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August 23, 2007


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I like to think there is an alternative to the pinnacle of power model. The network model relies on the integrity of information flows, and can outperform and outflank any attempt to control it. If we succeed in rebuilding and building new productive commons spaces, there will be plenty to clothe and feed naked philosophers and artists who serve none but the common wealth.

Un Autre Singe

The network model relies on the integrity of information flows, and can outperform and outflank any attempt to control it.

Done well, with on-purpose participants who negotiate roles and accountabilities, insist on integrity and adjust as conditions change, this model holds great potential.

The weight of existing commercial and governmental legislation, and the institutions that control that framework, are in the connected hands of those who comprise the pinnacle. That legislative and governance framework is also a sturdy bulwark against any real progress towards the democratization and humanization of societies around the world, and sustains control by banks, lawyers and the military.

While the network model is an alternative, it is exactly that ... alternative. The foe is formidable, and already highly (and embeddedly) networked.


This post was about a status hierarchy, not a command and control hierarchy. I was responding to a friend who charges fees and is therefore "objective," whereas commission based advisors or fundraisers work for third parties and therefore are not objective. This is an old conversation among advisors. The point I was making is that representing a client makes it hard to be objective about his or her vision of the public good. To serve the client's vision is to serve the public good, maybe, that but requires a fairly robust theory of the public square, and of the contestation of the good, as a good. That is, representing people whose view of the good you do not share is a kind of mixed blessing that we call professionalism. Much more to be said on this topic. It is an insider topic, though, among advisors.


Well, the status and control hierarchies are closely related. As UAS suggests, the incumbent powers, those who set the scale in the first place, are in the former model. Concern for the common good is almost out of place.

How can service to the client be any sort of moral scale anyway? If the client is a criminal (as you suggest), what and who are you responsible to? Objectivity demands disconnection from interests, so the interests of the client and money are always corrupting. Unless the client is pursuing a high purpose.


You have the difficult point in the attorney and fee only theory or ethos of service. It is almost a feudal notion, that of the good servant, the faithful retainer, who puts the liege's interests ahead of his own. Even the guilty get representation, if the fee is paid, and even a scamp gets a Homme de Confiance as Hughes calls it, a confidential clerk of all work. To liken this to a journey through Dante's dark wood to paradise, or to use Chaucer, as Hughes does, to imply that this is a holy quest, is ideology construction, a willed mythos, one that flatters both client and advisor. Who subordinates his life to serving the least among us? That is a question the holy pilgrims seem not to ask in their quest to perpetuate dynastic wealth.


Also, in the first four bullets, where do professional standards figure in? At least in theory, all attorneys are "officers of the court" and as such held to standards of truthfulness and are themselves expected to follow the laws. They cannot allow their client to lie if they know it (and so do their best not to know things).

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