As vertically-structured, chain-of-command systems collapse into horizontally networked systems, decision-making is decentralized. One sees this in modern business management organization – sometimes referred to as “participatory management” – in which employees exercise increased control over their work. Decision-making that had heretofore been directed by management supervisors – such as how and when work is to be performed, modifying work practices, and selection of new employees – is often made or shared with non-supervisory workers. Such decentralizing practices have led to increased productivity, creativity, and problem-solving, as those who are most familiar with the work to be performed and the tools to be employed are presumed to be more knowledgeable about what needs to be done. Such thinking also underlies the concept of academic freedom in schools, as well as First Amendment assumptions about the individual liberty to express alternate ideas.
Does the vertically-structured model by which mankind has long been subjected to political control fail to serve the ends proclaimed for it? Are wars, depressions and other economic dislocations, corruption, police brutalities, politically-generated conflicts, genocides, torture, looting, seemingly limitless levels of taxation and government debt, inflation and other currency failures, indispensable elements for what you would expect to see as part of a sane, decent, free, and productive society?
Those who have schemed so insistently to create and maintain their monopolies of violence over all of mankind never found comfort in Gutenberg’s invention. But neither the banning nor burning of books, heresy trials, Inquisitions, the hanging or burning of witches, nor Luddite machine-breaking riots, were able to destroy the civilizing consequences of the decentralized and liberating character of expanded information that produced the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Reformation, the Age of Reason, or the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions. Perhaps our children and grandchildren, sharing with one another the dispersed and individualized powers of information that the established order so mightily fears, will transform the thinking, and clean up the mess, that my generation so ignorantly allowed to be created.