Michael Gurstein on Mon, 28 Sep 2015 03:04:48 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> FW: VW

Ted and all,

Far be it from me to second guess the insight (or well-placed cynicism) of Nettimer folks but dare I say that not all folks who should be, are quite as perspicacious.

The flavour of the day in global governance circles--think managing the Internet (ICANN etc.), the environment, "sustainable development" and on and on is what is being called "multistakeholderism" i.e. where governments, the private sector, civil society and all get together and "find consensus" solutions on to how to manage the world for the rest of us.  

Significant portions of Civil Society have bought into this approach which is firmly premised on the notion that somehow the private sector should be directly involved in making governance decisions because well, they are so public spirited, or that they have the long term interests of everyone at heart ("they are people too aren't they"), or we can trust them much more than those perfidious folks in government, or they are "accountable" to their shareholders and wouldn't do anything completely untoward to risk shareholder value etc.etc. (you know the drill...

But if VW can and will commit fraud and what is in effect a crime against humanity for short term financial (and/or ego) gains then what might one expect from lesser lights with perhaps less to lose and who aren't so deeply enmeshed in what should have been (and what purportedly was) a deep web (errr network) of accountability, responsibility, enforced integrity etc. (as per your comments...

What VW tells us (and why "motivation" is worth looking at) is that when push comes to shove we really really need some structures of accountability that are responsive to "our", the public's needs and not the shareholders and that multistakeholderism as a system of governance is basically giving away the keys to the kingdom.


-----Original Message-----

     From: nettime-l-bounces@mail.kein.org      [mailto:nettime-l-bounces@mail.kein.org] On Behalf Of t byfield
     Sent: September 27, 2015 12:08 PM
     To: nettime-l@kein.org
     Subject: Re: <nettime> VW

     On 25 Sep 2015, at 20:59, Michael Gurstein wrote:

     > Thanks Ted, very useful.
     > I guess what I'm curious about is the motivations, individual and/or 
     > corporate thought processes/incentives etc. that underlie the initial 
     > decision to go down this path and then the multitude of decisions at 
     > various levels up and down the organization to continue on this path.

     Michael, your line of questions seems to be a high priority for the
     media: today's NYT top story is "As Volkswagen Pushed to Be No. 1,      Ambitions Fueled a Scandal." Personally, I don't think there's been much      innovation in the motivation dept since, say, Sophocles, so the      human-interest angle isn't very interesting, IMO. If anything, it's the      primary mechanism in diverting attention from the real problem, namely,      how to address malfeasance on this scale. Corporations are treated as      'people' when it comes to privatizing profit, but when it comes to      liabilities they're become treated as amorphous, networky constructs,      and punishing them becomes an exercise in trying to catch smoke with      your hands. Imagine for a moment that by some improbable chain of events      VW ended up facing a 'corporate death penalty,' there remain all kinds      of questions about what restrictions would be imposed on the most      culpable officers, how its assets would be disposed of, and what would      happen to its intellect
 ual property. (It'd be funny if the the VW logo      was banned, eh? I'm not suggesting anything like that could actually      happen, of course.) The peculiar details of this scandal could spark a      systemic crisis of a different kind, one that makes evading guilt more      difficult. The 'too complex for mere mortals' line won't work in this
     case: VWs have come a long way since the Deutsche Arbeitsfront or R. 
     Crumb-like illustrated manuals about _How to Keep your Volkswagen      Alive_, but not so far that people will blindly accept that they can't      understand them. Popular understanding of negative externalities in      environmentalism is decades ahead of its equivalent in finance. And it      doesn't hurt that Germany, which has done so much to bend the EU to its      will, looks like it'll be the lender of last resort.

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