Journey to the Center of the Core Yields the Yoke of Citizen-Centric Governance to Force a Shared Vision

I still remember my shock that so many famous and powerful Americans endorsed the view in the March 2013 book by Moises Naim that simply assumed that the American people were now to be Governed as if they were collectively a ship in need of steering by politicians. Silly me. Turns out there was just a delay in the people at those conferences committing the planned vision to writing. It also turns out, in a carryover from the previous post, that managing the public’s perceptions, expectations, and beliefs about the proper role of government in the 21st Century is a crucial component of the ’emerging governance relationship.’

Nothing quite as useful as a globally connected consulting firm explicitly committing these new relationships to writing. This is from a 2009 Accenture paper called “From e-Government to e-Governance” as well a letter from their Public Service Managing Director Sean Shine, explaining the new relationship between citizens and their government “that is all about genuine engagement of people in their own governance.” So much for those of us who think we are engaged in our own governance when we pay taxes from hard-earned money or set unpopular curfews for precocious teenagers. No, ‘citizen-centric governance’ may sound good, but it assumes without consulting any of us that:

“It falls to government to balance the demand for increased choice and flexibility with fairness and the common good. Governments can achieve that balance by striving for equality of outcomes for all constituents–that is, by ensuring that everyone has the chance to experience the same social and economic conditions, or at least similar improvements in these conditions.”

Does anyone else appreciate that is where all the hyping of ICT portals and building “social networking and community sites [that] also enable citizens to participate in their governance as never before.” No incentive to infantilize a population with these aspirations for the future. Not when the entire government apparatus is to be about meeting citizen needs and guiding what “citizens expect and want from government.” Now won’t the actual Common Core implementation come in handy here? The Digital Learning emphasis? Anyone think there is a reason to sculpt a misleading but politically powerful conception of what the future might be if consultants from meetings we were not invited to state that:

“Web 2.0 technologies present governments with an unprecedented opportunity to bypass the media [not to mention parents and local school boards] and directly engage citizens in a more mature, reasoned and productive discussion about the strengths and shortcomings of government. [No danger of bias or omissions here.] In this way, public service organizations can, for the first time, play an active role in shaping citizens’ perceptions of government by providing the public with instantly accessible, intelligible information and analysis–enabling a more balanced and objective debate in which citizens are able to consider governments’ perspective.”

Now if that’s the intended propaganda to be launched at adults with taxpayer funding, we can just imagine what will make it to the still malleable minds in the classroom. Completely lost for anyone will be any perspective grounded in the history of what comparable social justice aspirations did in Europe in the 20th century. That led Friedrich Hayek to write in “The Mirage of Social Justice” that:

“the more dependent the position of the individuals or groups is seen to become on the actions of government, the more they will insist that the governments aim at some recognizable scheme of distributive justice; and the more governments try to realize some preconceived pattern of desirable distribution, the more they must subject the position of the different individuals and groups to their control. So long as the belief in ‘social justice’ governs political action, this process must progressively approach nearer and nearer to a totalitarian system.”

Now before anyone accuses me of introducing the T word without sufficiently laying a proper foundation let’s remember that Hayek was writing from personal experience of One Thing Leading to Another. Secondly, if I had a dollar for every time the books or papers I read now used phrases like “shared vision,” “collective aspirations,” “consensus essential for democracy must be built,” or “unified social purpose,” I could head to the beach for some R&R. We saw it embodied in the goals of both the Rockefeller-funded Communication for Social Change and the Club of Rome-created Structured Design Dialogue to produce common political will.

If you would like to believe I am simply collecting injudicious comments made for paying customers, Accenture’s vision fits with the 2014 book Innovative State: How New Technologies Can Transform Government written by the first Chief Technology Officer of the United States Aneesh Chopra. He points out that as a candidate Obama “had mandated that his staff insert a default paragraph about the importance of harnessing technology into every speech.” The idea laid out repeatedly is that “government could be a platform.” Government becomes “a way to engage the public and let them tell us what was important and then support them in accelerating their consensus to a common solution.”

We have open admissions of trying to manage those citizen beliefs and perspectives that go into the now to be required consensus and common solution. If the guiding hand does seem to be getting quite heavy in the direction Hayek had seen before, how is this quote for the naivete on what government is. “When the relationship is participatory, when the relationship is open, it really does foster a sense that the government is not a thing; it’s what we do together.” [Italics in original passage]

Some people have the legal power to coerce. Others generate taxes to the public sector while some live off those taxes. Those are not balanced, equal relationships even if government was not trying to rig how it is perceived in the 21st Century. All while singing the joys of the Big Data being collected on its citizens and the need to minimize any distinction between the public and private sectors. This is Chopra’s vision towards the end of the book. He makes Pollyanna seem like a sourpuss by comparison:

“Today, we need to explore new frontiers not only in terms of the problems we try to solve but in the manner in which we attempt to solve them. Collectively and creatively. Much more is possible, if the government makes the populace part of the process so the greater number of people can assemble and share their ideas and gifts for the greater good.”

