Centralized Hierarchies Optimize Politics and Information Distortion

“In centralized hierarchies, information and knowledge are dangerous because they can undermine vested interests. Since those in centralized hierarchies understand knowledge is intrinsically risky, their first priority is controlling information/knowledge to distribute what reflects positively on them and bury everything that is negative. This robs the system of vital information and feedback, disabling the system at the most fundamental level. The need to control information optimizes public relations (PR) and propaganda, i.e. the engineering of half-truths and falsehoods. In hierarchies, power is concentrated in the apex of the system. Given the risk of uncontrolled information, the system optimizes loyalty to superiors rather than loyalty to the organization’s purpose. Advancing a person who places loyalty to the unvarnished truth and dissent above loyalty to his superiors makes no sense in centralized hierarchies. Indeed, such a person is a high-risk threat. As a result, advancement in centralized hierarchies is necessarily a political process of proving loyalty to superiors and displaying mastery of controlling information. These intrinsically political skills are what centralized hierarchies optimize. Fulfilling the organization’s mission is secondary to maintaining control of information and securing the loyalty of the chain of command. In network-based systems that lack hierarchies (or have very flat hierarchies), subverting knowledge puts everyone who has been denied information at a disadvantage. Those who bury information to make themselves look good cripple their collaborators. In such a system, those who withhold information are shunned as toxic risks. Interestingly, each system optimizes the opposite set of skills. · Centralized hierarchies optimize politicking—loyalty to superiors and controlling information—attributes which are inherently destructive to participants in distributed network-based systems. · In distributed network-based systems, loyalty to the free distribution of factual information and knowledge is paramount, as only good information can support trust and informed decision-making. Systems that optimize untrustworthy information also optimize flawed decisions and the erosion of trust in the system. As a result, centralized hierarchies optimize defective decision-making and the erosion of trust. It follows that centralized hierarchies undermine democracy, markets and productivity at the most basic level of information flows and trust.”

A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All: The Future Belongs to Work That Is Meaningful, pp. 73-75, Charles Hugh Smith