I am listening to the news that e-challan system for traffic offences is discontinued. My gut reaction is that this public appeasement move has its root in election performance evaluation, but I personally read it as a disastrous one for the same objective.
Traffic is the most tangible part of how we experience our cities, so a decision that is surely going to cause chaos is likely to spread a sense of governance failure and the ruling party may fare lot worse in next election.
While the news of rollback is negative, I see an opportunity here that I want to grab, and this is about systems and how communication between parts and whole, i.e. feedback impact them.
If we rise above local context, there is no doubt that every democratic government in the world with central idea of offering indirect self-governance is expected to respond to public opinions. Feedback-based correction is necessary process and we feel that it should be improving systems over time.
While, in theory, a rollback-based democratic system shows potential to self-improve over time, the time has come to factor in a new development and understand that the same process, under a state of improved expression of personal opinions, could be completely counter-productive.
We need to cognise that much cherished concept of democracy is based on a false premise that people can respond to a system by understanding the greater-good dimension of rules of that form the system. But it is also worst kept secret that humans have very little cognition of greater-good at individual level.
It is only under the peer pressure of society that brain is able to switch on the greater-good mode. While altruism is innate to human brain, we must understand that its expression is context-driven.
If we put together the above facts, it is strange that democracies have emerged and provided us greedy self-obsessed apes with some of the largest collectives built around democratic constitutions of greater-good theme.
If we try to look for the explanation of this counter-intuitive phenomenon, the answer may lay in a practical dimension linked with scale.
In simple terms, systems are large and individual is small. So, the communication between individual and system is extremely difficult, if not impossible.
When humanity began its tryst with forming large democratic structures, it became nearly impossible for an individual to make his/her voice heard by the system without gathering a momentum of many others with same opinion.
Though it sounds like a limitation hindering feedback, there is a strong possibility that it is a critical requirement for a system like democracy.
Democracy works only if a human being’s social brain tuned to greater-good participates in the feedback loop. And, that can happen only if individual opinions are supressed through a mechanism.
The systemic suppressor of individual opinion till now has been the practical limitation of communication between citizens and systems; but, with technology breaching this communication barrier, there is a dramatic shift in the context that may have disruptive and destructive potential. With waves of feedback from individual opinions rolling the sea, ship of democracy is in troubled waters and may capsize before we know it.
As youth living in cyber-reality (that provides a forum of expression for every individual opinion) is getting increasingly angry with what they perceive as systemic oppression, a stage is getting set with Matrix responding to it with autocratic leaders armed with technology of suppression.
There is no doubt that we are heading into an era of conflict, so we need to take a serious stock of the situation.
In the devil and the deep sea situation we are in, though it appears counter-intuitive, I feel that systemic suppression is a lesser price to pay for a very real reason.
The most critical requirement of technological advancement that we are now heading for requires stable social order. We are on the verge of discovering new tools that can transform the way humans live and cooperate, provided we have a stable world and stable economic environment.
So, it is a bit of an oxymoron, but systemic suppression has a greater chance of allowing us to find a technological solution that will lead us to form better and more equitable organisational system in long run.
Let us understand that selfishness and altruism are both natural to us but are context dependant in expression. So, if systemic suppression leads to a stable society, it will also automatically lead to the same goal in long run.
I strongly feel that unrest caused by feedback tsunami may damage this great opportunity ahead of us. I hope to see a bit of suppression of individual opinion and bit more of authoritarian systems, so they will ultimately lead us to the new world order that we want.
In all likelihood, the path to the real Brave new world could be passing through an Orwellian phase that we must endure.