Lighting dollar bills afire is one way to describe the likely consequences of that vision or an excuse for borrowing more from the Chinese. Speaking of which, the second book I mentioned enthusiastically advocates that the West adopt the Chinese vision of state-directed capitalism. Anyone think there might be a connection to the Chinese willingness to fund US deficit spending to push an ICT-centered vision for meeting citizen needs and achieving social justice for all? The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State also came out in 2014 and it’s laying out a comparable blueprint to Chopra and Accenture. If we could shift government by acclamation anymore, we would be close to a global fait accompli.

Alarmingly the book tells us that the current leadership of our primary deficit financier believes that “Western democracy is no longer efficient; that both capitalism and society need to be directed; and that getting government right is the key” to the future. Something to remember as we have trillion-dollar deficit plans in the US as far as the eye can see. It would be wrong to assume it’s just an another interest-bearing investment for the Chinese. It’s also probably good to know that Accenture has a long-term formal relationship with the World Economic Forum when we read that “the one thing that the world’s tycoons agree upon when they meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos is that the Chinese state is a paragon of efficiency–especially compared with the fevered gridlock of Washington or the panicky incompetence of Brussels.”

I think we have a Convergence of visions here around what the purpose of citizenship will be going forward globally. I think we Americans are taking too much solace in the protections of the US Constitution when it’s obviously seen as just another old document that can be bypassed now by many powerful decision-makers, here and globally.

I think we are dangerously assuming the world will continue as it has been despite so many open proclamations. If enough people had simply read what I have documented, they would immediately see how much danger we are in if we continue unaware.

It usually takes three taps for me to write about a painful topic. I listed two 2014 books here and I found the Accenture materials later. The third book is called The Double Helix: Technology and Democracy in the American Future. Unfortunately, it fits with the later books even though it came out in 1999.

Fortunately, I am aware of its aspirations for us as well and we will cover that in the next post. The non-science types like me though should appreciate that the reference to the Double Helix is all about how to force cultural change.

Wenk thinks government “serves as a steering system to set goals arrived at by consensus.”

Really starting to hate that word.

12 thoughts on “Journey to the Center of the Core Yields the Yoke of Citizen-Centric Governance to Force a Shared Vision

  1. Although reading your work for some time with avid interest I have not before commentated. I have appreciated your insight into the thought processes of the nomenclature (yours, though mine are not far behind). I am somewhat less pessimistic, but not, I hope complacent.
    “Web 2.0 technology presents Governments with unprecedented opportunity to bypass the media…”
    It is not only Governments that have this opportunity.
    Having participated in the introduction of “loyalty cards” in retail chains I am not surprised at the use (and abuse) of information that has developed in the commercial world.
    However do not overlook the power of the (IT enabled) common man to perceive BS when he smells it. Currently Politicians (in the UK) have a reputation lower than used car dealer. The truth is, from my own experience in the National Health Service, that the “administrators” are utterly incompetent and will, without exception, cock up anything that they attempt. Although the consequences may be expensive, even disastrous, the sheer perverse soddishness of people like us will frustrate them in the end.

    • Thanks diogenese and welcome to ISC. My pessimism stems from what is not being covered. Since there is no question as to what is being sought, I do believe people will catch on. Speaking of the UK, I think this ‘private sector’ delivery of perceived public rights is what Michael Barber was pushing in the UK during the Blair terms and then for McKinsey. Chopra makes a comment about being called a McKinsey kid by IIRC Rahm Emanel because of the kind of transformation he was pushing.

      Now Barber is at Pearson, writing pro-Chinese vision ed statements like the Oceans of Innovation report, and Pearson owned Penguin publishes that The Fourth Global Revolution book written by two Economist writers that Pearson also owns.

      I just do not think this is coincidental. That book also acknowledged what I have assumed that charters in the US and the academies in the UK are the same vision–as currently structured many are simply an illusion of choice that gets away from the historic neighborhood school.

  2. Attempting discussions about governing ourselves in ways that don’t enrich Accenture or increase Federal payrolls is outdated and offensive. Shame! Apologize!

  3. Its all based on illusion and manufactured consent. Bernays, Alinsky… Tricks and deception. And distraction.
    Reading so many documents that go on and on saying nothing and repeating it endlessly. Carefully embedding the code meant for insiders. It becomes a joke at some point. But alas it is no joke.
    Just a bunch of liers and hucksters.
    In China this summer the educated youth i spoke to ( not the richie rich) are satisfied with their apartment not being on an outer ring of Beijing and having a little car. Their rich western tourist gig and a baby wrap it up. They travel too. They know they have no say and they ignore the govt and carry on having it a bit better than most.

    I read a Cinese A21 document that talked openly about giving citizens the feeling that they were participating.


    • Madmommy–about a month ago when I was first trying to go over the implications of The Fourth Global Revolution book I came across a Marxist conference in Paris where the attitude was that the Chinese had switched from totalitarianism to authoritarianism. The US and the rest of the West should shift from the historic stress on the hated individual (my term, not theirs) and go with an authoritarian approach.

