01 July 2007

More mess

More from Daniel Finkelstein:

The best way of making good collective judgments is to aggregate many independent points of view. But tidy politics works on the opposite principle. it is organised as a conspiracy in which everyone defends everyone else's mistakes. Advice from a chimp (1) No experts (2) More mess, 'The Times', 27 June
Unity, in other words, is more important to our politics, than outcomes. That's not so surprising. Political parties are only institutions, and like all large organizations their goals are not necessarily those of the individuals within them, let alone those non-members they purport to represent. Large corporate organizations do adapt - or they go under. So do political organizations, even including the largest, most securre of them all: ruling governments. The tragedy is that their death throes can be protracted and drag many thousands of people with them. It's little comfort to know that the most reviled and hated regimes will one day come to an end; or even that corrupt, insane political programmes - step forward, Common Agricultural Policy! - are unsustainable in the long run. The long run can be very long, and the damage done to people and the environment by, say, the Soviet Union or the CAP, is largely irreversible.

Perhaps we need to look at a new type of institution. One whose structure and activities are a byproduct of the outcome it targets, rather than the other way round.

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