March 29, 2018

The Institution Building Institution

Something one of our collaborators remarked on long ago was that we need an institution-building institution. That is, a social institution that itself is able to reliably train the skill of building social institutions.

Since being able to build institutions contains within it the skill of being able to run and reengineer institutions, this is a great help with the succession problem and the lieutenant problem.

The succession/lieutenant problem in this context is this: we have a great many institutional projects we think would be highly valuable, that we think we have the skill and resources to execute. These projects would further be highly valuable for developing a scientific engineering sociology, which is our ultimate aim here. But each takes much time, and we do not have the time to pursue them.

A lieutenant is a person you can put in charge of a project once the fundamental technology of the project is worked out. They carry out the model, and can solve normal operational problems, but aren’t expected to build fundamentally new social technology.

A proper successor needs to be a full-on “founder”: a founder is a person who you can persuade of merely the intent of the project, and they will themselves be able to build the new social technology required to carry out that intent, possibly with advice support. But they may not be able to do the overall strategic thinking to themselves generate sound intent that accomplishes large strategic goals.

If we can train founders, which are essentially engineers, then we can dedicate vastly fewer central resources to the projects we want to do, and can get much better results for the project overall.

In fact, being able to train founders, in other words social engineers, is a major necessary component of the project overall. How can we build a new engineering discipline without being able to train the relevant engineers?

Therefore, this project needs to do two things:

  1. We need to have a number of smaller practical institution-building projects that are not aimed at the full new statecraft target, but develop relevant infrastructure and skills.

  2. Once we have the ability to do engineering ourselves, we need apprentices to man the projects we want to do, and to train into the kinds of founder-engineers we ultimately want this whole scheme to produce.

This is all besides the ability to train the theorists and analysts who do the actual science that the engineers rely on.

Edited and curated by Wolf Tivy

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