      That was hard enough to read, but the accenture documents just treated people as if we are just an excuse for what benefits the public sector. A very myopic vision, especially after readin Daniel Greenfield’s superb essay on “The Rationing State” that I put up this morning. Do any of these people really understand how the world works?

  4. The dismantling can begin when Common Core students are shown pictures of the house where Sean Shine (et al) lives, the private schools where he sends his kids, the cars he drives, the resorts where he vacations, the gated enclaves where he buys beach and mountain properties, the size of his paychecks, the balances of his pension plans, and the tax avoidance strategies in his estate planning.

    When we are shown what Equality means for him and what of his Equalized Condition that he isn’t sharing with our own common good, then we can begin to address the issues and start making a difference by fostering change within the community mindset.

    • The Shine letter is in a report called “Web 2.0 and the Next Generation of Public Service.” Later that report mentions (page 8) that this “reinvention of government breaks down silos, improves citizen service and opens up the possibilities of collaboration and broader participation among citizens themselves. In effect, Web 2.0 represents another step in the inexorable move to more citizen-centric and participatory government.”

      It’s a view though that binds everyone, like it or not, because someone will always have ‘needs, especially if meeting those needs is the responsibility of government and all the citizens trying to get on with life. On page 13, the report with its Accenture Public Service Value Governance Framework “represents a more publicly engaged model of governance, one that truly connects people–as citizens, service users and taxpayers–with those whom they elect to lead them and to shape and direct their public services.”

      Most of us feel like we have to hold our nose when we vote. When are not electing anyone to lead us beyond the scope of the job description of what the legislative or executive branch should be doing. The current Governor here was financially a bankrupt because of poor investment decisions while he was a Congressman when he ran for Governor. Who would presume that as mayor, Governor, or US Senator they get to play Lord of the Manor with us as the obsequious serfs in need of guidance.

      Change our perception of the role of government indeed. We are not the ones with inaccurate perceptions of the world.

  5. I actually sat next to one with this atitude at a dinner party. He was much my senior, an attorney and i questioned his seriousness of deciding how entire towns should live because his ilk see it as inferior. He truly believed they were better off being controlled, because in His view their decisions and lifestyle were bad… On the otherside was a rhino consultant also my senior and equally odious. Point being that it is shocking and discusting to actually encounter these people who view people as expendable chattel. And those so out of touch with life on the ground and reality.
    Shine and others are a fraternity of people so deluded with their own pretenses, brainwashed like American idol contestants who are horrendous, get laughed at and sent away but are completely bewildered why they did not win. These people are damaged selfish empty grifters, trying to be the girl with the most cake. Like an army of Courtney Love…
    Examine the lives of their heroes… Not BMOC’s there!

    • When I was working on the APUSH trilogy and recognizing the ties between WOMP and the La Pietra Conference, I said in the comments this is just a way station to Big History. In fact I downloaded a lot of reports first from Russia laying out how Big History is seen as a means of driving global cultural evolution to desired mindsets and perceptions. Right on cue this came out yesterday from Getting Smart.

      Given the ties among Getting Smart and Excellence in Ed, this is essentially Jeb Bush coming out indirectly behind the Big History agenda. I guess their dad’s years at the UN did influence the entire family. It also fits with the Aspen Institute agenda we saw in the “learner at the Center of a Networked World” report he chaired from this summer that I thought fit in with the participatory governance/deliberative democracy agenda. It actually is all coming together.

      In recent days I have been examining what Transdisciplinary actually means and discovered that the New Basics Project in Queensland, Australia was the pilot for where the Common Core and Next Generation Learning are taking us.

      It feels like I am following Ariadne’s thread through the maze except once the outline of what is being sought is clear, it’s really more of a distinctive cord now. Soon to be the thickness of a rope as I keep tracing and it all keeps linking up.

    • Scot-that Infrastructure Proposal rings like what I saw in Gar Alperowitz’s book. I have been working on some relevant confessional documents out of Queensland, Australia from about 10 years ago. They just made an excellent point on why what is in fact required by the State as in No Choice needs to be perceived as consensual, a matter of personal choice. Unaware that the government dollars mean that the private sector becomes regulated as well. If something is perceived as arbitrarily imposed by authority it will be resisted. So it needs to be imposed invisibly to prevent that resistance to change.

      Same reason for changing how the citizen perceives governments. You change who the citizen is from the inside out and how they see themselves, others, and the world. They never recognize the coercive element involved. Unfortunately, we are very tenacious and I did accurately perceive what the substance was when I wrote my book 3 years ago. Now each implementation element is just further detail and gives me more places to confirm the accuracy of the template.

      In this post on how the Whole Child aim is global, I quote from Scotland’s Standard that “education should be directed at the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child.” Just like In Australia and now in the US, the purpose of education is not the transmission of knowledge, it’s now the government using its powers of coercion to prescribe what kind of person we are to become.”

      The Chinese love that idea. Fits perfectly with Mao’s vision. No wonder John Dewey was his favorite philosopher.

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