Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Who Pays?

Where does the money for general welfare come from? Why, it comes from the same place the money for private fortunes comes from! All accomplishments are indispensably collective in substantial measure, and the distribution of their costs, risks, and benefits never perfectly reflects the efforts and stakes of their contributors. Indeed, the proper distribution of credit and risk in the vicissitudes of everyday commerce cannot be determined with certainty any more than the results of our collective actions can be predicted with certainty in advance. This distribution, hence, always reflects instead prevailing norms, be they democratic, plutocratic, theocratic, or what have you. In democratic societies the ideal is the maximization of equity-in-diversity, and hence: freedom of thought, expression, and assembly; equal recourse to the law, franchise, and office; maintenance through general welfare of the scene of informed, nonduressed consent to the terms of everyday commerce; and the sustainable, accountable administration of common and public goods. In plutocratic societies the ideal is maintenance of wealth and authority of incumbent elites at the expense of equity, in theocratic societies the ideal is maintenance of the terms and authority of moral minorities at the expense of diversity. In every society the existing distribution of wealth and authority is the result of social redistribution, much of it stealthed through naturalized material and ritual infrastructural affordances. It is always ignorance or denial of this basic recognition which gives rise to the question with which this little post began, and its affirmation is the best way to end it.

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