested in this, try to find the chapter of Seeing like a State about the development of the metric system-- before the metric system, most people used measurements like "how far you can walk in a day" "how much grain it takes to make a loaf of bread" or "how much land one man can plow in a week." These measurements, naturally, varied depending on terrain and other factors, and were not helpful once large-scale governments existed. But knowing that it's "five kilometers (as the crow flies)" to the nearest town is not helpful if you're a guy with a cart on a winding path in the middle of the alps.

Also, that book is amazing in general. Great stuff about urban planning, the history of Paris, early standardization of agriculture, etc. Very interesting.

u/amaxen · 1 pointr/moderatepolitics

I got this from this anarchist book. I'm not an anarchist, but the guy did make a lot of interesting and true points. For example: police are heavily fetishized in our society - from the typical TV shows and movie heroes we watch to what we think police do vs. what they actually do. Police are basically armed bureaucrats but are only able to intervene in things they actually have information on, which isn't much. If you drive through town with your license plate not on you'll certainly get that rectified by police. If you beat your wife, though, probably not so much. Same as if you engage in any real consensual activity.

u/HTG464 · 1 pointr/lostgeneration

Peter Joseph is wrong for a number of reasons, and we can predict with a good degree of certainty that his system would fail in practice, if implemented. The techno-utopian society that forms the dreamscape of the RBE crowd is just a rehash of mid-20th century modernism which gave us the likes of Brasilia. The best book disproving modernism is Seeing Like a State:

> The author builds a persuasive case against "development theory" and imperialistic state planning that disregards the values, desires, and objections of its subjects. And in discussing these planning disasters, he identifies four conditions common to them all: the state's attempt to impose administrative order on nature and society; a high-modernist ideology that believes scientific intervention can improve every aspect of human life; a willingness to use authoritarian state power to effect large-scale innovations; and a prostrate civil society that cannot effectively resist such plans.

What annoys me, though, is the number of ideologues rehashing Peter Joseph's arguments word for word without adding a single meaningful thought or contribution to them.

u/devilbunny · 1 pointr/Economics

You're starting to have the insights of Seeing Like a State, which is a fascinating book.

u/A_Soporific · 1 pointr/changemyview

Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed introduces a number of these essential concepts and goes a little into the background, and really finds the edges of the thing by finding those cases where they fall apart completely. I also think that it has the right overall tone to not repulse someone with an anarchic bent. There are better surveys from an academic perspective, but legibility is important.

u/russilwvong · 1 pointr/suggestmeabook

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume 1 and Volume 2. A classic, but still surprisingly readable and insightful.

Joseph Heath, Enlightenment 2.0 (2014). What we know about the limitations of human rationality, and the implications for politics. I'd also recommend Heath's Economics Without Illusions, which discusses common economic fallacies, half on the right and half on the left. Heath has an amazing ability to explain concepts clearly.

Edit: One more, James C. Scott's Seeing Like a State (1998). Gives examples of large-scale political initiatives which failed, and explained why. An important reminder of the need for humility. Review by Brad DeLong.

u/The_Old_Gentleman · -1 pointsr/socialism

I agree that Stalin was a horrible human being, but the problems of the USSR go much further and much deeper than just that. Stalin didn't act alone, he had an entire State structure comprised of hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats, journalists, police, soldiers, generals, party members and etc who went along for several reasons, and a civil society that didn't succeed in resisting the worst of his plans. Were all of these people just subjectively "evil" aswell? What factors of their daily lives made them go along with the bullshit?

That's because the problem was not just the evil will of Stalin himself, but the entire political-economic structure of the Soviet Union that gave him such power: What Lenin and Trotsky put in place was not a Socialist society where workers had genuine control over their conditions of labor and social surplus, but a State-Capitalist system where a centralized and hierarchical bureaucracy alienated those from the working classes and tried to brute-force a centralized industrialization with little care for human factors or for complex interdependencies they could not properly manage.

Even before Stalin got close to the highest position of power, there were already mass working class demonstrations, strikes and even insurrections against Bolshevik policies that were violently repressed by Trotsky, and a gradual elimination of Soviet democracy and working class freedom of assembly, unionization and speech. Much of the party bureaucracy could genuinely believe they were doing what was "right" and "necessary" when they were really asserting their own class dominance, as their perspective changed the moment they were put in a position of power over others. Even if Lenin didn't die so early or Trotsky or someone else took power instead of Stalin, the USSR would not have developed much differently.

The real question is, why did Lenin and Trotsky fail so bad at creating Socialism? The reasons are various, from the objective factors that weakened civil society's ability to resist domination and build something truly free (the international isolation of the USSR, the general lack of industrialization and infrastructure in Russia when compared to Western Europe, the enormous amount of enemies that declared war on and attempted to sabotage the USSR at once, the deeply entrenched hierarchies in Russian society, etc) aswell as many Leninist ideas and practices that were deeply flawed and failed to deal with those objective conditions in a way that meaningfully built Socialism (the support for a centralized "vanguard" party dictatorship, the High-Modernist ideology of planning and approach to industrialization, the disregard for direct worker control of production in favor of believing "planning" automatically establishes directly social labor, the maintenance of a standing army and police instead of an armed and self-organized working class, etc).

u/michaelc4 · -5 pointsr/Futurology

You are correct, I am a pretentious shit. Yet I still believe you are uninformed. Check out this article:

Out of belief in humanity I also used to think anything deemed worthy by academia was of value, but I was sorely mistaken. Check out The Tyranny of Experts and Seeing Like a State.

I do apologize for my aggressive approach, but I don't have the time or the energy to write elaborate essays on reddit anytime I disagree with someone in the name of civility. I do try to attack the idea rather than the person though :/