osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

That was an unpleasant insight

It just occurred to me that the social dynamic that permits SCA people to make unpopular, ill-informed decisions repeatedly without any accountability mechanism is the same social dynamic that allows this to occur in the religious Jewish community. But Jews call the mechanism used to suppress substantive discussion and accountability "lashon harah" and SCAdians call it "courtesy."

But the key elements of the social dynamic are the same:

1. A close knit social group that regards itself as distinct from society at large and having a social code that make members of the group superior to society at large (religious Jews=Torah, SCAdians="chivalry").

2. The code emphasizes that leadership and authority are a service, but where this perversely is interpreted as requiring the community to be grateful to the individual exercising authority rather than requiring the decision maker to be accountable to the community.

3. The code stresses giving everyone (at least everyone in the social group) the benefit of the doubt, which is often interpreted as a requirement to create exculpatory explanations rather than a requirement to reserve judgment pending explanation.

4. The code contains mechanisms for suppressing discussion and controlling the language of discussion ("lashon harah" v. "courtesy")

Many social groups have similar predicates to this dynamic (ICANN had a similar dynamic for many years, when it was still dominated by the core of Internet engineers that had developed the DNS). These just happen to be two groups with which I have substantial experience and both of which lay substantial emphasis on elements that produce the following in the social dynamic:

1. They reward poor communication and punish good communication. Facts and actions based on facts are always fair game for rational discussion. But the codes in both cases generate a dynamic in which the decision maker is rewarded for withholding information. The combination of viewing leadership as service for which the community should be grateful, the willingness to manufacture exculpatory explanations, and invocation of the prohibitions on discussion of negative evidence or negative speculation mean that a decision maker benefits from withholding information.

2. They lack accountability mechanisms. Because of the dynamic described above, it is considered inappropriate to actually have mechanisms that would require public explanation or provide a formal means to challenge a decision. While the decisionmaker "serves" the community, the decisionmaker is not actually accountable to the Community, since such mechanisms would show a lack of trust -- violating the first tenant that the Code makes us superior. And since our Code -- whether it is Torah or Chivalry -- makes us superior rather than accountable, we cannot sully that by having a formal mechanism of accountability.
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